Christ’s Power Over Every Need
The Gospel of Mark Sermon Series
“Marriage & Children”
In 2005, the Guinness Book of World Records said that Percy and Florence Arrowsmith held two records—the longest marriage of a living couple (80 years) and having the largest married couple’s aggregate age (205 years).
Both Mr. and Mrs. Arrowsmith have since died, but they left good advice for those who want to have a lasting marriage. Florence said, “You must never go to sleep bad friends. If you’ve had a quarrel, you make it up. Never be afraid to say, ‘sorry’.”
Percy had slightly more humorous advice. He said the secret to his long marriage was just two words, “Yes, dear.”
In Intention of Marriage (vv. 1-12)
“And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them. 2 And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.”5 And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.
When we close chapter nine we have six months until the cross, and when we get to the opening verses of chapter 10 we are only weeks away. There are caravans and multitudes of people traveling to Jerusalem. So, as they are moving and traveling, Jesus is teaching them.
(v. 1) “went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan” – “The fact that Jesus was in Perea, Herod Antipas’s territory, may be significant. Antipas had put John the Baptist to death because John had denounced Antipas’s marriage and divorce. The Pharisees are hoping that Jesus would get himself into trouble with Antipas and would suffer the same cruel fate as John (head on a platter).” John the Baptist died because he took a stand on this subject.
Also, “Herod took John the Baptist’s criticism of his marriage as potential incitement to revolt, and it is likely that the political situation in Galilee best explains the original reason for which Jesus was questioned about his views on divorce.”
Mark tells us these religious leaders, the Pharisees, are up to no good, and trying to trip Jesus up, when he says, “in order to test him.”
Jesus references Deuteronomy 24:1 when he says, “What did Moses command you?” and the Pharisees quote their source of authority, Moses, “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house,” Apparently, before Moses’ day, a man could divorce his wife with just a word.
The Pharisees are saying Moses permitted divorce providing a certificate of divorce was given to the wife. Of course they had rules relating to the certificate (it had to be written on durable material, permanent ink, something that wouldn’t fade, etc.) – But they are not having the discussion of God’s intention behind marriage, only the loop holes, the short cuts, and the way out.
“On the question of the lawfulness of divorce, there was general unanimity among the Jews: divorce was allowed. The real difference of opinion centered on the grounds for divorce. . . In Duet. 24:1 the crucial words are “something indecent.” There were two schools that one typically fell into.
“The school of Shammai, the stricter of the schools, understood these words to mean something morally indecent, in particular, adultery. But remember that “the penalty for adultery was not divorce, under the Mosaic code, but death.”
The school of Hillel interpreted the words much more freely. Just about anything in a wife that a husband did not find to his liking was suitable grounds for divorce. Even if she burned food.” Where Jesus stood between these two schools, and to get him to say something that could be used against him was their goal.
Remember that the book of Mark was not written to the Jewish people, but to the Roman believers; so there would be little interest in the rabbinical teachings on the law, their focus would have been “in Jesus’ teaching about God’s will.”
Jesus does not question the law. But he reaches back to first principles. God’s design for a man and woman was that marriage should be an unbroken lifelong union. Jesus is pointing out that because man’s hearts are rebellious, he gives provisions that are intended to slow down the effects of sin upon society. The rabbis mistook God’s gracious provision in allowing divorce as his approval of it.”
(v. 5) “And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.” – The law was an attempt to promote some order and restraint in the society to which it was first given. The reason for the law was the people’s “hardness of heart.” The people were set on doing what they thought and desired; they were blind and unteachable as far as God’s will for them was concerned.
When Jesus comments on Moses’ statement in that it is not a reflection of the will of God but instead reflects the stubbornness of the Israelites (v. 5) – this would have been unique and striking. The men were throwing their wives to the side for the most insignificant of reasons.
6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Jesus moves the discussion from “is it lawful?” to the purpose of God for marriage. Jesus turns to the beginning of creation; It is God’s purpose for mankind, male and female, to be joined together by God – a holy union. God joined the man and woman together. Man should not separate what God put together. “Mere formal divorce does not annul the actual marriage consummated by the physical union. Breaking that bond does annul it.”
Since marriage is a lifelong union between a man and a woman, its’ claims take precedence over ties to father and mother (v.7). “So they are no longer two but one flesh” – they are one unit.
(v. 9) “therefore God has joined together” – means literally “yoked together” It graphically stresses the importance of husband and wife working together as a team of oxen yoked together. God has put a man and woman together to work for the glory of God, with their family.
In Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” “In this passage men and women are presented on equal ground. Both are to be respected, and they are equal partners. “In the social and economic context of ancient Palestine, the absolute right of the husband to divorce often meant great hardship for divorced wives, who might be given one lump-sum economic settlement if they were not accused of unchastity.
This sum, however would be no more than the woman’s dowry given at marriage, and that might be very small if the woman had poor parents.” Jesus is rejecting the idea of women being property and the wife has rights in the context of marriage, based upon the creation account.
“Jesus defines marriage as a relationship in which both husband and wife are responsible both to each other and to God for maintaining its sanctity.”
10 And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
Mark does not tell us how the Pharisees respond to Jesus’ comment. Instead, we go immediately into house again for a private conversation.
“In rabbinic Judaism a woman by infidelity could commit adultery against her husband; and a man, by having sexual relations with another man’s wife, could commit adultery against him. But a man could never commit adultery against his wife, no matter what he did.”
(v. 11) By Jesus saying, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her” – is putting the man under the same moral obligation as the wife, thereby raising the status and dignity of women. Whatever the reason for a divorce someone’s heart along the way was hardened toward God, and this was reflected in the marriage. Jesus is directly targeting men who are being cruel in how they are divorcing their wives, and against their perverse disregard of the purpose of the Creator when he formed man from the dust and joined husband and wife together.
The Innocence of Children (vv. 13-15)
“And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”
It was a custom for parents to bring their children to great men and have them blessed. Here we then see parents bringing their children to Jesus, and he was blessing them. Parents are wanting a better future for their children, a blessed future.
This is the point of a godly household and parents, to bring their children to Jesus. Ephesians 6:4 “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
But the disciples are rebuking them. Why did the disciples want to keep parents and children away from Jesus? They were keeping parents and children from experiencing Jesus. The disciples tried to stop the anonymous exorcist (Mark 9:38-41) from casting out demons, and “Jesus said, “Do not stop him,” Here the disciples are again, trying to stop people.
The disciples haven’t captured the spirit of Jesus. We ask, how can they have been with Jesus so long, and heard all that He said, and still miss the things that Jesus really cared about. They still seem calloused toward people (ex. hungry people, those outside the twelve).
“he was indignant” – “It was a strong word of deep emotion (from agan and acthomai, to feel pain).” “The disciples attempt to turn the children aside because they were unimportant, is one more instance of a persistent tendency to think in wholly human, fallen categories which Jesus had rebuked on earlier occasions (Mark 8:33; 9:33-37). The kingdom of God is made up of “childlike” earthly unimportant people.
(v. 14) “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them,” – hinder is an active, conscience, intentional blocking or obstruction. “for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter.”
“The kingdom is that which God gives and that which man receives. Essential to the comparison developed in verse 15 is the objective littleness and helplessness of the child, which is presupposed in verse 14 as well. The kingdom may be entered only by one who knows he is helpless and small, without claim or merit.”
(v. 16) “And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.” – “A papyrus dated Alexandria, June 17, 1 B.C. contains a letter of instruction from a husband to his expectant wife, who he supposes may have had her child: “if it was a male child, let it live; if it was a female, cast it out.” Jesus shows his love for all children, which is freely given to all who would receive it.
 Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Volume 1 (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1930) 348.
 Frank E. Gaebelein, General Editor, The Expositor’s Bible Dictionary, Volume 8 (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Publishing, 1984) 710.
 Larry Hurtado, New International Biblical Commentary, Mark (Peabody Massachusetts; Hendrickson Publishing, 2001) 160.
 An example of an eleventh-century Jewish divorce certificate, “On . . .[date], I . . .[name], son of . . . and of . . .. of my own free will and purpose and without an coercion whatsoever, do divorce, set free, and repudiate you, . . . [name], so that you are now free and in full possession of your own person, with the right to go and be married to whmever you choose. . .” Buttrick, 796.
 Gaebelein, 710.
 George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 7 (Nashville, Tennessee; Abingdon Press, 1953) 795. See also, John 8:2-11 The woman caught in adultery.
 Gaebelein, 710.
 Clifton J. Allen, The Broadman Bible Commentary, Volume 8 (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1969) 346.
 Allen, 346.
 Hurtado, 160.
 Robertson, 349.
 Hurtado, 160.
 Hurtado, 161.
 Gaebelein, 712.
 Genesis 48:13-20.
 Robertson, 350.
 William L. Lane, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of Mark (Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1974) 361.
Bellevue Baptist Church is offering a Photo Hoopertunity (hehehehe) for children, furry friends, and anyone else who wants to have their picture taken with the Easter Bunny! I think I will be making some adjustments to the costume. Mark your calendar for April 9th and sign up at https://bellevuenashville.org/photo-hoppertunity/
This is what it was supposed to look like, do you think it looks the same?:
So church is starting back and for a short season we are following social distancing and staying together during the entire service. Part of the new-normal is the recognition that your children will be with you during the service, and most churches have elected to keep the children in the services. So, there you are, in the service, and your little ones are crawling under your feet, making clicking noises during the prayer time, and you are completely distracted.
The following is an article I wrote in 2016, and I thought it might help you today during these strange days of church. The church and home bear the responsibility to teach the next generation essential biblical concepts — especially in these Covid-19 days.
In track there is a very important time during the 4×100 relay. No matter how fast one runner may have gone, everything hinges on the passing of the baton. Proper technique must be practiced and maintained no matter how tired the runner may be. The runner who is receiving the baton cannot go anywhere until it is in his/her hand, and the runner who is passing the baton is not considered successful until the next runner has it in their hand. The success of the handoff equals the success of the race.
In the Christian faith there is a handoff that takes place. One generation passes the baton of faith to the next generation. The children in the seats today will be preaching the sermons tomorrow. As a parent there is nothing more satisfying and that brings as much joy, as to see your children genuinely worshipping the Lord. However, as parents there is no one moment in time when the baton is passed; instead it happens a thousand times, one pass, and then another, and then another. One opportunity, that leads to another responsibility, that leads to raised expectations, etc. Slowly, over time, and then years, children grow in their faith and become leaders.
Not only is this passing the baton a parent’s responsibility it is also shared by the church as well. No matter your church’s position on children being present during the service (some leave half way through, some are out the entire time, some stay the whole time, etc.) there will be times when the children will be present for the service.
I begin with the assumption that whoever the teacher/preacher may be, that he desires to be understood and impact all in the room. Also, when the service is designed as a whole that the planners do not desire to leave anyone behind. The following are things that a worship leader or worship design team can implement with regard to children being present in a worship service.
- Sermons that utilize stories – specifically stories about the speakers childhood. This will help the children to see themselves or place themselves into the story.
Telling stories, putting principles and precepts into skin and bones, truths and ideas into real or imaginary people and situations excels as a means of communication. An abstraction may hold some interest, but embody it in a story and it becomes clear, understandable, and compelling.
- Avoid unnecessary theological terms. If you can explain something or reword it to make it easier to understand, then why wouldn’t you? If there is a term that is important to explain the main teaching point then take the time to define the term and illustrate why it is important.
- Include children in the service or story in some way. Ask them questions, mention their names in a positive way, etc. One could have them hold up a teaching object (ex. If the main idea was on “division” then they could hold up a splitting wedge. Or if the main idea was “service” then they could be asked to serve in some way that day during the service.) Of course knowing ahead of time which children are comfortable being in front of others and which ones are not is important.
- Use actual objects to teach – things they can see and touch. The more common the object the better because when they see it again they will be very likely to connect your teaching idea to the object (ex. Toothbrush, zipper, shoe laces, etc.)
- Give them an objective to complete – It helps everyone to know what is expected of them. If children can be given a worksheet to complete during the service it may focus their attention and allow them to know what you expect them to know at the end of the service. You may ask questions like, “What was your favorite song? Why? What was the main idea of the sermon? How could you do that this week?, etc”
Avoid fact finding questions, instead focus on wording the questions so that they will help them reach a goal or understanding. Remember you are not desiring to raise a bunch of knowledgeable Pharisees, but whole hearted followers of Christ. For example, don’t ask “How many disciples were in today’s Bible passage?” Instead ask, “How do you think Peter felt when Jesus said, ‘Get behind me Satan?'”
- Make comments that relax the parents. Let’s face it, kids are at different stages of maturity (spiritual, mental, and physical). Their ability to sit still will vary greatly, but let me caution you to avoid assuming that because they were moving around that they were not listening. Also, don’t assume that because they were sitting still that they were listening.
A comment like “Children are welcome here. We know they may make noises, ask questions, or move around. . . it’s ok.” (the same is true for special needs families as well).
You don’t have to water down theology or even “dumb down” the service just because the kids are there. But you need to pray and spend some extra time on how to make families feel more welcome and relaxed as they attend services together.
Also, a quick note to parents; just because your child may be drawing on the bulletin or crawling around under the chairs, don’t assume that they were not listening. Ask them on the way home what they heard, you will be amazed at what they can retain. As the church and the home work together on making our services more kid/family friendly we will make some great strides to passing off the baton. But don’t forget it’s not a one shot deal, it’s week after week, Sunday after Sunday of partnering together to reach the next generation for Christ.
Get ready, set, . . .Go
 Roy Zuck. Teaching as Jesus Taught (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Publishing), 306.
When children reach the teenage years there is a delicate balance that must be achieved between parents and teens. How much control and how much freedom should a parent exercise? Parents have to decide how much control they will have over their child and how much freedom and decision making the youth will be able to exercise.
We see in this passage that a young man is being instructed by his father and he tells him that he will encounter two major temptations; peer pressure and sexual seduction. Instead of clamping down freedom and ratcheting up control â€“ the father tries to teach his son how to make wise decisions himself, and he instructs him on the benefits of making wise decisions. He tells him the truth about life (these are the dangers), and he gives his son the necessary tools to handle it when it comes.
Also, the father begins with the importance of knowing God. Many parents tell their children “donâ€™t do this,” or “donâ€™t do that” and they may even show in the Bible how these things are destructive, but they do not give an alternative to the desire to be popular, or have a girlfriend, or be in a bad relationship. The alternative is knowing God and finding joy in that relationship and way of life. The alternative given to us in Proverbs 2 is the most valuable pursuit there is, the most important thing in life â€“ to know and love God at a deeper level.
So let’s take a look:
How One Receives Wisdom (vv. 1-5)
2:1 My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, 2 making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; 3 yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, 4 if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, 5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.
We see first in v. 1 there is an â€œifâ€ and again in v. 4, â€œifâ€ and in v. 5 we see â€œthenâ€ â€“ these are if/then statements that say if you do this, then these things will happen. If we take in our fatherâ€™s commandments, then we will understand â€œthe fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.â€ Fear and knowledge therefore do not just happen, they have to be sought after and desired. They require effort and time.
The way that is described here is of a person seeking wisdom, by calling for it, digging for it, mining for it, so that it can be found or discovered â€“ but all of these things require a person to diligently seek it out â€“ it does not just pop into your mind and heart.
I love my children, but one of my children has a tendency to wander off away from groups â€“ water parks, cub scout camp, churchâ€¦ and there have been several times when we realized that the child (who shall remain anonymous) there is a rush of panic and fear that rushes over you â€“ and your whole focus is finding that child as quickly as you can. I know I treasure this child, because I seek after the child with all I have, my heart desires nothing else but to find this child.
I yell the childâ€™s name â€œanonymousâ€, I look under stuff, I look in stuff, I really do want to find the child. This is how we are to seek God â€“ we cry out to the Lord in prayer, we search His Word as though we really want to discover Him, and His commands for our lives â€“ not in some kind of guilt trip, or so we can be self-righteous.
Mark 10:46-52 â€œAnd they came to Jericho. And as he [Jesus] was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, â€œJesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!â€ 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, â€œSon of David, have mercy on me!â€ 49 And Jesus stopped and said, â€œCall him.â€ And they called the blind man, saying to him, â€œTake heart. Get up; he is calling you.â€ 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, â€œWhat do you want me to do for you?â€ And the blind man said to him, â€œRabbi, let me recover my sight.â€ 52 And Jesus said to him, â€œGo your way; your faith has made you well.â€ And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.â€
When we seek after wisdom with all that we have, it is not just wisdom that one is given, but God Himself! We get to know God better, we relate to Him at a deeper level.
How the Lord Protects Us With Wisdom (vv. 6-8)
6 For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; 7 he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, 8 guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.
In chapter Proverbs 1 wisdom calls out to us and here we see that we are to call out for wisdom. So, wisdom desires to be listened to, and the Lord is ready to give wisdom to any who seek it. He stores it up for when we seek Him; it can be found in great quantity. Wisdom is directly related to obedience where the believer chooses to obey and wisdom is then given from God and their paths are protected. The seeker of wisdom is described as upright, blameless, just, and faithful.
Wisdom in the life of a believer then becomes a shield that is given by God that protects the believer. When we are diligent and obedient, wisdom is given from God and our decision-making becomes one where wisdom is shown. So if we look at it from the opposite view, and reverse the teaching here â€“ when we are disobedient, wisdom is not given in the life of a person, and then their decision making is one that lacks wisdom because it is not given by God, and the personâ€™s path is not guarded, and they suffer harm.
One of the ways that God â€œwatches over usâ€ is to allow us to choose to follow Him, and then because we choose His ways, and obey His commands, then he gives us the ability to protect ourselves by our ability to make good and wise decisions.
It is like a father who teaches his child to wear a helmet when he rides his bike. Every time the child goes to ride his bike the father tells him, wear your helmet â€“ then one day the son goes out, puts on his helmet and rides his bike without the father having to say anything â€“ he then falls â€“ how did the father protect his son? By giving him instruction and the son then listens and obeys, and the son is protected when he fell.
As our heavenly almighty father, He has the ability to make us walk in His ways, but He has decided to give us the freedom to choose. The Bible teaches us that those who become wise are those who seek the Lord, and obey His commands (holiness) â€“ wisdom â€œskills in lifeâ€ are given to them by God.
The best way to prepare our children for the world is to teach them to fall in love with Godâ€™s Word. To memorize it, to discuss it, read it, pray through it â€“ and teach them to have a quiet time on their own. We lead by example â€“ we love God and His Word, and they follow. We can have a quiet time with them, teaching of why we do this and how important it is, then have a quiet time at the same time but separately, and then them by themselves.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 â€œHear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.â€
Wisdom Protects Us From Evil Men (vv. 9-15)
â€œ9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; 10 for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; 11 discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you, 12 delivering you from the way of evil, from men of perverted speech, 13 who forsake the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness, 14 who rejoice in doing evil and delight in the perverseness of evil, 15 men whose paths are crooked, and who are devious in their ways.â€
The seeker of wisdom is described to us as being on a path. While on this path he begins to understand how God sees righteousness, justice, and equity â€“ and understand the â€œgood path.â€ He will discover that living this is â€œpleasant to the soul.â€ He enjoys living a godly life, it brings him joy. He doesnâ€™t have to, he gets to. Itâ€™s not a duty, or obligation but a privilege.
Wisdom given from God to the believer, and a love for God and this way of life becomes a guard against men who desire to seduce him into â€œways of darknessâ€ We see that not only do these men have perverted speech, are unrighteous, walk in ways of darkness, but that they â€œrejoice in doing evil.â€ They love being perverted, walking a crooked life path, and being devious. The danger is not what these evil men will do to the young man, but how they will draw him in to doing what they are doing, even to the point of thinking that it is pleasurable and having fun in this activity. The danger is that he will become what they are.
We all have a sin nature, that when we expose ourselves to certain things, stirs up things within us. These evil men use that sin nature to entice the young man into perverse activity. But when the young man has wisdom â€“ he realizes this and rejoices instead in His God, and Godâ€™s ways â€“ thus giving him the ability to not go down the crooked path.
Wisdom gives the young man the skill of saying, â€œnoâ€ and realizing that he does not want to live a life that way. The young man has a desire to serve God, rather than allow his sinful desire to control him, and lure him into wickedness.
Wisdom Protects Us From Evil Women (vv. 16-19)
16 So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words, 17 who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God; 18 for her house sinks down to death, and her paths to the departed; 19 none who go to her come back,
nor do they regain the paths of life.
We see the young man, who is separated from his father, and as he is walking he comes across a woman. Wisdom will protect a young man from this â€œsmoothâ€ talking woman. Her smooth talk is for the purpose of getting the young man to commit adultery with her. She is not keeping the pledge that she gave to God (notice itâ€™s not about her pledge to her husband).
Malachi 2:14 â€œBut you say, â€œWhy does he not?â€ Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.â€
Another way to think of this is to engage in a relationship where the other person is willing to break a covenantal promise in order to get something she wants. The people that we choose to associate with will have a direct affect on us â€“ wisdom tells us that being around this woman is dangerous.
Proverbs 13:20 â€œWhoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.â€
Desire is a theme that runs through this chapter â€“ desire for God, desire to fit in, desire for an adulterous woman, etc.. Desire, when kept in check, and when a young man is righteous, holy, upright etcâ€¦is guarded and protected from the consequences of immoral and evil behavior because he does not engage in the activity.
But here the lust for this woman leads to a â€œsinking down to death,â€ keeping the desire in check, not engaging in activity or going to a place where this desire is aroused, has to be guided by wisdom. If not, it leads to destruction. The enticement to be with the peer group leads one to become like they are, here the desire and lust for this woman leads to the destruction of oneâ€™s life.
Wisdomâ€™s End Result (vv. 20-22)
20 So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous. 21 For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it, 22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.
Here again we see the young man joined with a group â€“ but they are a good and righteous group who are on a good path. And if the young man is able to be guided by wisdom, says â€œnoâ€ to danger, then he will â€œinhabit the landâ€ and â€œremainâ€ there. In the Old Testament land often times represents the presence of God, or a relationship with God. When we are obedient we are in a place where we can know God and remain in that place of knowing Him at a deeper level.
But the wicked are â€œcut offâ€ from knowing God, learning things about Him, and are even at a point where they are â€œrooted out of it.â€ Wisdom then, when sought after with all that we have, with our whole heart, and if we remain obedient to Godâ€™s commands, we will have the honor and privilege of knowing God.
Imagine you get on a plane and travel to deepest and most remotest part of a land where the people there do not speak your language and use crude instruments and tools, and have no knowledge of any other land than the surrounding country side where they grew up. Now you take that person and fly them to New York, and drop them off from a taxi to Times Square, you close the door, say â€œgood byeâ€ and drive off. How do you think they will do? Will they be successful? Will they even be able to live?
This is what life is like when we donâ€™t seek God with all of our heart. Life makes no sense, itâ€™s maddening, itâ€™s confusing, and it seems to keep changing. There is no sense of direction and we wander from place to place, day to day, not knowing, and not understanding. Everything is foreign and we donâ€™t understand very much at all.
But after a while, we kind-of figure some stuff out. We discover that we can dig through dumpsters to get food, and we can find clothing in the streets sometimes. But what if we were from New York, and spoke the language, and knew how to hail a cab, or had money to pay for it, because we had a job in one of those high sky scrapers. We had a home, and every sign we read told us where to go, how much, or we understood that dangers that lay ahead. Wisdom is like looking at the world as though we were from another land, and putting on glasses that allowed us to see and understand the world correctly.
The road to wisdom begins with understanding who God is, and what He is like. He is holy; we are not. He is all-powerful; we are not. He is all-knowing; we are not. He is all-loving; we are not. We have been cut off from Him, because of our sin. But in His love, he has made a way, for it all to make sense through a relationship with His Son Jesus Christ.
 Paul Koptan, The New Application Commentary (Grand Rapids:Michigan; Zondervan) 97.