Parting is such sweet sorrow

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Devotional Word for Wednesday, August 26, 2020

The title of this devotion comes from a famous quote of William Shakespeare ‘s Romeo and Juliet, which begins and ends by saying “Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.” The phrase “Parting is such sweet sorrow” has been spoken in contexts other than the intended romantic departure of Romeo from the bedroom balcony of his beloved Juliet in Act 2, Scene 2. 

It is spoken in connection with the death of a loved one, as sweet memories of lives shared together are remembered. It is spoken when good friends say goodbye as a departing lighthearted line of farewell. It is used in commercials, in ads, and in musical scores to trigger passion from our emotions. It is a literary device known as an oxymoron, which is a contradiction of two ideas, as in the case of pleasure and pain experienced at the same time. 

In Proverbs 5:1-14, we read about how embracing what appears sweet, brings great sorrow. Though the context is a father’s advice to his son, this advice is just as warranted for mother’s to daughters as well. The fatherly advice being that the son be not allured by the charm of an adulteress, whose mouth drips honey with speech that is slicker than oil. We read in V3, “For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and smoother than oil is her speech …”. Such enticements are no longer merely the entangling methods of adulterous women, for they are also the ensnaring means of adulterous men in our day. 

For those allured by such charm the outcome is the same. In V4-6 we read, “But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet do down to death, her steps lay hold of Sheol. She does not ponder the path of Life; her ways are unstable, she does not know it.” The mouth allegedly oozing with sweetness, as it slides down to the core of your being, is truly the bitterness of a serrated sword slicing into your soul. 

How does one fall into this allurement, which leads its prey on a course of death? It happens when a person stops paying attention and living by God’s wisdom. 

In V1-2 we read, “My son, give attention to my wisdom, incline your ear to my understanding; that you may observe discretion, and your lips may reserve knowledge.” 

When we are attentive to God’s wisdom and increase in His understanding, we gain discernment and knowledge to turn away from this illicit pathway. 

As V7-8 exhorts us, “Now then, my sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth. Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house.” 

There is a high price to pay for those who live in infidelity. Those who consent to this adulterous path are the ones who have rejected God’s wisdom, having hated instruction, and they soon find out that their lives and livelihood are in ruins. Their health, their wealth, and their bodily life are consumed. They are publicly disgraced by the community, and though they may repent and turn away from this erotic course, they groan having lost their place of honor.    

As V12-14 shows us, “And you groan at your latter end, when your flesh and your body are consumed; and you say, “How I have hated instruction! And my heart spurned reproof! And I have not listened to the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to my instructors! “I was almost in utter ruin in the midst of the assembly and congregation.”

Lest anyone of us think that we are immune to such allurement; we should take stock in the fact that most commercials and advertisements use erotic scenarios to entice consumers to buy their products and services. We are not impervious to these seductive impulses, nor are we somehow spiritually inoculated to think that we can withstand by will-power alone. We need to give attention of God’s wisdom, to gain deeper understanding of God’s will, to learn discretion and grow in God’s knowledge, so that we go His way in life, remembering always that God supplies us the way of escape. As we read in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.”