Proverbs 30:18-20, There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid. Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness.
The meaning of the word wonderful in these proverbs must be understood in order to understand the wisdom given in these verses.
Wonderful is a name given to the Son of God in Isaiah 9:6 along with Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
The definition of wonderful in Isaiah 9:6 is a miracle, a marvelous thing, a wonder. It is something good.
This is what we in our culture normally think "wonderful" to mean.
But in the proverb we are discussing today "wonderful" is from the Hebrew word, paw-law'.
Paw-law' means: to separate, things that are hidden, things too high, wondrous things beyond knowing and not necessarily all of them good.
And this is explained in verse 18 when the wise man says four things which I know not. Here are four things which I cannot know.
He is saying as a prelude to teaching us a lesson that there are four things that are beyond his knowledge.
He says there are four different ways that I cannot know.
He mentions four things that have ways so far beyond him and by doing this he emphasizes how unknown or hidden the way of an adulterous woman can be.
He tells us this so that we may accept the fact that we are not able to know certain things.
Knowing what we cannot know is knowledge that helps us to be on guard. Knowing that we are limited is good to know.
There are certain things that are too deep for us. Who is able to know the heart?
Who is able to know the deceitfulness of the heart? Only God!
But if only he knows then he must be the one that we must go to to be instructed about the heart. We are driven to his word and to natural things to be instructed in the things that he knows.
The things of nature that are not revealed to us teach us that there are things about ourselves and others that we cannot know.
The wise man says he does not know the way of an eagle in the air.
The eagle leaves no footsteps, it leaves no scent, it leaves no trace or trail of its way as do the animals on the ground.
The eagle soars at great heights far beyond the capability of the natural eye.
The wise man does not know the way of the eagle because it is hidden from his eyes.
He is not given to know the way of an eagle in the air.
A serpent moves upon a rock and leaves no clue of its presence.
Moving upon the sand it leaves a trail, but upon a rock it leaves no sign of its way.
Who can trace a serpent across rock.
And likewise a ship that ploughs her way through the heart of the sea loses any furrow that she may have made.
Can a wise man retrace the way of a ship?
Can a wise man know the path that she took to find her port?
And fourthly the way of a man with a maid is too wonderful for the wise man to know.
The way of a man with a maid is hidden from the wise man.
It is too mysterious in its subtlety because the man in his deceitful heart has a thousand ways in which to allure the maid to his will.
His ways take twists and turns too numerous for the wise man to follow.
The man is motivated by selfish desire and lust to capture the maid, to capture the virgin as his prize.
The snares that he sets, his designs for capture, for success are as varied as the way of an eagle in the air.
They are as hidden as the way of a serpent on a rock and as unsearchable as the furrows that quickly close in the sea.
The wise man concludes that he cannot know the way of a man with a maid.
And the lesson is that the maid must not trust in thinking that she can know the way of the man either.
The lesson is that the maid must not put herself in unprotected situations thinking that she is strong.
She must be armed with the knowledge that she does not have knowledge.
She must be armed with the knowledge that she does not know the way of a man. His subtleties are endless.
She must be armed with the knowledge that the strength of her own character will not be enough to protect her from the practiced allurements and temptations that the man has prepared for her capture.
In this the wise man warns the young and inexperienced woman not to think of herself more highly than she is given to think and conclude that she can take care of herself in all situations.
The wise man has now described four ways that are hidden from him to conclude with a way most dangerous to a man and that is also hidden from him.
He says in verse 20, Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness.
Such is the way! As the way of the previous four examples also is the way of an adulterous woman.
It is also hidden from the wise man.
Notice that the adulterous woman wipes her mouth. What is the significance of this?
Well, according to Proverbs 9:17 she has eaten bread (the symbol of life) in secret. For, Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.
She has indulged in her sin in a secret fashion and any possible evidence has been erased.
She eats the bread of sin and wipes off the crumbs of bread that stick to her mouth.
All is hidden from the wise man, all is hidden from the good man of the house. He knows not of the bread eaten in secret.
All evidence of stolen bread is erased and she can say without fear of contradiction that she has done no wickedness.
Her devices to deceive her unsuspecting husband are past finding out.
She is practiced and advanced very far in the way of sin and her ability to blush has been hardened along with her heart.
Because she has convinced herself that what she does is beautiful in its own way the stolen waters and the bread eaten in secret cannot possible be wickedness to her.
It is so hidden that it is not only hidden from the wise man it is also hidden from herself. I have done no wickedness!
So the lesson that we are to learn in this set of proverbs is that we are not given to know everything.
Many things are too wonderful or hidden from our knowledge.
We are simply to know our limitations and by knowing our limitations we are to keep ourselves separate from those things that God tells us will be a danger to ourselves.
Separation means simple concerning evil.
We are to be separate from those things that are evil simply because God tells us that they are evil.
Like the wise man, many things are wonderful, or hidden, from us.