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Bible Commentaries

The Biblical Illustrator
Proverbs 7

 

 

Verse 1

Proverbs 7:1

My son keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee.

Parental precepts

“Lay up.” Hebrew, “hide.” A metaphor from treasure not left open in the house, but looked up in chests unseen, lest it should be lost, or got away.

I. Children must remember parents’ words.

1. Their words of instruction.

2. Of charge or command.

3. Of commendation, for that is a great encouragement to do well.

4. Of consolation, which revives the spirit of good children in their troubles.

5. Of promise.

6. Of prohibition.

7. Of reprehension.

8. Of commination.

The spring of parents’ words is love--yea, when they chide. The end and result of all their speeches is their children’s good.

II. The heart is the receptacle for godly precepts. There they must be laid up.

1. They are very precious in themselves. Common things lie about the house. Choice things are locked up.

2. They are very profitable to us, and such things easily creep into our hearts.

3. The heart is the secretest place to lodge them in.

4. It is the safest place. Good precepts should be as ready in our thoughts as if we had them in our eyes. (Francis Taylor, B. D.)


Verses 1-27

Verse 5

Proverbs 7:5

That they may keep thee from the strange woman.

Heavenly wisdom protective

I. Knowledge is a special means to keep us from wantonness.

1. By way of excellency. Wisdom is far more beautiful than the fairest strumpet in the world.

2. By her good counsel. Wisdom will advise thee for thy good.

3. By sweet and pleasant discourse far more pleasant to a pious heart than all the wanton songs in the world.

4. By arming thee against all objections. Keep in with knowledge, and thou shalt be sure to keep out of harlots’ paws.

II. The false woman is a stranger. Possibly in the sense of being a foreigner, and not considering herself in the control of our moral laws.

1. A stranger in regard to marriage. Then thou hast no right to her.

2. A stranger in regard to carriage. Thou canst not look for any good respect from her.

III. The false woman is a flatterer.

1. The difference between her words and her deeds prove it. She speaks like a friend, and acts like an enemy.

2. The difference between her first and her last words proves it. She will surely turn against thee when thy money is spent. She will sink thee with fair words. (Francis Taylor, B. D.)


Verse 7

Proverbs 7:7

A young man void of understanding.

A youth void of understanding

Solomon was pre-eminently a student of character. His forte lay in the direction of moral philosophy, in the sense of the philosophy of morals.

I. The special peril of great cities. Human nature remains the same in every age. The descriptions of the temptations that assailed the youth of Jerusalem and Tyre answers precisely to what we see in our own day. Therefore the counsels and warnings of the ancient sage are as valuable and fitting as ever. The vastness and multitudinousness of our modern cities provide a secrecy which is congenial to vice. In all great towns solicitations to vice abound as they do not elsewhere. Every passion has a tempter lying in wait for it. Whatever be your temperament or constitution, a snare will be skilfully laid to entrap you. Vice clothes itself here in its most pleasing attire, and not seldom appears even under the garb of virtue.

II. The evil of late hours. The devil, like the beast of prey, stalks forth when the sun goes down. Night is the time for unlawful amusements and mad convivialities and lascivious revelry. Now Jezebel spreads her net, and Delilah shears the locks of Samson. Young men, take it kindly when I bid you beware of late hours. Your health forbids it; your principles forbid it; your moral sense forbids it; your safety forbids it. Purity loves the light. Late hours have proved many young man’s ruin.

III. The danger of foolish company. “Simple” in the Book of Proverbs means silly, frivolous, idle, abandoned. You could almost predict with certainty the future of one who selected such society. The ruin of most young men is due to bad company. It is commonly the finest natures that are first pounced upon. The good-hearted, amiable fellow, with open countenance and warm heart and generous disposition, is at once seized by the vermin of the pit, and poisoned with every kind of pollution. Take care with whom you associate. There are men who will fawn upon you, and flatter you, and call you good company, and patronise you wonderfully, and take you anywhere you wish to go; and--allow you to pay all expenses. As a rule, a companion of loose character is the most mean and selfish of creatures. “Void of understanding.” Understanding is more than wisdom, more than knowledge; it is both and something besides. It is a mind well-balanced by the grace of God; it is the highest form of common-sense, sanctified by a genuine piety. No man’s understanding can be called thoroughly sound until it has been brought under the power of the truth as it is in Jesus. Your only security against the perils of the city, of the dark night, and of evil company, your only safety amid the lusts that attack the flesh, and the scepticisms that assail the mind, is a living faith in God, a spiritual union with Christ. (J. Thain Davidson, D. D.)

A beacon to young men

Now reason is the glory of man. It is a light within the soul by which he is exalted above the brutes that perish. And yet God often charges men with displaying less judgment than the mere animal creatures (Isaiah 1:3).

I. The evidences of this state. How can we know with certainty the young who are void of understanding?

1. Those who throw off the restraints and counsels of their parents and friends. When counsel and supervision are most needed they are rejected, and who so fit to guide and counsel as the parent?

2. Those who become the companion of the foolish and wicked. No other influence will be so disastrous on our highest interests as that of evil companionship. It will insidiously undermine every good principle.

3. Those who disregard the opinions of the wise and good around them.

4. Those who neglect the institutions of religion. The atmosphere of religious ordinances is that of health and life to every virtue and grace of the soul. By neglecting Divine ordinances and services, the heart and mind run fallow.

5. Those who yield themselves up to sensual gratifications. The text refers to the ensnaring woman. “For at the window of my house I looked through my casement,” etc. How fearful the result! Money, reputation, health, mind, morals, life, and the soul, all sacrificed!

II. Its evil results.

1. The morally evil condition of the youths themselves. Here are powers perverted--talents prostituted--sin and misery increased.

2. The pernicious influence they exert on others. Every such youth has his young friends and relations, all of whom may be corrupted by his conduct.

3. The eternal misery to which they are hastening.

III. The only remedy.

1. Immediate and genuine repentance. Prompt consideration.

2. There must be the yielding of the heart to Christ. Christ alone can open the blind eyes, expel the foul spirit, renew the heart.

3. By the regulation of the life by the Word of God.

4. Union to, and fellowship with, God’s people. (J. Burns, D. D.)

The ignorance and folly of the man of pleasure

It is a mortifying truth that that age, which of all others stands most in need of advice, thinks itself the least in want of it. Youth is warm even in its desires, hasty in its conceptions, and confident in its hopes. Talk to it when its passions are high, or when pleasure is glittering around it, it will in all likelihood look upon you as come to torment it before its time, and will none of your reproof. The particular error of youth is its pursuit of licentious pleasures. This writer gives us an interesting picture of a young man, confident in his own wisdom, and relying on his own strength, met by a character whom the world has denominated Pleasure. He paints to us the charms which she displays for his seduction, describes the flattery of her tongue, the crafty wiliness of her allurements, and shows us his simple heart won by her deceptions, and following her guilty call.

I. The man of pleasure betrays an utter want of acquaintance with his own being. It is among the foremost arguments in support of this kind of life that it is only in conformity with that nature which God has given us. But your nature, as long as it is without the renovation of the Eternal Spirit, cannot possibly be made your guide. In reality full of diseases, the man imagines himself in perfect health. Bound in misery and iron, he dreams that he is happy and at liberty. In following his carnal desires a man is surely “void of understanding.”

II. The man of Pleasure shows his ignorance and folly in his want of acquaintance with his duties in this world. The sins of impurity are doubly sinful, inasmuch as they incapacitate the follower of them from those exertions to which he is bound in whatever state of life it hath pleased God to call him. The libertine imagines that his duties are easily reconcilable with his pursuits of pleasure; and in few cases does he show himself more void of understanding. It is their direct tendency to enervate the spirit; to absorb the native vigour of the mind; to extinguish generous ambition, that incitement to worthy deeds; and to drown all in dissipation, indolence, and trifling. The pagans made the temple of honour lie through the temple of virtue.

III. The libertine shows his want of understanding in his ignorance or defiance of Omnipotence. Of all the instances of want of wisdom, a disregard of the injunctions of Almighty God is surely the most absurd, as well as the most wicked. And it never can be confined to yourself, but involves often the misery, and always the guilt, of others. The man bent on pleasure seldom considers whom he offends, whom he injures, whose confidence he abuses, whose innocence he betrays, what friendship he violates, or what enmities he creates. Your first vice might arise from the seduction of bad companions, but a continuance of it becomes your own sin.

IV. The libertine acts in opposition to his own conviction. There is always an inward monitor whispering against him. Rouse, then. Break from the infatuating circle. No longer miscall the things of this world. (G. Matthew, M. A.)

The young man void of understanding

Understanding or reason is the glory of human nature. It is the “candle of the Lord,” to light us on our destiny. Where this is not, you have a traveller on a devious path without light, a vessel on a treacherous sea without rudder or compass. Who is the young man void of understanding?

1. One who pays more attention to his outward appearance than to his inner character. He sacrifices the jewel for the casket.

2. One who seeks happiness without rather than within. But the well of true joy must be found in the heart, or nowhere.

3. One who identifies greatness with circumstances rather than with character. But true greatness is in the soul, and nowhere else.

4. One who is guided more by the dictates of his own nature than by the counsels of experience. He acts from the suggestions of his own immature judgment. He is his own master, and will be taught by no one.

5. One who lives in show and ignores realities. He who lives in these pursuits and pleasures which are in vogue for the hour, and neglects the great realities of the soul and eternity, is “void of understanding.” (Homilist.)

A simple youth, void of understanding

The young man Solomon had in mind perhaps thought himself wise, but in the opinion of the sober and virtuous part of mankind, he was one of the most infatuated of men. When may a young man be spoken of as “void of understanding”?

1. When he suffers his mind to remain unacquainted with the great principles of religion.

2. When he follows the dictates of his own corrupt heart. How shall we account for all that wickedness which abounds in the world if there is no bad principle from which it breeds? Take corruption out of the heart, and this world would become a paradise. Simple souls, instead of checking the evil principle within them, rather give it the greatest indulgence.

3. When he throws himself in the way of temptation. Snares abound. There is hardly a step in our way in which we do not run some hazard of stumbling. Have we not often complied when we ought to have resisted? Sin is sometimes so artfully disguised that it loses its deformity, and we are insensibly drawn into the commission of it. Is it not, then, wise and prudent to keep at a distance and not to tamper with temptation? The old serpent is too cunning and subtle for us, and if we throw ourselves in his way we must fall.

4. When he has not resolution to withstand the allurements with which he may be surrounded. We can hardly hope to escape allurement altogether. All depends on our yielding to or resisting first enticements. And what avails the most enlightened understanding if we have not firmness to follow its dictates?

5. When he does not hearken to the admonitions of those who are older and more experienced than himself. Vanity and self-conceit are too natural to young minds, and numbers have been led away by them. Positive and headstrong, they refuse to be admonished, and scorn to be controlled. Hence they run headlong into vice, and involve themselves in misery.

6. When he flatters himself with seeing long life and many years. This is very natural to youth. But there is nothing more vain and uncertain. Can there be a greater defect of understanding than to flatter one’s self with what we may never enjoy? (D. Johnston, D. D.)

A young man void of understanding

1. One who makes light of parental restraints and counsels. No young man is walking in safe paths who is engaged in pursuits or pleasures which a wise father or a tender mother would be mortified and grieved to see him mixed up with.

2. One who neglects the cultivation of his mind. If knowledge is power, ignorance is weakness. The mind must be carefully trained in order that the soul may fulfil her destiny upon earth, and be prepared for a more glorious existence hereafter. 3 One who is content to live an idle and aimless life. To spend the golden hours of existence in irresolution and idleness, with no definite purpose, betrays, as much as anything could do, the lack of good sense.

4. One who chooses his bosom companions from the ranks of the thoughtless and the profane. We are naturally social beings, and seek for pleasure in the company of others.

5. One who yields to the enticements of folly and wickedness. As soon as he reaches the point when he is indifferent to the opinion of the wise and the good, his case may well be set down as desperate. The young are always surrounded by temptations, and every evil thought which is allowed a resting-place in the mind vitiates and corrodes the fibres of the soul, and every sinful deed unnerves the arm and paralyses the essential power of manhood.

6. One who makes light of religion. Religion never encouraged anybody to be indolent and improvident; never led him into the haunts of vice; never wasted his substance in riotous living; never dragged a single victim to the prison or the gallows. All its offices in the world have been elevating and beneficent. Unbelief is not a misfortune, but it is the sin, the damning sin, of the world. Men first do wrong and then believe wrong in order to escape from its consequences. True religion will make you abhor sin, and draw you to Christ, the Redeemer; it will strengthen you for duty, and nerve you for endurance. It will give songs in the night, and through the grave and gate of death it will brighten your pathway to eternal glory. (John N. Norton.)


Verse 8

Proverbs 7:8

He went the way to her house.

Occasions of sin

I. Many occasions of sin present themselves unlooked for.

1. All places afford temptations.

2. All times have theirs.

3. All things afford it.

4. So do all conditions, all actions, and all persons.

Therefore we need to keep a constant watch, since we are not secure in any place, time, or condition. Then suspect all things with a holy suspicion.

II. It is dangerous coming near bad houses.

1. Much danger may come from within.

2. Much danger from without; for ruffians and quarrellers haunt such places.

3. Judgment may be feared from heaven.

III. Idleness is the nurse of wantonness.

1. Because nature is corrupt, and of all sins most inclines to wantonness.

2. The soul is very active both in our waking and sleeping, and if it move us not to good it will move us to bad actions.

3. Because labour removes the rubs in the way of wantonness. Spiritual duties and labour in our vocation take the heart, eyes, and ears off from wanton objects. The heart set at liberty by idleness falls upon them with greediness.

4. God’s judgment follows idleness to give such over to wantonness. Take heed of idleness. Many think it either no sin or a light one. (Francis Taylor, B. D.)


Verse 16

Proverbs 7:16

I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry.

A luxurious bed

“I have exhausted the toil of myself and bought the toil of others to increase the luxury of my rest. Come and see the courtly elegance with which my bed is decked. Long and weary days have I laboured at the counting-house, at the workshop, or at the desk. And now my bed is decked. Come and look. Place yourself at my chamber window and tell me what you see now and what you will see next year.”

1. “I see thee lying on this bed which thou hast decked, fretful, restless, and miserable. Thou hast found out too late that enjoyment is more painful than expectation.

2. I see thee dying on the same bed. May God grant thee mercy! but if He does it is in spite of the luxury with which thou art surrounded.

3. I see thee lying in another bed. It is narrow, and though well quilted and smoothed, yet it has no room for the weary body to turn, or for the feverish head to lift itself.” “I have decked my bed with peace. And though its coverings are but scanty, and though sorrow and desolation have taken their seats by its side, yet peace remains. And there is one like unto the Son of Man whose gracious face ever shines on me from before this, my poor resting-place, so that though deserted and wretched, His love gives me a comfort this world can neither give nor take away.

Come and see.” “I have come, oh, saint of God! and I see three sights.

1. Destitution and pain are indeed about thee as thou liest on that rude couch; but peace and love reign there, and who shall prevail against the Lord’s elect?

2. I see thee in thy dying hour. Deserted and miserable thou mayest be, but angelic forms are hovering over thee, and I hear a voice speaking as man can never speak, saying, ‘Come, thou beloved of My Father!’

3. I see thee in thy narrow bed, but I see something else behind. For I see that great city, the holy Jerusalem, having the glory of God. And I hear a voice there saying, ‘Who is this who is arrayed in white robes? and whence came he?’ And I say unto him, ‘Sir, thou knowest.’ And the voice says, ‘He is one of them that came out of great tribulation,’” etc. (Christian Treasury.)


Verse 21

Proverbs 7:21

With her much fair speech she caused him to yield.

Good and bad speech

There is a force in words which it is often almost impossible to resist. Good words have a wonderful virtue in them to work upon the mind, and a great part of the good which we are called to do in the world is to be accomplished by means of that little member, the tongue. But corrupt minds are often found to have greater intelligence in persuading men to sin because human nature is depraved, and needs only a temptation to draw men to the practice of the worst of evils. No words have greater force in them to persuade men to sin than the flatteries of the strange woman, and therefore the apostle Paul, who directs us to strive against sin, calls loudly to us to flee youthful lusts. Such lusts can scarcely be conquered but by flight, because the temptations to them, when they meet with a simple mind and an impure heart, are like sparks of fire lighting upon stubble fully dry. The force that is in the tongue of the strange woman will not excuse the deluded youth; for his yielding to her is to be attributed to the depravity of his own heart, which inclines him to prefer the advice of a bad woman to the counsels of the Supreme and Eternal Wisdom. (G. Lawson.)


Verse 22

Proverbs 7:22

As a fool to the correction of the stocks.

Slaughter of young men

1. We are apt to blame young men for being destroyed, when we ought to blame the influences that destroy them. Society slaughters a great many young men by the behest, “You must keep up appearances.” Our young men are growing up in a depraved state of commercial ethics, and I want to warn them against being slaughtered on the sharp edges of debt. For the sake of your own happiness, for the sake of your good morals, for the sake of your immortal soul, and for God’s sake, young man, as far as possible keep out of debt.

2. Many young men are slaughtered through irreligion. Take away a young man’s religion, and you make him the prey of evil. If you want to destroy a young man’s morals take his Bible away. You can do it by caricaturing his reverence for Scripture. Young man, take care of yourself. There is no class of persons that so stirs my sympathies as young men in great cities. Not quite enough salary to live on, and all the temptations that come from that deficit. Unless Almighty God help them they will all go under. Sin pays well neither in this life nor in the next, but right thinking, right believing, and right acting will take you in safety through this life and in transport through the next. (T. De Witt Talmage.)


Verse 23

Proverbs 7:23

Till a dart strike through his liver.

The gospel of health

Solomon had noticed, either in vivisection or in post-mortem, what awful attacks sin and dissipation make upon the liver, until the fiat of Almighty God bids the soul and body separate. A javelin of retribution, not glancing off or making a slight wound, but piercing it from side to side “till a dart strike through his liver.” Galen and Hippocrates ascribe to the liver the most of the world’s moral depression, and the word melancholy means black bile. Let Christian people avoid the mistake that they are all wrong with God because they suffer from depression of spirits. Oftentimes the trouble is wholly due to physical conditions. The difference in physical conditions makes things look so differently. Another practical use of this subject is for the young. The theory is abroad that they must first sow their wild oats and then Michigan wheat. Let me break the delusion. Wild oats are generally sown in the liver, and they can never be pulled up. In after-life, after years of dissipation, you may have your heart changed, but religion does not change the liver. God forgives, but outraged physical law never. (T. De Witt Talmage.)


Verse 24

Proverbs 7:24

Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children.

On impurity

Cicero says, “There is not a more pernicious evil to man than the lust of sensual pleasure; the fertile source of every detestable crime, and the peculiar enemy of the Divine and immortal soul” This is true of all sensual pleasures immoderately pursued and gratified beyond the demands of reason and of nature.

I. How contradictory the vice of impurity is to the great laws of nature and of reason, of society and religion.

1. It is in opposition to the first law of our nature, which enjoins the due subordination and subjection of our inferior appetites and passions to the superior and ruling principle of the soul--that principle which distinguishes man from the animal creation. What can be so degrading to our nature as to reverse this first and important law by giving the reins of dominion to an inferior and merely animal appetite, implanted in us, as a slave, to serve the purposes of our temporal existence? Appetites are wholly of sense; with them, abstractly considered, the mind has no concern. But if indulged beyond due bounds, they darken the mind and absorb all its noblest faculties.

2. It opposes the laws of reason, whose peculiar office it is to direct our conduct and form our manners in such a way as becomes the rank and station we bear in the universe. What folly, then, to indulge a vice and pursue a conduct which is at once most opposite to, and most derogatory from, the honour and the dictates of reason! And can anything be more so than the unrestrained gratification of impure desires, with which reason is so far from concurring, that men are obliged to lull its keen remonstrances in the tumult of passion and the hurry of sensual pursuits?

3. It opposes the laws of society--those universal laws of justice, honour, and virtue, upon which all society is founded, and upon the due observation whereof the happiness and the permanence of society depends. Nothing conduces more to corrupt the morals and deprave the minds of youth than the unrestrained gratification of impure and lustful desires; nothing conduces more to spread a general corruption of manners; nothing more affects and harms the nearest and dearest interests of men; nothing introduces more distressful injuries; and nothing is a greater prejudice or discouragement to just and honourable marriage.

4. It opposes the Divine laws. The Divine instructions inform man of the true state of his nature, of his dignity, fall, and possible restoration. Man is informed that his triumph is sure and his reward inestimable if, superior to sense and to appetite, he improves the Godlike principle of reason and virtue in him and purifies himself, even as his God, his great pattern and exemplar, is pure. There are some considerations peculiar to the Christian religion, drawn from the “Inhabitation of God’s Holy Spirit in the bodies of believers as His temples,” and from their being incorporated by faith as living members into the pure and immaculate body of Jesus Christ. Can men be so senseless as to defile this holy temple? What can the gratification of youthful lusts bestow, adequate to the loss, to the misery which it will assuredly occasion? Neither the laws of God nor of man are founded in fancy or caprice. No precept is imposed with a view to command or prohibit aught that was unessential to their well-being.

II. How inimical the vice of impurity is to the best interests of ourselves and of our neighbours! What ever youth would wish to arrive at true honour and true happiness must scorn with a noble fortitude the allurements of the harlot pleasure, and implicitly follow the counsels of pure virtue. The practice of impurity never can, never did or will, produce aught but thorns and briars, “mischiefs” and “miseries,” to others and to ourselves. One peculiar and aggravating circumstance of malignity in this vice is that the perpetration of it involves the ruin of two souls. You cannot be singly guilty. Have pity on yourselves! Have pity on the companions of your sin! The seductions of innocence can never be adequate to the end proposed. It is a complicated guilt. All gratifying of lustful passions must be in a high degree injurious to their fellow-creatures, and particularly to the unhappy partners of their guilt. And the vice of impurity is peculiarly noxious and prejudicial to ourselves, to the mind, body, estate, and reputation. (W. Dodd, LL. D.)


Verse 27

Proverbs 7:27

Her house is the way to hell.

The way to hell

An energetic expression. It is not the place itself, but the way to it. In this ease what is the difference between the way and the destination? The one is as the other, so much so that he who has entered the way may reckon upon it as a fatal certainty that he will accomplish the journey and be plunged into “the chamber of death.” No man means to go the whole length. A man’s will is not destroyed in an instant; it is taken from him, as it were, little by little, and almost imperceptibly; he imagines that he is as strong as ever, and says that he will go out and shake himself as at other times, not knowing that the spirit of might has gone from him. Is there any object on earth more pathetic than that of a man who has lost his power of resistance to evil, and is dragged on, an unresisting victim, whithersoever the spirit of perdition may desire to take him? It is true that the young man can plead the power of fascination; all that music, and colour, and blandishment, and flattery can do has been done: the cloven foot has been most successfully concealed; the speech has been all garden, and paradise, and sweetness, and joy; the word hell, or perdition, has not been so much as mentioned. This is what is meant by seduction: leading a man out of himself, and from himself, onward and onward, by carefully graded processes, until fascination has accomplished its work, and bound the consenting soul in eternal bondage. (J. Parker, D. D.)
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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Proverbs 7:4". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/proverbs-7.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 11th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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