Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, 13 who have left the straight paths to walk in dark ways, 14 who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, 15 whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways. 16 Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words, 17 who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God. 18 Surely her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead. 19 None who go to her return or attain the paths of life. 20 Thus you will walk in the ways of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous. 21 For the upright will live in the land, and the blameless will remain in it; 22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the unfaithful will be torn from it. (Prov. 2:12-22 NIV)
V12-22 contain three sections that begin with ‘Lamed’, two sections that tell us what wisdom will save us from and a final section that gives us the reason for this role of wisdom in our lives, so that we will be able to walk in a good path.
The Teacher emphasises the importance of the paths that we have available to us. There is the path of the way of the wicked, also described as the dark way, or the crooked path. Then we have the straight path, also described as the good way. We are always faced with a choice. Strictly speaking the Psalms are not part of what is described as Wisdom literature, yet there are a number of wisdom Psalms in the Psalter and Psalm 1 could easily serve as an introduction to all wisdom literature as it sets out the two paths or ways that lie before us: the way of the wicked or the way of the righteous.
Wisdom will save us from the way of the wicked men whose words are perverse. We immediately conjure up the image of some foul-mouthed person uttering expletives and telling blatant lies. That would be the wrong image to have. These perverse words would sound reasonable and plausible to many people. They are the stuff of soundbites that people repeat ad nauseam until it becomes the default answer that everyone will give. These are the perverse words and arguments of those who will reason that their point of view is the only view that a tolerant, modern, inclusive society can have. Today these views espouse immoral lifestyle choices that people make, and, in their view, the sin is not their lifestyle, the sin is any objection to that lifestyle. To object to these lifestyle choices (and they will object to them being called choices) is to face the charge of bigotry, discriminatory fractious opinions or some form of phobia. If you oppose this thinking, you could be accused of not being fit to do your job, and if you work for the state or any public body you are likely to lose your job. Even in many churches, ministers have been removed from office for daring to teach biblical views.
These perverse views are protected from criticism because the counter narrative is not permitted. We need wisdom to recognise error and wisdom to know how to wisely oppose it.
These people have left the straight paths and are walking in dark ways but sadly they believe themselves to be so enlightened that they fail to appreciate how truly dark and destructive their lifestyle is. We sow the wind today and will reap the whirlwind tomorrow in broken lives. We see in the lyrics of popular songs that people delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil. The path that they pursue is crooked and their ways are truly devious.
The Teacher also tells us in v16-19 that wisdom will save us from the adulteress woman. Here there is the danger to both young men and women. Smooth and seductive words are used to try and entice the simple into an illicit relationship. In chapter one, evil men were seeking to entice the simple into gaining easy money, and here the adulteress woman is using seductive words to offer the gain of easy sex. The sin of sex outside of marriage or adultery when married is not the unpardonable sin, but it very difficult to recover from. There is always the possibility of redemption. It is hard for the person who has sinned to accept redemption and forgiveness and it is hard for the partner who has been sinned against to forgive, such is the destructive impact of this kind of treacherous sin. It is often easier to accept the death of a partner than it is to accept their betrayal.
The adulteress woman has broken the covenant that she made before God, to commit herself to the one man for life. Whatever our age we need to heed this warning and to seek wisdom and learn how truly wrong it is to have sex outside of marriage or to be unfaithful to our husband or wife.
If we acquire wisdom, then we will understand in order to walk in the ways of the good and to keep to the paths of the righteous. If you are young, you want to pursue this path. If you are middle aged or old, then you want to finish well on the path of the righteous. Many an older person has shipwrecked their faith as they near the end. We ought to seek wisdom, to know how to maintain our walk with God, a long obedience in the same direction.
The Teacher shows what the destinies are for each of the paths that we might take. The righteous choose life and the fool chooses a path that will lead to death. We can now understand why the Lady wisdom pleaded with us to listen to her.
Lord help us to see that wisdom and righteousness are attractive and beautiful. Help us to understand that this is the best way for us to live. Keep us from being enticed by either perverse or seductive words. Lord help us to stay on the path of the righteous, because we ask this in the Saviour’s name. Amen.