Proverbs 7:1-20

Proverbs 7:1-20

7:1-5 — 1 My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; 2 keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; 3 bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call insight your intimate friend, 5 to keep you from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words.

Just like 6:20-35, the father exhorts the son to treasure his words of instruction. In 6:24, it is “to preserve (לִ֭שְׁמָרְךָ) you from the evil ( רָ֑ע) woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress.” Similarly, in 7:5, it is also “to keep (לִ֭שְׁמָרְךָ) you from the forbidden ( זָרָ֑ה) woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words.” The purpose in both chs. 6 and 7 is the same — that is, to keep (same verb in both verses) his son from the kind of women that will destroy his soul (the two verses contain minor differences).

The way to keep from falling into this wicked woman’s arms is to cultivate an intimate relationship with wisdom — “Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister,’ and call insight your intimate friend.” (v. 4) To relish her is to resist the adulteress. One cannot resist the temptation simply by denying it; the young man must also pursue something. Pursue lady wisdom and flee from the licentious wench.

 

7:6-9 — 6 For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, 7 and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, 8 passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house 9 in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness.

Here, the father recounts a scene (perhaps he saw it — yet, we can all easily imagine such a scenario) that describes the situation he wants his son to avoid. Observation and experience come to the aid of wisdom. Here is a naïve young man walking along, perhaps haphazardly or with some intent. Either way, he should have known better. The point is not over the actual intent of the young man but the real actions of the young man. Whether purposeful or not, he walks on dangerous ground.

Hubbard notes that he leaves the group (“among the youths”) and walks into an area that only invites trouble: “The bad choice began with the impulse to leave the group and venture out alone into an evening so ‘black’ and ‘dark’ that it seemed to offer anonymity and obscurity. The thirst for illicit adventures, untried experiences, is part of the deceptiveness of immorality. It was as though the teacher could have predicted what the youth had only subliminal hankerings for.” (Hubbard) This suggests that the young man kind of sensed it wasn’t the best idea but more or less tempted himself into it. “I wasn’t looking for this woman; she came to me.” But what did he expect to find walking around aimlessly at night around a domicile that housed a woman of ill repute? It was not a wise course of action. [Can we not hear some say, “What was wrong with walking around at night? It wasn’t his fault.”] “The gullible here exhibits his fundamental flaw; he is dull and incautious, unaware of the danger of making his way through the darkening streets in her domain.…He is not a downright immoral fellow…because she has to find him and seduce him, but a dimwit who needs some powerful persuasion to get him into bed with the unchaste wife.” (Waltke)

Another commentator succinctly portrays the young naïve “victim”: “Young, inexperienced, featherbrained, he is the very sort to need arming with borrowed wisdom. He wanders into temptation, where place (8) and time (9) can join forces against him; and if he is aimless, his temptress is not.” (Kidner)

Basically, this gullible fellow was at the wrong place at the wrong time and ran into the wrong woman. If he is a victim, he is one by foolish decisions. Some people just tend to make wrong decisions all the time and what befalls them is only inevitable. Wisdom would have asked, “What good can come from walking alone in the dark late at night?” Folly says, “There is no harm in walking around at night.” The fool calls the wise, “Legalist!” The wise knows what end holds.

 

7:10-20 — 10 And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart. 11 She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home; 12 now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait. 13 She seizes him and kisses him, and with bold face she says to him, 14 “I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows; 15 so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you. 16 I have spread my couch with coverings, colored linens from Egyptian linen; 17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. 18 Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love. 19 For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; 20 he took a bag of money with him; at full moon he will come home.”

The young naïve fool is no match for this woman. This woman’s attire gives her away — she is wily of heart, loud, and always in the streets (vv. 11b-12). She plays her part by forcing  herself upon him (v. 13). It is not mere sensuality that wins the day; her speech is used to persuade and seduce the gullible.

Several things can be noticed here: she is unabashed in her intentions (v. 13); she gives a noble twist to perverse intentions (“I had to offer sacrifices…”) (v. 14); she flatters him by singling him out (“I have come out to meet YOU, to seek YOU eagerly, and I have found YOU”) (v. 15) — but surely Waltke is right, “In fact he is the right one because he looks brainless.”; she presents the perfect sensual vision and circumstance (vv. 16-17); she is unreserved and explicit about her intentions and desires (v. 18); all possible dangers in this encounter are removed — no reason to hold back (vv. 19-20— her husband is physically (v. 19) and temporally (v. 20) removed). In this last point, she is suggesting that the encounter could well be for more than one evening.

The point here is simple to see. A gullible thoughtless young man will be no match for a sensual conniving adulteress. If wisdom is not our intimate friend, then we will eventually fall prey to this evil forbidden woman. If Lady Wisdom is not cherished then Madam Folly will seduce us.

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