Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 9:17
"Stolen water is sweet; and bread eaten in secret is pleasant"
Solomon brilliantly puts the actual words of the con artist and adulterer in the Scriptures. It is amazing how the sentiment and words have not changed in 3,000 years.
There is truth to what the adulterer, con artist, and embezzler say: There is a sweetness that comes as a result of going outside moral boundaries; of getting or receiving what you should not have. But the problem is that it is only sweet for a brief period. It is like a diet drink; it has a bitter aftertaste. The sweetness changes after a short period of time and becomes cloudy and bitter in its taste. In Proverbs 20:17, Solomon adds what is not here in this section since he is mouthing the sayings of the woman of folly. After the sweetness, the stolen bread tastes like gravel. This is the part that is never fully spelled out when you are being seduced to be immoral.
Wouldn't it be great if there was truth in temptation's advertising: Come and enjoy the fruits of lust; free sex. Realize, of course, that there will be great guilt afterward; there will be diseases which could result in your inability to conceive later; there may be significant relational entanglements; participating in these activities may result in the loss of your marriage and the loss of over half of your assets in a divorce settlement; this will also result in the loss of a number of friends (if not all of them); there will be a loss of prestige and respect within the community and in your family when this comes out; your children will be deeply damaged and have an inability to trust you in certain situations.
Wouldn't it be great if there was truth in advertising temptation and that there was a contract with all the fine print spelled out? This is what will happen to you if you give in to this temptation. It will be sweet for a period and then there will a number of difficulties and results that are not as pleasant.
Unfortunately, there is no fine print when temptation speaks. But God, through Solomon, is giving us in the book of Proverbs the fine print. He is trying to get us to wake up to the fact that temptation will lie to us. It will only give us a small portion of the facts about what will happen when we move into sin and selfishness. There is a significant amount of side effects from taking this bait.
Don't fall for temptation’s pitches; it isn't the whole truth. If you have been duped by temptation and gone after money or possessions that were not yours; gotten involved in an affair; lied to protect yourself – then confess to God that you have done these things and move away from them. Repent and ask for God to give you the power to walk in the opposite direction the next time you hear the voice of folly offer you a deal to good to be true.
This phrase “stolen water is sweet and bread eaten in a secret place is pleasant" seems to be a saying or proverb itself. It is referred to a few times in the book of Proverbs. This proverbial half-truth has survived to this day by its inclusion in the Scriptures. It most likely refers not just to stolen items but also to immoral sexual activity as water is used of sexual intimacy in Proverbs 5 and bread is also thus used.
Remember that the words of a person who is trying to get you to move outside of God's Ten Commandments are not totally true. They seem true and will prove true for a period of time, but there are a lot of things that they are not telling you. You should realize that you will receive much more than the momentary pleasure that you are after if you follow folly down its road to destruction.