Proverbs 2:17

Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God.

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Girls have up to three protectors, if they obey them. They have God, fathers, and husbands. If they obey them in their proper order, they can and will be saved from painful trouble. Even if a girl has a bad father, obeying God will bring her a good husband.

The strange woman, a flattering whore or adulteress, is the subject of this proverb from the previous verse (Pr 2:16). Proverbs warns often in its early chapters against this dangerous seductress. Here Solomon condemned the character of such a woman by two great offences. Every young man and woman should hate this creature with holy hatred.

Casual sex and adultery are now acceptable in the world more than ever before, but godly women will abhor both sins. Every father must guard and eliminate influences that lessen a daughter’s horror at the thought of such heinous sins. Two keys areas of life are friends and entertainment, such as books, magazines, television, music, movies, the Internet, and social media. Evil communications most surely do corrupt good manners (I Cor 15:33).

The “guide of her youth” is her husband. She forsakes him horribly, when she is intimate with another man. Such a betrayal is heinous, for he has been her companion from youth. They shared the wonderful pleasures of a youthful marriage. A father’s sexual rules may be forsaken, but the father is not truly forsaken by the adultery of a married daughter.

Scripture describes the wife of a man’s youth (Pr 5:18; Is 54:6; Joel 1:8; Mal 2:14-15). If marriage occurs not too long after sexual maturity, it allows youthful husbands and wives. The proverb assumed the Jewish practice of marrying early. Today’s delayed ages for marriage are due to foolish thinking and poor child training, resulting in years of sexual frustration and temptation. Most youth today are not mature enough for marriage.

Life can be divided into several stages. Infancy covers from birth to age five; childhood covers the time from age five to puberty; and youth covers the time from puberty to majority, where majority is closer to 30, not 18 as many presume today (Num 4:3; I Chr 23:3; Luke 3:23). Marriage for Jews generally occurred during this stage called youth (Lev 27:1-7; Deut 1:39; I Sam 12:2; Eccl 11:10; Jonah 4:11; I Cor 7:9,36; I Tim 4:12).

A father guides a girl in childhood by teaching her the fear of the Lord and the rules of godly virtue as taught in the Bible (Pr 4:1; 17:6; 22:15; Ps 34:11; Eph 6:4). It is his duty to preserve her virginity for marriage (Deut 22:13-21; I Cor 7:36-38). The burden should not be the girl’s, but the father’s, for he should protect her from the male lusts and methods he knows firsthand. It is to him any prospective suitor should make his query.

Fathers have a great role in training daughters, for he is the main leader and teacher of the family (Gen 18:19; Josh 24:15; Eph 6:4). A mother cannot do as well, though she does have her own perspective and experience about love, marriage, and sex. Let fathers also teach daughters about virtuous conduct and soberly warn about evil men, for fathers have instinctive wisdom regarding such things and care much for their daughters’ futures.

Fathers should control courting or dating activities to keep daughters from situations where they could be coerced or tempted to compromise. Jacob failed his daughter (Gen 34:1-5). But if marriage occurred early, as with the Jews, fatherly training and protection would end in the time of youth, when the husband would become the new guide.

Every girl who fears God should receive her father’s instruction with a ready heart. And every married woman should remember the guide of her youth and the covenant she made before God. Due to her place in creation and God’s role for her, she will be judged severely for sexual infidelity. But for every repentant Mary, there is a forgiving Saviour!

God expects husbands to guide their wives (Gen 3:16; I Cor 11:3). A husband could annul a wife’s vows as easily as a daughter’s (Num 30:8), and it was his duty to instruct her (I Cor 14:35). Men made the important decisions for families, as they should (Gen 18:19; Josh 24:15). A young couple with the wife willingly following a godly and well-trained husband is a wonderful thing, though it is very rare to find such marriages today.

The perverse character of the strange woman is her ability to betray the husband of her youth in such a painful way. Many women cannot imagine doing such. But an adulteress has a deformed soul, which allows her to commit such a great sin with little guilt or remorse (Pr 30:20). Let foolish adulterers beware, if a woman has betrayed her husband to be with you, she will betray you even more easily and quickly to be with another.

The “covenant of her God” is her marriage covenant (Mal 2:14; Ezek 16:8). The adulteress forsakes her husband, and she also forgets her God and the covenant she made before Him to be a faithful wife. Marriage in the Bible was much more a covenant and celebration than it was a ritualistic ceremony. The emphasis on a religious and superficial ceremony is from Rome and its manmade sacrament of holy matrimony.

Job made a covenant with his eyes when he married (Job 31:1). Every groom and bride should do the same in their commitments (Pr 6:25; Matt 5:28). Since the woman was made for the man, sexual faithfulness is even more binding on the woman (I Cor 11:9; Gen 2:18-25). Does this thought shock you? Consider distinctions God made between the man and the woman (Gen 38:8,24; Ex 21:10; Deut 21:10-14; 22:20; 24:1-4; 25:11-12).

Let women read Numbers 5:11-31 to see how God helped husbands against cheating wives and the severity with which He judged them. This passage reflects the mind of the Lord, regardless of what the world might think of it. Do not let rebellion rise up in your heart against it, for it is absolutely right (Ps 119:128). A woman owes her sexual faithfulness to her husband and to the God before Whom she vowed to be faithful. Her husband owes his sexual faithfulness more directly to God, but both are capital offenders.

A Biblical marriage has not occurred without a covenant, and a proper marriage covenant will definitely include God’s will for sexual fidelity for both parties to the marriage (Lev 20:10; Deut 22:13-21; 23:17; Heb 13:4). It should involve much more than the light and trite words mumbled in most 5-minute ceremonies that are called weddings today. Let it be thoroughly detailed, and let it be written, that it may be appealed to in the future.

Christian reader, as a child of God and the bride of Jesus Christ, how faithful are you to your Father and Husband? Have you forsaken the guide of your youth by losing your first love for the Lover of your soul (Rev 2:4)? Have you forgotten the covenant of your God that you made at your baptism, when you committed the rest of your life to Christ? It is easy to limit this proverb to sexual adultery, but do not overlook your spiritual adultery.

Jesus Christ called His compromising people adulterers and adulteresses to intensify the heinous nature of idolatry or worldliness (Ezek 16; James 4:4; etc.). The pain, betrayal, and perversity of adultery create an appropriate comparison for any departure from loving God fully and only. He requires, expects, and deserves your whole heart, mind, soul, and strength! He is a Jealous God, and you cannot serve Him any other way (Josh 24:19).