Instruction Wasted (Prov. 5:1-14)
Proverbs 5:1-14, My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding: That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge. For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell. Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them. Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth. Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house: Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel: Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labours be in the house of a stranger; And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me! I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly.
Solomon paints a sad picture in Proverbs five. It is unclear as to whether this is his own story, or the imagined story of another fictitious youth, but the content is potent, nonetheless. The ending of this saga contains the words, “How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me!”
If there was ever place and a time when ignoring instruction is more costly, it is in the discussion of relationships. The fifth chapter of Proverbs is almost entirely about a character known as the strange woman. She is the nightmare of any instructor. Her power is unmatched. Every investment of instruction is disregarded when a young man crosses paths with a strange woman. I have personally seen young people disregard nearly two decades of Christian School training, youth camps, Sunday School and youth group activity and fellowships so that they can obtain and maintain a relationship with a strange woman. The outcome is always sad and costly.
She is the Medusa of the Bible, but in her case, it is hearts that turn to stone when they look upon her. Notice her characteristics in Proverbs:
Like Medusa, if you stare into her face, you will be irretrievably lost. How does she maintain such power over youths who have been instructed with the best possible teaching? Sadly, the answer is a forbidden secret that many adults do not want to share with youths.
The strange woman exploits the hidden weakness of instruction. Because instruction is sometimes harsh and confrontational, the strange woman (or strange man) appeals to the resentment that many young people are harboring against authority figures in their lives. For many youths, all they see is walls, and they don’t understand them. You may see those walls as a parent’s way of holding you back. The walls may be perceived as a youth pastor’s way of ruining your fun. It may be standards that are preventing you from experiencing the full potential of what you long for. From an instructor’s point of view, however, those walls are not primarily to keep you in, but rather to keep certain things out.
A wise instructor knows that simply seeing a strange woman is sometimes all it takes to capture the imagination and cause the carnal ambitions of youth to run wild. I have seen more of these cases than I can count. In Proverbs five, the instructor is this young man’s dad. Apparently, this father had some youthful experience that he paid dearly for. He had apparently been captured by a strange woman and paid the price, and he wanted his son’s eyes to be open to the reality that the hurt could be avoided if he would “. . . attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding . . .”
That is risky for as parent. Naturally, your parents do not want you to know everything wrong they did when they were your age. After all, they fear you could use that against them someday. So much of their rebellious years are shrouded in secrecy, but most of your parents had some season of rebellion, whether long or short. That is what makes them more qualified instructors.
The father here has experienced the sweet lips of a strange woman (cf. 5:3). However, he has also felt the scourge of a bitter end and a sharp sword (cf. 5:4). Your parents have possibly had the grief of the stranger’s cruel results, mourning, physical consumption and a hellish outcome (cf. 5:8-11). I’m not exaggerating the experience – those are the very words used in this description of the strange woman’s wake.
I have seen young ladies who made wrong decisions and wound up with a baby way too early. I see it when they look in that baby’s little face – the joy is ruined by a present baby and an absent father. I see it when they look at a GED instead of a high school diploma. I see it in a young man’s face when he has to answer the question on a job application, “Have you been convicted of a felony?” For the rest of his life has to answer yes to that. They know that was not the way they were raised. They now know that if they had listened, things could be different.In the end, the greatest grief is in the memory of instruction. It is as if the memory of the wayward youth is energized and he/she recalls every lesson they were ever taught. Proverbs 5:12-13, “And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me!” Look at those verses. There is not a single question mark (?) among the words. It is punctuated finally with an exclamation point (!). Why? Your questions were once answered by the instruction of a wise father and a wise mother early in your life. When you disregarded their counsel so that you could explore a relationship with a spiritual stranger, you were left with exclamations that spew out negative emotions. These exclamations could be summarized by saying, “What a waste!” Make up your mind now that you will not waste the instruction that God has blessed you with.