Saturday, August 13, 2016

Proverbs 22:14 --- The Journey from Selfish Desire to Sacrificial Love

Proverbs 22:14
The mouth of forbidden women is a deep pit;
    he with whom the Lord is angry will fall into it.

As we near the end of Solomon's second collection (10:1-22:16), Solomon takes us back to one of the most important themes of his first collection (1:8-9:18).  Throughout his first collection, two women are contrasted: Woman Folly and Woman Wisdom.  These two figures are personifications of folly and wisdom.  Woman Wisdom is a type of Jesus Christ, whom Paul calls "the wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1:24).  Woman Folly is a paradigm for the opposite of wisdom, namely, idolatry and false religion.  Thus, there are just two ways to live.  One is the way of folly, the other is the way of wisdom; one is the way of unfaithfulness, the other the way of loyalty to the Lord; one is the way of idolatry, the other is the way of devotion to Jesus Christ; one is the way of selfishness, the other is the way of the cross and self-giving love; one is the way of sinful desire, the other is the way of hunger, thirst and desire for righteousness (right relationships).

Our bodies are sacramental.  They make visible, invisible, spiritual realities.  We were created as the Lord's icons, i.e., the images in his temple, which is the universe.  With our bodies we reflect who or what we truly worship.  Marital love and fidelity to one woman reflects the sacrificial love that Jesus Christ our Husband showed for us at the cross as he embraced his people.  Following our sinful desires to intertwine sexually with many partners reflects the multiplicity of idols we follow when we leave the one and only Lord.  Notice that the first line of our proverb has the forbidden woman in the plural, pointing to the multiplicity of the idols we make when we depart from the Lord.

The fact that in the sexual act we intertwine and indwell one another is also important to see.  Our gender, male or female, is a vital part of our being made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), because God is triune.  In the Godhead, the Father, Son, and Spirit mutually indwell one another in love.  Thus, our gender, even if we remain single, points to our purpose, namely, to reflect and participate in the love of God: Father, Son, and Spirit.  In fact, the sexual union is capable of bringing forth a third person equal to the husband and wife, thus reflecting the triune relations in an even greater way.  Thus, the Lord has inscribed on our bodies our very purpose for living.  We were created as his image bearers to participate in and reflect visibly the love and glory of God in the world.  We were created for union with Christ --- to dwell in him.  Our bodies enable a visible reflection of the spiritual reality of our participation in the triune God.  Our bodies enable the display of God's character to take place, for how could we show spiritual realities without a body?

Thus, we are now in a position to see why the Lord's anger is kindled by sexual immorality.  Sexual immorality is the visible sign of idolatry, just as marital purity and love is the visible sign of devotion to the Lord.  The Lord, who is our husband and has betrothed himself to us through the cross, is rightly angered when his image bearers forsake him to pursue other lovers.  His judgment in this life is to give us over to our lovers (see Romans 1:24, 26, 28), thus the forbidden women becomes a trap --- a deep pit --- from which we cannot escape apart from the Lord's cross-shaped mercy and resurrection power.

We can be thankful, though, that some have escaped.  David was one, and Judah another.  The Lord in his mercy brought both to a sacrificial love for others in imitation of Christ, their Lord and Husband.  Judah's example is instructive as he went from sleeping with a woman he mistook as prostitute (Genesis 38) to being willing to sacrifice himself for his brother out of love for his father (Genesis 44:30-34).  This is the journey we all need to make.  David's path was similar as he moved from the sinful desire that caused him to sleep with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:2-4), to the Christ-like prayer of 2 Samuel 24:17: "Behold, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly. But these sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand be against me and against my father's house."




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