How many movies or books have used the sort of literary device we find in this chapter: two women and the man who must choose between them? On the one hand we have “Wisdom” which here is personified as a sister or intimate friend, terms of loving endearment. In her company a young man will be saved from the dangers of seduction and adultery. On the other hand we have the seductress, a literal woman, married but playing the part of a prostitute (and doing a pretty good job of it, according to the passage). Once she sets her sights on the young man he, as so many before him, is doomed. In the company of this woman the young man will find himself “going down to the chamber of death” (verse 27b). This is really a compelling passage that highlights the tension we all face; knowing what we should do but doing something else. Paul addresses this reality in Romans 7:15 where he writes, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” For the writer of Proverbs the answer is clear: if the young man had only trusted sisterly Wisdom then he would have been saved from the snares of the evil woman. I say, if only it were that easy. Over and over again we sin, and yet God remains faithful to us, and the story is allowed to continue, too often repeating the same refrain.
1 John 5:13-21
In this passage from 1 John the person of sisterly “Wisdom” has been replaced by Jesus. “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know him who is true…” (verse 20a). The struggle with sin continues, but in Jesus we find God’s fullest expression of mercy and love, the one who confronts our sinfulness and defeats it for us so that we may rise above it and live as God’s people. Still we fall short of God’s intentions, but in Jesus Christ we find forgiveness and, more importantly, hope for the future.
And here in Matthew we find words that offer hope. “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (verse 28). The “heavy burdens” we carry are our sins and the “rest” we receive in Jesus Christ is forgiveness. Thanks be to God for the opportunity to start over again and to live as forgiven people!