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13. Thirteenth admonitory discourse, containing a warning against adultery, treated under a different aspect from previous exhortations, and strengthened by an example. In this chapter and the following a contrast is drawn between the adulteress and Wisdom.
My son, keep my words. The teacher enjoins his pupil, as in Proverbs 2:1, to observe the rules which he gives. Lay up, as a precious treasure (see on Proverbs 2:1 and Proverbs 2:7). The LXX. adds here a distich which is not in the Hebrew or in any other version, and is not germane to the context, however excellent in itself: "My son, honour the Lord, and thou shalt be strong, and beside him feat no other." With this we may compare Luke 12:5 and Isaiah 8:12, Isaiah 8:13.
Keep my commandments, and live (see on Proverbs 4:4). As the apple of thine eye; literally, the little man (ishon, diminutive of ish) of the eye; so called from the miniature reflection of objects seen in the pupil, specially of the person who looks into another's eye. It is a proverbial expression for anything particularly precious and liable to be injured unless guarded with scrupulous care (comp. Psalms 17:8, Zechariah 2:8). Similarly the Greeks called this organ κόρη, "damsel" or "puppet," and the Latin, pupilla.
Bind them upon thy fingers. Wear my precepts like a ring on thy finger, so that they may go with thee, whatever thou takest in hand. Others think that the so called tephillin, or phylacteries, are meant. These were worn both on the hand and the forehead, and consisted of a leather box containing strips of parchment, on which were written four texts, viz. Exodus 13:1-10; 11-16; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Deuteronomy 11:13-21. The box was attached to a leather strap wound seven times round the arm three times round the middle finger, and the remainder passed round the hand (see (Exodus 13:9, Exodus 13:16; Jeremiah 22:24). Write them upon the table of thine heart (see on Proverbs 3:3 and Proverbs 6:21; and comp. Deuteronomy 6:9).
Proverbs 7:4 and Proverbs 7:5 contain earnest admonitions to the pursuit of Wisdom, which is worthy of the purest love.
Say unto Wisdom, Thou art my sister. Wisdom is personified, and the connection with her indicated by the relationship which best expresses love, purity, confidence. In the Book of Wisdom 8. she is represented as wife. Christ calls those who do God's will his brother, and sister, and mother (Matthew 12:50). Call Understanding thy kinswoman; moda, "familiar friend." Let prudence and sound sense be as dear to thee as a close friend.
That they may keep thee from the strange woman (see on Proverbs 2:16 and Proverbs 6:24). When the heart is filled with the love of what is good, it is armed against the seductions of evil pleasure or whatever may entice the soul from God and duty. Septuagint, "That she (Wisdom) may keep thee from the strange and evil woman, if she should assail thee with gracious words."
To show the greatness of the danger presented by the seductions of the temptress, the writer introduces no mere abstraction, no mere personification of a quality, but an actual example of what had passed before his own eyes.
For. The particle introduces the example. At the window of my house. He gives a graphic delineation of a scene witnessed outside his house. I looked through my casement; eshnab, "the lattice," which served the purpose of our Venetian blinds, excluding the sun, but letting the cool air pass into the room (comp. Judges 5:28). A person within could see all that passed in the street without being himself visible from without (So Proverbs 2:9). The Septuagint reads the sentence as spoken of the woman: "For from the window glancing out of her house into the streets, at one whom she might see of the senseless children, a young man void of understanding."
And beheld among the simple ones. Though it was night (Proverbs 7:9), there was light enough from moon or stars or from illuminated houses to show what was passing. "The simple" are the inexperienced, who are easily led astray (see on Proverbs 1:4). Looking forth into the street on the throng of young and thoughtless persons passing to and fro, among them I discerned … a young man void of understanding; a fool, who, without any deliberate intention of sinning, put himself in the way of temptation, played on the borders of transgression. The way of escape was before him, as it is in all temptations (1 Corinthians 10:13), but he would not take it. Such a one may well be said to lack understanding, or heart, as the Hebrew expresses it (Proverbs 6:32, where see note).
Near her corner. He kept near the corner of the house of the woman for whom he waited. Another reading gives, "near a corner;" juxta angulum. Vulgate; παρὰ γωνίαν, Septuagint; i.e. he did not take to the broad, open street, but sneaked about at corners, whence he could watch the woman's house without being observed by others. He went the way to her house. He sauntered slowly along, as the verb signifes. Septuagint, "Passing by a corner in the passages of her house (ἐν διόδοις οἴκων αὐτῆς)."
In the twilight, in the evening of the day. So termed to distinguish it from the morning twilight. The moralist sees the youth pacing to and fro in the early evening hours, and still watching and waiting when the darkness was deepest (comp. Job 24:15). In the black and dark night; literally, in the pupil of the eye of night and in darkness. We have the same expression in Proverbs 20:20 (where see note) to denote midnight. Its appropriateness is derived from the fact that the pupil of the eye is the dark centre in the iris. Septuagint: the youth "speaking in the darkness of evening, when there is the stillness of night and gloom."
And, behold, there met him a woman. His long watch is rewarded; the woman comes forth from her house into the street—a proceeding which would at once show what she was, especially in the East, where females are kept secluded, and never appear at night or unattended. With the attire of an harlot. There is no "with" in the original, "woman" and "attire" being in apposition: "There met him a woman, a harlot's dress" (shith, Psalms 73:6); her attire catches the eye at once, and identifies her (comp. Genesis 38:14). In Revelation 17:4 the harlot is "arrayed in purple and scarlet, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls;" and in the present case the female is dressed in some conspicuous garments, very different from the sober clothing of the pure and modest. Subtil of heart (נְצֻרַת לֵב); literally, of concealed heart; i.e. she hides her real feelings, feigning, perhaps, affection for a husband, or love for her paramour, while she seeks only to satisfy her evil passions. The versions have used a different reading. Thus the Septuagint: "Who makes the hearts of young men flutter (ἐζίπτασθαι);" Vulgate, praeparata ad capiendas animas, "ready to catch souls."
Proverbs 7:11 and Proverbs 7:12 describe the character and habits of this woman, not as she appeared on this occasion, but as she is known to the writer.
She is loud; boisterous, clamorous, as Proverbs 9:13. The description applies to a brute beast at certain periods. Stubborn; ungovernable, like an animal that will not bear the yoke (Hosea 4:16). Vulgate, garrula et vaga, "talkative and unsettled;" Septuagint, ἀνεπτερωμένη καὶ ἄσωτος, "flighty and debauched." Her feet abide not in her house. She is the opposite of the careful, modest housewife, who stays at home and manages her family affairs (Titus 2:5). The Vulgate inserts another trait: quietis impatiens, "always restless."
Now is she without, now in the streets. At one moment outside her own door, at another in the open street. Septuagint: "At one time she roams without (ἔξω ῥέμβεται)." The woman is represented not as a common prostitute, but as a licentious wife, who, in her unbridled lustfulness, acts the part of a harlot. Lieth in wait at every corner; seeking to entice some victim. Then the narrative proceeds; the writer returns to what he beheld on the occasion to which he refers.
So she caught him and kissed him; being utterly lost to shame, like Potiphar's wife (Genesis 39:12). With an impudent face said; literally, strengthened her face and said; put on a bold and brazen look to suit, the licentious words which she spoke. Wordsworth quotes the delineation of the "strange woman" drawn by St. Ambrose ('De Cain. et Abel.,' 1.4): "Domi inquieta, in plateis vaga, osculis prodiga, pudore villis, amictu dives, genas picta; meretricio procax motu, infracto per delicias incessu, nutantibus oculis, et ludentibus jaculans palpebris retia, quibus pretiosas animus juveuum capit."
I have peace offerings with me. Shelamim, "peace or thank offerings," were divided between Jehovah, the priests, and the offerer. Part of the appointed victim was consumed by fire; the breast and right shoulder were allotted to the priests; and the rest of the animal belonged to the person who made the offering, who was to eat it with his household on the same day as a solemn ceremonial feast (Leviticus 3:1-17; Leviticus 7:1-38). The adulteress says that certain offerings were due from her, and she had duly made them. This day have I payed my vows. And now (the day being reckoned from one night to the next) the feast was ready, and she invites her paramour to share it. The religious nature of the feast is utterly ignored or forgotten. The shameless woman uses the opportunity simply as a convenience for her sin. If, as is probable, the "strange woman" is a foreigner, she is one who only outwardly conforms to the Mosaic Law, but in her heart cleaves to the impure worship of her heathen hems And doubtless, in lax times, these religious festivals, even in the case of worshippers who were not influenced by idolatrous proclivities, degenerated into self-indulgence and excess. The early Christian agapae were thus misused (1 Corinthians 11:20, etc.); and in modern times religious anniversaries have too often become occasions of licence and debauchery, their solemn origin and pious uses being entirely thrust aside.
Therefore came I forth to meet thee. As though she would invite the youth to a pious rite, she speaks; she uses religion as a pretext for her proceedings, trying to blind his conscience and to gratify his vanity. Diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee (see on Proverbs 1:28). She tries to persuade her dupe that he is the very lover for whom she was looking, whereas she was ready to take the first that offered. Spiritual writers see in this adulteress a type of the mystery of iniquity, or false doctrine, or the harlot described in Revelation (Revelation 2:20) etc.; Revelation 17:1, etc.; Revelation 18:9, etc.).
She describes the preparation she has made for his entertainment. Coverings of tapestry; marbaddim, "cushions," "pillows." The expression occurs again in Proverbs 31:22. It is derived from דָבַד "to spread," and means cushions spread out ready for use. The Septuagint has κειρίαις; Vulgate, funibus, "cords." These versions seem to regard the word as denoting a kind of delicate sacking on which the coverlets were laid. Carved works, with fine linen of Egypt; literally, striped, or variegated, coverings, Egyptian linen. The words are in apposition, but the latter point to the material used, which is אֵטוּן, etun (ἅπαξ λεγόμενον), "linen yarn or thread," hence equivalent to "coverlets of Egyptian thread." This was of extreme fineness, costly, and much prized. By "carved works" (Hebrew, חֲטֻבוֹת, chatuboth) the Authorized Version must refer to bed poles or bed boards elaborately carved and polished; but the word is better taken of coverlets striped in different colours, which give the idea of richness and luxury. Vulgate, trapetibus pictis ex Aegypto, "embroidered rugs of Egyptian work;" Septuagint, ἀμφιτάποις τοῖς ἀπ Αἰγύπτου, "shaggy cloth of Egypt." The mention of these articles denotes the foreign commerce of the Hebrews, and their appreciation of artistic work (comp. Isaiah 19:9; Ezekiel 27:7). The Prophet Amos (Amos 6:4) denounces those that "lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches."
I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. The substances mentioned were dissolved in or mixed with water, and then sprinkled on the couch. The love of such things is reckoned as a sign of luxury and vice (Isaiah 3:20, etc.). The three perfumes are mentioned together in So Proverbs 4:14; "myrrh, aloes, and cassia," in Psalms 45:8. Septuagint, "I have sprinkled my couch with saffron, and my house with cinnamon." Myrrh is nowadays imported chiefly from Bombay, but it seems to be found in Arabia and on the coasts of the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. It is a gummy substance exuding from the bark of the balsamodendron when wounded, and possessing an aromatic odour not particularly agreeable to modern tastes. It was one of the ingredients of the holy oil (Exodus 30:28), and was used in the purification of women (Esther 2:12), as well as in perfuming persons and things, and, mixed with aloes, in embalming dead bodies (John 19:39). Aloes is the inspissated juice of the leaves of the aloe, a leguminous plant growing in India, Cochin China, Abyssinia, and Socotra. The ancients used the dried root for aromatic purposes. It is mentioned by Balaam (Numbers 24:6). Cinnamon, which is the same word in Hebrew and Greek, is the fragrant bark of a tree growing in Ceylon and India and the east coast of Africa.
Let us take our fill of love; let us intoxicate ourselves (inebriemur, Vulgate); as though the reason were overthrown by sensual passion as much as by drunkenness. The bride in So Proverbs 1:2 says, "Thy love is better than, wine" (see Proverbs 5:15, Proverbs 5:19, and note there),
The temptress proceeds to encourage the youth by showing that there is no fear of interruption or detection. The goodman is not at home. "Goodman" is an old word meaning "master of the house," or husband (Matthew 20:11, etc.); but the Hebrew is simply "the man," which is probably a contemptuous way of speaking of the husband whom she was outraging. He is gone a long journey; he has gone to a place at a great distance hence. This fact might assure her lover that he was safe from her husband's jealousy (Proverbs 6:34); but she has further encouragement to offer.
He hath taken a bag of money with him; not only to defray the expenses of the journey (a fact which need not be dwelt upon), but because he has some pecuniary business to transact which will occupy his time, and prevent his return before the appointed hour. And will come home at the day appointed; better, as the Revised Version, he will come home at the full moor, (in die pleura lunae, Vulgate). כֶּסֶא here, and כֶּסֶה Psalms 81:4, are rightly translated "the full moon," this rendering being supported by the Syriac keso, though the etymology is doubtful. As it has before been mentioned that the night was dark (Psalms 81:9), it is plain that there were still many days to run before the moon was full, and the husband returned.
Thus far we have had the adulteress introduced speaking; now the narrative proceeds. With her much fair speech she caused him to yield. First, she influenced his mind, and bent his will to her purpose by her evil eloquence. The Hebrew word means "doctrine, or learning"—devil's pleading (Proverbs 1:5; Proverbs 9:9). St. Jerome has irretivit, "she netted him;" Septuagint, "She caused him to go astray (ἀπεπλάνησε) by much converse." She talked him over, though indeed he had put himself in the way of temptation, and had now no power to resist her seductions. Then with the flattering of her lips she forced him; drew him away. His body followed the lead of his blinded mind; he acceded to her solicitations. Septuagint, "With the snares of her lips she ran him aground (ἐξώκειλε), drove him headlong to ruin."
He teeth after her straightway; suddenly, as though, casting aside all scruples, he gave himself up to the temptation, and with no further delay accompanied her to the house. Septuagint, "He followed, being cajoled (κεπφωθείς), ensnared like a silly bird" (see the article on Cepphus Larus, in Erasmus's 'Adag ,' s.v. "Garrulitas"). As an ox goeth to the slaughter. He no more realizes the serious issue of his action than an irrational beast which, without prevision of the future, walks contentedly to the slaughter house, and is stupidly placid in the face of death. Or as a fool to the correction of the stocks. There is some difficulty in the translation of this clause. The Authorized Version, with which Delitzsch virtually agrees, is obtained by transposition of the nouns, the natural rendering of the Hebrew being "as fetters to the correction of a fool." The sense thus obtained is obvious: the youth follows the woman, as a fool or a criminal is led unresisting to confinement and degradation. Doubtless there is some error in the text, as may be seen by comparison of the versions. Septuagint (with which the Syriac agrees), "As a dog to chains, or as a hart struck to the liver with an arrow;" Vulgate, "As a frisking lamb, and not knowing that as a fool he is being dragged to bondage." The commentators are much divided. Fleischer, "As if in fetters to the punishment of the fool," i.e. of himself; Ewald, "As when a steel trap (springs up) for the correction of a fool," i.e. when a hidden trap suddenly catches an incautious person wandering where he has no business. The direct interpretation, that the youth follows the harlot, as fetters the proper punishment of fools, is unsatisfactory, because the parallelism leads us to expect a living being instead of "fetters." We are constrained to fall back on the Authorized Version as exhibiting the best mode of reconstructing a corrupt text. The youth, with his insensate passion, is compared to the madman or idiot who is taken away, unconscious of his fate, to a shameful deprivation of liberty.
Till a dart strike through his liver. This clause would be better taken with the preceding verse, as in the Septuagint, or else placed in a parenthesis; then the following clause introduces a new come parison. The youth follows the harlot till his liver, the seat of the passions, is thoroughly inflamed, or till fatal consequences ensue. Theocr; 'Id,' 11.15—
Ἔχθιστον ἔχων ὑποκάρδιον ἕλκος
Κύπριος ἐκ μεγάλας τὸ οἱ ἥπατι πᾶξε βέλεμνον.
"Beneath his breast
A hateful wound he bore by Cypris given,
Who in his liver fixed the fatal dart."
Delitzsch would relegate the hemistich to the end of the verse, making it denote the final result of mad and illicit love. The sense thus gained is satisfactory, but the alteration is quite arbitrary, and unsupported by ancient authority. As a bird hasteth to the snare. This is another comparison (see Proverbs 1:17, the first proverb in the book, and note there). And knoweth not that it is for his life; i.e. the infatuated youth does not consider that his life is at stake, that he is bringing upon himself, by his vicious rashness, temporal and spiritual ruin (Proverbs 5:11).
The narrative ends here, and the author makes a practical exhortation deduced from it. Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children. He began by addressing his words to one, "my son" (Proverbs 7:1); he here turns to the young generally, knowing how necessary is his warning to all strong in passion, weak in will, wanting in experience. The Septuagint has "my son," as in Proverbs 7:1.
Let not thine heart decline to her ways. The verb satah is used in Proverbs 4:15 (where see note) of turning aside from evil; but here, as Delitzsch notes, it is especially appropriate to the case of a faithless wife whose transgression, or declension from virtue, is described by this term (Numbers 5:12). Go not astray in her paths. The LXX. (in most manuscripts) has only one rendering for the two clauses: "Let not thine heart incline unto her ways."
For she hath east down many wounded. Delitzsch, "For many are the slain whom she hath caused to fall." The harlot marks her course with ruined souls, as a ruthless conqueror leaves a field of battle strewn with corpses. Yea, many strong (atsum) men have been slain by her. One thinks of Samson and David and Solomon, the victims of illicit love, and suffering for it. Vulgate, et fortissimi quique interfecti sunt ab ea. But the Septuagint and many moderns take atsum in the sense of "numerous," as Psalms 35:18; ἀναρίθμητοι, "innumerable are her slain," The former interpretation seems preferable, and avoids tautology.
Her house is the way to hell (sheol). A warning fontal in Proverbs 2:18 and Proverbs 5:5. Viae inferi domus ejus. The plural דַּרְכֵי is well expressed by Hitzig: "Her house forms a multiplicity of ways to hell." Manifold are the ways of destruction to which adultery leads; but they all look to one awful end. Going down to the chambers of death. Once entangled in the toils of the temptress, the victim may pass through many stages, but he ends finally in the lowest depth—destruction of body and soul Spiritual writers see here an adumbration of the seductions of false doctrine, and the late to which it brings all who by it are led astray.
Keeping the commandments
We are all familiar with the expression, "keeping the commandments." But do we all fully comprehend what this involves? Let us consider some of the requisites.
I. REMEMBER THE COMMANDMENTS. "Lay up my commandments with thee." The Law was treasured in the ark. It is important that great principles should be so impressed upon our minds as to perpetually haunt our memories, and recur to our vision in critical moments. The school task of committing the ten commandments to memory will not be enough. The text does not refer to the Law of Moses, but to parental instruction. Great Christian principles are what we need to treasure up.
II. LET NOTHING TAMPER WITH THE COMMANDMENTS. "Keep my law as the apple of thine eye." We cannot bear the smallest speck of dust in the eye. The slightest wound is most painful. Let us beware of allowing the least injury to the healthy condition of the law within us. Moral scepticism is most dangerous.
III. BRING THE COMMANDMENTS TO BEAR ON DAILY LIFE. "Bind them upon thy fingers." Thus they will be always before us, and brought into contact with practical affairs. It is useless to keep the Law only in the closet. It must be carried with us to the workshop, the marketplace, the senate house. How many people's religion never reaches their fingers! Like men with feeble circulation, they have cold extremities.
IV. CHERISH THE COMMANDMENTS AFFECTIONATELY. "Write them upon the table of thine heart." This means impressing them upon the whole being—understanding, memory, affection. The secret of feeble circulation at the extremities is defective action of the heart. If we are to obey the Law we must pray that God will "incline our hearts to keep" it.
It would not, perhaps, be wise for any one to discuss this subject in the presence of a general congregation. The sin is so fearfully contaminating that it is scarcely possible to touch it in any way without contracting some defilement; and the few who might benefit by a public exposure of the evils of profligacy would be greatly outnumbered by the multitude of people, especially the young, to whom the direction of attention to it would be unwholesome. But on special occasions, and before special audiences, a strong, clear denunciation of this sin may be called for. We can avoid the subject too much, and so leave the sin unrebuked. Certainly some men do not seem to realize how fearfully wicked and how fatally ruinous it is.]
I. IT IS A DESECRATION OF THE TEMPLE OF GOD. It is a sin against God as well as an offence against society. Utterly abandoned men will set little weight by such a consideration, because they have long lost all serious care for their relations with God, But it is important that they who are in danger of falling should remember the solemn words of St. Paul, and the lofty point of view from which he regards the subject (1 Corinthians 6:18, 1 Corinthians 6:19). The Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Every man is designed to be such a temple. See that this temple is not converted into a nest of corruption.
II. IT IS RUINOUS TO ANY ONE WHO SUCCUMBS TO IT. It ruins the mind, degrading the whole tone and energy of thought. It is the most gross and disastrous dissipation. It ruins the physical health. It ruins wholesome interest in pure delights. It ruins business prospects. It ruins reputation. It brings other sins in its train. It ruins the soul. He who abandons himself to it is indeed a lost man.
III. IT IS HEARTLESSLY CRUEL. The heaviest guilt lies with the tempter. When a man has deluded and ruined a woman, society regards the woman with loathing and contempt, while the man often escapes with comparative impunity. This is one of the grossest instances of injustice that the future judgment will surely rectify. But in any case of profligacy great selfishness and cruelty are shown. The miserable creatures who live by sin could not continue their wretched traffic if men did not encourage it. The demand creates the supply, and is responsible for the hopeless misery that results.
IV. IT IS FATAL TO SOUND SOCIAL ORDER. It is a gangrene in society, eating out its very heart. Nothing more surely undermines the true welfare of a people. It is fatal to the sanctities of the home—sanctities on which the very life of the nation depends.
V. ALL THIS ACCOMPANIES THE INDULGENCE OF WHAT IS PURSUED SOLELY AS SELFISH PLEASURE. The profligate man has not the thief's excuse, who may rob because he is starving (see Proverbs 6:30-32); nor can he pretend that he is benefiting any one else by his wickedness.
1. Let the Legislature be urged to repeal any laws that make the indulgence of this sin more easy by counteracting its natural penalties.
2. Let all men avoid the smallest temptation towards it—all amusements and scenes that lead thither.
3. Let employers endeavour to protect young people under their charge from the fearful dangers of city life.
4. Let Christians seek to save the failing and rescue the fallen in the spirit of Christ, who received penitent sinners.
HOMILIES BY E. JOHNSON
A tragedy of temptation
This is a fine piece of dramatic moral description, and there is no reason why it should not be made use of, handled with tact and delicacy, with an audience of young men.
I. THE PROLOGUE. (Proverbs 7:1-5.) On Proverbs 7:1, see Proverbs 1:8; Proverbs 2:1; Proverbs 6:20. On Proverbs 6:2, see on Proverbs 4:4. Here an expression not before used occurs. "Keep my doctrine as thine eye apple;" literally, "the little man in thine eye." It is an Oriental figure for what is a treasured possession (Deuteronomy 32:10; Psalms 17:8). On Proverbs 4:3, see on Proverbs 3:3; Proverbs 6:21. "Bind them on thy fingers," like costly rings. Let Wisdom be addressed and regarded as "sister," Prudence as "intimate friend" (Proverbs 6:4). On Proverbs 6:5, see on Proverbs 2:16; Proverbs 6:24. On the prologue as a whole, remark
(1) it is intense in feeling,
(2) concentrated in purpose, and hence
(3) exhaustive in images of that which is precious and desirable before all else. It is an overture which gives the theme of the drama with the deepest impressiveness.
II. THE FIRST ACT. (Proverbs 6:6-9.) The teacher looked through a grated loophole, or eshnab, and saw among the silly fools, the simple ones, who passed by or stood chatting, one simpleton in particular, who attracted his notice. He watched him turn a corner (hesitating, and looking around a moment, according to Ewald's explanation), and pass down a street. The Hebrew word finely shows the deliberacy, the measured step, with which he goes; he has made up his mind to rush into sin. It was late in the evening—"dark, dark, dark," says the writer, with tragic and suggestive iteration—dark in every sense. The night is prophetic.
III. THE SECOND ACT. (Proverbs 6:10-20.) A woman—"the attire of a harlot" (as if she were nothing but a piece of dress), with a heart full of wiles, meets him. She was excitable, noisy, uncontrollable, gadding—now in the streets, now in the markets, now at every corner (Proverbs 6:11, Proverbs 6:12). Her characteristics have not changed from ancient times. And so with effrontery she seizes and kisses the fool, and solicits him with brazen impudence. Thank offerings had "weighed upon" her in consequence of a vow; but this day the sacrificial animal has been slain, and the meat which, according to the Law, must be consumed within two days, has been prepared for a feast. And she invites him to the entertainment, fires his fancy with luxurious descriptions of the variegated tapestries and the neat perfumes of her couch, and the promise of illicit pleasures. She alludes with cool shamelessness to her absent husband, who will not return till the day of the full moon (Proverbs 6:20). "This verse glides smoothly, as if we could hear the sweet fluting of the temptress's voice." But it is as the song of birds in a wood before an awful storm.
IV. THE THIRD ACT. (Proverbs 6:21-23.) Her seductive speech, the "fulness of her doctrine," as the writer ironically says, and the smoothness of her lips, overcome the yielding imagination of her victim. Proverbs 6:22 implies that he had hesitated; but "all at once," passion getting the better of reflection, he follows her like a brute under the dominion of a foreign will driven to the slaughter house. He is passive in the power of the temptress, as the fool who has got into the stocks. "Till a dart cleave his liver"—the supposed seat of passion. Hastening like a bird into the net, he knows not that his life is at stake.
V. THE EPILOGUE. (Proverbs 6:24-27.) On Proverbs 6:24, see on Proverbs 5:7. "Let not thy heart turn aside to her ways, and go not astray on her paths." Properly, "reel not" (shagah), as in Proverbs 5:20. Beware of that intoxication of the senses and fancy which leads to such an end. For she is a feller of men, a cruel murderess (verse 26). Her house is as the vestibule of hell, the facilis descensus Averni—the passage to the chambers of death (see on Proverbs 2:18; Proverbs 5:5).
1. Folly and vice are characteristically the same in every age. Hence these scenes have lost none of their dramatic power or moral suggestion.
2. Only virtue is capable of infinite diversity and charm. The pleasures of mere passion, violent at first, pass into monotony, thence into disgust.
3. The character of the utter harlot has never been made other than repulsive (even in French fiction, as Zola's 'Nana') in poetry. What exists in practical form is mere dregs and refuse.
4. The society of pure and refined women is the best antidote to vicious tastes. For to form a correct taste in any matter is to form, at the same time, a distaste for coarse and spurious quality. Perhaps reflections of this order may be more useful to young men than much declamation.—J.
HOMILIES BY W. CLARKSON
The two ways
Here we have—
I. THE WAY OF SIN AND DEATH. This is:
1. The way of thoughtlessness. It is the "simple ones," the "young men void of understanding" (Proverbs 7:7), those who go heedlessly "near the corner," "the way to the house" of the tempter or the temptress (Proverbs 7:8). It is those who "do not consider," who do not think who they are, what they are here for, whither they go, what the end will be;—it is these who go astray and are found in the way of death.
2. The way of darkness. (Proverbs 7:9.) Sin hates the light; it loves the darkness. It cannot endure the penetrating glance, the reproachful look, of the good and wise man. It prefers to be where it can better imagine that it is unseen of God.
3. The way of shame. (Proverbs 7:10-20.) The result of habitual sin is to rob woman of her native purity, to make her impudent and immodest. How sad, beyond almost everything, the effect of guilt that will put shameful thoughts into a woman's mind, shameless words into a woman's lips! If sin will do this what enormity of evil will it not work?
4. The way of falsehood, of pretence, of imposture. (Proverbs 7:14, Proverbs 7:15.)
5. The way of weakness and defeat. (Proverbs 7:21, Proverbs 7:22.) A man, under the power of sin, yields himself up; he is vanquished, he surrenders his manliness, he has to own to himself that he is miserably beaten. The strong man is slain by sin, the wounded is cast down (Proverbs 7:26). He who has gained victories on other fields, and won trophies in other ways, is utterly defeated, is token captive, is humiliated by sin.
6. The way of death and damnation. (Proverbs 7:27.)
II. THE WAY OF RIGHTEOUSNESS AND LIFE. (Proverbs 7:1-5.) This is:
1. The way of attention. The will of God must first be heeded and understood.
2. The way of holy love. We must take Divine wisdom to our heart, and love it as that which is near and dear to us (Proverbs 7:4).
3. The way of wise culture. (Proverbs 7:1-3.) We are to take the greatest pains to keep God's thought in our remembrance, before the eyes of our soul. We are to take every needful measure to keep it intact, whole, flawless in our heart. We are to find it a home in the inmost chamber, in the sacred places of our spirit. Then will this path of righteousness prove to us to be:
4. The path of life. Keeping his commandments, we shall "live" (Proverbs 7:2). We shall live the life of virtue, escaping the snares and wiles of the vicious (Proverbs 7:5). We shall live the life of piety and integrity, beloved of God, honoured of man, having a good conscience, cherishing a good hope through grace of eternal life.—C.
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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Proverbs 7". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany