Proverbs 7
Proverbs 7 Kingcomments Bible Studies


The need for sexual self-control, the need to say “no” to offers of bodily intimacy outside of marriage, is the dominant theme in the speeches of wisdom in Proverbs 1-9.

In this chapter, the father speaks again to his son about this (Pro 2:16-19; Pro 5:1-23; Pro 6:20-35). He does so in the form of a story. It is a parenting story that the father tells to seriously warn the son about being tempted by the strange woman. In Proverbs 6 it is about a man who is so foolish that he does not have enough from his own source and goes to his neighbor’s wife. In Proverbs 7, it is about a young, inexperienced man who lets himself be tempted in his foolishness.

In Pro 7:1-5, the father first again holds up to his son as an introduction the value and beauty of the commandment. Then in Pro 7:6-23 he relates from his experience what he has seen. He describes a young man who does not accidentally approach the temptress, but seeks the danger zone. The boy, against an earlier warning (Pro 5:8), comes near her house. He did not mean to fornicate, but does it anyway. In Pro 7:24-27, the father holds up to his children the consequences if they deviate in their heart to the ways of the harlot.

Warning Against the Strange Woman

This section again begins with the father pointing out to his son his “words” to keep them and his “commandments” to treasure them within him (Pro 7:1). If he does so, he will live (Pro 7:2). This is contrasted with the death that results from not listening to it (Pro 7:24-27). Life in the true sense of the word is threatened if it is not listened to. It is a matter of life or death.

Therefore, the son must keep in mind his father’s teaching as his “apple of the eye”. This means that obedience to the teaching is vital to him, that he must keep it with the utmost care in order to keep the proper view of these things. There is no more sensitive part of the body than the apple of the eye (Deu 32:10; Psa 17:8; Zec 2:8).

In Pro 7:3, the commandments are linked to the fingers. Everything he does with his fingers must be directed by the commandments. He must also write them on “the tablet” of his heart. The heart is the center of the person. If the commandments are written there, everything he does, everywhere he goes and looks and everything he says and thinks will be controlled by the commandments.

“Wisdom” must be to him as his “sister” and “understanding” must be in his blood, as it were (Pro 7:4). In the Old Testament, the brother-sister relationship reflects a close bond of affection. “Sister” is also used for the wife or the beloved (Song 4:9-10). If he embraces wisdom as his sister, the strange woman will have no chance to embrace him (Pro 7:13). Man must have an object about which he delights. If that is not wisdom, the void will be filled with wrong desires. Love for God’s Word will drive out the power of evil.

These instructions are all given in view of the strange woman (Pro 7:5). He will only stay out of the snare of temptation if he listens to this teaching from his father. Whoever keeps the words and commandments of the father, that is, whoever keeps the Word of God, is thereby preserved himself. In short, whoever keeps, is kept.

The Victim

In Pro 7:6-23, the father gives one of the most vivid descriptions of the temptation to sin we have in Scripture. He gives an eyewitness account, not as a peeping tom, but as a teacher. His account does not present sin as attractive, but contains a serious warning to avoid and flee from sin.

We find in it the elements for which he has previously warned:
1. wrong company (Pro 1:10-19),
2. aimless hanging around (Pro 6:6-10),
3. places where temptation lurks (Pro 5:8), and
4. especially not listening to the words and commands of the parents (Pro 4:1; 10; Pro 5:1; 7; Pro 6:20-22).

The scenario of disaster, as so often, is a combination of the wrong company in the wrong place at the wrong time. This combination applies only to those who do not let themselves be warned by the Wisdom.

In the eyewitness account 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 looking out through his lattice (Pro 7:6). He then goes on to describe what he saw when he looked down. He saw a group of “naive”, a group of unsuspecting, inexperienced young people, strolling along the road (Pro 7:7). Among those youths, his attention fell on “a young man lacking sense”, literally “a young man without heart” or “a young man who lacks common sense”, an airhead, a dunce.

While strolling, this boy purposefully crossed the street “near her corner” and slowly took “the way to her house” (Pro 7:8). It is an action that takes place under 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 it seem in the middle of the night in the east very quickly, given the immediately falling darkness.

Both his aimlessness and the darkness deprive him of the spiritual insight to see the danger he is exposing himself to. Therefore, he is unable to do what Joseph did, and that is to flee harlotry (Gen 39:7; 10-12; 1Cor 6:18). It is not possible, for anyone, to stand firm in such a situation. The only option is to flee.

The Temptress

In Pro 7:10, the temptress appears on the scene. She comes out of her house and walks toward the young man. There can be no uncertainty about what she wants. She shows this in her clothing. She is “dressed as a harlot” (cf. Gen 38:14-15). The young man knows who he is before him. She is a cunning, crafty woman. She is “cunning of heart”, indicating her profound insincerity, determined to seduce the boy. What she pretends to feel for the boy is totally lacking.

This woman is “boisterous” (Pro 7:11). She is full of restlessness, loud and excited. She is also “rebellious” regarding God’s purpose with marriage. For her, marriage is an oppressive and constraining yoke that she throws off. At home, she cannot stand it. Her impure lusts chase her out onto the streets. Restlessly she wanders outside the house (Pro 7:12). She lurks like an enemy, ambushed, to tempt an unsuspecting young man who crosses her path to commit the sin of adultery.

The Temptation

The stages in the seduction are carefully prepared by her. She knows exactly what to do when and what to say when. 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. Without moving a muscle, with a brazen face, she begins to entrap him further, breaking down even the last bit of inner resistance in the young man.

The first thing she says has to do with the service to God (Pro 7:14). From this we can see that we are dealing with a woman from the people of God. This perverted woman does not shy away from pouring a religious sauce over her reprehensible intention, giving the impression that God is on her side. She had promised God, she says, that she would offer Him peace offerings. These she had brought Him, she claims. The peace offering is a meal offering (Lev 7:11-21). The idea is that she has the meat of the peace offering with her that the offeror may eat. Now she is looking for someone to eat it with her. This must be done quickly though, today, or it will spoil.

Now, anyway, this young man comes her way. He is exactly the boy for whom she has come out to meet him (Pro 7:15). How hard she tried her best to look for him. And look, now she has found him. If that is not guidance from God ... She acts as if she has thought only of him, that he and he alone is her only love. Thus she makes him feel that he is very special to her.

But what a world full of lies and deceit she represents. This is how an adulterer always proceeds, with lies and deceit. To her there is nothing special about her prey. In an adulterous relationship you are not loved, you are not special. On the contrary, you are deceived, used, raped. The path of death is not pleasant, but causes endless torment.

The act of adultery is completely impersonal. A person who has intercourse 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. In harlotry it is only about the body. The body is a toy, you yourself are nothing, nothing more than an impersonal plaything.

From the dining room, where she invites him to eat there together, she suddenly shifts attention to her bedroom. She describes the bedding and the scent she has applied (Pro 7:16-17). Thus she visualizes her sinful undertaking and excites his desire. There and in that atmosphere love must be ‘practiced’. This is really ecstasy; there is nothing to compare with it. She has prepared everything carefully and ‘tastefully’.

Then comes an unreserved invitation to join her (Pro 7:18). She offers him a whole night of bodily pleasure. Come to me and let’s get drunk with love all night long. This is the great enjoyment, this is just love! This is pure enjoyment, the real, complete and deep saturation of love.

About her husband the boy need not worry (Pro 7:19). Literally it does not say “my” husband, but “the” husband. By speaking of him in this way, she shows that she has abandoned him as her husband. Also, speaking of “my husband” might still discourage the young man from going with her. She assures him that he need not fear that “the man” will suddenly come home. He is not at home and will not come home for the time being because “he has gone on a long journey”.

She underlines that lie by saying that he has taken a lot of money for his living expenses (Pro 7:20). That he will not come home until the day of the full moon is an additional argument for reassurance. When it is a full moon, it cannot be pitch black. Now it is not a full moon, but pitch black and they can just have their way (Pro 7:9).

Her whole story comes down to the fact that God is pleased, the man is out of the picture and all the young man has to do is follow her. All the lies she uses have been repeated over and over again and throughout the ages:
1. Adultery is a “sanctified” action.
2. The seductress pretends that the other person means a great deal to her; she pretends that she loves him alone.
3. What can be enjoyed is the epitome of love and the other person is made for that.
4. The one who is seduced need not be afraid because it is kept secret.

Most of these lies are used in every adulterous relationship. They crop up in a wide range of sexual sins, including “private sins”, such as self-gratification and watching pornography. But it is clear that whoever commits adultery is a liar, someone who cannot be trusted at all. Anyone who breaks the most intimate bond of trust, the promise of faithfulness, cannot be trusted in any other relationship. How would anyone be faithful to any promise if he is not faithful to the promise of faithfulness to his wife?

The Capitulation of the Victim

It takes the wisdom and sincerity of a Joseph to resist such reasoning and flattery. “Her many persuasions” (Pro 7:21) has driven out of him all strength to say “no”. “With her flattering lips” she entered him and melted away all resistance from him. She has persuaded the young man to follow her.

The defeat is sudden and irrevocable (Pro 7:22). He immediately goes with her. We see him chasing after her like an ox, however, not like an ox going to a grazing pasture, but “as an ox goes to the slaughter”. He is not going to pleasure, but to his death. An advertising campaign against irresponsible use of fireworks has the slogan: You are an ox if you stunt with fireworks. A variant related to what Solomon is saying here is: You are an ox if you stunt with porn.

He is “a fool” who is taken to prison “as [one in] fetters to the discipline” (cf. Ecc 7:26; Jdg 16:16-19). Stupid animals see no connection between a trap and death. Similarly, stupid people see no connection between their sin and death. He must pay the price of sin, death: “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). This sin costs him his life.

The phrase “until an arrow pierces through his liver” possibly refers to the gnawing of a guilty conscience, the realization that he will reap spiritual and bodily destruction (Pro 7:23). He is as a bird that has eyes only for the bait, but in doing so does not see the snare. He flies toward the bait because it is so attractive and because he needs it to continue living. But he does not realize that the opposite is true. The bait is aimed against its life. By flying toward it, it flies toward his death. The smell of the bed of the harlot turns into a smell of death, and the short night of pleasure turns into an eternal night of torment.

Do Not Let Your Heart Turn Aside to Her Ways

In Pro 7:24-27, we have turned our backs on the street and are back in the room of the teaching father. There he paints again in bright colors for his children the consequences of adultery. He did not tell the preceding story to entertain his children, but to warn them. Now that the lesson is being drawn, they need to pay close attention.

In saying “now therefore” he connects to what he has shown to be the result of sin (Pro 7:24). He calls his “sons” to listen to him and pay attention to his words. They are to make a resolution in their heart not to turn aside to the ways of the harlot and not to let the heart stray into her paths (Pro 7:25). By “her ways” and “her paths” we can understand, for example, cherishing impure thoughts, pernicious fantasies, dirty conversation, filthy reading and foolish company. We must shun a first step into those ways and paths like death. As we become familiar with sin, the abhorrence of it weakens. In fact, in time, even affection for sin will arise.

Intercourse with a harlot leads to death (Pro 7:26). And it is not only this young man, for “many are the victims” who came her way and all her slain are numerous. They all ended up in death.

The way to the house of the strange woman “is the way to Sheol”. It is the way down, to the inner “chambers of death” (Pro 7:27). The end of an adulterous relationship is not ultimate pleasure, but devastation. It does not give the special feeling that true intimacy does. The sons should make no mistake: the path of apparent pleasure is the path of death. The house of the harlot is on a cul-de-sac in the true sense of the word.

© 2023 Author G. de Koning

All rights reserved. No part of the publications may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.

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