“My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways. For a whore is a deep ditch; and a strange woman is a narrow pit. She also lieth in wait as for a prey, and increaseth the transgressors among men.” Proverbs 23:26-28
“Let thine eyes observe my ways” reveals what I know only too well: my eyes rest where my heart lies. And if Father wants all of my heart, then he also requires my eyes. My physical eyes, as well as the eyes of my heart, are prone to wander and sin, just as my heart is filthy and dead without the saving work of Jesus. So Father gives my eyes a job—to observe His ways.
Striking how all things worldly and ungodly (1 John 2:16) begin withthe eyes, whether those physical ones that lie in my head, or the eyes of my heart. “The lust of the flesh” is why I see (the evil desires of my heart), “the lust of the eyes” is what I see (the evil desires of the eyes), and “the pride of life” is how I see (the perception of comparing eyes and hearts).
The old heart in me desires the weak and beggarly things that are not befitting of a son. It lusts and seeks after earthly and temporal satisfactions; it would rather have pottage than the birthright of eternal riches; it would rather have the fish and cucumbers of Egypt than the faithful giving of heavenly manna; it would rather have a daughter of the Philistines than one of God’s people. These fleshly desires of the heart give reason for me to look around and sin by seeking after things that are ungodly and displeasing to Father.
My eyes love to look upon what the eyes of my heart are gazing upon. Fleeting riches and earthly possessions please the eyes which crave after what the heart wants. More than that, my sinful eyes would rather indulge in the sins of depraved men than behold the glory of God. These weak eyes would rather lap up vomit over and over again than feast at the table prepared by the LORD. Without the saving and sanctifying work of the cross, what my eyes lust after is a continual sin against my Creator (Psalm 51:3).
How I see the world around me is tainted with my sinful eyes. I am jealous when I have less, and I am proud when I have more. Even the good things that Father has given others can be an occasion for me to be vain in my imaginations. My eyes are always comparing, and they are evil to accuse Father because of His goodness to others (Matthew 20:15). The eyes of my heart would at all times see myself greater than everyone else—“pride of
life” does not simply mean pride that happens in life, but more than that – it is a lifestyle of being proud.
Yes, Father has much reason to ask that my eyes be kept busy observing His ways—for they are so prone to wander and sin against Him in so many ways. However, there is a specific reason for this instruction here, and we read about it in verses 27 and 28. Father knows me and my heart so intimately, and in the same way, He knows that His sons have a common weakness. So Father’s words of wisdom here are for a very specific purpose—to keep our eyes off the “whore” and “strange woman”.
The “whore” and “strange woman” are temptresses who by sexual enticement would compete with Father for my eyes and heart. They, too, say “Give me your heart, and look at my ways…” The corruption in me is drawn to such temptation; it devises to seek after such lusts, and even delights in such sin where no love is (1 Corinthians 13:6). God’s Word is clear when He says, “Whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” There is little left for such a one as I to say other than that I stand in need of a Saviour.
It is of Father’s infinite goodness and mercy that He warns me about the “strange woman” in His Word. If I believe what He says and am obedient, then I shall not need to suffer needlessly in the wilderness of sin. More than that, the blessings of protection and peace are surely mine since Father’s words and warnings are always true (Jeremiah 7:23).
The Ditch and the Pit
The “whore” is described as a deep ditch and a narrow pit. These are two terrible things to fall into for various reasons. First, these are not just gentle depressions in the ground, but are sudden steep descents that would cause serious injury and setback when one falls into them. In the same way, being ensnared by sexual temptations and sins will cause real and severe damage to my spiritual life. Being in a ditch or a pit separates one from the view and fellowship of others. When I sin, I know that Father in His holiness hides His face from my sinful self, and to be out of His presence and fellowship is unbearable for someone who lives only because of His grace.
Second, it is terrible to fall into these places because they are difficult, if not impossible, for me to escape from. It is either too high to climb out or there is simply not enough space to manoeuvre a way out. Father warns that for me, son, sexual sins when fallen into will not be easily escaped from. There are many things I must take note of in my Christian life, but from the loving heart of Father God, He tells me to be especially careful to avoid the “whore”.
Third, falling into a ditch or pit is an utter waste of time. If I fall into a pit, I would need to spend hours waiting for someone to come along and pull me out. It does not make me stronger because it is in no way a form of exercise, and I would just have to continue on from where I left off before falling. Worse still, I may be left with an injury or two. It is the same spiritually. As the children of Israel spent years going in circles and going nowhere in the wilderness, so I can also waste much spiritual time and energy if I fall into this deep ditch or narrow pit.
To prevent myself from falling, my eyes have to be fully alert and watching out for such temptations that are especially damaging to me.
Father also warns that the “whore” is not simply a trap in the ground who passively waits for me to fall into. She is a predator who conceals herself and waits silently for her chance to pounce, bring me down, and tear me apart.
It is indeed true that the “whore” hunts in such a manner. It could be an unexpected scene from a show that was initially thought as harmless to watch; it could be an advertisement on television or online; or it could begin with som e innocent material shared on social media. For a great king after God’s own heart, it was when he lost sight of the war, went up to the roof of his house to relax after a soothing nap, and instead caught sight of what would destroy him. Whether Bathsheba was innocent in all this is beside the point, because the more important reality is that the “whore” always lies in wait—hidden, quiet, and ready. The fact is that she is always there, and her expertise in disguise or our carelessness and letting down of our guard will give her the opportunity to strike when we are least prepared.
Father’s warning does not tell me to go on the offensive against the predator—to hunt or be hunted; He tells me simply, “Son, when it comes to her, be humble and know you are the prey.” A prey knows that he must avoid the predator and run for his life—literally; a prey knows that if he is faced with the predator he had better use the right weapons to fend off the attack; and a prey knows that he is weakest and most likely to be caught when he is proud.
God’s Word tells me to flee fornication (1 Corinthians 6:18) and youthful lusts (2 Timothy 2:22). If I shall come face to face with temptation, Jesus my Lord has given me the perfect example that I should use the Word of God and His whole armour to fend off the devil and his attacks (Matthew 4:1- 11, Ephesians 6:10-18). Also, to be always watching and praying on my knees is the strongest I can be as a prey (Matthew 26:41). To prevent myself from being hunted, my eyes have to be sharp and careful to detect the presence of this “whore” who lies in wait for her prey.
The aim of her sexual enticements is to make me and as many sons as she can cause to fall—transgress against Father, especially with regards to his faithfulness. When I fall into temptation, I sin first of all against Father, and I disappoint first of all my faithful and loving Father (Psalm 51:4). I disregard the loving words that Father has spoken to me; I despise the heart that He has first given to me; I take my heart—yes, the one that belongs to Father—and hand it over to the “whore”, and cause my eyes observe her ways. I begin to walk in the dreadful way of unfaithfulness.
This unfaithfulness to Father is a disease that corrupts the very fountain of good in my life which causes unfaithfulness to flow throughout every other area in my life. Father warns me that the evil of this “whore” is not simple and short-lived. She is here to hunt and to destroy faithful lives and souls (Proverbs 6:26,32), and not just a few, but as many as she can find.
Because of that, she is not resting, but very “diligent” in her work. Like the devil himself, she walks about all day long seeking to increase the number of her kills. To escape her snares, my eyes have to be unclouded—sober; my eyes have to be carefully watching — vigilant (1 Peter 5:8); and my eyes have to be looking to Father.
The Way Out
Father has described to me a terrifying enemy, one so deadly and who sounds impossible to stop. But I must not forget, that this enemy is nothing to Father, for she has already been defeated at the cross of my Lord Jesus Christ. Father already gave the solution when He told me to observe His ways, and then He describes this fallen and defeated foe.
The way out is one of deliverance; the Way is my salvation (John 14:6). It is not how much a struggle I can put up, and it is not how I can outwit this bloodthirsty enemy. Though I am ensnared and though I am cast down, Father asks me to look and observe His ways. His way for His loved ones—and me—is the way of deliverance and salvation. He does not forsake those whom He loves, and He certainly does not send those whom He loves into destruction and condemnation; those whom He loves, He is powerful to save and deliver.
If I am in Christ Jesus, then I am righteous, and Father’s vow is upon me that He shall deliver me (Psalm 34:19). Father has already defeated this enemy through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, and He shall fight for me to bring me safely home (Deuteronomy 3:22, Exodus 14:14, Psalm 35). I am strengthened as I observe Father’s way, and this “whore” melts away and is foiled over and over again in her attempts to destroy me (Proverbs 10:29).
As I observe Father’s ways in thankfulness, I love more and more to give my heart and my eyes to Him.
And if those eyes are properly kept, and are alert and vigilant for the “whore”, then I shall be blessed and protected. And yet, if in weakness I shall lose my guard, fall prey to the enemy, and become unfaithful to Father, then I know to flee to the cross, confess my sins, and humbly ask for forgiveness. Faithfulness is not found in me; but in the cross, Father is faithful and just to forgive with infinite love and mercy (1 John 1:9).
I am undeserving—how blessed it is for such a Father to call me son! 1 John 2:1 “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:”
Written by: Paul Liu | Issue 37