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Wisdom Says, “Look Out!” | Proverbs 5-7

As preached by Timothy O'Day.

Wisdom cries out to us in Proverbs 5-7, “Look out!” God knows the terrain of this world better than us, so we should listen. For what does he tell us to look out?

1) Look out for unjust expectations (6:1-19).

2) Look out for the deception of sexual immorality (5:1-23; 6:20-35; 7:1-27).

Wisdom Says, “Look Out!”

Proverbs 5-7

4 of 10

June 9, 2024


Proverbs is training. It is instruction in wisdom so that you may live a joyful life before God, which means living a life in communion with God. Since communion with God is the key, the beginning of this joyful wisdom is the fear of the LORD. Remember Proverbs 1:7?


“The Fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise discipline and instruction.”


Did you catch that second half? If you despise discipline and instruction, then you will right off the bat lack what you need to begin. You must be at a point of humility that allows you to say, “God, I don’t know how to live life properly. I need to see things from your perspective. Please teach me. I’ll follow.”


This is not legalism. Legalism is the belief that if you do everything right, God will love you and accept you. If that is how you think God and life work, then you are wrong. Proverbs doesn’t say, “Do everything right and life will work out and God will love you.” Proverbs says, “Listen, there is some bad stuff out there in this world because sin has ruined creation. You need to be shrewd and think according to my ways if you are going to make it.” 


Walking in wisdom does not make you God’s child, but if you are God’s child by faith in Jesus Christ, why would you not listen to his wisdom? The Lord wants us to see and know the dangers ahead of us, he cries out to us in Proverbs, “Look out! Avoid this path of bitter death and destruction!” 


Wisdom cries out to us in Proverbs 5-7, “Look out!” God knows the terrain of this world better than us, so we should listen. For what does he tell us to look out? 


First, Look Out for Unjust Expectations (6:1-19)

If you recall, Proverbs 1-9 contains a series of lectures from a father to his son, punctuated by sermons by wisdom personified. These lectures are not literal lectures to a son, but instruction from one generation to the next in how to live in the fear of the Lord. 


Proverbs 5-7 contains 4 of these lectures, each beginning with “My son…” 5:1, 6:1, 6:20, and 7:1. 


Proverbs 6:1-19 covers the notion that you and I expect justice unless it means we are to suffer. You see this all the time. People are wrong to cut you off in traffic, but when you do it it is because you are in a hurry and have someplace important to be. 


But that is an expectation that does not align with justice. Such an expectation says to God, “Favor me,” instead of “I fear you.” 


The lecture covers 3 ways in which we harbor unjust expectations: Rash words, lazy excuses, and perverse means. 


Rash Words (6:1-5)

Proverbs 6:1-5 is counsel on what to do after you make a rash pledge to a neighbor (ie, someone you know, can hold accountable, and can hold you accountable) for a stranger (ie, someone you do not know well, who does not reside in your community, so you cannot hold him accountable). In short, you made a pledge and have little to no control over whether or not the stranger will make good on it or not. 


Before I say anything else, I want you to note well how the counsel is not, “Don’t do this,” although that is good advice. These verses assume you will be rash with your words and put yourself in agreements that you regret. 


Here is what wisdom says to do in that moment, “look out for pride!” Pride will keep you silent when what you should be doing is going to your neighbor and begging for mercy. You should confess that you were rash with your words and ask for mercy. Admit, “Justice demands that I follow through with this pledge unless you release me.” Pride is silent or insists on rights, “You can’t really hold me to that!” Wisdom says, “Don’t let your pride destroy your relationship with your neighbor. Just confess you were wrong.” 


Humility is a cure for rash words. When you humble yourself, you become slower to speak. 


Lazy Excuses (6:6-11)

Next, the father calls his son a sluggard in verses 6 and 9. The sluggard dwells in all of us, so we are all addressed this way. No one wants to be a sluggard, but when we are sincere we can all identify times or areas in which we have taken on this role. What should we do in light of this? 


Go to the ant and learn from him. No taskmaster stands over the ant, beating him with into conformity. Yet, he plans ahead, knowing the seasons and working for the good of his colony. 


In contrast, the sluggard lies there even though he has a taskmaster over him and much more learning to know the seasons and when it is time to work. 


Verse 10 is the teacher quoting in a mocking voice the reply of the sluggard when he is asked how long he will sleep. “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands.” Do you see what he is saying? The sluggard doesn’t know that he is a sluggard. He says, “I’m just resting!” Everyone knows what laziness is except the person being lazy. Prosperity will not come to the sluggard and he will be surprised. 


Here is the upshot: don’t expect provision and change when you do nothing. That’s an unjust expectation. It’s not how life works. 


If you are looking at your life and think, “I want to change,” don’t just go to bed. Don’t play the lottery. Don’t just complain about your lot. Go to the ant and learn. You have to do something if change is going to occur. 


Wisdom says, “Look out for lazy excuses; take ownership of your lot and do something.” 


Perverse Means (12-19)

Verses 12-15 describe what a worthless person is, calling us not to imitate or associate with such a person. Then verses 16-19 describe more fully why we should not imitate or associate with such a person.


A worthless person is one who lies and tricks to get his way. Verse 12 tells us that he has crooked speech, meaning he lies and twists the truth. He is constantly trying to convey secret signals instead of being forthright in verse 13. With a perverted heart, he sets people against one another, sowing discord, in order to work for his personal advantage. 


What’s the end result? Sudden and utter ruin will come to him, as it says in verse 15. Why will this ruin come to him? Because, as verses 16-19 say, God hates and abominates such a person.


Such a person has sown chaos in God’s creation, placing himself at the center of the universe and operating without a care for the good of others. 


If you are a liar and a fake who consistently seeks to look good in the eyes of others, but really is just after his own ends, God will judge you. You might be able to hide your insincere heart from men, but God sees it, and he will hold you accountable. 


Do you expect to escape ultimate justice? “Look out!” Says wisdom. God sees you and will hold you accountable. 


As those who cry out for justice to be done, wisdom calls us to live in line with justice as God sees it. Don’t be deceived. God is not mocked. You will reap what you sow. 


So what are you sowing? Wisdom calls to us and tells us to consider what we are planting. But she does not focus merely on the discipline of just expectations.


Second, Look Out for The Deception of Sexual Immorality (5:1-23; 6:20-35; 7:1-27).

As I said earlier, Proverbs 5-7 contains 4 lectures on wisdom, 3 of which focus on sexual immorality. Speech one is contained in all of chapter 5, addressing the subtle danger of sexual immorality and celebrating the beauty of marriage. Speech two is in Proverbs 6:20-35, warning against the foolishness of adultery. And speech three is in Proverbs 7, which is an illustration from experience calling us to fear the danger of becoming entangled in sexual immorality. 


Why so much focus on the danger of sexual immorality? This is, after all, a significant portion of the book. Let me just give you two reasons: Volatility and magnitude.



Each one of us is subject to the dangers of sexual immorality. God created us as sexual beings, male and female. He created our hormones and designed us to propagate the human race through sexual union. 


This is not an excuse for sexual immorality. It isn’t the cause of your sin, but it is the context of your sin. It is addressed so heavily in scripture because we so often go wrong in it.



The stakes are high when it comes to sexual practice. This physical union is meant to be a picture of the greater union that comes through covenant marriage. Such a union has the power to create life. Contemplate that for a moment. This is not something to play around with. This is not some mere activity. This is sacred and important. We play with it at our own peril. 


Sexual Immorality Promises Sweetness, but Delivers Bitterness

The main idea behind these warnings in Proverbs 5-7 is that sexual immorality gives promises of sweetness, but only delivers bitterness. 


The forbidden woman promises joy, but cannot deliver it. Proverbs 5:3-4


“For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end, she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.”


The language of “forbidden woman” in these chapters refers to any woman, married or not, who does not belong to you by covenant. That’s why she is forbidden. She does not belong to you. 


The promises of temptation toward sexual immorality seem sweet for the following reasons:


  1. They make you feel special


Look at Proverbs 7:15, where the forbidden woman calls out to the man, saying he is special:


        “So now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found



In other words, “you are special. I want you.” That strokes the ego. The promise of sexual immorality singles you out as significant, important, powerful, loved. But in reality, you are just an object of the other person’s sexual desire. Covenant love says, “I am committed to you.” But sexual encounters without a covenant say, “I am committed to my own pleasure. You’re just a means.” 


  1. They promise security


Look at Proverbs 7:19-20 and her the promise of the one who calls you to sexual immorality, 


“For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; he took a bag of money with him; at full moon, he will come home.” 


Simply put, “no one will know” is the promise. But that is a lie. Engaging in sexual immorality necessarily affects all of your relationships because it affects you. This is not a mere activity. This is a joining of your heart with another person. As Proverbs 6:27-28 relay to us:


“Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched?” 


Not only this, but if you are sexually immoral as a married person or with one who is married, then this secret is impossible to keep. Adultery breaks a marriage covenant. A covenant is like a windshield: when it is shattered you know it and there is no undoing it. Proverbs 6:32-35 makes that clear. 


But most importantly, even if men do not know, God knows. Proverbs 5:21, 


“For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his paths.” 


The Path of Sexual Temptation

In calling us to look out for sexual temptation, wisdom gives warnings as to what the pathway to such foolishness looks like. 


Unsurprisingly, it begins in your heart. Look at Proverbs 6:25,


“Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes.” 


This verse is not referring to the fleeting attraction you may feel when you see someone beautiful. It is referring to meditation and contemplation of that beauty. Meditation is the act of dwelling on and conforming your heart around what you dwell on. When you meditate on God’s word, you are conforming your heart to what he says, considering it on a deeper level. When you meditate on God’s word, you are being captured by what he has said. 


In the same way, when you meditate on the beauty of another person, you are surrendering your heart to that person. 


I’ve heard it said before that not everyone who lusts ends up committing adultery, but everyone who commits adultery began by lusting. It is the height of folly and arrogance to think that your heart will not be changed by what you meditate on. It assuredly will. God designed your heart to be shaped by meditation, so beware of what you meditate on. 


Next, the path of sexual immorality moves from the heart to action: you seek obscurity—hiddenness. Look at Proverbs 7:6-9, the teacher speaks of foolishness he has seen firsthand,


“For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness.” 


What he saw was a young man wandering where he should not be in order to obtain access to sexual immorality. This is what the simple do, not the wise.


The simple are those who are naive about the strength of sexual temptation, the destructive power of sexual sin, and their own importance. Why do people stray into the path of sexual temptation? Proverbs 7:7 tells us: he lacks sense.


To play with sexual immorality is to say, “This sin can wreck other people’s lives; this sin is damnable in other people; this sin can send other people to hell, but not me.” 


It is the equivalent of walking around Chernobyl without any protective gear and saying, “Other people die of radiation poisoning, but I feel fine.” Initially, sexual immorality seems pleasant and good, but it takes you to your death. Proverbs 7:22-23,


“All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life.” 


Be Warned: You Are Vulnerable to Sexual Immorality

Not a single person here is immune to this danger. While this temptation may vary in its strength and appeal from person to person, it is still possible with all of us. Many have taken the path of sexual immorality and tasted the bitter reality of it. Look at Proverbs 7:24-27,


“And now, O sons, listen to me and be attentive to the words of my mouth. Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death.” 


The path of sexual immorality, if unchecked, leads to ruin and eternal death in Hell.


Take this seriously.


The Bitter Yield of Sexual Immorality

Engaging in sexual immorality will always take you to places that you do not want to go. It delivers…

  • Dishonor, loss of money and family, disease (Proverbs 5:9-10)

  • Bitter regret of what you’ve squandered. Look at Proverbs 5:11-14. No one says after committing sexual immorality and tasting all the consequences, “I’m so glad I did that.” 

  • Reprisal from those you’ve wronged. Whether you want to or not, you must face the men and women you’ve sinned against. They will confront you, as Proverbs 6:33-35 makes clear!

  • Personal effects of shame, pain, and guilt, as Proverbs 6:27-28 makes clear.  

  • Death and hell, as Proverbs 7:27 tells us. 


Have you Tasted These Bitter Crops?

Let’s be honest. There are very few people here who have not tasted at least one of these bitter crops of sexual immorality. We’ve all sown the seeds of sexual sin and have tasted the guilt, shame, and pain to varying degrees. 


What should you do? Hear the cry of wisdom from back in Proverbs 1:23, 


“If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.” 


You may be dealing with the results of sexual folly, perhaps with some results that will stay with you for the rest of your life. But you don’t have to go down to death with it. If you turn from sexual folly and come to Christ, he will pour out his Spirit to you, forgiving you and changing you. This is how Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11,


“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 


You, too, can be forgiven! You, too, can be washed and walk in the power of God’s Spirit and wisdom. Don’t wait until the end of your life to pronounce regret. Confess your sin now, turning at Christ’s reproof, and be healed. 


Wisdom Is More Than “Don’t” 

Wisdom is much more than simply avoiding things. In order to avoid the pitfall of sexual immorality, wisdom cries to us and calls us to practice certain things. 


First, wisdom calls us to keep the commands of wisdom close. We see this in Proverbs 5:1-2, 7; 6:20-23; 7:1-5, 24. Listen to Proverbs 7:1-5 as an example,


“My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister,’ and call insight your intimate friend, to keep you from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words.” 


Only by being captured by the truth can you avoid being captured by error. It is by reciting truth and meditating on truth that the folly of sexual immorality will remain clear. 


[Japanese safety procedures]


Second, wisdom calls us to embrace covenant fidelity. We see this in Proverbs 5:15-19. These verses are a poetic celebration of the marriage bed. It recites the joyful fruit of marriage—children— and the joyful pleasure that husband and wife can have in one another. 


Sexual union is God’s good idea and design. As I already said, it is powerful. Because of it’s power, it can be destructive or incredibly constructive. With it, you can build a family. With it, you can destroy souls. Sam Allberry has a great illustration in this regard, referring to sexual union like fire. If you are in a home and there is a fire in the fireplace, then the flames bring you peace, warmth, and pleasure. But if the flames are in the middle of the living room, then instead of peace, warmth, and pleasure, the flames bring destruction, terror, and death. 


Marriage is good and should be pursued if you desire it. And since marriage offers so much good, only a fool would seek the pleasure of sexual union outside of the covenant of marriage. Do you want marriage? Then let’s talk about how you can pursue it. 


But hear this: a thriving marriage cannot co-exist with sexual immorality. If you are caught in sexual immorality, then heed the cry of wisdom to run from it. That’s what repentance is. It is seeing sexual immorality for the death that it is and turning from it. 


But how do you do that? Let me share a story with you as we close that can shed some light on this. I know a pastor who was once counseling a couple that came to him abruptly. The husband had discovered that his wife had been engaged in flirtation with one of her co-workers and planned a rendezvous with this man. Upon discovering this, he called the pastor and the three of them sat down. He was fighting for his wife, calling her to remain with him because he loved her. She also loved him but felt drawn to this other man. She did not want to commit adultery, but she had allowed her heart to be captured. How could she escape? That was her question to her pastor. 


His counsel: do not allow your affection for this man to continue. Instead, turn your affection toward your husband. “But how can I do that?” She questioned him. While they were talking, the pastor had in his hand a Styrofoam cup of coffee. As he pondered her question, he finished the coffee and set down the cup. Then he asked her, “Can this cup hold water?” She said, “Yes.” Then in one swift motion, he slammed his hand down on the cup, crushing it flat. He then said, “Can this cup hold water?” The answer was clearly no.


How can you be free of sexual immorality? Destroy whatever exists in order to keep your affection for sexual sin and, like that wife, turn to receive and delight in the affection that Christ has for you. Turn from the fleeting pleasure of sin to the eternal pleasure of Christ. 


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