Proverbs 5:21, “For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his paths.”
The fifth chapter is about the sin of adultery, and it is the context of the above-cited verse. Solomon sets out to warn his son about the seduction and allurement of adultery that will lead, inevitably, to ruin and death. History contains a long, sad panorama of many men who have destroyed their lives by not disciplining themselves, especially in this area. The warnings about this sin are offered frankly and clearly. They require almost no explanation because, on their face, they say all that is necessary about this issue. Many a man, trapped by this sin, can cry, “I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors.” Families have been torn asunder by this sin. However, we must also remember that this sin is not only an outward act, but it is also one that is committed inwardly in the mind and heart. We are told in Ex. 20:14 to not commit adultery. We are also told in Matt. 5 that adultery is committed when a man lusts after a woman in his heart. They are both destructive, and they have captured many through the ages. Therefore, we must remember this context in light of the verse for today: “For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD.” Whether this sin is actively committed in an outward display or committed in the mind, the way of the man intent on committing this sin is before the LORD. Put another way, it is done in plain sight before Him. No one can hide from the gaze of the Almighty. Friend, are you entangled in this sin? It is something of which you wrestle? Is it something that you play with thinking it will not harm you? Read Proverbs 5 and consider: “her feet go down to death” (5:5); “At the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed (5:11); “he dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray (5:23).” These things, and more, should strike terror in the heart of any man who dismisses this issue as unimportant.
The verse does not only speak of the issue of adultery. The verse warns us that our lives — our thoughts, words, behavior, all of it — are always before the LORD, everywhere. We cannot hide our sins. They are always before the LORD. A Latin phrase speaks to this idea, and it is one we know well, but, perhaps, too well. The phrase is “Coram Deo” (before the face of God). Everything we do is done before his face. There is nothing secret. It is all open and bare before him. Those private conversations between husband and wife? They are held before the LORD. Those phone calls between friends that stray into gossip and slander? They, too, are before the LORD. Those behaviors done in secret? God sees them as well. All things are open and before Him. Thus, we should develop our theology in our practice and remind ourselves often that what we are doing, thinking, and saying is open before him, and nothing is hidden from him.
We do not consider this matter as those with no hope. As God’s redeemed people, we have a glorious Savior who has paid for this sin as he has paid for all transgressions we have committed. Friend, if these things describe your life, flee to the cross of the Lord Jesus. Confess your sin. Plead for his grace. He is willing and able to forgive. He has never turned aside anyone who looks to him in faith, believing that he is more than sufficient for that which befalls us.
Prayer: “Father, we pray that you would keep us from the evil wickedness of adultery, whether in thought or deed. We confess to you that we are not always disciplined with our thoughts and looks. We confess that we are easily pulled aside and stray from what you command and warn through threat and consequence. We confess that we often live in such a way that renders us practical atheists. We speak without thought that you are party to our conversations. We behave in ways that demonstrate poor theology because we think you do not see. Forgive us. Please help us to consciously think and reflect on your abiding presence witnessing all that we do. Indeed, our ways are ever before you, and we cannot hide. Thank you for your Spirit and grant us more of him that we might sin against you. All of these things we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.”