Resist the Sweet and Smooth
Brian D. Dykstra, teacher at Hope PR Christian School in Walker, MI
“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” (Prov. 5:3-4).
Solomon has an important lesson to teach his son, so he has made sure he has his son’s attention. Solomon desires to enlighten his son about his relationship with women. Few things are more important for his son’s happiness and spiritual well-being than having a proper relationship with a God-fearing woman. Deciding what work to do to support one’s family is also very important. However, taking the wrong job is a mistake which can be remedied. There’s a restart button for that. However, being involved with the wrong woman will have implications for life. There is no restart button for that.
Solomon begins by describing the strange woman. This woman is not strange because of her fashion choices, odd behaviour or unusual looks. She might not even be strange in the sense of coming from a Gentile nation. She is strange in the sense of being a stranger to God. She either never had a spiritual upbringing or she rejected her parents’ godly instruction. She is not interested in developing a relationship with God. She desires a life of fulfilling earthly passions.
Solomon shows his wisdom in how he describes this strange woman. Solomon does not present her to his son as being absolutely disgusting, possessing no attractive qualities whatsoever. She is not some withered hag whose appearance shows the ravages of prolonged alcohol or drug abuse. What would happen to the son once his world of experience expands and he observes worldly women and discovers that some of them are not at all as his father described? These women are attractive. It had happened before in the days before the flood: “the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair.” What would he then think about the warnings his father gave him? When his observations don’t match his father’s description, would he dismiss his father’s warnings because it appears his father does not know what he is talking about?
Solomon freely admits this strange woman has her attractive qualities. From a worldly point of view, she’s alluring. There are pleasures to be had with a relationship with her. While the strange woman displays her charms, Satan whispers in the young man’s ear about how God’s law is too restrictive. Satan wants the young man to believe that God never allows anything enjoyable and he must plod through a drab life, shuffling along with a long face.
Solomon says that her lips “drop as an honeycomb.” Such lips sound enjoyable either for their taste or their flattering speech. The sweetness of her lips is not barely discernible but they drop with an abundance of sweetness. Solomon knows the great danger her sweet lips present to his young, impressionable and inexperienced son.
As if that’s not enough allurement, Solomon says, “her mouth is smoother than oil.” Among the many, essential uses of olive oil in biblical times was its use as a moisturizer to make skin smooth. Applying oil to the lips would make them smooth and shiny. Lips would glow. Solomon wonders what passions will stir in his young son’s heart upon his initial encounters with such a woman. What is a father and the young man, to do?
As there is no denying the tangible pleasures of the strange woman, Solomon instructs his son about the end result of succumbing to her sweet and smooth lips. She is not what she appears to be. An evening spent with the strange woman appears exciting. Solomon counters that by providing pointed warnings that, although the evening with her would be pleasurable, the days, and even the years, following would bring anything but happiness.
Solomon says, “But her end is bitter as wormwood.” Wormwood is an herb noted for its intense bitterness. The Greek word for it is absinthion (can you see the root of the French word absinthe?) which means “undrinkable.” One variety of wormwood is so bitter that one use for it when dried was to put it in wool clothing when being stored to keep insects from eating the wool. Even insects find wormwood bitter. The strange woman’s lips seem so sweet but they are very bitter. Her lips shine with the smoothness of fine oil, but they bring sorrow and calamity.
Despite her pleasing, harmless appearance, this woman is “sharp as a twoedged sword.” Satan presents us with a lie, and our depraved hearts and flesh like to make excuses for sin. Surely, a fleeting flame of fun and passion with her wouldn’t hurt! She is harmless! Nobody need be offended or damaged by what is done in secret. There would be no victims here.
Her lips are not sweet and smooth. Solomon compares her to one of the most feared weapons of his time: a two-edged sword, a weapon which can destroy limbs, and is sharp enough to divide joints and marrow. Satan, the deceiver, is an expert at presenting something horribly destructive as being desirable, good and harmless. As Eve could witness, the Devil’s been doing this since the dawn of creation.
Solomon knows the addictive power of sin, so he will give his son many more graphic warnings about this strange woman in the verses to come. The more the son falls for the strange woman’s temptations, the harder it will be for him to repent and return to the right way of obeying God. She is dangerous because sometimes falling into adultery even once can bring life-long chastisement from the hand of God. The example of King David comes to mind.
Let’s instruct our young people, as did Solomon, about the dangers of fornication We can use examples from the Bible, both good and bad, even when our children are young. Bend the pliant twig in the right direction before it becomes a stubborn, unbendable branch.