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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Proverbs 7

 

 

Verse 1

Proverbs 7:1 My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee.

Ver. 1. My son, keep my words.] Aristotle hath observed, and daily experience makes it good, that man shows his weakness no way more than about moderating the pleasure ef his tasting and touching, forasmuch as they belong to him, not as a man, but as a living creature. Now therefore as where the hedge is lowest, there the beast leaps over soonest, so Satan will be sure to assault us where we are least able to withstand him. And whereas old men (a) have no cause to be secure - (David was old when he went in to Bathsheba, and Lot not young when he deflowered his two daughters; - of the Brabonts it is said, that quo magis senescunt eo magis stultescunt, The older the more foolish; and the heathen sages say, Metuendam esse senectam, quod non veniat sola, that old age is to be feared, as that which comes not alone, but being itself a disease, it comes accompanied with many diseases both of body and mind); - young men (b) especially, whom the Greeks call ηιθεοι of αθω, to be hot, and Aιζηοι of Zεω, to boil, and who think they have a licence helluari, scortari, fores effringere, to drink and drab, which they count and call a trick of youth, have but more than need to be constantly and carefully cautioned and called upon, as here they are, to "flee fornication," [1 Corinthians 6:8] to "flee youthful lusts," [2 Timothy 2:22] with posthaste to flee them, to "abstain from fleshly lusts" tanquam a mellito veneno, "which war against the soul." [1 Peter 2:11] The body cannot be so wounded with weapons as the soul is with lusts. Holy Timothy - so temperate a young man that St Paul was fain to prescribe him medicine, bidding him no longer to drink water, but "a little wine for his stomach’s sake and his often infirmities," [1 Timothy 5:23] contracted happily by his too much abstinence, for the better keeping under his body, and bringing it into subjection - is in the same chapter by the same apostle exhorted to exhort the younger women with all purity; [1 Timothy 5:2] whereby is intimated, that through the deceit of his heart, and the slipperiness of his age, even while he was pressing those young women to purity, some impure motion might press in upon him; which, though but a stranger to Timothy - as Peter Martyr and others observe out of that passage in Nathan’s parable, [2 Samuel 12:5] that lust was to David - yet might prove a troublesome inmate if not suddenly ejected. It is no marvel, therefore, that the wise man is so exceedingly earnest with his son about the business of abhorring harlotry, the hatefulness whereof he now paints out in a parable, setting it forth in liveliest colours.


Verse 2

Proverbs 7:2 Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.

Ver. 2. Keep my commandments, and live.] "Live," i.e., live happily. I am the Lord that teacheth thee to profit, therefore keep my commandments; [Isaiah 48:17] as if God should say, It is for thy profit that I command thee, and not for mine own. "In doing thereof there is great reward," saith David, [Psalms 19:11] and present reward, saith Solomon here, Do it and live. In the court of earthly princes there is αναβολη και μεταβολη delays and changes. Men are off and on in their promises; they are also slow and slack in their performances. But it is otherwise here: the very "entrance of thy word giveth light," [Psalms 119:130] and the very onset of obedience giveth life. It is but "Hear, and your soul shall live," [Isaiah 55:3] "Behold I come quickly, and my reward is with me." [Revelation 22:12]

And my law as the apple of thine eye.] With all chariness and circumspection. The least mote offends the eye, and the least deviation violates the law. Sin is homogeneous, all of a kind, though not all of the same degree; as the least pebble is a stone, as well as the largest rock, and as the drop of a bucket is water, as well as the main ocean. Hence the least sins are in Scripture reproached by the names of the greatest. Malice is called man slaughter, lust adultery, &c.; concupiscence is condemned by the law, even the first motions of sin, though they never come to consent. [Romans 7:7] Inward bleeding may kill a man. De minutis non curat lex, saith the civilian; but the law of God is spiritual, though we be carnal. And as the sunshine shows us atoms and motes, that till then we discerned not, so doth the law discover and censure smallest failings. It must therefore be kept curiously, even "as the apple of the eye," as that little man (a) in the eye, that cannot be touched but he will be distempered. Careful we must be even in the minutula legis, the punctilios of duty. Men will not lightly lose the least ends of gold. (b)


Verse 3

Proverbs 7:3 Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.

Ver. 3. Bind them upon thy fingers.] That thou mayest have them always in sight, as God hath his people: "Behold I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands: thy walls are continually before me." [Isaiah 49:16] The Hebrews here refer fingers to action, heart to meditation and retention. Men should have the law of God at their fingers ends. Any of us Jews, saith Josephus, being asked of any point of the law, answereth it as readily as if he had been asked his own name: they should also be "doers of the word, and not hearers only." The hand is οργανον οργανων (a) the instrument of action. David "lifted up both his hands to the word," [Psalms 119:48] as if he would pull it to him with both hands, as if he would do the deed in good earnest. The "heavens are the work of God’s fingers"; [Psalms 8:3] the law should be of ours.


Verse 4

Proverbs 7:4 Say unto wisdom, Thou [art] my sister; and call understanding [thy] kinswoman:

Ver. 4. Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister,] q.d., If thou must needs have a lady to set thy love upon, let me commend a mistress to thee more amiable and affable than any that thou canst meet with, and that is heavenly wisdom. Say unto her, Thou art my sister, &c. Christ oft woos his spouse by this title, "My sister, my spouse." As the nearest affinity is spouse, so the nearest consanguinity is sister. There are all bonds to knit us to Christ, there shall be all to knit Christ to us, if we fall in with wisdom; this is to become akin to Christ. [Matthew 12:50] And that is the truest nobility where God himself is top of the kin, and religion the root, in regard whereof all the rest (riches, retinue, &c.) are but shadows and shapes of nobleness.

Call understanding thy kinswoman,] i.e., Be thoroughly and familiarly acquainted with her. Surely as in nature he is accounted a singular idiot that knows not his own sisters or near kinsfolk, so in religion he is strangely simple and stupid that is not acquainted with the grounds of behaviour and comfort, as they are contained in the word.


Verse 5

Proverbs 7:5 That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger [which] flattereth with her words.

Ver. 5. That they may keep thee.] The "wisdom from above" can and will preserve a man from hankering after strange flesh. The world’s wizards have been most of them tacked and tainted with this vice, and that by a just hand of God upon them, for the contempt of religion, [Romans 1:28] which is indeed the most excellent preservative. Hence, when the apostle had said, [1 Timothy 4:7] "exercise godliness," he adds, as a motive, "Godliness is profitable to all things," Proverbs 7:8. See further for this, Proverbs 23:26-27; Proverbs 2:16; Proverbs 6:23-24. {See Trapp on "Proverbs 23:26"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 23:27"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 2:16" {See Trapp on "Proverbs 6:23"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 6:24"}


Verse 6

Proverbs 7:6 For at the window of my house I looked through my casement,

Ver. 6. I looked through my casement.] Little did this young fool think whose eye was upon him, less did he heed the all-seeing eye of Heaven. Solomon was observing his subjects’ carriages, and found a miscarriage. Magistrates, as they have many eyes upon them (whence also they have their name in the Hebrew tongue), (a) so they are to have their eyes upon many, watching when other men sleep, and observing what other men slight. The poets feign that Jupiter overlooks the world, and that Somnus or sleep, dared never come near him. "A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes." [Proverbs 20:8]


Verse 7

Proverbs 7:7 And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding,

Ver. 7. Among the simple ones.] The word signifieth such a one as may be soon persuaded, easily drawn any way (a) by a twined thread with a wet finger; fatuellus, such as whom it is no hard matter to cozen and collude with.


Verse 8

Proverbs 7:8 Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house,

Ver. 8. Near her corner.] Which he should have balked, according to Proverbs 5:8. {See Trapp on "Proverbs 5:8"} Men’s own inconsideration, security, and dallying with the beginnings of sin, or with the occasion, doth usually tempt the devil to tempt them; and he feeling their pulse thereby which way it beats, fits them a penny worth, provides them of mates, sets one Delilah or other to bind them, as she did Samson, with the green withes of fleshly pleasure. But let a man divorce the flesh from the world, and the devil can do him no harm.


Verse 9

Proverbs 7:9 In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:

Ver. 9. In the black and dark night.] Thinking to obscure himself; but Solomon saw him, how much more God, cui obscura patent, muta respondent, silentium confitetur, before whom night will convert itself into noon, and silence prove a speaking evidence. Foolish men think to hide themselves from God, by hiding God from themselves. See Psalms 139:11-12.


Verse 10

Proverbs 7:10 And, behold, there met him a woman [with] the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.

Ver. 10. And behold there met him a woman.] Fit lettuce for such lips, a fit handle for such a hatchet. Every corner is full of such dust heaps, the land is even darkened with them, as Egypt once was with the locusts. [Exodus 10:15]

With the attire of an harlot.] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 6:25"} The Hebrew word here signifies a set habit or ornament finely fitted to the body: vestitus in quo plicae, saith Lavater, plaited tarments, plaited hair, &c. Let such take heed of the plica poloniea, that dreadful disease.

And subtile of heart.] Or, Trussed up about the breasts, with her upper parts naked. So Levi Ben. Gersom: Erat nudo collo et pectore, corde tenus, &c. She met him with her naked breasts; at this day too commonly used by such as would be held no harlots.


Verse 11

Proverbs 7:11 (She [is] loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house:

Ver. 11. Her feet abide not in her house.] As the modest woman’s do, [Titus 2:5] who is therefore called domiporta, set forth by the snail, which carries her house on her back, and compared to the vine, that grows by the house side. [Psalms 128:3] The Egyptian women wear no shoes, that they might the better keep home. Of the Italian women it is said, that they are magpies at the door, saints in the church, goats in the garden, devils in the house, angels in the streets, and sirens in the windows. (a)


Verse 12

Proverbs 7:12 Now [is she] without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.)

Ver. 12. Now she is without.] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 7:11"} Further observe, that the former faults - loudness of language, stubbornness against a husband’s lawful commands and restraints, and this of gadding up and down to see and to be seen - albeit they be not certain signs, yet they are strong presumptions of a whorish disposition.


Verse 13

Proverbs 7:13 So she caught him, and kissed him, [and] with an impudent face said unto him,

Ver. 13. So she caught him, and kissed him.] Strange impudence in this "strange woman," who hath not her name for nought. Potiphar’s wife was such a beast; so was Messalina the empress, wife to Claudius, Joan, queen of Naples, and other prodigious strumpets, of the kind of those whom they call Borboritae. We have heard, saith a grave divine, (a) of virgins, which at first seemed modest, blushing at the motions of an honest love; who being once corrupted and debauched, have grown flexible to easy entreaties to unchastity; and from thence boldly lascivious so as to solicit others, so as to prostitute themselves to all comers; yea, as our casuists (b) complain of some Spanish stews, to an unnatural filthiness.


Verse 14

Proverbs 7:14 [I have] peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows.

Ver. 14. I have peace offerings.] Sacris abutitur, ut sceleratis mos est; { a} she pretends religion to her filthy practices. So did those wicked women that lay with Eli’s sons at the door of the tabernacle. [1 Samuel 2:22] So did King Edward IV’s holy whore, as he used to call her, (b) that came to him out of a nunnery when he used to call for her. And such were those kedesheth, or common whores, so called in Hebrew, because such abomination was committed under a pretext of religion. [Genesis 38:21 Deuteronomy 23:17] But what an odd thing was that of David, that would not lie with Bathsheba till purified! Doth he make conscience of ceremonial, and none of moral purity?

This day have I paid my vows.] A votary then she was, by all means, and so more than ordinarily religious. So was Doeg; why else was he detained "before the Lord?" [1 Samuel 21:7] A Doeg may set his foot as far into God’s sanctuary as a David. That many Popish votaries are no better than this housewife in the text, see the "Lisbon Nunnery," &c., besides those thousands of infants’ skulls found in the fish pools by Gregory the Great.


Verse 15

Proverbs 7:15 Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee.

Ver. 15. Therefore came I forth.] As having much good cheer at home, as at all peace offerings they had. Gluttony is the gallery that lustfulness walks through. (a)

Diligently to seek thy face.] Or, Thy person, not thy purse; thee, not thine do I seek. Quis credit? who belives that?

And I have found thee.] By a providence, no doubt; God must have a hand in it, or else it is marvel. "God hath given me my hire," said Leah; "because I have given my maid to my husband." [Genesis 30:18] See 1 Samuel 23:7, Zechariah 11:5.


Verse 16

Proverbs 7:16 I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved [works], with fine linen of Egypt.

Ver. 16. I have decked my bed.] Lest haply by being abroad so late he should question where to have a bed, she assures him of a dainty one, with curious curtains.


Verse 17

Proverbs 7:17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.

Ver. 17. With myrrh, aloes, &c.] 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. Jerusalem’s filthiness was "in her skirts"; and why? "She remembered not her latter end" [Lamentations 1:9] As the strokings of a dead hand, they say, cureth a tympany; and as the ashes of a viper applied to the part that is stung draws the venom out of it, so the serious thought of death will prove death to fleshly lusts. I meet with a story (a) of one that gave a loose young man a ring with a death’s head, with this condition, that he should one hour daily, for seven days together, look and think upon it, which bred a strange alteration in his life.


Verse 18

Proverbs 7:18 Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves.

Ver. 18. Until the morning.] But what if death draw the curtains, and look in the while? If death do not, yet guilt will. And here beasts are more happy in carnal contentments than sensual voluptaries; for in their delights they seldom surfeit, but never sin; and so never find any cause or use for pangs of repentance, as epicures do, whose pleasure passeth, but a sting stays behind. Job calleth sparks the "sons of fire," being engendered by it upon fuel; as pleasures are the sons of men’s lusts, when the object and they lie and couple together. And they are not long lived; they are but as sparks, they die as soon as begotten.


Verse 19

Proverbs 7:19 For the goodman [is] not at home, he is gone a long journey:

Ver. 19. For the goodman is not at home.] Heb., The man, - not my man, or my husband, &c. The very mention (how much more the presence!) of such a man might have marred the mirth.


Verse 20

Proverbs 7:20 He hath taken a bag of money with him, [and] will come home at the day appointed.

Ver. 20. He hath taken a bag of money.] And so will not return in haste. Let not the children of this world be wiser than we: "Lay up treasure in heaven; provide yourselves bags that wax not old" [Luke 12:33] Do as merchants, that being to travel into a far country, deliver their money here upon the exchange, that there they may receive it. Evagrius in Cedreuus bequeathed three hundred pound to the poor in his will; but took a bond beforehand of Synesius the bishop for the repayment of this in another life, according to the promise of our Saviour of a hundred fold advantage.


Verse 21

Proverbs 7:21 With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him.

Ver. 21. With much fair speech.] Fair words make fools fain. This Circe so enchanted the younker (a) with her fine language, that now she may do what she will with him, for he is wholly at her devotion.


Verse 22

Proverbs 7:22 He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks;

Ver. 22. He goeth after her straightway.] Without any consideration of the sad consequences. Lust had blinded and besotted him, and even transformed him into a brute. Nos animas etiam incarnavimus, saith one. Many men have made their very spirit a lump of flesh, and are hurried on to hell with greatest violence. Chide them, you do but give medicine in a fit; counsel them, you do but give advice to a man that is running a race; be your counsel never so good, he cannot stay to hear you, but will be ready to answer, as Antipater did when one presented him with a book treating of happiness, he rejected it, and said ου σχολαζω, I have no leisure to read such discourses.

As an ox goeth to the slaughter.] When he thinks he goeth to the pasture; or as those oxen brought forth by Jupiter’s priest, with garlands unto the gates, but it was for a slain sacrifice. [Acts 14:13] Fatted ware are but fitted for the shambles.

Or as a fool to the correction of the stocks.] Such stocks as Paul and Silas (yet no fools) were thrust into, feet and neck also, as the word there signifieth (a) [Acts 14:24] This the fool fears not till he feels; till his head be cooled, and his heels too till he hath slept out his drunkenness, and then he finds where he is, and must stick by it. See this exemplified in Proverbs 5:11. How many such fools have we today ( mori morantur quocunque sub axe morantur) that rejoice in their spiritual bondage, and dance to hell in their bolts, as one saith; nay, are weary of deliverance. They sit in the stocks when they are at prayers, and come out of the church when the tedious sermon runs somewhat beyond the hour, like prisoners out of a jail. The devil is at inn with such, saith Master Bradford; and the devil will keep holiday, as it were in hell, in respect of such, saith another.


Verse 23

Proverbs 7:23 Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it [is] for his life.

Ver. 23. Till a dart strike through his liver,] i.e, Filthy lust, that fiery dart of the devil, pointed and poisoned (as the Scythian darts are said to be) with the gall of asps and vipers. Philosophers (a) place lust in the liver. Mathematicians subject the liver to Venus; the poets (b) complain of cupid’s wounding them in that part.

Cor sapit, et pulmo loquitur, fel commovit iras:

Splen ridere facit, cogit amare iecor."

Or, as some sense it, Till the adulterer be, by the whore’s husband or friends, or by the hand of justice, deprived of life; perhaps in the very act, as Zimri and Cozbi were by Phinehas in the very flagrancy of their lust.

{a} Plato in hepate το επιθυμητικον ponit.


Verse 24

Proverbs 7:24 Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth.

Ver. 24. Hearken now therefore.] Call up the ears of thy mind [Luke 8:18] to the ears of thy body, that one sound may pierce both. Solomon knew well how hard it was to get ground of a raging lust, even as hard as to get ground of the sea. Hence he so sets on his exhortation.


Verse 25

Proverbs 7:25 Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths.

Ver. 25. Let not thine heart.] Think not of her, lust not after her. Thoughts and affections are sibi mutuo causae. "While I mused the fire burned," [Psalms 39:3] so that thoughts kindle affections, and these cause thoughts to boil. See Job 31:1. See therefore that evil thoughts, though they rush into the heart, yet they rest not in it.


Verse 26

Proverbs 7:26 For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong [men] have been slain by her.

Ver. 26. For she hath cast down many.] That have let in death at those windows of wickedness, those loop holes of lust; that have died of the wound in the eye. Aliorum perditio tua sit cautio - Seest thou another man shipwrecked, look well to thy tacklings.

Yea, many strong men have been slain by her.] 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, being captivarum suarum captivi. The Persian kings commanded the whole world, and were commanded by their concubines. So was Alexander, Samson, Hercules, whom some make to be the same as Samson.

Lenam non potuit, potuit superare leaenam:

Quem fera non potuit vincere, vicit hera. ”


Verse 27

Proverbs 7:27 Her house [is] the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.

Ver. 27. Her house is the way to Hell.] The shortest cut to utter destruction. This, if well believed, would make the young man stop or step back, as if he had trod upon a serpent.

Sed vivunt homines tanquam mors nulla sequatur:

Aut velut infernus fabula vana foret. ”

Going down to the chambers of death.] Both temporal and eternal. Lo, those hosts that welcome men into their inn with smiling countenance will cut their throats in their beds. The syrens are said to live in green meadows, and to have by them ever a heap of dead men’s bones. {a}

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 7:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/proverbs-7.html. 1865-1868.

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Monday, November 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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