Guarding the Eyes: A Study of Proverbs 5

We usually fall into sin because it looks or feels appealing; it wouldn’t be a problem if everyone was completely repulsed by it.

Toby Janicki

Cheshbon Nefesh

adultery holiness Proverbs sin temptation Torah

Proverbs 5 begins with the warning about the enticement of an adulteress. It describes a woman who unknowingly is journeying toward death and destruction.

The writer urges his son to be careful not to get mixed up with her, lest he share her fate:

Keep your way far from her and do not go near the door of her house, or you will give your vigor to others and your years to the cruel one. (Proverbs 5:8-9)

Proverbs urges us not to even go near the house of such a woman, lest we be tempted to sin with her. This wisdom holds true for many situations, not just in the case of an adulterous woman. It is extremely important to guard against the temptations and vices of the world, because sin is sometimes very attractive. Note what it says of this woman:

For the lips of an adulteress drip honey and smoother than oil is her speech. (Proverbs 5:3)

Think about the last time you did something you really regret. Why did you do it? We usually fall into sin because it looks or feels appealing; it wouldn’t be a problem if everyone was completely repulsed by it. When we are not careful, we can be pulled into its grip and later pay the price. That’s why it is called “temptation,” i.e., we are tempted to do it.

The Master tells us a parable about a son who longs to participate in life’s indulgences, so he asks his father for his inheritance before he dies:

The younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.” So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. (Luke 15:12-13)

The son desired to live a life completely devoid of rules and instruction. Most of know that the son eventually comes back home in repentance. The writer of Proverbs wants his son to avoid going astray and to realize the better life that exists in God’s protection.

Watching Our Paths

One of the most important aspects of the Torah is that if we guard the Torah it will actually guard us. In other words, if we keep our eyes on the Father, he will keep his eyes on us:

For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He watches all his paths. (Proverbs 5:21)

Having our eyes on the Father is a key to protecting ourselves from sin. This can manifest itself in our lives in many ways, one of them being guarding what our eyes see. The eyes collect images of what is all around us, and then they burn those images into our minds. Whether good or bad, these images are often hard to erase.

Remember being younger and seeing something scary or frightening during the day? When you closed your eyes at night, those images probably kept popping into your mind and prevented you from sleeping. For young men and women, negative and sinful images can have a major impact on the rest of their lives.

Yeshua has some words to say about our minds and eyes in the Sermon on the Mount.

You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery”; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28)

The sin that we commit by looking can have the same devastating consequences as that which we actually do. Sins of the heart are just as sinful as sins of action. We may be careful not to commit sins outwardly that are visible to others, but perhaps on the inside we are full of greed, anger, and desire.

The Master teaches us these sins begin with what we choose to gaze at. I teach my young children to cover their eyes and turn their heads when unrighteous images come before them in magazine covers at the grocery store or billboards on the side of the road. I teach them that it is better to be safe than sorry. Yet these principles are not just for my young children; they are practical things that I implement in my life everyday.

Pluck It Out

Yeshua continues his words about guarding our eyes:

If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell. (Matthew 5:29-30)

Obviously, the Master isn’t advocating that we pluck out our eyes and cut off our hands each time they are involved in sin. We would all be walking around blind and handless! Rather, I think he was again talking about fences. In other words, if something could cause us to sin, then we ought to get it out of our lives. Here’s an example.

I am a big baseball fan. Years ago I would have to look in the newspaper to read scores and highlights. Today with the Internet, I simply go to a sports website, and I have the most up-to-date information possible. But as most of you know, the Internet is filled with many sinful traps. Some websites offer great baseball news, but they also have advertisements with immodest images in them. I avoid these websites. Even though these immodest ads do not always appear, I would rather be safe and protect my eyes from seeing things that are not in line with God’s holy Torah. In a sense, I have plucked these websites out of my life.

What we choose to “pluck out” of our lives is different for each person. It could be friends that we really shouldn’t be hanging out with, certain movies, popular music, the list goes on and on. What we must always ask ourselves is “How much do I fear sin?” We have talked about the fear of God, and the fear of sin is very similar. To the level that we fear sin is the level we will be willing to go to protect ourselves from sin and drive it out of our lives. Yeshua tells us to keep this fear in its proper perspective:

Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)

We must not fear the things of this world. For that matter, neither should we be disheartened when we cannot participate in them. These things, like the adulteress of Proverbs 5, are here today and gone tomorrow. Rather, we should fear that which has eternal consequences, a life of sin:

He will die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he will go astray. (Proverbs 5:23)

Let us live the fullness of life in our Messiah Yeshua. The Father has so graciously given us his instruction in the Torah. As we continue our walk with him, may we guard and protect our eyes from the evil images around us.

About the Author

Toby Janicki is a teacher and writer for First Fruits of Zion. He is also the Theological Support Coordinator for the Torah Club program and has authored several books including God-Fearers and a comprehensive commentary on the Didache titled: The Way of Life.

Cheshbon Nefesh

adultery holiness Proverbs sin temptation Torah

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