There is a strong relationship between ethics and sanctions throughout the book of Proverbs. Chapters 1-7 of the Proverbs present significant representation of this relationship. The Proverbs are written mainly by Solomon, the son of David. David wrote a majority of the Psalms; the previous book of the bible. In the first 9 chapters of the Proverbs, the author provides an introduction. This is unique, this is not seen in any other book of the bible.
In reading this introduction, it is understood that he is offering guidance to his son. He provides instruction through imagery. Wisdom is imaged as the form of a woman, wickedness is also imaged as a woman. The individual man must not let himself be tempted by the strange woman; the woman of evil. This is an effective use of rhetoric, the message is conveyed in a way that makes sense. Women are used as an example of what men desire, and this is represents it in a way that the reader can understand the power of the the decision; good or evil.
If man allows himself to be tempted by the “strange woman,” he will go in the path of wickedness. Bad ethics may give a temporary reward, but that reward will eventually die, and negative sanctions will be inflicted. However, if a man keeps his heart on the woman of wisdom, and devotes himself to the pure path of righteousness, he will be granted positive sanctions. Good ethics, may present temporary disposition, but this is only temporary, and in the end, positive sanctions will be given to the righteous man. While there are several examples, this is the basic theme, and the idea of the feminine forms of wisdom and wickedness effectively conveys this theme.
We see in Proverbs 2:18 “For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead.” This verse is referring to the strange woman, who represents wickedness. There may be earthly pleasures for a period of time, but these will fade and the man who follows the path of this wickedness will be lead to death; negative sanctions. In Dr. Gary North’s conclusion of this verse, he says “If you go with the unrighteous individual, you’re headed for destruction.” This message is based on the relationship between ethics and sanctions.
There is instruction provided for the man who chooses the path of wisdom. The individual must be close to law of God. The laws of God are standards to which all individuals must live by in order to attain eternal reward. If one follows the law of God, they exercise good ethics, and this provides them with deliverance from God. Wisdom is ethical (wisdom in terms of understanding right from wrong). The individual who seeks wisdom and understanding, rather than wicked action, will attain everlasting positive sanctions.
The relationship between ethics and sanctions in proverbs 1-7 is of great significance. Ethics influence the end sanction. While God is the supreme being, man has the free will to choose for himself what path he wants to take. If the individual lets himself be deceived from the path of righteousness, that is a moral decision of the individual and sanctions will be inflicted according to that moral decision.