Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
13. New admonition to chastity, with a reference to the warning example of a youth led astray by a harlot
1 My son, keep my words,
and treasure up my commandments with thee.
2 Keep my commandments and thou shalt live—
and my instruction as the apple of thine eye.
3 Bind them to thy fingers,
write them on the tablet of thine heart.
4 Say to wisdom “Thou art my sister!”
and call understanding “acquaintance,”
5 that they may keep thee from the strange woman,
from the stranger that flattereth with her words.—
6 For through the window of my house,
through my lattice I looked out,
7 and I saw among the inexperienced ones,
discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding.
8 He passed along the street near her corner,
and sauntered along the way to her house,
9 in the twilight, in the evening of the day,
in the midst of the night and darkness.
10 And lo, a woman cometh to meet him,
in the attire of a harlot, and subtle in heart.
11 Boisterous was she, and ungovernable;
her feet would not tarry in her house;
12 now in the street, now in the market places,
and at every corner did she watch.
13 And she laid hold upon him, and kissed him,
put on a bold face and said to him,
14 “Thankofferings were (binding) upon me,
to-day have I redeemed my vows;
15 therefore came I out to meet thee,
to seek thy face, and I have found thee.
16 Tapestries have I spread upon my couch,
variegated coverlets of Egyptian linen;
17 I have sprinkled my couch
with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.
18 Come, let us sate ourselves with love till morning,
and enjoy ourselves in love!
19 For the man is not at home,
he has gone a long journey;
20 the purse he has taken with him;
not till the day of the full moon will he return.”
21 She beguiled him with the multitude of her enticements,
by the allurements of her lips she led him astray.
22 He followed her at once,
as an ox goeth to the slaughter,
and as fetters (serve) for the correction of fools—
23 till an arrow pierceth his liver:—
as a bird hasteneth to the snare,
and knoweth not that his life is at stake.—
24 And now, ye children, hearken to me,
and observe the words of my mouth!
25 Let not thine heart incline to her ways,
and stray not into her paths.
26 For many slain hath she caused to fall
and all her slain are many.
27 Ways of hell (is) her house
going down to the chambers of death.
GRAMMATICAL AND CRITICAL
Proverbs 7:7. [אָבִינָה, the ו consec. omitted, as is sometimes the case, the form resembling a simple Intentional. GESEN. Lehrgeb. p. 874., BÖTT. § § 969, 6; 973, 5. STUART (comm. in loc.) seems to be in error in regarding this a real voluntative, and rendering “that I might see among the simple, and observe, etc.”—A.].
Proverbs 7:8. [For the form פִּנָּהּ instead of the full form פִּנָּתָהּ (with the ordinary form of fem, nouns with suff.), see BÖTT. § 724, b. Comp. however Exegetical notes in regard to the proper reading.—A.].
Proverbs 7:11. [יִשְׁכְנוּ, used of repeated recurrence in the past—Fiens multiplex præteriti according to the terminology of BÖTT. § 949, f.—A.]
Proverbs 7:13. In the verb הֵעֵזָה (lit., she made hard, corroboravit) the doubling of the 2d radical is omitted, as in הֵחֵלָה, Jud. 20:40. [Given by Bött. § 500, 5, as an example of the simplifying of that which is usually doubled, to express the idea of the permanent, gradual or gentle. See also § 1123, 3. Comp. GREEN, § 141, 1; STUART, § 66, 11.—A.].
Proverbs 7:15. [STUART’S rendering of the last clause as final, “that I might find, etc.,” is unnecessary; it is rather a simple consecutive.—A.].
Proverbs 7:18. [נִתְעַלְּסַה, the cohortative use of the Intentional. BÖTT., § 965, 2.—A.].
1. From the preceding warnings against unchastity and adultery (Proverbs 2:16–19; chap. 5; Proverbs 6:20–35) the one now before us is distinguished by the fact, that the poet, after a preliminary general introduction (Proverbs 7:1–5; comp. Proverbs 6:20–24), for the sake of delineating more clearly the repulsiveness and various consequences of intercourse with wanton women, depicts in narrative form the example of a single adulterous woman, who by her lascivious arts betrays a foolish youth into adultery. This is therefore a didactic narrative, with a purpose of earnest warning, here presented as a conclusion to the second larger group of admonitory discourses. It is not possibly an allegory, for nothing whatsoever in the text points to such a conception of the adulteress, by virtue of which she might be regarded as introduced as a personification of the abstract idea of folly (in contrast with that of wisdom personified). Not till we come to Proverbs 9:13 sq. do we find such a presentation of folly under the image of a wanton, adulterous woman.—In contrast with the expositors of the ancient church, most of whom gave allegorical interpretations, the correct view is found as early as M. GEIER, VATABLUS, MERCERUS, EGARD, HANSEN, MICHAELIS, STARKE, and also in nearly all the moderns except VON GERLACH. The view of several of those named, especially that of STARKE, that the whole narration is to be regarded a true history, an actual experience of the poet, lacks sufficient support in the style and form of the delineation. The history may just as well be imaginary as the contents of many narrations of Christ,—e.g., that of the good Samaritan, of the prodigal son, etc.
2. Proverbs 7:1–5: Introduction in a general form, in which Proverbs 7:1 reminds us of Proverbs 1:8; 2:1; 6:20; so Proverbs 7:2 of 4:4; Proverbs 7:3 of 3:3; 6:21; Proverbs 7:5 of 2:16; 6:24.
Proverbs 7:2. And my teaching as the apple of thine eye, lit. “as the little man in thine eye.” The same figurative description is found in Arabic and Persian (see UMBREIT on this passage). Comp. also the Greek κόρη, κοράσιον (=בַּת־עַיִן [the daughter of the eye] Lam. 2:18) and the Latin pupa, pupilla. The apple of the eye is also in Deut. 32:10; Ps. 17:8: Zech. 2:12, the emblem of a precious possession guarded with peculiarly watchful care.
Proverbs 7:3. Bind them to thy fingers, not precisely as an amulet, as UMBREIT thinks, but as an ornament, a costly decoration, like a ring; comp. Song Sol. 8:6, and the observations on 3:3—Without adequate reason HITZIG regards the verse as spurious, on account of its partial correspondence with Deut. 6:8; 11:18. As though the figures here employed, especially that in the first clause, did not occur very frequently within the sphere of the Old Testament, and that in every instance with a form somehow slightly modified! Comp. e.g., Ex. 13:9, 16; Jer. 22:24; Hag. 2:23.
Proverbs 7:4. “Thou art my sister!” Comp. Job 17:14; 30:29; Wisd. 8:2. The parallel “acquaintance” in the 2d clause corresponds with the Hebrew expression מוֹדָע, which denotes knowledge, acquaintance, and then (abstract for the concrete, as occurs, e.g., also in the use of the French connaisance [and the English “acquaintance”]) one well known, a friend, familiaris. The same expression is found also in Ruth 2:1 as the K’ri. Comp. P. CASSEL on this passage, who however both for that passage and the one before us gives the preference to the K’thibh מְיֻדָּע (comp. Ps. 55:14; 88:9) as the more primitive reading.
3. Proverbs 7:6–9. The foolish young man.—Through my lattice I looked out. Comp. the quite similar representation in the song of Deborah, Judges 5:28. אֶשְׁנָב denotes as it does there a latticed aperture, an arrangement for the circulation of fresh air (HITZIG).
Proverbs 7:7. And I saw among the inexperienced; literally, among the νηπίοις, the simple; comp. remarks on 1:4, where the same expression פְּתָאִים is used, synonymous with נַעַר, boy, as here with בָּנִים. It is not necessary, with ARNOLDI, BERTHEAU and HITZIG, to explain the expression in exact accordance with the Arabic by juvenes [young men].
Proverbs 7:8. Near a corner.—The Masoretic punctuation פִּנָּהּ with mappik in the ה (comp. מִדָּהּ, Job 11:9) represents the corner as hers, i.e., the corner of the adulteress, the corner of her house,—and many recent expositors, e.g., UMBREIT and HITZIG, translate and explain accordingly. But inasmuch as according to Proverbs 7:12 (which HITZIG, without any reason, pronounces spurious), the adulteress is accustomed to watch “at every corner,” therefore at street corners in general, it is not quite needful to refer the corner here mentioned to her dwelling. All the ancient versions moreover have read only the simple פִּנָּה (LXX: παρὰ γωνίαν; Vulg.: juxta angulum, etc.).—And sauntered along the way to her house.—Psychologically it is pertinent to depict the young man predisposed to sin as strolling before the house of the adulteress, and this as the beginning of his imprudence, so far forth as he thus plunges himself into temptation. The verb צָעַד is fairly chosen, as it always expresses a certain care and intention in his going. We say substantially “he measures his steps; he paces before her door” (UMBREIT).
Proverbs 7:9. In the twilight, in the evening of the day.—The accumulation of the expressions is explained by the fact that it was fitting to characterize the action and conduct of the young man as belonging to the works of darkness, the deeds of night. Comp. Luke 22:53; Rom. 13:12; 1 Thess. 5:4–7, etc. There is furthermore no contradiction between the notation of time in the first clause and that in the second; for נֶשֶׁף strictly signifies not the first evening twilight, but the later period of evening darkness, from 9 o’clock to 12 (see Job 7:4; 24:15), and so the time immediately bordering upon the true black night or midnight.—In the blackness of night—literally, “in the pupil of the night,” comp. 20:20, K’ri. The tertium comparationis is to be found, doubtless in both, the blackness and the middle, and not in the first alone, as UMBREIT holds. Comp. besides the phrase “heart of the night” in the poetic language of the Persians (see UMBREIT on this passage).
4. Proverbs 7:10–20. The adulteress.—In the attire of a harlot.—שִׁית זוֹנָה, dress of a harlot (comp. with respect to שִׁית, dress, apparel, Ps. 73:16), stands here with no connecting word in apposition to “woman;” a woman a harlot’s dress, as though the woman herself were nothing more than such a dress. Thus, and with good reason, BERTHEAU explains [and WORDS.], while HITZIG altogether artificially explains שִׁית by שְׁוִית (from שָׁוָה) as equivalent to דְּמוּת, likeness, and accordingly translates “with the outward appearance of a harlot;” in the same way also the LXX: εἶδος ἔχουσα πορνικόν.—Subtle in heart.—נְצֻרַת לֵב is strictly “one who is guarded in heart,” i.e., one whose heart is guarded and inaccessible, who locks up her plans and counsels deep in her breast, comp. Is. 65:4. Thus CHR. B. MICHAELIS (citing the French retenu), UMBREIT, BERTHEAU, ELSTER, etc., and from earlier times at least the Vers. Veneta: πεφυλαγμένη τὴν καρδίαν. [With these WORDSW. is in substantial agreement; “her heart is like a walled fortress,” etc.]. The other ancient versions expressed the idea “one carrying away the heart of the young man,” as though they had read נֹצֶרֶת (so also recently ARNOLDI). EWALD explains “of hardened heart, bold and confident;” HITZIG, in accordance with the Arabic and comparing the saucia in VIRGIL’S Æneid, iv. 1: “an arrow in her heart, wounded by love’s dart,” and therefore ardent and wanton—both of these being plainly altogether artificial and adventurous. [FUERST, treating the adjective as fem. constr. from נָצוֹר, renders “watching (for hearts of young men”).—Boisterous was she and ungovernable.—With the first epithet (literally, shouting) comp. Proverbs 9:13; with the second, Hos. 4:16, where the same word is used of a wild heifer that will not submit its neck to the yoke.
Proverbs 7:12. Now in the street, etc.—That we have only here a custom, a habit of the wanton woman described, while in the preceding verse we have delineated her condition in a single instance, is an entirely arbitrary assumption of HITZIG’S, which is altogether opposed by the use of the Imperfect in both cases (יִשְׁכְנוּ, Proverbs 7:11, and תֶּאֱרֹב , Proverbs 7:12). Therefore the argument that the verse is spurious, resting as it does mainly on this alleged difference in the substance and scope of the verse, is to be rejected (comp. above, remarks on Proverbs 7:8).
Proverbs 7:13. Put on a bold face.—Comp. Proverbs 21:29; Eccles. 8:1.
Proverbs 7:11. Thank–offerings were binding upon me—that is, in consequence of a vow, as the second clause shows. She has therefore on the day that is hardly gone (“to-day”—the day is here represented as continuing into the night) slain a victim in sacrifice that had been vowed to the Lord for some reason or other, and has prepared for a meal the flesh of this animal, which in accordance with the law, Lev. 7:16, must be eaten on the second day, at the latest. To this meal, which, to judge from the description of the luxurious furnishing of the chamber, in Proverbs 7:16 sq., is no simple affair, she now invites the young man.
Proverbs 7:16. Variegated coverlets of Egyptian linen.—חֲטֻבוֹת which the older translators nearly all interpret as “variegated coverlets,” the larger number derive from the Arabic خَطِب to be many colored (therefore tapetes versicolores s. picti, as it is found as early as the Vulgate); BERTHEAU, on the contrary, derives from =הטב הצב to cut, to make stripes or strips (therefore striped material); HITZIG finally derives from the Arab. عُسطب cotton, appealing to PLINY, H. N., XIX. 1, 2, according to whom cotton fabrics in great quantity were manufactured from native material. The first of these explanations, as the simplest and best attested, deserves the preference.—אֵטוּן is equivalent to the Ægypt. Athiouniau, linen, and is found in Greek also in the form ὀθόνη or ὀθόνιον. [The rendering of the E. V. “with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt” conforms too closely to the primary meaning of the verb חָטַב “to carve.” It cannot refer to any carved frame work of the bed, but rather to the embroidered figures which resemble carving—A.].
Proverbs 7:17. I have sprinkled my couch, etc.—HITZIG, who translates the verb by “I have perfumed,” has in mind a mere perfuming of the bed or of its apparel by means of the swinging of a censer filled with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. But while נוּף does properly signify to raise, to swing, yet the signification “sprinkle” is easily enough derived from this; and although the spices in question were not sprinkled precisely in the form of water holding them in solution, they still produced a satisfactory result if strewed upon the coverlets of the couch in little bits, fragments of the bark, fibres or scales. In no other way than this is it to be supposed that the same fragrant materials (with cassia) were employed, according to Ps. 45:8, in perfuming the king’s robes of state; comp. also Song Sol. 3:6; 4:14.
Proverbs 7:18. Let us sate ourselves with love, etc.—Comp. 5:19, and also the phrase שִׁכְרוּ דוֹדִים, Song Sol. 5:1.—Enjoy ourselves in love.—Instead of the meaning “enjoy” or “delight one’s self,” well attested by Job 20:18; 39:13, the old interpreters give to the verb in this instance the stronger meaning “to embrace passionately, to cohabit” (LXX: ἐγκυλισθῶμεν ἕρωτι; AQUILA and THEODOTION: συμπεριπλέκωμεν; so also HITZIG: “let us join in love’s indulgence!”). But it is plainly unnecessary to substitute an obscene import, artificially and with a possible appeal to the Arabic, for the simpler meaning, which is abundantly attested by the usus loquendi of the Old Testament.
Proverbs 7:19. The man is not at home.—Let it be observed with how cold and strange a tone the faithless wife speaks of her husband.—He has gone a long journey.—Lit., “upon a journey from afar;” the idea “from afar” is loosely appended to that of “journey” in order to represent not so much the way itself as rather the person traversing it as far removed.
Proverbs 7:20. The purse he hath taken with him—and therefore proposes extensive transactions at a distance from home, and will continue journeying a considerable time.—On the day of the full moon he will return.—In the Hebrew the כֶּסֶא (for which in Ps. 81:4 we have the form כֶּסֶה) forms an alliteration with the כֶּסֶף in the first member, which is probably not undesigned; “the verse flows so smoothly along (comp. 2:13) and one imagines that he hears the sweetly musical voice of the betrayer” (HITZIG). Furthermore the “day of the full moon” is not a designation of the full moon of the feast of tabernacles which was celebrated with peculiar festivities (UMBREIT, ELSTER), but the expression plainly relates to the next succeeding full moon. Since now, according to Proverbs 7:9, the time to which the narrative relates must be about new moon, the cunning woman means to hint that her husband will not return for about a fortnight. See HITZIG on this passage.
5. Proverbs 7:21–23. The result of her enticing arts. Proverbs 7:21. With the multitude of her enticements.—לֶקַח, learning (1:5; 9:9) is here ironically employed of the skilful and bewildering rhetoric which the adulteress has known how to employ.—With the expression “smoothness, of lips” comp. “smoothness of tongue,” Proverbs 6:24.
Proverbs 7:22. At once, Hebrew פִּתְאֹם, implies that he had at first hesitated, until this fear of his to take the decisive step was overcome by evil appetite, and he now with passionate promptness formed the vile purpose and executed it at once, to cut off all further reflection. Here is evidently a stroke in the picture of the profoundest psychological truth.—As an ox goeth to the slaughter.—Therefore following another, and with a brutish unconsciousness. Comp. the corresponding figure, which, however, is used with a purpose of commendation, in Is. 53:7. And as fetters (serve) for the correction of the fool.—With the fetters (עֶכֶם comp. Is. 3:18) we have here compared, of course, the adulteress who suddenly and by a single effort prevails upon the thoughtless youth,—and not, possibly, the young man himself (as UMBREIT supposes, who finds the significance of the comparison in this, that the foolish and ensnared youth is represented first as a dumb beast, and then as a simply material physical thing, as a mere dead instrument. As the obstinate fool (אֱוִיל) who treads a forbidden path, is suddenly caught and held fast by the trap lying in it, so has the deceitful power of the adulteress caught the foolish young man. Thus, and with probable correctness, ELSTER, and long ago many of the older expositors, like SOL. GLASS, Philol. Sacra, p. 738, and M. GEIER on this passage (only that they unnecessarily explain by an hypallage: “as fetters for the correction of a fool,” in other words, “as the fool (comes) to the correction of fetters”). Somewhat differently Bertheau, and before him LUTHER, STARKE, etc. [and recently STUART]; “He comes as if to fetters, which are decreed for the correction of the fool;” but to supply before אֶל עֶכֶם from the preceding has the order and parallelism against it. [FUERST regards the noun as an instrumental accus., and translates “and as in fetters, i.e., slowly, the fool is led to correction,”—but regards the evidence as all indicating a defective text. NOYES and MUENSCHER treat the noun as instrumental, but vary the construction of the other words: “as one in fetters to the chastisement of the fool.” WORDSW. suggests two or three renderings, of which that of NOYES is one, but indicates no preference. ZÖCKLER’S rendering is brought, we think, with the least violence, into correspondence with the other two comparisons, where the idea is plainly that of a certain fate, notwithstanding unconsciousness of it. So fetters await the fool, though he may not be aware of it—A.] Many older interpreters, either failing to understand the figure, or judging it inconsistent with the context, have sought relief in more violent ways. The LXX, Peschito and Targums explain the עֶכֶם or some word substituted for this, as referring to a dog (LXX: ὤσπερ κύων ἐπὶ δεσμούς), which is here made a parallel to the ox and then the bird in the following verse; so also more recent commentators, like MICHAELIS, KÖHLER, etc. The Vulgate probably read כֶּבֶשׂ instead of עֶכֶם, since it translates “as a wanton and stupid lamb.” Others, as of the older class the LXX, Peschito, Targums, Arabic vers., etc. altered the אֱוִיל to אַיָּל stag, and connected it with Proverbs 7:23; so also more recently SCHELLING and ROSENMUELLER., e.g.; “and like a deer rushing into fetters.” HITZIG finally treats the passage with the greatest violence, since he transfers Proverbs 7:23, third clause, to the place of the 2d clause in Proverbs 7:22; in this line, by altering עכם to כּעם he changes the meaning to “for the fool is angry at correction;” he finally transposes the first and third clauses of Proverbs 7:23, so that the two verses have this general import:
“He followeth her at once, as an ox that goeth to, the slaughter, and as a bird hasteneth to the snare.
For the fool is angry at correction, and seeth not that it is for his life, until an arrow pierceth his liver.”
This might indeed have been originally the meaning of the passage; but inasmuch as neither manuscripts nor old versions give any evidence of any other arrangement as having ever existed, the whole emendation retains only the value of a bold hypothesis.
Proverbs 7:23. Till an arrow pierceth his liver.—Since this clause plainly refers to the young man, and neither exclusively to the ox nor the fool, the two examples of a self-destroying folly which in the second and third clauses of Proverbs 7:23 are compared with him, its position is parenthetical (UMBREIT, ELSTER, BERTHEAU, etc.); for in the following clause still another example is added to the two mentioned before,—that of the bird hastening to the snare. The “liver” stands here as the representative of the vitals in general (comp. Lam. 2:11) as in some instances the heart or again the reins (Ps. 16:27; 73:21; Prov. 23:16, etc.). According to DELITZSCH, Bibl. Psychol., pp. 275 sq., the liver is here made prominent as the seat of sensual desire. Since the ancient Greeks, Arabians and Persians in fact connected this idea with the organ under consideration, and since modern Oriental nations also predicate of the liver what we say of the heart as the seat of the feelings and sensibilities (e.g., the Malays in Java, see Ausland, 1863, p. 278), this view may be received as probably correct. By no means is the designation of the liver in the passage before us to be regarded as a purely arbitrary poetical license or as a mere accident.—And knoweth not that his life is at stake, literally, “that it is for his soul;” the expression בְּנַפְשׁוֹ signifies “at the price of his life,” comp. Numb. 17:3.
6. Proverbs 7:24–27. Concluding exhortation introduced by “and now,” like the corresponding final epilogue, Proverbs 8:32; comp. also 5:7.
Proverbs 7:25. And stray not, אַל תֵּתַע, [a dehortative] from תָּעָה, to go roaming about, comp. שָׁגָה Proverbs 5:20.
Proverbs 7:26. And all her slain are many. עֲצֻמִים, meaning “strong” (BERTHEAU), is nevertheless on account of the parallelism with רַבִּים in the first member to be taken in the sense of “numerous, many,” comp. Ps. 25:18; Joel 1:5. [HOLD., NOYES, MUENSCH., DE W., K., agree with our author; STUART and Words., like the E. V., keep closer to the original idea of strength, “many strong men” have been her victims.—A.] With the expression in the first member comp. Judges 9:40.
Proverbs 7:27. Ways of hell—her house. “Her house” is the subject, having here a plural predicate connected with it, as Proverbs 16:25; Jer. 24:2.—Chambers of death. Comp. “depths of death” or “of hell,” Proverbs 9:18: and with reference to the general sentiment of the verse, Proverbs 2:18; 5:5.
DOCTRINAL, ETHICAL, HOMILETIC AND PRACTICAL
From the earlier and copious warnings against adultery the one now before us is distinguished by the fact, that while chap. 5 contrasted the blessing of conjugal fidelity and chaste marital love with unregulated sexual indulgence, and Proverbs 6:20–35 particularly urged a contending against the inner roots and germs of the sin of unchastity,—our passage dwells with special fullness upon the temptations from without to the transgression of the sixth commandment. It also sets forth the folly and the ruinous consequences of yielding to such temptations, by presenting an instructive living example. What elements in this vivid moral picture stand forth as ethical and psychological truths to be taken especially to heart, has been already indicated by us in the detailed interpretation. Aside from the fact that it is nocturnal rambling, that delivers the thoughtless, heedless and idling youth into the hands of temptation (Proverbs 7:9), and aside from the other significant feature, that after a first brief and feeble opposition he throws himself suddenly and with the full energy of passion into his self-sought ruin (Proverbs 7:22; comp. James 1:15), we have to notice here chiefly the important part played by the luxurious and savory feast of the adulteress as a coöperating factor in the allurement of the self-indulgent youth (see Proverbs 7:14 sq.). It is surely not a feature purely incidental, without deeper significance or design, that this meal is referred to as preceding the central and chief sin; for, that the tickling of the palate with stimulating meats and drinks prepares the way for lust and serves powerfully to excite sexual desire, is an old and universal observation, comp. Ex. 32:6 (1 Cor. 10:17). “The people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play:” as also similar passages from classical authors, e.g. EURIPIDES, Alcestis, 788; PLAUTUS, Miles gloriosus, III., 1, 83; ARRIAN, Anab. Alex., II., 5, 4; and the well-known Roman proverb from TERENCE (Eunuch., IV., 5, 6; comp. APPUL., Metam., II., 11), “Sine Cerere et Libero friget Venus” [without Ceres (food) and Bacchus (wine) Venus (love) is cold]: and finally TERTULIAN, de jejun. adv. Psychicos, c. 1: “Lust without gluttony would indeed be deemed a monstrosity, the two being so united and conjoined that, if they could by any means be parted, the sexual parts would first refuse to be attached to the belly. Consider the body; the region is one, and the order of the vices conforms to the arrangement of the members; first the belly, and all other sensuality is built immediately upon gluttony; through indulgence in eating sensual desire ensues,” etc.
In the homiletic treatment we are naturally not to dwell too long upon these details, lest the entire impression produced by the picture of the young man ensnared by the adulteress be unduly weakened. An analysis of the chapter into several texts for sermons is inadmissible on account of the closely compacted unity of the action. At the most, the five introductory verses may be separated as a special text (comp. STARKE); yet even these would better be connected closely with the whole, and all the more since they conform very nearly in expression and contents to similar introductory paragraphs of a somewhat general nature, of which there have already been several (see exeget. notes, No. 2).
The homily that should comprehend the entire chapter might therefore present some such theme as this: How the dangers from temptation to unchastity are to be escaped. Answer: 1) By avoiding idleness as the beginning of all vice (Proverbs 7:6, sq.); 2) By shunning all works of darkness (Proverbs 7:9); 3) By subduing the sensual nature, and eradicating even the minor degrees of evil appetite (Proverbs 7:14 sq.); 4) By the serious reflection, that yielding to the voice of temptation is the certain beginning of an utter fall from the grace of God, and of eternal ruin (Proverbs 7:21, 27).—Comp. STARKE: Sin is like a highway robber, that at first joins our company in an altogether friendly way, and seeks to mislead us from the right path, that it may afterwards slay us (Rom. 7:11).—Imaginary pleasure and freedom in the service of sin are like gilded chains with which Satan binds men. Though the tempter is deeply guilty, he who suffers himself to be tempted is not for that reason excused. Let every one therefore flee from sin as from a serpent (Ecclesiast. 21:2).—Comp. M. GEIER: Be not moved by the flattering enticements of the harlot, the world, false teachers (that betray into spiritual adultery and abandonment of God), or of Satan himself. Close thine ears against all this, i.e. refuse in genuine Christian simplicity and faithful love to the Lord to hearken to any solicitation to disobedience. Follow not Eve’s example, but Joseph’s, Gen. 39:8, etc.—[TRAPP: (Proverbs 7:9) Foolish men think to hide themselves from God by hiding God from themselves.—(Proverbs 7:22). Fair words make fools fain].
My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee.