Many families face infidelity, with estimates ranging from 60 to 80 percent. This unfortunate reality can destroy marriages, strain family relationships, and leave everlasting black marks upon the hearts of innocent children. Some families will hide an ongoing affair from their children and extended family members; others will seek counseling; and many others will choose divorce. Rarely will a family become stronger after such an event has occurred
Around the time of Mother’s Day, we hail the godly characteristics of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31. Though the “strange woman” of Proverbs 5,6, and 7 harbors no virtues of which to commend, it is no less valuable to study such a woman. There is much too much in these three chapters to go into great detail, but I have tried to pull a handful of truths from chapters 5-7. The purpose of this week’s study is to warn readers about the temptations that lurk on every street corner, lie in wait at every country club, and hide in every Internet chat room.
Proverbs gives ample warning regarding the “strange woman.” The “strange woman” is really not so much strange in the sense of being “odd” or “different” but rather is strange in the sense that she is more a stranger than a man’s wife. Obviously it stands to reason that men should know their wives very well prior to getting married. If we learn about our wives while we are dating, we will be more than familiar with them once we are married. But in the case of an adulterous encounter, it stands to reason that being with anyone other than your wife will be someone less familiar to you than your wife. Thus, compared to your spouse, she is a stranger…hence…the “strange woman.”
Proverbs 5,6,and 7 all describe the characteristics of the adulteress. For example, in Proverbs 5:3, God says, “For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil.” In many cases, men can be enticed by the prospect of extreme excitement with a woman. These women may speak of their lives, where they live, and what life would be like together. Honeycomb is sweet and so are the words they may tell you as well as the pictures they can paint in your mind. They will speak highly of you and certainly stroke your ego and make you feel alive and wanted and desired and important. With all of the words she would speak to you, her flattery and desire to be with you can be the most entrapping. In fact, if you allow just a budding friendship to develop, you leave the door open for her to broach the subject of maybe sneaking away together for a night on the town somewhere. Eventually, that can quickly morph into something more and you know not where that all will eventually lead.
Proverbs 6:24-25 reads “…to keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.” Don’t ever lust after her! She may be superficially perfect hitting every one of your skin-deep qualifications. Your interests and hobbies may be strikingly similar. Don’t make the first mistake of becoming friendly with her and to be in her presence without your wife around. Many men once believed that they could be “just friends” with a girl whom they found attractive, but that’s stupid thinking. Don’t let your own wisdom tell you that you can do it. The Bible’s wisdom makes it clear…you can’t. “Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? (Proverbs 6:27-28). God warns it’s impossible to walk with someone whom you lust after and not succumb to the temptations if you don’t put safeguards in place. If you begin lusting after someone, it won’t be long before you became romantically interested in that person. There’s an old saying: If you hang around a barbershop long enough you’ll eventually get a haircut. If you get that haircut, you’ll be living proof that God’s warnings are to be heeded and that we are no match for the devil. By the way…Samson knew a little something about a haircut from a strange woman.
The true nature of the adulteress is described in excellent detail in these three chapters as well. She will strip you of everything. According to Proverbs 5:8-11, “Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house: Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel: Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labors be in the house of a stranger; and thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed.” She’ll cause you to lose the respect of many people, not the least of which may be your own family, your wife’s family, your mutual friends, or your wife’s friends. You’ll lose money to her by maybe helping her get rid of some of her debt with some of the money you should be using to treat you wife. You’ll be basically led by her to live a playboy lifestyle and spend money like water. Another stranger that will be “filled with thy wealth” will be your divorce lawyer. Your tryst with your mistress may lead you or your wife to seek a divorce, and those aren’t cheap. You’ll waste a lot of needless money on a retainer…and then some. And if you look at the last part of the above verse, about your flesh and body being consumed, well it can happen literally, but if you look at what can become of you as a result of the affair, you could be reduced to a mere shell of the man God always wanted you to be.
It’s impossible to live in sin and be used by God. Oh sure, He can make an example out of you, but that doesn’t bring God any pleasure. But some are foolish. Some men are led to slaughter (Proverbs 7:22). Solomon also had similar experiences where he tasted many pleasures and sins, but eventually, heeded God’s wisdom and changed his life. God then counted him worthy to be inspired by the Holy Spirit and share the wisdom he learned by writing the book of Proverbs, but don’t put yourself on the same level as Solomon. Don’t take any chances with your marriage for the greener pastures that are only covering potentially fatal sinkholes.
Solomon, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, not only describes the characteristics of the strange woman and the eventual consequences of committing adultery with her, but he also clearly explains how to avoid all this heartache altogether.
· By learning God’s Word and gaining wisdom we will be able to have proper discretion when it comes to dealing with the temptations of the adulteress: “My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding: That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge” (Proverbs 5:1-2).
· Continue in God’s Word and do not disregard the wisdom found therein and don’t give the devil a foot hold by ever getting yourself close enough to a strange woman: “Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth. Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house” (Proverbs 5: 7-8).
· Don’t hate God’s instruction or His reproof and listen to those who God puts in your life to give you Godly counsel: “And thou mourn…And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to them that instructed me!” (Proverbs 5: 11-13).
· Make the Word of God so inculcated in your life that it will be second nature to you. So much so that it will be ever present preserving you when you go anywhere, while you are sleeping, and upon awakening in the morning: “My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee” (Proverbs 6:20-22; See also 7:1-5).
· Learn God’s Word and let it keep your heart safe from declining to the level of the adulteress: “Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths” (Proverbs 7:24-25).
Do you see a theme in Solomon’s pleading with us to learn God’s Word? It’s to be desired as much as food so we can grow thereby, not physically of course, but spiritually (1st Peter 2:2). Because all Scripture is given by God, we can trust it to teach us, reprove us, correct us, and grow us in righteousness (2nd Timothy 3:16-17). Through learning the Word of God we mature, and through this maturity, we are able to discern right (fidelity in marriage) from doing wrong (adultery) with the strange woman. An intimate knowledge of God’s Word will guide your paths (Psalm 119:105). There’s no secret formula. A desire to live for God is borne out of a love for God and once we desire to please God and desire to learn more about Him, we’ll find His Word irresistible and invaluable.
This little anecdote says it all. A preacher was once relaying a story about herding cattle. Apparently if you herd bulls and you are ready to load them into a trailer to take them to the place that will kill them and process the meat for market, it’s a difficult task. The bulls will all be doing their own thing and there is great difficulty in getting twenty or so bulls into the back of a truck. So what ranchers found was that if you find a cow, and lead her into the truck, all the rest of the bulls will readily follow. It takes just one cow to take twenty bulls to slaughter and it can take just one “strange woman” to lead many men to slaughter.