Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 5:17
"Let them be yours alone and not for strangers with you"
Solomon continues the exhortation that your power, seed, and blessing should not be scattered around where you cannot claim it or use it. Solomon's argument here will seem strange to our ears because we do not see the family as he saw it. In Solomon's day, the family was the basic economic unit. You did not hire people to work in your company; instead you were operating a family business that relied upon your children for its very existence. The more children you had, the better your family business thrived. It has been estimated that in a farm economy, each child that a family produced created approximately $10,000 of profit for the family over and against what they consumed. So Solomon's point of view is that a father is creating employees for his family business.
Solomon is saying, why would you want to be involved in adultery where you do not in any way gain from the joy, strength, and leadership of children. He is exhorting young men to not manufacture a work force that you have no claim on or control over. Your children should support your family, not just be scattered abroad for strangers to gain control over and blessings from. The family was the basic economic unit of the nation. Each family was a small business. Every father was looking for more good employees. Solomon says to young men with this mindset: Think about what you are doing if you commit adultery. It doesn't make any sense to create people that are blessings and production for others and not for you.
Most of those who read this devotion are not living in a farm economy where the direct application of this argument makes sense. But the idea of children being a blessing and arrows of impact sent into the next generation still does apply. Even in an industrial or service economy, the family is the basic unit of life and a father and society as a whole gains immeasurably by actually parenting the children they produce. Every social measure has been applied to fatherless children and it is frightening. Fatherless children are more 70+ percent of those who are prone to gun violence, teen pregnancy, violent acts, prison, etc. It is a terribly destructive force in society for a man to father a child he does not parent.
The culture of the Old Testament saw children as a blessing. It was terrible to produce a blessing that one could not claim or enjoy. The father is the head of the home and yet because of his lack of discipline, he spreads his blessings and strength to where he gains no joy or advantage from them.
On a more philosophical note, Solomon is reinforcing that biblical idea that the family is the basic unit of society and that which disperses or destroys the family destroys the society, whether that is the lack of sexual discipline on the part of the father or laws or programs which encourage a lack of participation in the family by the father. We, in our culture, have unwittingly created a society in which fathers are encouraged to procreate but not to be a part of the family they start. We reward women stipends for having babies out of wedlock. If the father stays around and marries the child, then the stipend goes away. So, we have created an incentive for young men to be driven off and act irresponsibly.
The family is also under attack by those who would want to define the family and a marriage not based upon its procreative and blood lines but around other more selfish definitions. If pleasure becomes the definition of a family – whether emotional pleasure, sexual pleasure, relational pleasure, or psychological pleasure – then it is only a matter of time before the culture is shattered. Usually it takes only one generation for there is no one to carry the culture into the next generation.
Our culture is also at a turning point where large sections of the culture do not see children as a blessing but as a curse or an unwanted by-product of sexual relations. If we as a culture continue moving in this direction until we tip completely into the selfish point of view that all things must be justified by whether they give us immediate pleasure, our culture cannot survive. We have seen this type of thinking manifest itself in other cultures and those cultures have descended into debauchery and destruction. A completely selfish culture – where every individual is out for himself with no thought about family or the collective society – cannot long survive.