The scope of this chapter is much the same with that of
To write the same things, in other words, ought not to be grievous, for
it is safe,
I. An exhortation to get acquaintance with and submit to the laws of
wisdom in general,
II. A particular caution against the sin of whoredom,
III. Remedies prescribed against that sin.
1. Conjugal love,
2. A regard to God's omniscience,
3. A dread of the miserable end of wicked people,
And all little enough to arm young people against those fleshly lusts
which war against the soul.
|Parental Instructions; Cautions against Sensuality.
1 My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my
2 That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may
3 For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and
her mouth is smoother than oil:
4 But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.
6 Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are
moveable, that thou canst not know them.
7 Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the
words of my mouth.
8 Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of
9 Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto
10 Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labours
be in the house of a stranger;
11 And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are
12 And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised
13 And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined
mine ear to them that instructed me!
14 I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation
Here we have,
I. A solemn preface, to introduce the caution which follows,
Solomon here addresses himself to his son, that is, to all young men,
as unto his children, whom he has an affection for and some influence
upon. In God's name, he demands attention; for he writes by divine
inspiration, and is a prophet, though he begins not with, Thus saith
the Lord. "Attend, and bow thy ear; not only hear what is said, and
read what is written, but apply thy mind to it and consider it
diligently." To gain attention he urges,
1. The excellency of his discourse: "It is my wisdom, my
understanding; if I undertake to teach thee wisdom I cannot
prescribe any thing to be more properly called so; moral philosophy is
my philosophy, and that which is to be learned in my school."
2. The usefulness of it: "Attend to what I say,"
(1.) "That thou mayest act wisely--that thou mayest regard
discretion." Solomon's lectures are not designed to fill our heads
with notions, with matters of nice speculation, or doubtful
disputation, but to guide us in the government of ourselves, that we
may act prudently, so as becomes us and so as will be for our true
(2.) "That thou mayest speak wisely--that thy lips may keep
knowledge, and thou mayest have it ready at thy tongue's end" (as
we say), "for the benefit of those with whom thou dost converse." The
priest's lips are said to keep knowledge
but those that are ready and mighty in the scriptures may not only in
their devotions, but in their discourses, be spiritual priests.
II. The caution itself, and that is to abstain from fleshly lusts, from
adultery, fornication, and all uncleanness. Some apply this
figuratively, and by the adulterous woman here understand idolatry, or
false doctrine, which tends to debauch men's minds and manners, or the
sensual appetite, to which it may as fitly as any thing be applied; but
the primary scope of it is plainly to warn us against
seventh-commandment sins, which youth is so prone to, the temptations
to which are so violent, the examples of which are so many, and which,
where admitted, are so destructive to all the seeds of virtue in the
soul that it is not strange that Solomon's cautions against it are so
very pressing and so often repeated. Solomon here, as a faithful
watchman, gives fair warning to all, as they regard their lives and
comforts, to dread this sin, for it will certainly be their ruin. Two
things we are here warned to take heed of:--
1. That we do not listen to the charms of this sin. It is true the
lips of a strange woman drop as a honey-comb
the pleasures of fleshly lust are very tempting (like the wine that
gives its colour in the cup and moves itself aright); its
mouth, the kisses of its mouth, the words of its mouth, are smoother
than oil, that the poisonous pill may go down glibly and there may
be no suspicion of harm in it. But consider,
(1.) How fatal the consequences will be. What fruit will the sinner
have of his honey and oil when the end will be,
[1.] The terrors of conscience: It is bitter as wormwood,
What was luscious in the mouth rises in the stomach and turns sour
there; it cuts, in the reflection, like a two-edged sword; take
it which way you will, it wounds. Solomon could speak by experience,
[2.] The torments of hell. If some that have been guilty of this sin
have repented and been saved, yet the direct tendency of the sin is to
destruction of body and soul; the feet of it go down to
death, nay, they take hold on hell, to pull it to the
sinner, as if the damnations slumbered too long,
Those that are entangled in this sin should be reminded that there is
but a step between them and hell, and that they are ready to drop into
(2.) Consider how false the charms are. The adulteress flatters and
speaks fair, her words are honey and oil, but she will deceive those
that hearken to her: Her ways are movable, that thou canst not know
them; she often changes her disguise, and puts on a great variety
of false colours, because, if she be rightly known, she is certainly
hated. Proteus-like, she puts on many shapes, that she may keep in with
those whom she has a design upon. And what does she aim at with all
this art and management? Nothing but to keep them from pondering the
path of life, for she knows that, if they once come to do that, she
shall certainly lose them. Those are ignorant of Satan's devices
who do not understand that the great thing he drives at in all his
[1.] To keep them from choosing the path of life, to prevent them from
being religious and from going to heaven, that, being himself shut out
from happiness, he may keep them out from it.
[2.] In order hereunto, to keep them from pondering the path of life,
from considering how reasonable it is that they should walk in that
path, and how much it will be for their advantage. Be it observed, to
the honour of religion, that it certainly gains its point with all
those that will but allow themselves the liberty of a serious thought
and will weigh things impartially in an even balance, and that the
devil has no way of securing men in his interests but by diverting them
with continual amusements of one kind or another from the calm and
sober consideration of the things that belong to their peace.
And uncleanness is a sin that does as much as any thing blind the
understanding, sear the conscience, and keep people from pondering the
path of life. Whoredom takes away the heart,
2. That we do not approach the borders of this sin,
(1.) This caution is introduced with a solemn preface: "Hear me now
therefore, O you children! whoever you are that read or hear these
lines, take notice of what I say, and mix faith with it, treasure it
up, and depart not from the words of my mouth, as those will do
that hearken to the words of the strange woman. Do not only receive
what I say, for the present merely, but cleave to it, and let it be
ready to thee, and of force with thee, when thou art most violently
assaulted by the temptation."
(2.) The caution itself is very pressing: "Remove thy way far from
her; if thy way should happen to lie near her, and thou shouldst
have a fair pretence of being led by business within the reach of her
charms, yet change thy way, and alter the course of it, rather than
expose thyself to danger; come not nigh the door of her house;
go on the other side of the street, nay, go through some other street,
though it be about." This intimates,
[1.] That we ought to have a very great dread and detestation of the
sin. We must fear it as we would a place infected with the plague; we
must loathe it as the odour of carrion, that we will not come near.
Then we are likely to preserve our purity when we conceive a
rooted antipathy to all fleshly lusts.
[2.] That we ought industriously to avoid every thing that may be an
occasion of this sin or a step towards it. Those that would be kept
from harm must keep out of harm's way. Such tinder there is in the
corrupt nature that it is madness, upon any pretence whatsoever, to
come near the sparks. If we thrust ourselves into temptation, we mocked
God when we prayed, Lead us not into temptation.
[3.] That we ought to be jealous over ourselves with a godly jealousy,
and not to be so confident of the strength of our own resolutions as to
venture upon the brink of sin, with a promise to ourselves that
hitherto we will come and no further.
[4.] That whatever has become a snare to us and an occasion of sin,
though it be as a right eye and a right hand, we must
pluck it out, cut it off, and cast it from us, must part with
that which is dearest to us rather than hazard our own souls; this is
our Saviour's command,
(3.) The arguments which Solomon here uses to enforce this caution are
taken from the same topic with those before, the many mischiefs which
attend this sin.
[1.] It blasts the reputation. "Thou wilt give thy honour unto
thou wilt lose it thyself; thou wilt put into the hand of each of thy
neighbours a stone to throw at thee, for they will all, with good
reason, cry shame on thee, will despise thee, and trample on thee, as a
foolish men." Whoredom is a sin that makes men contemptible and base,
and no man of sense or virtue will care to keep company with one that
keeps company with harlots.
[2.] It wastes the time, gives the years, the years of youth,
the flower of men's time, unto the cruel, "that base lust of
thine, which with the utmost cruelty wars against the soul, that
base harlot which pretends an affection for thee, but really hunts for
the precious life." Those years that should be given to the honour of a
gracious God are spent in the service of a cruel sin.
[3.] It ruins the estate
"Strangers will be filled with thy wealth, which thou art
but entrusted with as a steward for thy family; and the fruit of thy
labours, which should be provision for thy own house, will be in
the house of a stranger, that neither has right to it nor will
ever thank thee for it."
[4.] It is destructive to the health, and shortens men's days: Thy
flesh and thy body will be consumed by it,
The lusts of uncleanness not only war against the soul, which
the sinner neglects and is in no care about, but they war against the
body too, which he is so indulgent of and is in such care to please and
pamper, such deceitful, such foolish, such hurtful lusts are they.
Those that give themselves to work uncleanness with greediness waste
their strength, throw themselves into weakness, and often have their
bodies filled with loathsome distempers, by which the number of their
months is cut off in the midst and they fall unpitied sacrifices to a
[5.] It will fill the mind with horror, if ever conscience be awakened.
"Though thou art merry now, sporting thyself in thy own
deceivings, yet thou wilt certainly mourn at the last,
Thou art all this while making work for repentance, and laying up
matter for vexation and torment in the reflection, when the sin is set
before thee in its own colours." Sooner or later it will bring sorrow,
either when the soul is humbled and brought to repentance or when the
flesh and body are consumed, either by sickness, when conscience
flies in the sinner's face, or by the grave; when the body is rotting
there, the soul is racking in the torments of hell, where the worm dies
not, and "Son, remember," is the constant peal. Solomon here
brings in the convinced sinner reproaching himself, and aggravating his
own folly. He will then most bitterly lament it. First, That
because he hated to be reformed he therefore hated to be informed, and
could not endure either to be taught his duty (How have I hated
not only the discipline of being instructed, but the instruction
itself, though all true and good!) or to be told of his faults--My
heart despised reproof,
He cannot but own that those who had the charge of him, parents,
ministers, had done their part; they had been his teachers; they had
instructed him, had given him good counsel and fair warning
but to his own shame and confusion does he speak it, and therein
justifies God in all the miseries that were brought upon him, he had
not obeyed their voice, for indeed he never inclined his ear
to those that instructed him, never minded what they said nor
admitted the impressions of it. Note, Those who have had a good
education and do not live up to it will have a great deal to answer for
another day; and those who will not now remember what they were taught,
to conform themselves to it, will be made to remember it as an
aggravation of their sin, and consequently of their ruin.
Secondly, That by the frequent acts of sin the habits of it were
so rooted and confirmed that his heart was fully set in him to commit
I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and
assembly. When he came into the synagogue, or into the courts of
the temple, to worship God with other Israelites, his unclean heart was
full of wanton thoughts and desires and his eyes of adultery. Reverence
of the place and company, and of the work that was doing, could not
restrain him, but he was almost as wicked and vile there as any where.
No sin will appear more frightful to an awakened conscience than the
profanation of holy things; nor will any aggravation of sin render it
more exceedingly sinful than the place we are honoured with in the
congregation and assembly, and the advantages we enjoy thereby. Zimri
and Cozbi avowed their villany in the sight of Moses and all the
and heart-adultery is as open to God, and must needs be most offensive
to him, when we draw nigh to him in religious exercises. I was in
all evil in defiance of the magistrates and judges, and their
assemblies; so some understand it. Others refer it to the evil of
punishment, not to the evil of sin: "I was made an example, a spectacle
to the world. I was under almost all God's sore judgments in the
midst of the congregation of Israel, set up for a mark. I stood
up and cried in the congregation,"
Let that be avoided which will be thus rued at last.
|Conjugal Fidelity Enjoined.
15 Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters
out of thine own well.
16 Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of
waters in the streets.
17 Let them be only thine own, and not strangers' with thee.
18 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of
19 Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her
breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always
with her love.
20 And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman,
and embrace the bosom of a stranger?
21 For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and
he pondereth all his goings.
22 His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he
shall be holden with the cords of his sins.
23 He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of
his folly he shall go astray.
Solomon, having shown the great evil that there is in adultery and
fornication, and all such lewd and filthy courses, here prescribes
remedies against them.
I. Enjoy with satisfaction the comforts of lawful marriage, which was
ordained for the prevention of uncleanness, and therefore ought to be
made use of in time, lest it should not prove effectual for the cure of
that which it might have prevented. Let none complain that God has
dealt unkindly with them in forbidding them those pleasures which they
have a natural desire of, for he has graciously provided for the
regular gratification of them. "Thou mayest not indeed eat of every
tree of the garden, but choose thee out one, which thou pleasest, and
of that thou mayest freely eat; nature will be content with that, but
lust with nothing." God, in thus confining men to one, has been so far
from putting any hardship upon them that he has really consulted their
true interest; for, as Mr. Herbert observes, "If God had laid all
common, certainly man would have been the encloser."--Church-porch.
Solomon here enlarges much upon this, not only prescribing it as an
antidote, but urging it as an argument against fornication, that the
allowed pleasures of marriage (however wicked wits may ridicule them,
who are factors for the unclean spirit) far transcend all the false
forbidden pleasures of whoredom.
1. Let young men marry, marry and not burn. Have a cistern, a
well of thy own
even the wife of thy youth,
Wholly abstain, or wed.--Herbert. "The world is wide, and there
are varieties of accomplishments, among which thou mayest please
2. Let him that is married take delight in his wife, and let him be
very fond of her, not only because she is the wife that he himself has
chosen and he ought to be pleased with his own choice, but because she
is the wife that God in his providence appointed for him and he ought
much more to be pleased with the divine appointment, pleased with her
because she is his own. Let thy fountain be blessed
think thyself very happy in her, look upon her as a blessed wife, let
her have thy blessing, pray daily for her, and then rejoice with
her. Those comforts we are likely to have joy of that are
sanctified to us by prayer and the blessing of God. It is not only
allowed us, but commanded us, to be pleasant with our relations; and it
particularly becomes yoke-fellows to rejoice together and in each
other. Mutual delight is the bond of mutual fidelity. It is not only
taken for granted that the bridegroom rejoices over his bride
but given for law.
Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of thy
life. Those take not their comforts where God has appointed who are
jovial and merry with their companions abroad, but sour and morose with
their families at home.
3. Let him be fond of his wife and love her dearly
Let her be as the loving hind and the pleasant roe, such as
great men sometimes kept tame in their houses and played with. Desire
no better diversion from severe study and business than the innocent
and pleasant conversation of thy own wife; let her lie in thy bosom, as
the poor man's ewe-lamb did in his
(2 Samuel 12:3),
and do thou repose thy head in hers, and let that satisfy thee at
all times; and seek not for pleasure in any other. "Err thou
always in her love. If thou wilt suffer thy love to run into an
excess, and wilt be dotingly fond of any body, let it be only of thy
own wife, where there is least danger of exceeding." This is
drinking waters, to quench the thirst of thy appetite, out of
thy own cistern, and running waters, which are clear, and
sweet, and wholesome, out of thy own well,
1 Cor. vii. 2, 3.
4. Let him take delight in his children and look upon them with
"Look upon them as streams from thy own pure fountains" (the Jews are
said to come forth out of the waters of Judah,
"so that they are parts of thyself, as the streams are of the fountain.
Keep to thy own wife, and thou shalt have,"
(1.) "A numerous offspring, like rivers of water, which run in
abundance, and they shall be dispersed abroad, matched into other
families, whereas those that commit whoredom shall not
(2.) "A peculiar offspring, which shall be only thy own, whereas
the children of whoredom, that are fathered upon thee, are, probably,
not so, but, for aught thou knowest, are the offspring of strangers,
and yet thou must keep them."
(3.) "A creditable offspring, which are an honour to thee, and which
thou mayest send abroad, and appear with, in the streets, whereas a
spurious brood is thy disgrace, and that which thou art ashamed to
own." In this matter, virtue has all the pleasure and honour in it;
justly therefore it is called wisdom.
5. Let him then scorn the offer of forbidden pleasures when he is
always ravished with the love of a faithful virtuous wife; let
him consider what an absurdity it will be for him to be ravished
with a strange woman
to be in love with a filthy harlot, and embrace the bosom of a
stranger, which, if he had any sense of honour or virtue, he would
loathe the thoughts of. "Why wilt thou be so sottish, such an enemy to
thyself, as to prefer puddle-water, and that poisoned too and stolen,
before pure living waters out of thy own well?" Note, If the dictates
of reason may be heard, the laws of virtue will be obeyed.
II. "See the eye of God always upon thee and let his fear rule in thy
Those that live in this sin promise themselves secresy (the eye of
the adulterer waits for the twilight,
but to what purpose, when it cannot be hidden from God? For,
1. He sees it. The ways of man, all his motions, all his
actions, are before the eyes of the Lord, all the workings of
the heart and all the outgoings of the life, that which is done ever so
secretly and disguised ever so artfully. God sees it in a true light,
and knows it with all its causes, circumstances, and consequences. He
does not cast an eye upon men's ways now and then, but they are always
actually in his view and under his inspection; and darest thou sin
against God in his sight, and do that wickedness under his eye which
thou durst not do in the presence of a man like thyself?
2. He will call the sinner to an account for it; for he not only sees,
but ponders all his goings, judges concerning them, as one that
will shortly judge the sinner for them. Every action is weighed,
and shall be brought into judgment
which is a good reason why we should ponder the path of our feet
and so judge ourselves that we may not be judged.
III. "Foresee the certain ruin of those that go on still in their
trespasses." Those that live in this sin promise themselves impunity,
but they deceive themselves; their sin will find them out,
The apostle gives the sense of these verses in a few words.
Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.
1. It is a sin which men with great difficulty shake off the power of.
When the sinner is old and weak his lusts are strong and active, in
calling to remembrance the days of his youth,
Thus his own iniquities having seized the wicked himself
by his own consent, and he having voluntarily surrendered himself a
captive to them, he is held in the cords of his own sins, and
such full possession they have gained of him that he cannot extricate
himself, but in the greatness of his folly (and what greater
folly could there be than to yield himself a servant to such cruel
task-masters?) he shall go astray, and wander endlessly.
Uncleanness is a sin from which, when once men have plunged themselves
into it, they very hardly and very rarely recover themselves.
2. It is a sin which, if it be not forsaken, men cannot possibly escape
the punishment of; it will unavoidably be their ruin. As their own
iniquities do arrest them in the reproaches of conscience and present
so their own iniquities shall arrest them and bind them over to the
judgments of God. There needs no prison, no chains; they shall be
holden in the cords of their own sins, as the fallen angels,
being incurably wicked, are thereby reserved in chains of
darkness. The sinner, who, having been often reproved, hardens
his neck, shall die at length without instruction. Having
had general warnings sufficient given him already, he shall have no
particular warnings, but he shall die without seeing his danger
beforehand, shall die because he would not receive instruction, but
in the greatness of his folly would go astray; and so
shall his doom be, he shall never find the way home again. Those that
are so foolish as to choose the way of sin are justly left of God to
themselves to go in it till they come to that destruction which it
leads to, which is a good reason why we should guard with watchfulness
and resolution against the allurements of the sensual appetite.