An Anatomy of Temptation
Speaker: Rev. Scott Strickman
Sermon Series: An Invitation to Wisdom: Proverbs 1-9
Proverbs 7:1-27 (ESV)
1 My son, keep my words
and treasure up my commandments with you;
2 keep my commandments and live;
keep my teaching as the apple of your eye;
3 bind them on your fingers;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,”
and call insight your intimate friend,
5 to keep you from the forbidden woman,
from the adulteress with her smooth words.
6 For at the window of my house
I have looked out through my lattice,
7 and I have seen among the simple,
I have perceived among the youths,
a young man lacking sense,
8 passing along the street near her corner,
taking the road to her house
9 in the twilight, in the evening,
at the time of night and darkness.
10 And behold, the woman meets him,
dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart.
11 She is loud and wayward;
her feet do not stay at home;
12 now in the street, now in the market,
and at every corner she lies in wait.
13 She seizes him and kisses him,
and with bold face she says to him,
14 “I had to offer sacrifices,
and today I have paid my vows;
15 so now I have come out to meet you,
to seek you eagerly, and I have found you.
16 I have spread my couch with coverings,
colored linens from Egyptian linen;
17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh,
aloes, and cinnamon.
18 Come, let us take our fill of love till morning;
let us delight ourselves with love.
19 For my husband is not at home;
he has gone on a long journey;
20 he took a bag of money with him;
at full moon he will come home.”
21 With much seductive speech she persuades him;
with her smooth talk she compels him.
22 All at once he follows her,
as an ox goes to the slaughter,
or as a stag is caught fast
23 till an arrow pierces its liver;
as a bird rushes into a snare;
he does not know that it will cost him his life.
24 And now, O sons, listen to me,
and be attentive to the words of my mouth.
25 Let not your heart turn aside to her ways;
do not stray into her paths,
26 for many a victim has she laid low,
and all her slain are a mighty throng.
27 Her house is the way to Sheol,
going down to the chambers of death.
We will consider 5 desires that, because of corruption, make the simple prone to foolishness.
v13 “she seizes him and kisses him”
v14 “I had to offer sacrifices”
v15 “I have come out… to seek you eagerly”
vv16-17 “I have perfumed my bed”
v18 “let us delight ourselves with love”
vv19-20 “my husband… has gone on a long journey”
v23 “he does not know it will cost him his life”
Questions for Reflection
How would you rank the 5 desires from the sermon – which are your deepest longings, which aren’t as strong? (Connection, Attention, Pleasure, Love, Impunity)
When do you feel isolation? Where do you feel a lack of connection in life (what do you not feel sufficiently connected to)?
What do you do to get attention? What do you do to keep attention away? What motivates either (or both) of these tendencies?
What sources of pleasure do you seek? What sacrifices do you make to get them (what cost are you willing to bear)? Is pleasure always temporary?
What are ways you seek love? What are some marks of true love?
What effects does fear of punishment have? How are people affected when there is no fear of punishment or consequences?
Can each of these 5 areas be satisfied in God? What practices help you put each of these desires in a God-ward direction? How can you deal with dissatisfaction?
Jesus comes to us, bringing something into each of these 5 areas. How does the message of Jesus - sent to lay down his life for us, and raised to new life for us to follow him - bring healing or change in each of these areas?
Prayer of Confession
Almighty and most merciful father, we have strayed from your ways like lost sheep, but you have sent the good shepherd after us. We have longed for attention and pleasure, and we have connected with what has offered it, even enticed by what we recognize to be forbidden. We have not loved you, and we have settled for corrupted expressions of love that have proven not to be love at all. We have lived with presumption, hoping we could get away with it all, acting as if you approve of our wrong doing or are powerless or ignorant. Forgive our utter folly. Thank you for granting us new life. Make straight the path before us and help us to walk in it. Amen.