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The necessity of sexual self-control, the necessity to say ‘no’ to offers of physical intimacy outside marriage, is the dominating theme in the speeches of wisdom in Proverbs 1-9.
In this chapter the father speaks again about that to his son (Pro 2:16-19; Pro 5:1-23; Pro 6:20-35). He does that in the form of a story. It is an educational story that the father is telling, in order to warn his son urgently about the temptation of the strange woman. In Proverbs 6 it is about a man who is so foolish, that he is not satisfied with his own well and goes to the wife of his neighbor. In Proverbs 7 it is about a young inexperienced man who in his foolishness lets himself to be tempted.
In Pro 7:1-5 the father shows his son first, again as an introduction, the value and beauty of the commandment. Then he tells in Pro 7:6-23 from his own experience what he has seen. He describes a young man who not accidentally comes near the temptress, but is looking for the danger zone. The young man comes, in resistance against the warning of Proverbs 5:8, near her house. He did not intend to fornicate, but still does do it. In Pro 7:24-27 the father tells his children what the consequences are, when in their heart they turn away to the paths of the harlot.
Warning Against the Strange Woman
This portion starts again with the father pointing out to his son his “words”, so that he may keep them and at his “commandments” to treasure them within him (Pro 7:1). If he does that, he will live (Pro 7:2). That is the opposite of death, which is the result of not obeying them (Pro 7:24-27). Life in the true sense of the word is threatened when there is no obedience. It is a matter of life or death.
Therefore the son is to keep the teaching of his father as “the apple of your eye”. This implies that obedience to the teaching is crucial for him; that he is to keep it with the greatest care, in order to be able to have a good sight of these things. There is no part of the body that is more sensitive than the apple of the eye (Deu 32:10; Psa 17:8; Zec 2:8).
In Pro 7:3 the commandments are related to the fingers. Everything he does with his fingers, has to be controlled by the commandments. He also has to write them on ‘the tablet of his heart’. The heart is the center of the person. When the commandments are written there, then everything that he does, wherever he goes and sees and everything he says and thinks, will be controlled by the commandments.
“Wisdom” should be to him as his “sister” and “the understanding” has to be in his blood, so to speak (Pro 7:4). The brother-sister relationship renders a close bond of affection in the Old Testament. “Sister” is also used for the wife or sweetheart (Song 4:9-10). If he embraces wisdom as his sister, the strange woman will get no chance to embrace him (Pro 7:13). Man should have an object in which he delights. If that is not wisdom, the emptiness will be filled with wrong desires. Love for God’s Word will remove the power of evil.
These instructions are all given with a view to the strange woman (Pro 7:5). He will only be able to stay away from the snare of temptation, when he obeys this teaching of his father. Whoever keeps the words and commandments of the father, which means: whoever keeps the Word of God, will be kept by it himself. Briefly said: he who keeps, will be kept.
In Pro 7:6-23 the father gives one of the most vivid descriptions that we have in the Scripture of the temptation to sin. He gives an eyewitness report, not as a peeper, but as a teacher. His report does not present sin as attractive, but it contains a serious warning to avoid and flee from sin.
We find the elements in it, where he earlier had warned about:
1. The company of sinners (Pro 1:10-19);
2. To hang around purposelessly (Pro 6:6-10);
3. Places where temptation is lurking (Pro 5:8) and
4. especially disobedience to the words and commandments of the parents (Pro 4:1; 10; Pro 5:1; 7; Pro 6:20-22).
The scenario of the disaster is as often a combination of the wrong company in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In the eyewitness report we find
1. the victim in Pro 7:5-9;
2. the temptress in Pro 7:10-12;
3. the temptation in Pro 7:13-20 and
4. the capitulation of the victim in Pro 7:21-23.
The father begins his story by saying that he was at home and was looking outside through the barred window (Pro 7:6). Then he describes what he saw when he looked down. He saw a group of “naive people”, a group of innocent, inexperienced young people, who were strolling along the road (Pro 7:7). Among those young ones his attention was drawn to “a young man lacking sense”, which literally means ‘a young man without a heart’ or ‘a young who lacks common sense’, so a nitwit, a dunce.
As he was strolling, this young man deliberately crossed the street “near her corner” and slowly “took the way to her house” (Pro 7:8). It is an action which takes place under the cover of darkness (Pro 7:9). No less than four different words are used to describe the darkness. It is in the twilight in the evening of the day, after sunset, which makes the middle of the night look to come fast, because of the directly falling darkness.
Both his purposelessness and darkness deprive him of the spiritual understanding to see the danger to which he exposes himself. Therefore he is not able to do what Joseph did, which is to flee from fornication (Gen 39:7; 10-12; 1Cor 6:18). It is not possible, for whosoever, to stand firm in such a situation. The only option is to flee.
In Pro 7:10 the temptress appears on the scene. She comes out of her house and comes to meet the young man. There is no doubt about what she wants. She shows that by the way she is dressed. She is “dressed as a harlot” (cf. Gen 38:14-15). The young man knows who is before him. She is a devious, sly woman. She is “cunning of heart”, which indicates her profound insincerity, decided to tempt the young man. What she pretends to feel for the young man is totally missing.
This woman is “boisterous” (Pro 7:11). She is full of restlessness, loud and excited. She is also “rebellious” concerning God’s intention with marriage. Marriage is an oppressing and squeezing yoke which she throws off. She could not bear to stay at home. She is rushed by her impure desires into the street. Restlessly she wanders outside her house (Pro 7:12). She is on the lookout like an enemy, in an ambush, in order to tempt a naive young man who crosses her path, to commit the sin of adultery.
The stages in the temptation have been carefully prepared by her. She knows exactly what and when she has to do and what and when she has to say. When the young man is close to her, she overwhelms him (Pro 7:13). She seizes him and kisses him. She has him in her power. With a brazen face, she starts to rope him in further, so that also the last bit of inner resistance with the young man is broken off.
The first thing she says has to do with the service to God (Pro 7:14). From this we can derive that we have to do with a woman from the people of God. This corrupt woman does not shrink from pouring a religious sauce over her despicable intention and in that way give the impression that God is on her side. She had promised God, as she says, that she would bring Him peace offerings. She had done that, she says. The peace offering is a meal offering (Lev 7:11-21). The thought is that she is allowed to eat the meat of the peace offering which she has with her, which the one who brings the offering is allowed to eat. Now she is looking for someone to eat it together with her. That should happen very quickly of course, it has to happen today, for otherwise it will rot.
What a surprise that this young man just crosses her path at this moment. He is exactly the young man for whom she came outside to meet him (Pro 7:15). What a trouble she had made to seek him. And now look, she has found him. If that’s not the guidance of God … She pretends as if she had thought about him only; that he and he alone is her only love. In that way she gives him the feeling that he is very special to her.
But what a world full of lies and deceit she represents. This is how an adulteress always operates, with lies and deceit. She finds nothing special about her prey. In an adulterous relationship you are neither loved nor special. On the contrary, you are deceived, used, raped. The path of death is not pleasant, but causes an endless torment.
The act of adultery is totally impersonal. Someone who has fellowship with a harlot, is one body with her and not one flesh. In marriage husband and wife are one flesh, which is a total unity of spirit, soul and body. With fornication it is only about the body. The body is a toy, you yourself are nothing, nothing more than an impersonal toy.
From the dining room, to where she is inviting him to have a meal together, she suddenly draws the attention to her bedroom. She describes the linens and the perfume that she used to make up her bedroom (Pro 7:16-17). This is how she visualizes her sinful deed and stimulates his lust. There and in that particular atmosphere love should be ‘made’. This is once again excitement, which is not to be compared with anything. She has prepared everything with care and ‘with taste’.
Then avowedly the invitation follows to come to her (Pro 7:18). She offers him a whole night of physical pleasure. Come with me and let us get drunk with love, all through the night. This is the great pleasure, this is what they call love! This is pure pleasure, the real, complete and deep saturation of love.
The young man should not worry at all about her husband (Pro 7:19). Literally it is not said ‘my’ husband, but ‘the’ man. By talking like that about him, she shows that she has forsaken him as her husband. Speaking about ‘my husband’ also might have kept the young man from going with her. She ensures him that he doesn’t have to be afraid that ‘the man’ will come unexpectedly. He is not at home and will neither come home soon, for “he has gone on a long journey”.
She underlines that lie by saying that he has taken a bag of money with him for the cost of his maintenance (Pro 7:20). That he will only come home at the full moon, is another argument of reassurance. At full moon it cannot be pitch dark. Now there is no full moon, but it is pitch dark and they can just go their way (Pro 7:9).
What her whole story comes down to, is that God has been satisfied, that the man is out of the picture and the only thing the young man is left to do is to follow her. All the lies that she uses, have been repeated again and again through the ages:
1. Adultery is a ‘sanctified’ action.
2. The temptress pretends that the other person means a lot to her; she pretends that she loves him alone.
3. What there is to be enjoyed is the pinnacle of love and that’s what the other was made for.
4. The one who is tempted, doesn’t have to be afraid, for it is kept secret.
Most of these lies are used in every adulterous relationship. They appear in a wide range of sexual sins, also in ‘private sins’, like masturbation and watching pornography. But it is clear that whoever commits adultery, is a liar, someone who is absolutely not to be trusted. He who breaks the most intimate bond of confidence, the promise of faithfulness, is not to be trusted in any other relationship. How could such a person be faithful to whatever promise, if he is not faithful to his wife?
The Capitulation of the Victim
The wisdom and uprightness of a Joseph are needed to be able to resist against such an argument. “Her many persuasions” (Pro 7:21) has driven all power out of him to say ‘no’. “Her flattering lips” have entered inside of him and has melted away all the resistance he had. She has persuaded the young man to follow her.
His defeat has suddenly become an irreversible fact (Pro 7:22). He goes with her immediately. We can see him trudging behind her like an ox, however not as an ox that goes to green pasture, but “as an ox goes to the slaughter”. He is not facing the pleasure, but his death. An advertising campaign against the irresponsible use of firework, has the slogan: You’re an ox when you stunt with fireworks. A variation in relation to what Solomon says here, is: You’re an ox when you stunt with porn.
He is as “[one in] fetters to the discipline of a fool” being brought to prison (cf. Ecc 7:26; Jdg 16:16-19). Stupid animals do not see any relation between an enticement and death. Likewise stupid people do not see any relation between their sin and death. He has to pay the price for sin, death. “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). This sin costs him his life.
The expression “until an arrow pierces through his liver”, possibly refers to the gnawing of a guilty conscience, the awareness that he will reap spiritual and physical destruction (Pro 7:23). He is like bird that is only focused on the bait, but does not see the trap. He flies down to get the bait, because it is so attractive and because he needs it to keep himself alive. But he is not aware that the opposite is the case. The bait will cost him his life. By hastening to the bait, he hastens to his death. The perfume of the harlot’s bed changes into a perfume of death and the brief night of pleasure changes into an eternal night of torture.
Do Not Let Your Heart Turn Aside to Her Ways
In Pro 7:24-27 we have turned our back on the street and are back in the room of the teaching father. There he pictures to his children again in bright colors what the consequences are of adultery. He did not tell the previous story to entertain his children, but to warn them. Now they have drawn the lesson, they ought to continue to pay close attention.
With the words “now therefore” he connects to what he has demonstrated as the result of sin (Pro 7:24). He calls upon his “sons” to listen to him and to pay attention to his words. They are to intend in their hearts not to turn aside to the ways of the harlot and not to let their hearts stray into her paths (Pro 7:25). “Her ways” and “her paths” may indicate for instance, the treasuring of impure thoughts, pernicious fantasies, filthy conversations, dirty magazines and foolish company. We should be scared to death for a first step into those ways and paths. If we get familiar to sin, it will weaken the hatred for it. Little by little there will even arise an affection for sin.
Involvement with a harlot leads to death (Pro 7:26). Many who have come into her ways, have ended up in death, including prominent people. Samson is an example of that (Jdg 16:1-21).
The way to the house of the strange woman “is a way to Sheol”. It is the way downwards, “to the chambers of death” (Pro 7:27). The end of an adulterous relationship is not ultimate pleasure, but destruction. It does not give the special feeling, which true intimacy indeed gives. The sons should not be mistaken: the path of apparent pleasure is the path of death. The house of the harlot is in the true sense of the word, on a dead-end road.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Proverbs 7". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13