Walking on hot coals

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We take another look at a sensitive subject today, so pray for self-awareness.

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Bible passage Proverbs 6:20–35

Warning Against Adultery
 20 My son, keep your father's commands
       and do not forsake your mother's teaching.

 21 Bind them upon your heart forever;
       fasten them around your neck.

 22 When you walk, they will guide you;
       when you sleep, they will watch over you;
       when you awake, they will speak to you.

 23 For these commands are a lamp,
       this teaching is a light,
       and the corrections of discipline
       are the way to life,

 24 keeping you from the immoral woman,
       from the smooth tongue of the wayward wife.

 25 Do not lust in your heart after her beauty
       or let her captivate you with her eyes,

 26 for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread,
       and the adulteress preys upon your very life.

 27 Can a man scoop fire into his lap
       without his clothes being burned?

 28 Can a man walk on hot coals
       without his feet being scorched?

 29 So is he who sleeps with another man's wife;
       no one who touches her will go unpunished.

 30 Men do not despise a thief if he steals
       to satisfy his hunger when he is starving.

 31 Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold,
       though it costs him all the wealth of his house.

 32 But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment;
       whoever does so destroys himself.

 33 Blows and disgrace are his lot,
       and his shame will never be wiped away;

 34 for jealousy arouses a husband's fury,
       and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge.

 35 He will not accept any compensation;
       he will refuse the bribe, however great it is.

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Audio Bible passage

The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).

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Valuing advice
We return again to Monday’s theme. Proverbs is not an ethical text book, where each issue is addressed systematically, and so themes do return (and will do so again in chapter 7, which we skip in this series). So first refresh your memory of Monday’s note.

The chapter begins with another theme we have already considered: the value of following the instruction in life from wise and godly parents and others. Perhaps the advice you cherish comes not from the home, but from an early experience of Christian formation. That advice is no good if left at home when we venture into the dangerous world of sexual attraction – we need to hear their voice echoing in our hearts (v 22), and no more urgently than when we find ourselves at risk of being carried away on a tide of hormones and sexual desire arising from some very hot coals (v 28).

Fatal attraction
The route is clear – she or he is gorgeous (v 25) and they lead you on. But it is not just the damage to reputation and soul that is at stake here; it is the revenge of the maltreated spouse the young man has to worry about (v 34), resulting in disgrace and self-destruction (vs 32,33) from this fatal attraction.

No, deal with these things when first they arise, and pour cold water on those fires.


‘Lord, keep my heart free from the desire for what does not belong to me.’

Paul Goodliff

Deeper Bible study

Lord, help me to hold your teaching close to my heart, around my neck, day and night, for it is life.

Critics of this passage complain that we do not hear the woman’s voice (though it is heard in chapter 7); that the author shows no compassion for the woman’s life situation or for the cuckold’s anguish. They complain of the man-centred values and a racist attitude to the danger of exogamy (marrying out). I use this moment to think about the lust in my own heart (v 25); to think of the people I know with broken marriages; and to pray for my own society and its attitude towards adultery. Kidner says, ‘Condonation, as distinct from forgiveness, only proves the adulterer to be part of a general decadence’ and he compares Jeremiah 5:7–9 1. As I continue to meditate on this passage I will hold in my mind also the famous story in John 8:1–12. The Hebrew text of verse 24 talks about an ‘evil woman’ and an ‘alien woman’ or an ‘adventuress’. It is not clear that she is a foreigner, but she has stepped outside the covenant (see Proverbs 2:16,17); and verses 26 and 32 (and chapter 7) make it clear that she is another man’s wife.

A man is boiled to death in a hot spring in Yellowstone Park. Thirty(!) youngsters walk under the cliffs of Dover at night and have to be rescued when trapped by the rising tide. Did they not read the warning signs? I ponder the warning signs in today’s reading which follow the saving abruptness of verse 25. Adultery hunts your precious soul (v 26b literally). You will be burned (vs 27,28). You will be bankrupted (vs 30,31). It is idiotic to destroy yourself (v 32). Blows, disgrace and shame will follow and you will make a vengeful, implacable enemy (vs 33–35). These are common-sense arguments; there are no appeals to God or to moral theology. The teaching is down-to-earth, direct and commonsensical.

Howard Peskett


1 FD Kidner, Proverbs, p75

Bible in a year

Read the Bible in a year.

Job 31,32

Psalms 86,87

To walk in your ways

How serious are you about walking in the way of God’s truth? What puts you off? How can you resist the temptation to take short cuts and explore paths that take us away from his will?

Reflect on these questions as you watch our video prayer, written by Andrew Lane and filmed by David Bass.

Father, there are so many paths from which to choose,
So many signposts showing me a right way.
And I do want to walk in a right way,
And I do want to choose the correct path.

Lord, I lack wisdom,
I have little understanding.
Your ways are not always the paths to which I am drawn.
Sometimes I am slow to recognise the markers you have laid upon the path
Which you have already trodden.

And yet, something in my heart yearns to know you.
At the very centre of my being is a well of tears
That teeters on the brink of overflowing
Just to have even a small part of that wisdom and understanding that you alone can give.

I pause at the head of paths that stretch away into a murky gloom,
Twisting into darkness.
Leading who knows where.
A cold shiver comes over me and I move on,
Drawn towards the light that yet is hidden from my searching eyes.

Soothing words assault my ears,
For they speak of me and my desire –
My selfish ambition,
My reckless instinct,
Meet my own needs in my own ways.

They beckon me down paths of blazing neon
And I hear distant echoes of desperate laughter
And brash songs of hopeless resignation 
I know in my heart these are ways of no returning.

I would know your ways.
I would seek your wisdom and the understanding of your heart.
I would search for the mark of your footsteps
That I may follow in your tread and come at last to where you stand in welcome.

For your ways are not my ways. Your ways are high ways,
highways to grace and truth
Where I may walk in the contentment of your foregoing,
The journey of my life driven forward by my oneness with your heart’s desires.


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Composer: Noel Richard and Tim Sherrington
Copyright: Copyright © 2008 Thank you Music
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  • Rachael Hampton | Tuesday, 01 August 2017

    My husband's mum died recently at 101. Into extreme old age she would still quote her mother. Those sayings were written on her heart and worn around her neck. v21 Amp. Even more valuable to us are the words of our Heavenly Parent. v22 Amp. When you go, they - the words of your parents' God shall lead you; when you sleep they shall keep you; and when you waken, they shall talk with you. Lord, may Your words be written on our hearts - absorbed, memorised - and worn as a visible adornment around our neck. And may our ears be open and our hearing sensitive to that Word speaking to us when daily temptations lure us away from the path of life. Praying strength and blessing for all WL friends.

  • Rachael Hampton | Tuesday, 01 August 2017

    Thank you TIM and others for your comments and advice about the community building initiative and its name. It is not the name I would have chosen, but gives opportunity for conversation and testimony if it comes up in conversation. I would like to ask the founder why she chose that name. I suspect it does not come from a belief in reincarnation but is used lightly to mean good feelings. Yes, it's a pity that it's now a common term.

  • Stephanie Metts | Wednesday, 02 August 2017

    Rachael- So sorry for the loss of your mother-in-law. Praying for you and your family.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Wednesday, 02 August 2017

    Jesus, the only one who did what no sinful flesh has ever done. You kept the law, the life of the Father living 24/7 in you granting you eternal life. Before it could be ours a debt had to be paid. You took our sin and gave us your righteousness. Help us please to grasp that it is your life alone in us that is pure and spotless. Our flesh will never master victory over sin. Thank you that the victory is already won, thank you that you did it all, thank you for the power of Holy Spirit living in us slowly but surely over the years making us aware that sin is no longer our master, we are dead to the old and alive in Christ. We exalt your Word, we boldly and confidently say we will continually die to the flesh and live your risen life until we are separated from the flesh forever, In your precious name, Amen

  • Rosemary Fairweather | Wednesday, 02 August 2017

    My mother used to say about faith "if you dont want a child to drown in a sinful world you must teach him/her to swim ". She meant teach a firm Christian base be a good example and don't shield your child from the rest of the world they need to grow confidence in their own faith and relationship with God. In a multi cultural, multi faith world such as St Paul encountered, he didn't close off but reached outwards so that others saw good works realised christianity was different and experienced Jesus.

  • Angela Munday | Wednesday, 02 August 2017

    The questions arise........"Is this where the LORD, my God, wants me? Am I in a place of safety and joy, where I am blessed, being in my LORD's presence? Am I being self-centred or God-centred?".... Others have given us their wisdom that we might truly live; our Saviour gave us His own life. "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." (Proverbs 4:23)

  • Thelma Edwards | Wednesday, 02 August 2017

    Thank you Rosemary. The reminder that Paul also lived in a multi cultural and multi faith world is helpful - his teachings are just as relevant to us now as to the early Christians. The standards that are the 'norm' around us today have been watered down, cloudy, polluted over many years so that our young ones are growing up to accept them. This must mean that new Christians have so much to learn that will challenge their lifestyle and thinking. How vital discipleship is and how important it us for us to keep drinking from the pure water, the Living Water, and not to let the world squeeze us into its mould.

  • Derek Forster | Wednesday, 02 August 2017

    All the way my savior leads me; What have I to ask beside? Can I doubt His tender mercy, Who thro’ life has been my guide? heav’nly peace divinest comfort, Here by faith in Him to dwell! For I know whate’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well; For I know whate’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well;

  • Enyobi Chukwunonso | Wednesday, 02 August 2017

    The consequences of Adultery is total destruction (proverb 7:22-27), and it is wisdom (Proverbs 2:16-17), knowledge and teaching from God fearing parents and spiritual leaders, (proverb 6:20-21) that can save man (and woman) from adultery. What is wisdom, knowledge and teaching in this matter? James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. But when it came to the issue of sexual sin the bible didn't advice us to resist it, it advised us to instead flee from it. 1 Corinthians 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality... In other word, Submit yourselves, then, to God. Flee from sexual immorality You don't resist sexual immorality like you do to the devil, instead you flee from it like Joseph fled from potiphar's wife (Genesis 39:12) after he resisted her and she didn't flee (Genesis 39: 7-10). The elderly ones should help encourage the younger ones that have reached puberty. To control the libido at that stage of life is next to impossible, especially in this Modern society that every thing is sexual: Adverts, musical videos, Modern clothes for the young women, novels, movies...etc

  • Ruth Lewis | Wednesday, 02 August 2017

    ENYOBI, your comment hit the nail right on the head!!!

  • Barbara Sabin | Wednesday, 02 August 2017

    Faithfulness in marriage is paramount. On our Wedding Day my husband and I were changing to go on out honeymoon when he said to me' we have made our promises , please will you tell me if you don't want to be with me anymore as it would be the deceit that would be the worst thing, because there is always deceit with adultery' Needless to say we have been married 57 years and have been faithful to each other thanks to God. Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken .Ecclesiastes Chapter 4 verse 12.

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