“There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid. Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness” (Proverbs 30:18-20).
Four Wonderful and Incomprehensible Things
An eagle soars through the air. We watch. Such a large bird, yet it stays up even when it’s wings hardly seem to move. It circles, and we watch. Someone says, “Look, an eagle!” and points, and we all look up, and we watch. It’s a wonderful thing, something from which you can hardly tear your eyes away. It’s the same whether it is a golden eagle above a loch in the Highlands, or a bald eagle in Yellowstone Park in Wyoming. It’s the same with any bird of prey, really. If one of the kids says, “There’s a buzzard flying over the paddock out back,” we look, and we watch. A wonderful, glorious thing, and yet, it leaves no trace. When it is gone, you can’t see any sign that it was there, but you still know it was there, and it is wonderful. “We saw an eagle!” You even tell strangers about it. God has made something wonderful indeed.
A snake makes its way over a rock. We watch, fascinated, as it moves. How does it do that? It has no legs, yet it glides effortlessly, even at great speed sometimes. It is intriguing to watch a snake move. How can it go up over a rock? How can a snake climb? But it does, and we watch. It passes over the rock, and is gone, leaving no trace. But it passed, and we know it. “I saw a snake going over that rock!” It’s something you tell about, when you see it. There is so much in God’s creation that is wonderful and intriguing.
A ship moves over the water. We sit on the shore watching it. We cannot see the wind, but the sails bulge, so we think we understand why the ship moves (as if anyone really understands the wind). As the ship moves along, a crowd gathers, and we watch as the tall masts hold the billowing sails. The ship leaves a wake behind it, but it is gone. The only trace is a ripple on the water, and then that, also, settles, and all we have is the memory. “I saw a tall ship sailing up the Forth!” It was wonderful to see, and we remember it, and tell about it. God made a wonderful thing when He made the wind, and He wonderfully made man, that we can imagine and construct things that use the wind.
A man stands at the front of the church, waiting and smiling, and his chaste bride comes down the aisle towards him. We watch and share in their joy, remembering (or looking forward to) our own joyous day. He takes her by the hand, and they say their vows. We watch, smiling, as they go down the aisle and out into their new life together. We watch, as they greet their friends and family, and then he takes his bride, and we see them go off together on their honeymoon. They return, and we see them smile happily, and tease them, “Are you still in love?” and watch as he holds her hand and smiles, and says, “Even more than before.” They don’t look any different than they did the day before the wedding. The eagle has passed, the serpent has disappeared, the wake of the ship has settled. But we know, something glorious has happened. They have truly become man and wife, fully united, with all of God’s blessing on them. How does God make two to be one? It is a wonderful thing, but perhaps far beyond our understanding. We say, “They are such a happy couple, as if God made them for each other.” It is wonderful to see, and we remember it, and we tell others about it.
What hath God wrought, when He made marriage? Is anything in this world more wonderful?
A Fifth Thing
An adulteress (or adulterer) takes that glorious gift that God has given, the pure unity of a man with his bride, a unity God designed to last for all of your life, and treats it as a common thing. It is of no more significance than eating a meal. You lightly wipe away the traces of your meal from your mouth as if it weren’t anything significant, and the adulterer or adulteress treats the holy union of man and woman as lightly as that. Something you can just wipe away, as if it didn’t happen. You wipe away your vows so that you can break them, and then you try to wipe away the breaking of them as if it didn’t happen, so you can hide your guilt.
Afterwards, you have the effrontery to say, “I’ve done nothing wrong. I have done no wickedness.” You make your excuses. Your spouse doesn’t love you, doesn’t treat you right. Your case is different. You aren’t really being unfaithful. God will understand, in your case, even if your spouse wouldn’t.
God does understand. He understands very well. He knows the wickedness of our hearts, and how easily and quickly we deceive ourselves. He put these verses together in His Holy Word. The way of a man with his bride is a wonderful thing, something we rejoice in, but far beyond our understanding, as God unites them for life. It is the fourth of four wonderful things. The way of an adulterer or adulteress is a fifth thing, and a filth thing. You may think you can wipe it away, but you cannot — and your excuses are no surprise to God. Nearly three thousand years ago, He said that you would make them. You may use them to say, “I have done no wickedness,” but God will not.
Don’t go there, even in your thoughts, even in your imagination, even with someone who isn’t real at all. Don’t look at those pictures, don’t read that book, don’t click that link, don’t watch that movie or television show, don’t buy that newspaper. You know which ones I’m talking about, the ones that turn your thoughts that way. Don’t make that phone call, don’t look at her that way, don’t let him talk to you like that. Just don’t do it. The gulf between the fourth thing and the fifth thing in these verses is immense. One is holiness, joy, and life. The other is wickedness, sorrow, and death. Don’t go there.