Proverbs 7 – The Story of Seduction
A. The importance of valuing wisdom.
1. (1-4) Keeping God’s word and a father’s wisdom close.
My son, keep my words,
And treasure my commands within you.
Keep my commands and live,
And my law as the apple of your eye.
Bind them on your fingers;
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,”
And call understanding your nearest kin,
a. My son, keep my words: As in the previous two sections warning against sexual immorality (Proverbs 5:1-4 and 6:20-24), Proverbs 7 begins with an emphasis on keeping and understanding God’s word and a father’s wisdom.
b. Keep my commands and live: The implication is not that Bible reading provides a magical protection against sexual immorality. Yet if a person does keep God’s written commands, they will not carry out this sin – and the keeping of the commands begins with knowing them, treasuring them, and meditating on them.
i. As the apple of your eye: “The familiar phrase ‘apple of your eye’ (Proverbs 7:2) refers to the pupil of the eye which the ancients thought was a sphere like an apple. We protect our eyes because they’re valuable to us, and so should we honor and protect God’s Word by obeying it.” (Wiersbe)
c. Write them on the tablet of your heart: Solomon counseled his son to have a living, breathing relationship with the word of God. It should not be only on his mind but also in his heart. He should love the word as his sister and nearest kin.
i. Morgan spoke of the power of truly regarding wisdom as a sister or nearest kin. “Thousands of men are kept from evil courses by the love and friendship of sisters, and women friends. Recognizing this, the father counsels his son to find strength against the seductions of evil, by cultivating that kind of defensive and defending familiarity with wisdom, which is typified by this love of a sister and of pure women.”
2. (5) The benefit of keeping God’s word and a father’s wisdom close.
That they may keep you from the immoral woman,
From the seductress who flatters with her words.
a. That they may keep you from the immoral woman: The wisdom and power of God’s word help to keep us from the immoral woman (or man). From God’s word we learn the deception and strategy of sin and temptation. We learn the end result of sin and the wonderful benefits of obedience. God’s word imparts the spiritual light and strength we need to obey God in this difficult area.
i. The task of keeping men and women from sexual immorality sometimes seems impossible. This is due to many factors, including:
· A secular, sexually saturated and permissive culture.
· The widespread availability of pornography.
· The disconnection of sex from pregnancy and reproduction.
· Laws making divorce easy and impossible to contest.
· Social media technology making anonymous meetings easier.
· Widespread prosperity that lessens the financial impact of family breakups.
· The large and growing gap between the time of puberty and the average time people get married.
ii. These factors are not all unique to the present day; Christianity was founded in a very sexually permissive culture. Yet they highlight the great need for Christian men and women to rely on the power and wisdom of God’s word to remain pure. It also means that such purity, even in the sense of rededication to purity, is a great sacrifice and gift to the honor and glory of God.
b. From the seductress who flatters with her words: Immorality speaks and has words to draw us into sin. We need the corresponding and greater power of God’s words to keep us from the immoral woman (or man).
B. A story of seduction.
1. (6-9) The young fool seeks the immoral woman.
For at the window of my house
I looked through my lattice,
And saw among the simple,
I perceived among the youths,
A young man devoid of understanding,
Passing along the street near her corner;
And he took the path to her house
In the twilight, in the evening,
In the black and dark night.
a. At the window of my house: As a skilled storyteller, Solomon explained how one day he looked out his window and saw a man passing along the street. The man was simple, young, and devoid of understanding.
b. Simple: As in Proverbs 1:4 and 1:22, this isn’t stupidity, but inexperience and gullibility. The simple are uneducated in the ways of wisdom and need instruction. As Phillips commented on Proverbs 1:4, the simple man has his mind open, but in a gullible and dangerous way.
c. Among the youths, a young man: The idea is repeated twice for emphasis. This man does not have the experience of years to help guide him in the path of wisdom. He has all the passions, energy, and overconfidence of youth, and none of the wisdom the decades can bring.
i. Of course, it is not only the young man who faces the challenge of purity; men and women of every age have their own challenges to pure living. Yet these are often more severely felt in the life of the young man.
ii. Even when a young man has the desire for moral purity, there are many things that may make it difficult for a him to receive and live God’s wisdom. These include:
· Youthful energy and sense of carelessness.
· The lack of life wisdom.
· The desire for, and gaining of, independence.
· Physical and sexual maturity that may run ahead of spiritual and moral maturity.
· Money and the freedom that it brings.
· Young women who may – knowingly or unknowingly – encourage moral impurity.
· The spirit of the age that both expects and promotes moral uncleanness for young men.
· The desire to be accepted by peers who face the same challenges.
iii. The world tells us, “Have your good time when you are young; get it all out of your system. When you are older you can settle down and be religious and proper.” Yet God’s wisdom can make (or should make) a huge difference in the life of a young man.
iv. God wants to spare the young man (and the older man) the bondage of sin. This reflects upon the power of experience to shape our habits. Surrender to any temptation; transfer it from the realm of mental contemplation to life experience, and that temptation instantly becomes much more difficult to resist in the future. Each successive experience of surrender to temptation builds a habit, reinforced not only spiritually, but also by brain chemistry. Such ingrained habits are more and more difficult to break the more they are experienced, and it is almost impossible to break such habits without replacing them with another habit.
d. Devoid of understanding: Because he is simple and young, his reservoir of wisdom and understanding is empty. He is the one who must, at all costs, get wisdom (Proverbs 4:5-7).
i. “Young, inexperienced, featherbrained, he is the very sort to need arming with borrowed wisdom.” (Kidner)
ii. Psalm 119:9 gives remarkable wisdom to the young man: How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.
e. He took the path to her house: With his lack of wisdom and experience, this man was an easy target for the immoral woman. Under the cover of the black and dark night, he was foolish enough to pass along her street, then foolish enough to go near her corner. Soon he took the path to her house.
i. Given those conditions, it isn’t difficult to finish the story. We know how it ends when someone positively pursues temptation in this manner. As part of the disciples’ prayer, we are to pray do not lead us into temptation (Matthew 6:13). This one leads himself into temptation with sad and familiar results.
ii. The black and dark night: “Foolish men think to hide themselves from God, by hiding God from themselves.” (Trapp)
2. (10-12) Meeting the immoral woman.
And there a woman met him,
With the attire of a harlot, and a crafty heart.
She was loud and rebellious,
Her feet would not stay at home.
At times she was outside, at times in the open square,
Lurking at every corner.
a. There a woman met him: Before he could actually reach her house, the immoral woman met him. She wasn’t a prostitute, but she dressed like one (the attire of a harlot) and had the heart of one (a crafty heart). For her, sex was a transaction, not an experience of intimacy in marriage.
i. “Her bold attire matches her bold approach, for a harlot knows no shame (Proverbs 30:20). Her outward dress, which seems to promise her victim her body, conceals her secret intention to use him to gratify her own lusts.” (Waltke)
ii. “Outwardly, she keeps nothing back; she is dressed, as we say, to kill; inwardly, she gives nothing away (Proverbs 7:10b, literally ‘guarded of heart’, meaning either hard, unyielding, or close, secretive).” (Kidner)
b. She was loud and rebellious: If the simple man cared to notice, this was not a woman of good and dignified character. Her heart or her body would not stay at home but looked for love and satisfaction outside the home.
i. Rebellious: “Indicates her rebellion against propriety for a life of profligacy. The original meaning of the verbal root can still be recognized in the imagery of the stubborn cow (Hosea 4:16); she chafes at restraint and revolts against the rules of proper society.” (Waltke)
c. Lurking at every corner: Her availability and willingness for sex excited the young man. She wasn’t hard to find or arrange a meeting with. His wisdom and ability to resist temptation would be tested by the presence of a willing and available woman.
i. “She is continually exposing herself, and showing by her gait and gestures what she is, and what she wants.” (Clarke)
ii. When it comes to sexual purity, some people are outwardly pure because they have lacked, in their perception, low-risk opportunities. If a person quickly fails when they do encounter a willing and available partner for sexual immorality, it shows they were ready to fall and something was wrong even when they were, for a time outwardly pure.
3. (13-18) The seductive promises of the immoral woman.
So she caught him and kissed him;
With an impudent face she said to him:
“I have peace offerings with me;
Today I have paid my vows.
So I came out to meet you,
Diligently to seek your face,
And I have found you.
I have spread my bed with tapestry,
Colored coverings of Egyptian linen.
I have perfumed my bed
With myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.
Come, let us take our fill of love until morning;
Let us delight ourselves with love.
a. So she caught him and kissed him: The idea is that she trapped him, and this is an accurate description of how many are ensnared in a sexually immoral relationship. They are pleased to be caught, and then soon feel trapped.
b. With an impudent face she said to him: The sexually immoral person shows a certain defiance and impudence. They insist on their way and their gratification. It was with this sense of arrogant defiance that she spoke the following words.
c. I have peace offerings with me: The sexually immoral woman Solomon described was not against religion, just against the moral code of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. She favored a god who would receive her peace offerings while she lived as she pleased when it came to her sexual desires.
i. “She pretends religion to her filthy practices…. So did King Edward IV’s holy whore, as he used to call her, that came to him out of a nunnery when he used to call for her.” (Trapp)
ii. “She dared not play the harlot with man until she had played the hypocrite with God and stopped the mouth of her conscience with her fellowship offerings.” (Gurnall, cited in Bridges)
iii. “Much light is cast on this place by the fact that the gods in many parts of the East are actually worshipped in brothels, and fragments of the offerings are divided among the wretches who fall into the snare of the prostitutes.” (Clarke)
iv. The mention of peace offerings also suggested the food at her home would be good. “That she had plentiful and excellent provisions at her house for his entertainment. For the peace-offerings were to be of the best flesh, Leviticus 22:21, and a considerable part of these offerings fell to the offerers’ share, wherewith they used to feast themselves and their friends.” (Poole)
d. I came out to meet you, diligently to seek your face: By instinct or experience, the seductress knew the power of making this simple young man feel desired. She could catch him by displaying that she wanted him. For many people, that is all the seduction they need.
i. “She appeals to the young man’s male ego as she flatters him and makes him think he’s very special to her. What she’s offering to him she would never offer to anyone else!” (Wiersbe)
e. I have spread my bed with tapestry: She went on to allure him with the anticipation of the sensory experience, and that directly connected with her bed. She told the simple young man that he would experience wonderful touches, smells, and pleasures.
i. “She designs to inflame his lust by the mention of the bed, and by its ornaments and perfumes.” (Poole)
ii. Myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon: “She now stimulates him with aphrodisiac smells; all three names for perfumes in this verse are also found in Song 4:14 as odiferous images of sexual love.” (Waltke)
iii. With myrrh, aloes: “This might have minded the young man that he was going to his grave; for the bodies of the dead were so perfumed. Such a meditation would have much rebated his edge, cooled his courage.” (Trapp)
f. Let us take our fill of love until morning: Her invitations became more and more explicit, though still clouded in the misused word love. She offered him a kind of love, but certainly not the best or lasting love. It would be a delight and even last until morning, but bring pain, misery, and death in the end.
i. Adam Clarke on Proverbs 7:18: “The original itself is too gross to be literally translated; but quite in character as coming from the mouth of an abandoned woman.”
4. (19-21) The successful seduction.
For my husband is not at home;
He has gone on a long journey;
He has taken a bag of money with him,
And will come home on the appointed day.”
With her enticing speech she caused him to yield,
With her flattering lips she seduced him.
a. For my husband is not at home: This makes clear what was hinted at before, that this was not a harlot but an adulterous woman. She betrayed her husband, her honor, her marriage vow, and her faithfulness to God.
i. She was careful to refer to her husband in ways that would not awaken the conscience of her target. She did not give her husband a name, and “she represents my husband by ‘the man’, not by ‘my husband.’” (Waltke)
b. He has gone on a long journey: The final piece of her plan of seduction was to persuade the young, simple man that this was safe and would have no consequence. Many people are willing to commit sexual immorality when they feel there is little or no risk of being discovered, showing that their commitment to purity is rooted in external motivations, not internal motivations.
c. With her enticing speech she caused him to yield: At the end of it all, her seduction was successful. With her enticing speech and her flattering lips she convinced the simple young man to sin with her sexually. She used words and actions to successfully walk her victim through these steps of seduction:
· A well-chosen target (simple…a young man devoid of understanding, Proverbs 7:7).
· Available to meet (the path to her house…a woman met him, Proverbs 7:8, 7:10).
· Provocatively clothed (with the attire of a harlot, Proverbs 7:10).
· Of bad character (loud and rebellious, Proverbs 7:11).
· Looking to trap and seduce (she caught him, Proverbs 7:13).
· Free with physical affection (kissed him, Proverbs 7:13).
· Gave some recognition to religion (peace offerings…paid my vows, Proverbs 7:14).
· Pursuit to make one feel desired (I came out to meet you, diligently, Proverbs 7:15).
· Promise to please the senses (I have spread my bed…I have perfumed my bed, Proverbs 7:16-17).
· Invitation to her bed (I have spread my bed…I have perfumed my bed, Proverbs 7:16-17).
· Promises of love, delight, and sensual pleasure (let us take our fill of love until morning; let us delight ourselves with love, Proverbs 7:18).
· Persuasion that the risk of discovery is very low (my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey, Proverbs 7:19).
5. (22-23) The painful price of the immoral woman.
Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter,
Or as a fool to the correction of the stocks,
Till an arrow struck his liver.
As a bird hastens to the snare,
He did not know it would cost his life.
a. Immediately he went after her: The woman presented by Solomon in Proverbs 7 would be very difficult to resist. This is why we anticipated that he went after her as soon as he started on the path towards her house (Proverbs 7:8). Such strong temptation can be overcome by the power and presence of Jesus in the believer, but it is even better to keep one’s self from the temptation itself.
b. Immediately: There was no delay. We sense he begged to be tempted this way, and so had no strength to stand against it.
i. “Suddenly (Proverbs 3:25; 6:15) fixes the moment of decision and implies that the gullible acted without reflection but allowed his glands to do his thinking for him.” (Waltke)
c. As an ox goes to the slaughter: The promise of the sexually immoral woman and the anticipation of the simple young man was for sensual pleasure and delight. What was really waiting for him was slaughter; he was like an animal ripe for sacrifice or like a fool for the correction of the stocks.
i. “As the ox goes to the slaughter, unconscious of his fate, perhaps dreaming of rich pasture, or as a fool goes to the stock, careless and unfeeling, so does this poor deluded victim rush on with pitiable mirth or indifference.” (Bridges)
ii. Till an arrow struck his liver: “The arrow piercing the liver may refer to the pangs of a guilty conscience that the guilty must reap along with spiritual and physical ruin.” (Ross)
iii. Like an ox…as a bird: “Human beings are the only creatures in God’s creation who can choose what kind of creatures they want to be. God wants us to be sheep (Psalm 23:1; John 10; 1 Peter 2:25), but there are other options, such as horses or mules (Psalm 32:9), or even hogs and dogs (2 Peter 2:22).” (Wiersbe)
d. He did not know that it would cost his life: The simple young man chose to only see and anticipate the sensual excitement and pleasure waiting for him with the sexually immoral woman. He did not reckon on the cost involved or supposed that the only cost came from being discovered.
i. “The temptress promises sexual love without erotic restraint, but she refuses to make the fundamental commitment of self to him that is required of true love. Her sort of eroticism leads to complications, even death, and so it must be rejected.” (Waltke)
6. (24-27) Learning from the immoral woman.
Now therefore, listen to me, my children;
Pay attention to the words of my mouth:
Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways,
Do not stray into her paths;
For she has cast down many wounded,
And all who were slain by her were strong men.
Her house is the way to hell,
Descending to the chambers of death.
a. Now therefore, listen to me: The lesson had been presented, and needed a conclusion to reinforce the principle. The father once again asked for the attention of his children to this important matter.
b. Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways: Solomon understood that adultery and sexual immorality begin in the heart. They don’t begin in the hormones or glands, and they don’t begin in the heart in a romantic sense. In the sense that the heart describes our deepest loves and desires, a heart that does not properly love and desire God, but loves and desires pleasure more, will turn aside to sexual immorality.
c. Do not stray into her paths: If the heart is turned aside towards sexual immorality, the feet will find it easy to stray in that direction. It is far better for the line of godliness to be drawn at the heart; but if it is not, then it should be drawn at the path.
d. For she has cast down many wounded: Many, many people have had their reputations, their health, their money, and even their lives destroyed by sexual immorality. Many of these were strong men or women. God’s word and a father’s wisdom teach us to learn from their disaster and not repeat it for ourselves.
i. “The language of Proverbs 7:26 is military in tone. The lady who was so desirable has slain whole armies.” (Garrett)
ii. Strong men: “Atsumim, which we render strong men, may be translated heroes. Many of those who have distinguished themselves in the field and in the cabinet have been overcome and destroyed by their mistresses. History is full of such examples.” (Clarke)
iii. “The valour of man hath oft been slaved by the wiles of a woman. Witness many of your greatest martialists, who conquered countries, and were vanquished of vices.” (Trapp)
e. Her house is the way to hell: That wasn’t how she saw it or described it (Proverbs 7:16-18), but it was true. Wisdom teaches us that things are not as they are often presented or perceived. Rare is the person who willingly, knowingly takes the way to hell and descends to the chambers of death. The power of temptation and the tempter lies in concealing this result, and wisdom sees what is concealed.
i. “Her bedroom is no ballroom, but a battlefield where corpses lie about and from where many are sent to the Netherworld.” (Gemser, cited in Waltke)
ii. “In the hour of sin’s glamor it is good for the soul to look through to the end which is in Sheol and the chambers of death. When the voice of the siren is heard, it is good to pause and listen to the moan of the breakers on the shore of darkness and death, for to that shore the way of impurity assuredly leads.” (Morgan)
(c) 2020 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – firstname.lastname@example.org