by Coye Bouyer
My son, give attention to my wisdom, incline your ear to my understanding; That you may observe discretion and your lips may reserve knowledge. For the lips of an adulteress drip honey and smoother than oil is her speech; But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death, her steps take hold of Sheol. She does not ponder the path of life; Her ways are unstable; she does not know it.
PLYMOUTH, MI – The father initially addresses his son in a very typical fashion, ‘my son,’ and with familiar admonitions ‘pay attention,’ and, more specifically, ‘incline or turn your ear.’ The aim of the father’s admonition is stated in verse 2, “That his son may ‘keep, guard’ or ‘observe discretion. The Hebrew word used for discretion can mean ‘wise, prudential consideration,’ or ‘the ability to devise plans with the best way to carry them out.’
In connection with the instructions of verse 2, verse 3 reveals the father’s motivation for the father’s present instruction, and it’s in regard to the ‘pitfalls of adultery.’ This would imply that the son is either old enough to get married or possibly already married. His dad’s instruction is clear as he wants to educate his son on why he should stay away from the loose morals of an adulterous woman.
“For the lips of an adulteress drip honey…” Sexuality, whether we know it or not, takes place through dialogue. It has always been associated with speech, whether through courting, love songs, whispering sweet nothings in someone’s ear, or the subtle seduction in speech.
The Hebrew word for ‘drip,’ means ‘to fall drop by drop,’ and this is significant because it is linked together with the ‘honeycomb,’ describing the adulterous’ speech as the purest, sweetest taste of honey. So, the father wants his son to understand that the lips of an adulterer oozes seductive charm, as she gradually utters words of flattery and conversation that is capturing.
Furthermore, the father continues to describe her speech as smoother than oil. In ancient Israel oil was used for ceremonial purposes in religious observances, for the anointing of priests and kings or the body after a bath. Oil was also used for cooking, to light lamps, as medicine both internally and externally as it symbolized delight, gladness, and prosperity.
Thus, the father is trying to teach his son that the adulteress woman’s speech is lubricious and seductive as it draws her victim irresistibly towards her mystery and delight, she is believed to offer.
The writer says, ‘But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.’
Sharp as a two-edged sword symbolizes that an affair with her cuts on all sides, and if one chooses to take hold of this woman, destruction is inevitable. The father desperately wants his son to understand the outcome without having to experience it for himself. For, while many may assume that intimacy with her would be as satisfying as her sweet speech or as captivating as her conversation, an affair with her will NOT deliver real satisfaction but will cause bitterness and cut deeply into the life of the one who is with her.
Finally, the father wants his son to know that the adulterous woman has chosen to abandon God and His covenant for marriage, and actually wanders aimlessly in moral darkness, staggering about in her sin.
However, the son is not to have sympathy for her or even assume that she is the victim, for she is lacking in her inner conscience causing chaos for the one who falls for her subtle seductions and her invitation into sexual exploitation. She can no longer distinguish between right and wrong, she strays in regards to discretion causing death for her and even leads others to it, if one falls into adultery with her.
The Bible does not hide from or obscure the power of the temptation to illicit sex. In language that is refreshingly clear and direct without itself indulging in titillation, the text warns the reader of the debacle that awaits him should he succumb in this area. To assume that nice, Christian young people do not struggle in these areas or to speak only in whispers and innuendo on the grounds that they are inappropriate for the Christian pulpit is no less than gross neglect of duty on the church’s part.
It doesn't matter whether one is dealing with the ritual prostitution of a fertility cult, the ordinary prostitute on the street, sexual solicitation in a magazine, on television or the internet. When one is falling for the simple lure of extramarital sex, the temptations and dangers are the same.
The father knows all too well the sexual temptation(s) that awaits his son, not only as a single man, but even as a married one. Thus, the father attempts to warn his son against the deceitful and destructive outcomes of adultery; a conversation every father needs to have with his son, and one in which the church must preach to God’s sheep.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pastor Coye L. Bouyer is the founding pastor of Kingdom Life Church in Lansing, MI where he has served since March of 2010. Pastor Bouyer recently stepped into the Diversity Ambassador role for the BSCM and firmly believes that he was not only called to Preach the Gospel as part of the process of reconciliation of man to God, but also using any platform as a bridge of reconciliation of man to man, and even more so amongst the brethren. Pastor Bouyer and his lovely wife Keturah (Gen. 25:1) have been married four over 20 years and have four children; Sierra, Seth, Cayla and Coye II.