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God’s Word for You

Proverbs 23:26-28 the deep pit and the narrow well

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, March 9, 2019

26 My son, give me your heart,
  and let your eyes keep to my ways,
27 for a prostitute is a deep pit;
  an adulteress is a narrow well.
28 Like a robber she lies in wait,
  and multiplies the number of faithless men.

These three verses return to the problem of sexual sins among God’s people. No one is immune from temptations, and sexual urges are common to every single generation of mankind, with new temptations and uniquely complicated situations appearing for everyone. Most of us are blind to one another’s temptations, and some people are blind even to the temptations that affect them personally. One woman might want to make herself look attractive for her husband, but she inadvertently turns every man’s head in the process. Another woman might be revolted by men who struggle with pornography, yet she herself has an addiction to romance novels that stir up all sorts of sexual fantasies in her mind and in her dreams (the argument that one sin is worse than another does not hold up before the Judge of Judgment Day). Some man, the pillar of his church, might be faithful in worship and Bible study, yet during the week he makes sure that his company’s advertising follows the maxim, “Sex sells.” Is he looking after the souls he touches? On the other side of the coin, Medieval monks struggled fiercely to allegorize anything even remotely sexual out of the Bible, and by doing so they took part of God’s message to married couples out of God’s word. They had stumbled under the judgment of Scripture, which says: “Do not add anything to what I command and do not subtract from it” (Deuteronomy 4:2).

Since it was expected in ancient Israel that nearly everyone would be married, and that they would marry at a young age, most of the warnings about sexual sins in the Old Testament are either about adultery in the narrow sense, which is having sex with someone other than your spouse, or specifically prostitution (sex for hire). Both are still condemned today, but few people realize that the command not to have sex with someone other than your spouse still applies to those who are not yet married. If you’re not married to that person (I tell my Catechism class), don’t have sex with that person. Does a prostitute need to actually have intercourse to be sinning with a man? If she is paid for sex, her mere presence on the street or at a window might unnecessarily tempt someone. Therefore many models (men, women and even children) who are hired to sell products because of their looks are walking a very fine line between godly behavior and ungodly.

Verse 27 reminds us that someone who entices you into a sexual sin is difficult to escape from, like a deep pit or a narrow well. And both the prostitute who sells herself (“Pay me for your fantasies”) and the adulteress (“Do what you like, and no one will get hurt”) add to the number of “faithless men,” the unrighteous who have been robbed of their chastity and godliness at a weak moment.

Solomon uses these warning about sins against the Sixth Commandment to help us understand the dangers that all Ten Commandments warns us away from. If it is a little clearer to me where the line is drawn in my life between faithfulness to my wife and unfaithfulness to her and to our Lord, then maybe it will become clearer to me where the line is drawn in other matters, such as my worship life, money matters, being content with my belongings, gossip, and so on.

Holy Father, spare me from the deep pit and the narrow well, and from the devil who has set all his snares. Turn me to Jesus, to the forgiveness and strength only he can give, and guide me along your way.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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