Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, June 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 7

Bridges' Commentary on ProverbsBridges' on Proverbs

Verses 1-5

THE study of wisdom in the word of God is here commended to us with affectionate earnestness, and with a beautiful variety of imagery. Let us ponder these valuable rules for practical application.

Let the whole mind and heart be occupied with it. Keep it as the daily means of life. (Proverbs 3:2122 ; Proverbs 4:4, Proverbs 4:13 . Isaiah 55:2-3 . Jeremiah 22:15 .) Sir Matthew Hale told his children — ’If I omit reading a portion of Scripture in the morning, it never goes well with me through the day.’ Lay it up (Proverbs 10:14 . Deuteronomy 11:18 . Luke 2:19, Luke 2:51 ) carefully, not on our shelves, but on our hearts. Let the whole Word of God be our precious treasure. Receive the promises from his grace with simple affiance, and the commandments from his holiness with ready obedience. Stand with your eye in the land of promise; but with your feet "in the land of uprightness." (Psalms 143:10 .)

Maintain a jealous regard for the law. What care is necessary to keep the apple of the eye — that most tender part of the most tender member! (Deuteronomy 32:10 . Psalms 17:8 . Zechariah 2:8 .) With the same care preserve the integrity of the law. Let every part of it have its full weight. To explain it away, or to lower its requirements, breaks down the barrier, and gives an easy entrance to temptation. The sensual sinner is often a covert infidel.

Let it be at hand for constant use. Bind them upon thy fingers (Proverbs 3:3 . Deuteronomy 6:8 ; Deuteronomy 11:18 ); that, being always in sight, they may be always ready for the present moment. And for their practical influence, write them upon the table of thine heart. Oh! my God! this is thy Almighty work (Isaiah 26:12 . 2 Corinthians 3:3 .) But thou hast engaged to do it for thy people (Jeremiah 31:33 .) I "take hold of thy covenant." Lord! Seal thy promised grace.

Let it be the object of tender affection — as our sister — our kinswoman. It is her embrace that throws the harlot’s beauty into the shade. Man must have his object of delight. If wisdom is not loved, lust will be indulged. The Bible therefore — not merely read, but the cherished object of familiar intercourse — proves a sacred exorcist to expel the power of evil. (Proverbs 2:10, Proverbs 2:16 ; Proverbs 6:23-24 ; Proverbs 23:26-27 .)

Verses 6-23

Solomon paints the deadly snare of the strange woman with a master’s hand, and with exquisite fidelity of colouring. A young man without understanding (Proverbs 1:4, Proverbs 1:22 ; Proverbs 13:16 ) in company with youths as simple as himself, takes in the dark of evening the way to the harlot’s house. She meets him. Her attire (Genesis 38:14-15 ): her subtlety (Proverbs 23:27 . Ecclesiastes 7:26 . Judges 16:4-20 ); her loud and stubborn voice (Proverbs 9:13 ); her feet at this late hour not abiding in her house (Compare 1 Timothy 5:13 ; Titus 2:5 ); lying in wait at every corner of the street;†1 her impudent face and conduct — all show the harlot’s forehead. (See Genesis 39:7, Genesis 39:12 . Jeremiah 3:3 .) She allures her victim with the garb of sanctity. She had just been engaged in special religious duties. Now she was come forth to seek diligently her lover, that they might feast together upon her peace-offerings,†2 and solace themselves with love, with every indulgence. ’The goodman (perhaps the name of husband might have awakened conscience) is gone a long journey till the time appointed. Meanwhile, therefore, we may take our fill of love without fear of interruption.’ Unarmed with principle, the weakness of resolution yields to the seduction of lust; and her unsuspecting prey rushes on to ruin.

Trace this sad end to its beginning. Was not idleness the parent of this mischief? (2 Samuel 11:2 .) The loitering evening walk; the unseasonable hour (Job 24:15 . Romans 13:12-13 ); the vacant mind — all bringing youth into contact with evil company (Proverbs 13:20 . 1 Corinthians 15:33 ) — was not this courting sin, tempting the tempter? "The house was empty," and therefore ready for his reception, and soon altogether in his possession. (Matthew 12:44-45 .) How valuable are self-discipline, self-control, constant employment, active energy of pursuit, as preservatives under the Divine blessing from fearful danger!

See also the base varnish of religion. It is often a cover for sin! (1 Samuel 2:22 . 2 Samuel 15:8-11 . John 18:28 .) ’She durst not play the harlot with man till she had played the hypocrite with God, and stopped the mouth of her conscience with her peace-offerings.’†3 Nay — she seems to have emboldened herself in her wickedness, as if her meeting was a happy providence, the reward of her religious services. (Proverbs 7:14-15 . 1 Samuel 23:7 . Zechariah 11:5 .) Beware of any voice, though from the most revered quarter, that manifestly encourages forbidden indulgence.

Observe also the infatuation of the snare. ’Man cannot be ruined till he has been made confident to the contrary. A man must get into his victim’s heart with fair speeches and promises, before he can come at it with a dagger.’†4 Thus the harlot’s flattering speech chained the youth blindfolded for destruction. As the ox goeth to the slaughter, unconscious of his fate, perhaps dreaming of rich pasture: or as a fool goeth to the stocks (Ecclesiastes 7:26 . Judges 16:16-19 ), careless and unfeeling; so does this poor deluded victim rush on with pitiable mirth or indifference, till the dart strikes through his liver. (Hosea 4:11, Hosea 4:14 .) He hasteth as a bird to the snare (Ecclesiastes 9:12 ), thinking only of the bait; and he knoweth not that it is for his life. (Proverbs 9:18 .) What will recollection bring, but the fragrance of exciting perfume (Proverbs 7:16-17 ), changed into the bitterness of wormwood and gall; the short night of pleasure succeeded by the eternal night of infernal torment!†5 for a cup of pleasure drinking an ocean of wrath! (Proverbs 7:27 ; Proverbs 9:18 .)

Lastly — mark the danger of venturing into temptation. Could we expect any other results, when we saw the youth going the way to the harlot’s house? (Proverbs 4:15 ; Proverbs 5:8 . Judges 16:1 .) He intended merely his own idle gratification; and when he yielded, it was probably not without some struggle. But it is a just judgment, that those who fear not temptation should fall. ’Who would avoid danger must avoid temptation to sin. Who would avoid sin must avoid temptation to sin.’†6 The force, to which the youth’s own folly subjected him, he could not plead as an excuse. When the first bounds of modesty are broken through, the door of the fancy is opened to the tempter for the kindling of lust. Thus to rush into the very jaws of ruin is to "enter into temptation" by our own will; instead of being led or falling into it, under the providential discipline and dispensation of God. (Matthew 26:41, with Matthew 4:1 . James 1:2 .) Self-confidence has ruined many a promising profession. Tenderness of conscience, sensibility of weakness, dependence on Divine strength and promise — in this frame "he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not." (1 John 5:18 .)

Footnotes:

†1 Proverbs 9:14-15; Proverbs 23:28 . Dr. Richardson mentions seeing "these wretched women in a large commercial town in Egypt, in the harlot’s attire, sitting at the doors of their houses, and calling on the passengers as they went by, in the same manner as we read in the Book of Proverbs." — Travels, vol. i. p. 270.

†2 See Holden. Compare Leviticus 7:16 ; Leviticus 19:6 ; Deuteronomy 12:6 . Scott takes the same view — adding — ’that it is no wonder, that these sacred ordinances should have given occasion to carnal indulgence, when our Christian festivals (Christmas especially) are abused for similar profanations.’

†3 Gurnal. It is a well known fact, that the favourite mistress of Louis XIV was so rigid in her religious duties, that her bread was weighed during Lent, lest she should transgress the austerity of fasting.

†4 South’s Sermons, iii. 130.

†5 ’Delectat in momentum; cruciat in aeternum.’ — Jerome.

†6 Geier on Proverbs 7:9 .

Verses 24-27

In the hand of a licentious poet or painter, this picture might serve to contaminate the unsanctified imagination. But as it stands on the page of inspiration, it is God’s solemn warning to children, whether in years, understanding, or experience. Now, therefore, that you have seen the end of sin (Proverbs 7:22-23 ), hearken unto me. That you may not go astray in her paths, let not thine heart decline. (Proverbs 4:23 ; Proverbs 5:8 .) An impure thought, a polluted fancy, an idle book, filthy conversation, foolish company, theatres or places of vain resort — these are her ways. Dread the first step, and dream not that you can stop yourself at pleasure in her course. Familiarity with sin weakens abhorrence. Soon will you begin to love the object of detestation. And what! should you find too late, that you have chosen as your home her house, which is the way to hell, and to the chambers of death?†1 Many, not of the meaner sort, but strong men has she cast down wounded and slain. And a miracle it is of Almighty power and grace, that plucks the child of God from the brink of destruction.

Let not then the most established Christian dismiss this subject as of no personal concern. Be it so — that "you are risen with Christ;" that you have "set your affections on things above;" that "your life is hid with Christ in God;" that you are looking for the glorious hope of his "appearing." It is to you, in whom "fleshly lusts are yet warring against the soul" (1 Peter 2:11 ), that the exhortation is given — Mortify, therefore, your members that are upon the earth — even the worst members of the old man — fornication, uncleanness, evil concupiscence.†2 And who, with the picture of the wounded and slain before him will revolt? — "Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing?" (2 Kings 8:13 ) — that he should need this warning? Look at the footsteps of the strong men who have gone in.†3 Whom do we see come out whole? "Behold! kings stood not before her; how then shall we stand?" (2 Kings 10:4 .)

Nor let present steadfastness, or seclusion from temptation, blind our eyes to the liability of yielding to the vilest indulgence. The eye of God discerns a far deeper corruption than appears in the outer man — such a total depravation, that even the affections, designed to be the sources of our holiest delight, become the principle and occasion of the most awful departures from the ways of purity and peace.

The gospel presents the only remedy. The love of Christ is the counteracting principle to the love of lust. ’If impure love solicits, remember the holy love of thy Savior to thee, proved by his most shameful death. Think of him, as looking into thy heart boiling over with corruption, showing thee his wounds, and exciting thee to a reciprocal love of himself.’†4 The crucifixion of the flesh by a living union with Him will "keep us from our iniquity." (Galatians 5:24, with Psalms 18:23 .) "How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" (Romans 6:2-3 .) "The flesh will still lust against the Spirit." (Galatians 5:17 .) But the man, who walks with God in Gospel liberty, and Christian discipline and watchfulness, is safe. (Romans 6:14, with 1 Corinthians 9:27 .)

But if sin be not mortified by these principles, sooner or later it will break out; if not, as here, to open disgrace; yet so as to defile the conscience, to "quench the Spirit," and by a sure, though perhaps imperceptible, course, to bring soul and body to hell — to the chambers of eternal death. (Romans 6:21 . James 1:14-15 .)

Footnotes:

†1 Proverbs 2:18; Proverbs 9:18 . The plural number (the ways, Heb.) seems to imply ’many other ways of guilt branching out, many other paths of ruin coinciding.’ — Hervey’s Theron and Aspasio. Letter v. Shultens insists, that the present most wretched state, full of all horror and execration, is included; so that the man who hath entered the seducer’s house, may be said to have entered alive into hell, and gone down to the chamber of death. — Proverbs 5:5 .

†2 Colossians 3:1-5. Compare the exhortation to the flourishing Thessalonian Church, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5; and to a Christian Bishop, 2 Timothy 2:22 .

†3 Samson — David — Solomon. Nehemiah 13:26 .

Vestigia terrent.

†4 Geier on Proverbs 7:18 . Compare 1 Corinthians 6:18, 1 Corinthians 6:20 ; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 .

Bibliographical Information
Bridges, Charles. "Commentary on #REF". Bridges' Commentary on Proverb. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbp/proverbs-7.html. 1846.
 
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