Proverbs 7:1-5 says, My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart. Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman: That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.
Nobody intends on destroying his life. It is doubtful that the prodigal son intended on waking up in the pigpen one day. We will certainly end up in the pigpen ourselves if we fail to remember that being left to ourselves without the Word of God, destruction is imminent. Satan has many devices with which he wants to destroy us.
Proverbs 7 paints a tragic and devastating picture of the end result. We know what the end result is, but how do we avoid that? The great news is that we can avoid destruction, and we do not have to destroy our lives! If we are serving God today, we can serve God the rest of our lives! We still can be serving God upon His return, and if He tarries His coming and when our time on earth is done, we can serve God for the remainder of our days. To do so, we must take deliberate steps to avoid Satan’s desired destruction of our lives. In looking at this passage of Scripture, we find what happens to the young man when he got to the place where the strange woman was. All of the characteristics of the Proverbs 7 woman displayed the tactics she used to destroy him. His end was the saddest of all because the Bible says he was led to the slaughter. It is never a pretty picture when sin is done and has taken its course. Preaching on the results of sin is vital. Shame on the pastor who never warns his people about what sin will do to them! We must be reminded that sin will destroy! Sin will devastate and ruin our young people. Some may say that they have been in church forever, but sin is not a respecter of persons and will destroy them too. It will destroy our homes, our marriages, our churches, and most certainly us. Just as we must understand that the Bible teaches what happens as a result of sin, it also teaches us how to avoid that destruction.
I love serving God. Recently, I spent time with a pastor from another state, and we talked and fellowshipped about how much we enjoy living for God and serving Him. I love pastoring my church. I find such great delight in walking into church on Sundays, Wednesday nights, and special meetings to be with God’s people. I enjoy being around my church family. I relish reaping the benefits of the Christian life. I do not want Satan to destroy me and to place me on his trophy shelf. No one wants to fall prey to the “strange woman.” In the beginning of Proverbs 7, we find five things on how to avoid destruction. The Bible makes it clear what we must do to avoid this destruction.
Keep the Word of God.
Let us look again at verses 1-2, My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. The word keep is used twice in these verses. Keep is a problem with many Christians. They have the Word of God; they have the Truth, but they do not keep it. They attend a Sunday school class to learn the Word of God, but they do not keep what they learn there. They attend a church where the Word of God is taught and preached, but they do not keep those truths. They learn Scriptures as a child while they attend Christian school and Sunday school; but when they become older, they move out of their parents’ house and do not keep what they learned over those years. The problem is never the Word of God or the opportunity to learn from it. The problem is that we do not keep it …keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. Verse 2 says, Keep my commandments, and live;… There is LIFE, a joy-filled life, when we keep those commandments!
If we have a King James Bible in our hands, we have the Word of God—keep it! Young people are taught the Word of God at home, in Sunday school classes, and in the Christian school— keep the Word of God! Mom and Dad, keep the Word of God! We can avoid destruction by hanging onto instruction from the Word of God. We are supposed to live exactly the way this Bible says we are supposed to live. This Bible is our instruction for withstanding the temptations of this world, but to do so, we must keep it.
Most people know right from wrong and can verbalize what they should do. They know the Bible principles to live by so well that they can recite them, but they just do not keep them. America knows she is supposed to be moral and knows what the Bible says; she just does not keep it. We know what we are supposed to do—keep it! If we are going to keep it, we will never let it go; and we will not let someone take it from us!
Verse 1 says, My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. This is a Biblical investment from which we can draw later. This is just as if we took money and invested it for when we retire, laying it up for our futures. We must …lay up my commandments… Why do we read the Word of God? Why are we there every time the church doors are opened? Some may say, “Pastor, why do I need to be there three times a week? I feel as if I’m right with God. I feel as if I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do.” Even so, by being faithful we are laying up for the future. We are investing in our own lives, attempting to avoid destruction. Everything may be fine right now, but the time is coming when the temptation is going to come, the weak moment will arrive, Satan is going to attack, and the assault is coming. We need to have something laid up from which we can draw.
When our physical bodies get older—as I am discovering— the more it lets us down. We must have something stored up from which to draw. Some will travel out of town during a holiday time. I think it is wonderful to go visit and to spend time with family that we do not get to see often. Most Christians who enjoy visiting their families for the holidays will not be able to be in a church like their home church. How will they stay right without the right preaching for a couple of weeks? Hopefully, they have laid something up from which they can draw. Let us all store it up and hang on to it.
Let us notice verse 2, Keep my commandments, and live;… The implication is that if we do not keep God’s commandment, we are going to die. This is not necessarily talking about physical death, although not keeping His commandments can result in that. If we want to live by having victory and joy in our spiritual lives, we must hang on to the Word of God. Those who spend more time in the Bible and allow it to become part of them have more joy than those who do not.
Who falls out of church? It is the one who has not laid up anything, the one who had the truth and let it go. There are Christians who—basing Christianity on a scale of one to ten of what people should do and are not supposed to do—would be way down the scale, but they still continue living for God year after year. They have never let go of the truths of the Bible. There are some who could check all the “boxes” of doing the right things. They did seemingly everything right; however, they are gone. Why? They conformed but were not transformed by the Word of God.
Christians should not be miserable. Christians ought to live with joy, victory, and peace. That will only happen when they keep His commandments. We need to hang on to the Word of God and never let it go! The young man never would have been destroyed by that strange woman and led to slaughter if he had not let go of the commandments of God’s Word. When we get into a situation in which we know we ought not to be, when we go to a place we know we ought not, or when we spend time with somebody we know we ought not, we can easily justify our actions by saying, “I’ll just see them for a little while. I’ll just stay here a little while. I’ll just try it one time.” It is then that we will have let go of the Word of God. We must keep what we know and keep what the Bible says.
Make the Word of God a part of us.
Let us notice verse 3, Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart. Notice the word bind. In the time period when this was written, it was customary to wear rings and bracelets with inscriptions written on them. What a great picture of how close we ought to keep the Word of God in our own lives today!
Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart. The second way we can avoid destruction is to bind them and to write them. The Bible should always be at our fingertips. We should always know where the Word of God is. When we are struggling in our Christian lives, we must stop and evaluate how close we are to the Word of God? We need to bind it and to write it! Where does it say to write it? …write them upon the table of thine heart. We must make it part of us by reading, meditating, and memorizing it! When we read something in the Bible and are not quite sure what it means, or we read it and immediately it begins to speak to us, we must meditate on that and think about that! The purpose of our reading the Bible in the morning is not just to say we read our Bibles. It is so that the Holy Spirit can speak to us, and we can think and meditate on it all day long. When we read our Bibles, we ought to look for something to take with us all day. Let us look avidly for that truth and for that which can make a great change in us.
Next, we must memorize Scripture. It is sad that we as Christians can memorize all kinds of things these days except Scripture. We must purpose to make the Bible a part of us. There will come a day when each of us must make a life-changing judgment call; we will be forced to make a vital decision in an instant. If we do not have the Bible written on the table of our hearts, the flesh will win almost every time. Our reactions ought to be dictated by what is written on our hearts—the Word of God. The more Bible we have, the better our decision-making in life will be.
As a pastor, there are times I find myself drawing from things on which I do not ever remember thinking; however, the help I received came from Scripture that I had read or memorized in the past that pushed me to good decisions. I find myself drawing from this well all the time in decisions I have to make. There are times when I am counseling someone that they present a situation to me, and immediately my mind is filled with specific Scripture that will help in applying the principle needed to aid in their decision. How do parents give advice to their children if they themselves do not draw from the Word of God? We do not want our children to be emotional in their decision-making, but parents are often emotional in the advice they give to those children. We constantly must bind it, have it at our fingertips, and write it upon the tables of our hearts.
Make wisdom our sister.
Verse 4 says, Say unto wisdom,… Do we seek wisdom from worldly counsel? Do we look for it on television or Twitter? Do we find wisdom in the philosophy of this world? Do we acquire it from a psychiatrist? No! Wisdom comes from the Word of God. Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding… Understanding comes from the Word of God. Every Christian has been in situations where he did not really know what path to choose. He may not have had a clear understand of said situation, but the principles found in the Word of God gave the needed understanding. When this world looks at Christians, they think we are crazy! They do not understand why we do what we do and why we are so committed to Christ. If they would read this passage, they might understand us better. Those who read the Bible will understand life better in so many ways. A young person who says, “I just don’t understand that,” will have children one day. It is then that they themselves will say the same things their parents said, despite the fact that those now-adult children said they would never say them! They will have gained a new and better understanding. The same is true when a new Christian begins to consume the Bible regularly and meditates on the truth found there. That Christian matures and grows, finding himself with new wisdom and understanding that can only come from the Word of God.
This statement in Scripture may seem odd, Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister;… Who wants another sister? The verse goes on to say, …and call understanding thy kinswoman: The Bible tells us to make wisdom our sister. Wisdom is referred to in the Bible in three ways: our mother, our wife, or our sister. In this context, …Thou art my sister;… we are to treat wisdom as God intended for a brother to treat his sister. The big brother has respect for his sister and behaves toward her as such. A brother makes decisions based on what is best for his sister. This is how we should behave toward wisdom.
We are to treat wisdom with respect and honor. We are to do what is best for the sake of wisdom. Because I have all daughters, I often find myself saying, “You need to be considerate of your sister.” Just as we ought to make decisions based on the wellbeing of our sister, we must treat wisdom the same. Since wisdom comes from the Word of God, we should make our decisions based on the Word of God. Many times, we do not respect the wisdom of the Word of God, and we choose the world’s philosophy instead. We take a poll with the world, giving those results more respect than the wisdom of the Word of God.
We are to be so close to wisdom, as if we are “related” as with a sister. Not all sisters are friends, but they are still sisters. We may not like everything wisdom tells us, and we could even try to disown it; however, wisdom is there because it is our sister. We do not have a choice in picking this; she is our sister.
I never had a sister, but I believe that, after raising daughters for a couple decades, having a sister has great benefits. A sister is there to tattle! She says, “I’m going to tell Mom! I’m going to tell Dad!” There are probably things we would not do if our sister was around to see them. That is how our behavior should be toward wisdom. Let us always respect and honor wisdom, which comes from the Word of God, the Bible.
Make understanding our kinswoman.
We have already read in verse 4, …and call understanding… Where does understanding come from? It comes from the Word of God. The pattern of how to avoid the destruction of the young man all relates with our relationship to the Word of God.
We must make understanding our kinswoman. The Bible is saying that in order to make understanding our kinswoman we must go to the Word of God. We do not want understanding coming from this world’s point of view; we want understanding from God’s point of view. People who have not been in church for long or have just gotten saved sometimes do not understand why other Christians get excited about Heaven, get excited about certain songs being sung in church, and get excited about the Scriptures. The more we are in the Word of God, the more understanding we will have.
Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman: What does it mean, … thy kinswoman…? Understanding, unlike our sister wisdom, is a friend. The Bible divides these two specifically because not all sisters are friends. Understanding is an acquaintance or friend; but similar to wisdom, it is derived from the Word of God.
We become friends with people by spending time with them. The more we spend time with them, the more we realize that we have things in common. When we begin to develop a relationship with an individual, a friendship begins to be born. He is no longer a stranger, but he is our friend. We have our friends because we choose to have them. Some do not have any friends because by their actions they have chosen not to have friends. Proverbs 18:24 says, A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly:… We can choose to have friends, but we must be friendly first and foremost. If I am going to make understanding my kinswoman or my friend, I must spend time with and get to know understanding. This relationship will take effort on my part, just as a good friendship would require such. The more time I spend with understanding, the more alike we are going to be. The more our tastes are going to be the same, and the more I will know what understanding is thinking. We must make understanding, the Word of God, our friend. We must spend time with and choose to be with understanding. We must choose understanding as our friend. When I was younger, I heard this statement, “A friend is someone who gets in your way when you want to do wrong.” What gets in our way when we want to do wrong? Understanding, the commandments, and the Word of God should. That is why some will not ask the pastor about certain situations because they know understanding is going to get in the way. Every one of us, including myself, would destroy ourselves without this Book. I can give examples of people with whom I have crossed paths in recent days who forgot to keep understanding their friend. They once held the Word of God in their hands, but now they hold a beer bottle. One day they will answer to God for putting aside that which they knew was right. However, the only difference between them and the rest of us is that we are still holding onto this Book. When putting this Book aside, anyone could soon be doing the same thing as those who have forsaken wisdom and understanding.
We must purpose to keep those commandments and choose to get understanding. When people spend time together, they become closer and grow to be better friends. Similarly, we can have the same relationship with the Word of God. Some may say, “I try to read it, but it just doesn’t help me. I have a hard time understanding it and seeing how it applies to my life.” Just as with the people closest to us, if when we first met we did not hit it off and never talked again, we would not have become friends. Some people, when they first started dating their spouse, may have noticed something irritating or annoying about the other, but there was an interest there still. They found they wanted to be around them more. As they spent more time together, they found that the other was a perfect match for them and soon realized that they could not live without each other. We must spend time with the Word of God to make the Word of God our friend.
Guard against that which appeals to the flesh.
Look at verse 5, That they… To what is the word they referring? The word they is referring to our new kinswoman and sister, understanding and wisdom. These two come from the Word of God when we keep the Word of God and keep the commandments. That they may keep thee from the strange woman,… We know what happens to the young man when the strange woman gets hold of him—destruction. There is no exception and no way out. The strange woman could actually be a strange woman, an evil woman with an evil intent; however, it could also represent something out in the world that will destroy us. For some, it is adultery that will destroy them; but for others, it is other things that will destroy them. The Bible says in verse 5 how to avoid all of what happens in Chapter 7 and especially in verse 22, He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks;
Before I expound on verse 5, let me remind all of us that we do not have to destroy ourselves. Those who are away from God did not have to get that way. We sit on the church pews, we go to Sunday school, and we have a copy of the Word of God. We really have no excuse because we are told over and over again in the Bible what we are supposed to do with our lives and how we are supposed to live. In verse 5, That they (understanding, wisdom, commandments, words) may keep thee from the strange woman, (that which will destroy us), from the stranger… Young people should never choose somebody who has never done anything for them (the stranger) over their mom and dad, their Sunday school teacher, their youth director, or their pastor. I will never understand how so many fail to see the warning signs before it is too late because the Bible gives a clear warning! Not only do the young people need to be careful of this, but also others who are not technically young people should beware. Somebody with whom we work or some relative will tell us what our flesh would like to hear. Sadly, we will choose them over the people of God who prayed us out of the hospital and were there when our homes were having problems. Above all, we will choose man over God, the one Who has done everything for us.
…which flattereth with her words. The final way to avoid destruction is to guard against that which appeals to the flesh, that which flattereth. It is appealing when we are flattered. Someone might say, “Those I work with want me to come hang out with them. They just compliment me so much. They seem to appreciate me more than my pastor or my Sunday school teacher does.” Instead of appealing to our spirits, that flattery appeals to our flesh. When we see something we should not see, that is not appealing to our spirit but to our flesh. When we hear something we should not hear, we may think we will not be affected. No, if it appeals to our flesh, we must guard against it! The Word of God steps in then to say that we had better flee youthful lusts, avoid certain things, and to come out from among them and be separate. Why is this so strongly taught and emphasized? We want to stay away from those things that appeal to our flesh because in them lies undeniable destruction.
As an example, we should not listen to music that appeals to our flesh. Some draw the line at, “I don’t think we should listen to music where they worship Satan.” I agree, but how about our flesh? There are certain things we should not watch on television. Some would ask, “Pastor, can we have a list?” Here is that list and it is rather short: if it appeals to the flesh, do not watch it. There are those who lived a life in the world before they got saved or got right with God who may need to have stronger guidelines than those who grew up in church and have not “seen the world.”
We must guard against that which appeals to the flesh. Every one of us should safeguard that which we see, hear, and appeals to our flesh. This can only be accomplished with utilizing wisdom understanding, and commandments. If we have never tasted the world, we should be thankful for that; and if we guard ourselves, we do not have to ever taste of it! Satan is on the prowl as a roaring lion. He has laid stumbling blocks to obstruct our way. However, we do not have to trip over any of them if we make a plan with the Word of God.
We must stay close to the Word of God. Every time the church doors are open, we must be there to hear the Word of God preached. We must attend our Sunday school class to hear it taught. Every day we must open our Bibles, read the Word of God, write it on the tables of our hearts, keep it at our fingertips, and hang on to it so the strange woman will never get to us. Likewise, for those who have been out there in the world, how will they get back to where they were, walking with God? They must pick up what they once put down! All of us know somebody who is away from God. Their best hope is to pick up the Book once again and to walk inside the church doors once again. The greatest thing we can do for them is to pray that they will come back to God. If they put into practice the methods listed here, there will be a way for them to get right.
We cannot avoid destruction without the Word of God. We must have it, hold on to it, and keep it. We must guard against that which appeals to the flesh. We all have flesh, which is why it is good for us to understand how horrible, gruesome, and destructive the end of the young man was. It is a good reminder to us to read the last part of Proverbs 7 to see how the story ends. That is not the result I want in my life; I do not think anybody wants that. Nobody wants to be a fool in the stocks or the one going to the slaughter. No person in his right mind would say, “That is what I want!” The plan for avoiding destruction is found in verses 1-5. First, we hang onto instruction; we keep it. Secondly, we bind them and write them; we keep the Bible close and make it a part of us. Third, we make wisdom our sister. Fourthly, we make understanding our kinswoman; we spend time in the Word of God. Finally, we take those words, those commandments with wisdom and understanding, and use them to guard against that which appeals to our flesh.
The Bible warns us about other people who are not good influences for us. It warns us about things that we should not see or hear. This is why we must read the Bible. We must do so instead of waiting for the pastor or some other authority to tell us what to do. We must let it tell us what we should and should not do; that way we do not end up like this young man. This will save us from heartache and from destruction. If we stay in this Book and heed this Book, we will stay right with God.
Do we want to serve God with all the days we have left? Do we want to be found faithful when our time on earth ends? To do so, we must keep the words and commandments; we must hang onto them. We must listen to and obey them. We do not have to be destroyed. We just need to stay close to the Word of God; this should be our main goal in the Christian life. How do the fallen get right with God? It cannot be done without the Bible. How do we who are doing right stay right? We must have and stay in the Word of God. The Word of God is the sure and dependable way to avoid destruction.
This article is an unabridged excerpt from Pastor Neal’s book, A Young Man and a Strange Woman.
Learn more about this title at BereanPublications.com.
Pastor Neal, through his preaching and his counseling, displays the compassionate heart of a pastor, follows the true leading of the Holy Spirit, and expresses a fervent desire to see lost souls come to know Christ. It is his ultimate desire to see the greater Jacksonville area reached for the cause of Christ and for revival to come to Northeast Florida.