Proverbs 23:26-28

Beware the Wayward

My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways, for an adulterous woman is a deep pit, and a wayward wife is a narrow well. Like a bandit she lies in wait and multiplies the unfaithful among men. Proverbs 23:26-28

“If only they came to us sooner. By the time couples come in, it’s too late. So much harm has been done, restoring trust seems impossible,” the marriage counselor stated, “But we can still try to help.”

Most of her audience, eager counselors-in-training, weren’t deterred. They wanted to try too.

So how do we save marriages before they reach the point of no return? Specifically, how do we prevent the major problem of infidelity? Like yellow lights at intersections and flashing red lights at railroad crossings we ignore at our peril, what are some of the early warning signals which indicate danger ahead? The sin of adultery has two participants. Women must beware of wayward men, and vice versa.

Proverbs 23 gives some clues. The first piece of advice is to give your heart to wisdom and let your eyes delight in her ways (Proverbs 23:26). To guard your heart, you must limit what your eyes see.

The second piece of advice is a warning: an adulterer is “a deep pit, and a wayward [spouse] is a narrow well” (v. 27). There’s a trap ahead, a confined space from which you probably won’t get out of alive—certainly not unharmed. The danger of a pit is its concealment. If you knew it was there, you’d avoid it.

There’s a bandit lying in wait for you: multiplying the unfaithful, set on getting away with highway robbery, wanting a temporary relationship—no long-term commitment. You’re not the first to be ensnared, nor will you be the last.

Proverbs reveals various methods used by seducers: flattery (2:16), captivating looks (6:25), alluring attire (7:10), seductive words (22:14).

James 1:14-15 describes the progression of sin: “each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

We must see the wickedness of our own hearts and kill our evil desires before we succumb to the enticement of seducers.

What steps will you take to guard your heart and delight in the ways of wisdom?

Dig Deeper:

Proverbs 6:23-29 makes an interesting comparison of a prostitute and a wayward wife. What is the cost of each seduction?

Proverbs 7:6-23 describes a young man who is enticed by a wayward wife. What makes her seem like a prostitute? Describe an experience you’ve had when someone you knew was married flirted with you.

What did Jesus say in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:27-28) about something the people of God had been taught (Exodus 20:14), but that he was telling them they were called to an even higher standard? How does that warn you?

Nancy J. Baker

This devotion is part of a series on the Book of Proverbs.

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