|THE BED PREPARED WITH MYRRH|
"For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality." 1Thessalonians 4:3 (NKJV)
"For she has cast down many wounded, and all who were slain by her were strong men." Proverbs 7:26 (NKJV)
The Church Today
Just how serious is sexual immorality? Children today are being taught that there is no such thing – sex is neither moral nor immoral; it is simply a choice you may make. The intellectuals of our times might consider unfaithfulness in marriage to be slightly wrong – perhaps on the level of choosing the wrong wine with dinner. People even say the church has diminished its view of the seriousness of sexual activity outside of marriage, and there is evidence to support this. In one church the molestation of a child by a minister was simply considered "ministerial misconduct", but not a reason for dismissal. Another pastor turned down a young couple who were living together when they requested church membership, but did not declare their sin to them because he said he was afraid they would leave the church.
These are not isolated incidents. All over the country sexual immorality is tolerated in believing churches, and preaching is rarely heard against fornication and adultery. The media has made promiscuity a trivial matter, and even one that is to be desired. And many Christians, watching all the filth movies and television have to offer, have fallen into the same mindset. Nevertheless, the seriousness of sin is not determined by majority voting, and God has not changed, as it is written:
"For I am the Lord, I do not change…" Malachi 3:6 (NKJV)
God’s Warning in Proverbs Seven
Let us consider the seventh chapter of Proverbs, to determine how serious this sin is in God’s eyes. As we study it, let us realize that, whether we like it or not, women tend to be the gatekeepers regarding sexual immorality. A wicked harlot in the Old Testament would probably be considered an "enlightened woman" in our society today. Nevertheless, no matter how we think of this sin, or who commits it, it still bears the same penalty for the offender. We begin with the story of an aggressive married woman who seeks to seduce a younger man starting with Proverbs 7:13:
"So she caught him and kissed him;
With an impudent face she said to him:
14 ‘I have peace offerings with me;
Today I have paid my vows.’"
This is not hard to understand, until we read the part about the peace offerings and vows. What is the woman trying to say? She is implying that she is a religious woman. Although we do not know whether she is referring to peace offerings and vows to Jehovah or to some pagan idol, it appears she is trying to mix God into all of this. It is apparent that she is trying to convince this young man that what they are contemplating is approved by God. In a prior verse (ten) we read, "And there a woman met him, with…a crafty heart." Does she know that the young man has some religious leanings? Is she just trying to deceive him, or is she actually deceived herself, similar to a woman mentioned recently on a well-known Christian radio program? On that show, a Christian counselor said that an adulterous church going woman told him, that she had done nothing wrong; God had simply blessed her by giving her two men to love.
We may generally think that this type of sin can only be found in the world, and not in the church. However, what God is trying to show us here, is that there are professing Christians who can be seduced into defiling themselves and others with sexual sin. Moreover, some are even seeking partners within the church – so we must be discerning about who we fellowship with.
"15 So I came out to meet you,
Diligently to seek your face,
And I have found you.
16 I have spread my bed with tapestry,
Colored coverings of Egyptian linen."
"And I have found you," carries a deeper meaning. The word used here in Hebrew for "found" is "matsa" and one of its meanings is "to light upon", which carries the connotation of a spider devouring its victim. It also means "to present as an offering", which speaks to us of a life being given in sacrifice – but not to God.
In verse sixteen, we read that her bed is covered with tapestry, which also speaks of a woven device, perhaps like that spun by a spider. Next she explains that this tapestry is comprised of colored coverings of Egyptian linen. We know that Egypt is always a type of the world, and the sins of the flesh. God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, and this is a type of the Christian’s deliverance from sin and the world. Her bed speaks to us of sensuality, and the satisfaction of unclean desires, even as the ways of Egypt defiled the Israelites when they shared in them.
The Bed of Death
"17 I have perfumed my bed…"
The word perfumed here is translated from a Hebrew word that also means "to strike". The perfume, which smells sweet, will in the end be detrimental to this young man. Moreover, there is no coincidence that in the next line, the woman goes on to tell him what she has used to prepare her bed.
"With myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon."
These items have symbolic significance revealed in other Scriptures. When Christ was born, He was given gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, all of which spoke prophetically of His future. The myrrh was a perfume that was released when it was crushed and ground, and this grinding and crushing speaks to us of Christ’s suffering and His ultimate physical death. Myrrh is derived from the Hebrew word, "marar" which means "to make bitter". In the Passover feast, the Israelites were to eat unleavened bread with bitter herbs, which represented the bitterness of Calvary – Christ’s death on the cross.
This combination of myrrh and aloes, which were used in preparing a body for burial, speak symbolically of the end this young man would come to for participating in this sinful relationship. The Hebrew word for aloes is of a foreign origin, which signifies how the sin mentioned here should have been foreign to Israel. Cinnamon also has a Hebraic meaning regarding adultery, which has to do with the consummation of the relationship, but which, if mentioned here, might be considered offensive.
No Fear of Judgment
"18 Come, let us take our fill of love until morning;
Let us delight ourselves with love.
19 For my husband is not at home;
He has gone on a long journey;
20 He has taken a bag of money with him,
And will come home on the appointed day."
Her invitation here is more than just for the moment. The word "come" is "yalak" which also means, "to live and die, or manner of life". She is inviting him not just to an illicit sexual union, but also to a way of life. She says, let us "delight" ourselves in love, which also means, "let us be intoxicated" with love. The essence of this is that she is exalting sex as a drug which one would want to come under the influence of. This influence is such that it exalts the making of love into an idol. Certainly when we yield to lust, it has mastered us, and becomes an idol in our lives.
Next she says that her husband is not at home, but that she knows exactly when he will return. There is a spiritual meaning here which parallels the judgment which would come upon this young man if her husband were to come home and catch them in bed together. The penalty would be severe, as we read in Leviticus:
"The man who commits adultery with another man's wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death." Leviticus 20:10 (NKJV)
The deeper thought is actually a hidden reference to Christ. Remember that Jesus said we know not the hour He will come. The following Scripture from Luke speaks to us of His judgment:
"the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers." Luke 12:46 (NKJV)
Essentially this woman is mocking the idea that there is a judgment. She is saying in so many words that they will not get caught. Yet the Lord answered Israel in Psalms when they thought He would not judge them:
"Yet they say, ‘The Lord does not see,
Nor does the God of Jacob understand.’
8 Understand, you senseless among the people;
And you fools, when will you be wise?" Psalm 94:7 (NKJV)
"For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing. Whether good or evil." Ecclesiastes 12:14 (NKJV)
The Adulterer’s Punishment: Spiritual Death
Is this just a trivial fling? Something that God would allow us to participate in and then go to heaven and sing our praises to Him? If we think that this could be the case, it is dispelled in the ending of this story:
"21 With her enticing speech she caused him to yield,
With her flattering lips she seduced him.
22 Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter,
Or as a fool to the correction of the stocks,
23 Till an arrow struck his liver.
As a bird hastens to the snare,
He did not know it would cost his life."
What is the proverb referring to here? It states clearly that this man did not know it would TAKE HIS LIFE. What does this mean? Is the husband going to come home and catch them together and throw a spear through him and kill him? In modern terms, does it mean that he forgot some important papers, and returned from the airport to find this couple, and then pulled out a gun and shot the man?
No, none of this applies. It is speaking to us very clearly of spiritual death. The young man, once a believer in God, will die spiritually because he has not kept God’s commands. Or reverse this situation, and assume it is a Christian woman or girl who is being seduced by a man. She thinks she can have an illicit relationship because "everybody is doing it". But this is a deadly deception. It will kill her spiritually – there is no spiritual survival for this sexually immoral conduct, except that through grace one finds repentance and turns from this sin.
In the spiritual sense, this is like playing Russian roulette. It is like walking on a tightrope over the fiery abyss of hell. It is the fool’s idea of Christianity; seeing just how far one can go and not fall from grace. It is a mocking of God’s grace, a crucifying of Jesus over again as mentioned in Hebrews 6:6. However, lest there be any question that this is referring to spiritual death, it is corroborated in verse twenty six:
"For she has cast down many wounded,
And all who were slain by her were strong men.
27 Her house is the way to hell,
Descending to the chambers of death." Proverbs 7:26 (NKJV)
How much clearer can God make this? This sin is worthy of hell. But we may wonder, why is it that so many Christians seem to think this is a trivial matter? The answer we also find is in this same passage. In verse twenty three we read, "he did not know it would take his life." "He did not know…" Was he not taught correctly? Can a person die spiritually from a lack of teaching or from bad teaching? But we may think, a godly man would not fall victim to this woman. Not so! Those slain by her were "strong men", and this does not refer to muscles. The Hebrew meaning connotes spiritual strength. The word used here also described a soldier who could not be bought – one who was wholly loyal to Israel. It paints a picture for us today of a strong believer who knows sexual immorality is wrong, but does not consider it to be spiritually fatal. Again, we might wonder, can deceptive doctrine be that serious? God tells us clearly in Hosea that it can:
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
Because you have rejected knowledge,
I also will reject you from being priest for Me;
Because you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children. Hosea 4:6 (NKJV)
The young man had definitely not been taught correctly, but this sin is so foundationally against God’s commandments that there is no question he knew he was making a choice of disobedience. Nevertheless, although he knew it was wrong, evidently he did not understand the magnitude of it – he did not realize that he was risking his salvation. The parallel for today is not hard to for us to see. Some radio preachers say that every sin is already forgiven so we can do anything we want to. Many churches today conveniently "forget" to preach against this sin, because it is so rampant in our society, and unfortunately, even among some in the church. We hear of adultery among famous Christian musicians, and even well-known pastors, who are quickly invited to return to their positions, after they have been caught in their "mistake". Some Christians believe restoring them is an act of forgiveness, but our foolishness is actually making us a laughingstock in the world. Christians should certainly be restored to the flock when they have repented, but according to the third chapter of Timothy if they no longer meet the requirements for Christian leaders, they are disqualified from holding positions of authority in the church.
In any event, for the Christian, this is not just a "mistake". Let us not mock God’s grace and put Him to an open shame (Hebrew 6:6). Let us teach our children and others the seriousness of this sin. Our society is quickly becoming degraded with all types of perversity, and the very spiritual lives of Christians are at stake. Christians do perish for lack of knowledge, and it is our duty to make certain that the truth is taught and preached. In Isaiah’s time the people were also deceived. They were living in gross sin and yet they were seeking God and saying they wanted to know his ways. He declared to them:
"Cry aloud, spare not;
Lift up your voice like a trumpet;
Tell My people their transgression,
And the house of Jacob their sins.
2 Yet they seek Me daily,
And delight to know My ways,
As a nation that did righteousness,
And did not forsake the ordinance of their God.
They ask of Me the ordinances of justice;
They take delight in approaching God." Isaiah 58:1 (NKJV)
This apparent paradox in the people’s behavior is perhaps not as unusual as we might think. Today many Christians are filling the pews thinking that they are close to God, when in fact, their flagrant transgressions have estranged them from Him. They think they know Him, but have been deceived because illicit sensuality has a grip on their lives.
David and Bathsheba
Lest we have difficulty understanding how this dichotomous lifestyle can exist, let us remember King David. He was an example of a man who was dedicated to God, and yet he sinned grievously. When God had finally established David’s kingdom, we read in 2nd Samuel 11 that he was in Jerusalem at a "time when kings go out to battle." Perhaps David was tired of the battle, and just wanted to stay home and relax a little. This sounds reasonable, but the truth is that while the soldiers of Israel were out risking their lives, he was enjoying comfort that was inappropriate. He was, essentially, doing something he was not supposed to be doing, and the ramifications of his behavior led to deeper sin.
What does this mean to us today? It means that as kings and priests before God, we must remember that there is a battle going on for our souls, and that we should be vigilant to fight it. This means keeping the "flesh" under submission, and refusing to allow sex, one of the gods of America, to cause us to bow down and serve it.
Bathsheba is still disrobing on a million movie, television and computer screens across the country. If we look at her, we are putting ourselves in the same position that David put himself – and may well find ourselves in deeper sin. Sin, of course, is non-discriminatory; even though the examples used involve men’s lust, they are equally applicable to women.
The record of King David’s life shows that many troubles, which became heartbreaking miseries, plagued his life after this sin. However, he was able, by God’s grace, to repent. The young man in the seventh chapter of Proverbs was not as fortunate. Regardless of what the world tells us, the Scriptures are replete with warnings against sexual immorality, and they reveal that it is one of the sins which exclude men and women from the Kingdom of God:
"Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie." Revelation 22:14 (NKJV)
The record of what happened to David, and the young man in Proverbs, were recorded to warn us, which is confirmed by the inspired words of the Apostle Paul:
"Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." 1Corinthians 10:11 (NKJV)
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