Sometimes you just need a little help. It isn’t that you aren’t thinking for yourself. But, perhaps the proverb you are trying to apply doesn’t make much sense to you. Take for instance,
The leech has two daughters, “Give, give,” they say.
Three things are never satisfied, four never say, “Enough.” sheol, the barren womb, the land never satisfied with water, and the fire that never says, “Enough” (Proverbs 30:15-16).
Hmmm. What is this talking about?
A warm-hearted Calvinist once said to me, “It isn’t so hard to figure out what the Bible passage says. But, it is hard to know what it means.” This proverb is a good example. You have to figure out what this strong imagery means. Thankfully, we aren’t much into leeches anymore. Or even ticks. A leech sucks blood from two places..thus, the two daughter image. They were used in medicine for years. Ugh. The image certainly stays with you. But, what is this about its two daughters? What does this mean?
I need a little help! So I go to my bookshelf. Back in 1846, an Anglican pastor, Charles Bridges, published “A Commentary On Proverbs.” He believed the daughters of the blood sucking leech represent our cravings that cause us to covet and then act recklessly to get what we want. We become discontented and unhappy with our present circumstances. He named the daughters “Covetousness” and “Prodigality.” Covetousness is longing for something that is given to someone else but not you. Prodigality is reckless behavior to get what you want.
The four additional images add to this picture of intense longing. Someone is always dying so the place of the dead is never full; the yearning for a child keeps on and on; the parched earth keeps wanting more water; the fire burns until there is nothing left. They never have enough. Sometimes our desires are like that. We are never satisfied until we get what we wan and then we want something else. It is not always about things either. It can be an intense desire to change our circumstances….a restless discontent.
A reliable commentary like Bridges’ can help you sort out the meaning of a passage. (He spent a lot of time in the wisdom books of the Bible and also wrote a commentary on Ecclesiastes.) We need to get the meaning right before we apply it.
Applications are very personal. I have no idea what your inner longings are. Here is where you have to think for yourself. We can have legitimate desires. But, we all know that these desires can take control of us until “You shall not covet” hits us like a brick. Unfortunately, it might take some reckless behavior before we see our desire as covetousness. And then there will be consequences we won’t like.
Oh, Oh, “A bee gets under our bonnet” and, suddenly, we want something and we will do just about anything to get it. What is the desire that keeps popping into your head? Intensity is the key to its dangers. Is it slipping into covetousness and even recklessness?
A strong craving for something (or even someone) need not suck the life out of a Christian woman. Remember we are in a love relationship with the LORD. A fruit of that relationship is self-control. We should jerk ourselves up, talk to ourselves about that intensity we are feeling, and be alert to its warning of danger ahead. The beauty of repentance is that grace can come to us when we least expect it. We suddenly have strength to quit demanding someone or something or some circumstance. We can then say,with Paul, “…I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content….I have learned the secret….I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13). My opinion (bore out of experience) is that the “secret” Paul talked about is this sudden strength that comes to resist the desire and its call to recklessness. You jerk yourself up; talk to yourself; exert self-control; resist the temptation; and pray with assurance, “Lead me not into temptation; deliver me from evil.”
You can order Charles Bridges commentaries HERE.
ANOTHER VISUAL IMAGE
Solomon did not write this proverb. (Agur did. We know nothing about him, but chapters 30 and 31 were added to Solomon’s work somewhere around 750 BC.) He used his marriages for political advantages and coalitions with powerful neighbors which led to peace and prosperity. He gave his wives wealth,influence,palaces, and places to worship their idols. Then he went with them to those places of worship. He might have thought, “I just want a little peace. I will just go so she will get off my back.” I don’t know what he was thinking or what his desires were, but God was not pleased, and as a result, opposition arose to Solomon’s rule. Much of his latter years were spent putting down rebellion. His kingdom fell apart after his death. His son was isolated to rule over only Judah (I Kings 11-13). It was a big loss to the family and an ugly end to a wise and prosperous rule by a King chosen and beloved by God ( 2 Samuel 12:24-25).
Now I like history, but what does all this matter? I think it gives us a vivid picture of what can happen to a good man (or woman) who does not take into account the consequences of his unchecked desires or recklessness. Was Solomon’s desire for peace in his nation and household so bad? We are only told what it led to. We don’t know the intensity of his desire but it was pretty reckless of him to build those altars for foreign gods and then even attend their services. He should have known better! He knew experientially God’s love for him. After all, he wrote Song of Solomon! Maybe he saw the rebellion as chastisement and through that circumstance experienced much grace and forgiveness.
Remember these blood suckers have consequences! Their image might protect us someday. Solomon’s example might stick in our mind.
Pray for grace and strength and self-control to put aside that intense desire you have identified. And then watch the “secret” work in you as you keep learning through the things you go through
to become more contented,
to finally say about God’s provision “It is enough;”
to be satisfied with God’s love for you.