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Exposition: Proverbs 7:1-27

Introduction: This chapter continues the same theme that has gone before—the danger of being ensnared by the immoral woman—and a parable is told to illustrate this. “The description of this woman here fits modern instances, and there are the most solemn warnings here against this sin. This description of her wiles and the final results of such a course are so clear that there is hardly any need for comment,” [Carroll]. The length of this chapter and the lack of any natural division near its midst necessitates the breaking of today’s lesson in the midst of the parable.

Proverbs 7:1 “My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee.” 2:1. The first five verses of this chapter are introductory to the parable in verses 6-27, and are very similar to 6:20-24 and are put to the same use. The main thought is that the Word of God is an antidote to sin. Someone has very wisely said: “Sin will keep you from the Word of God, or the Word of God will keep you from sin.” There is no neutral ground in this matter, for these two things are mutually exclusive. Most people who sin are doubly guilty for they first neglected the Word of God before they fell into the sin they committed.

Proverbs 7:2 “Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.” The life that is here promised to the keeping of the law, is physical life, for there is no eternal life by the law because no one can keep the law perfectly, consistently and continually, which is the law’s requirement, (Gal. 3:10). However, the law had many capital punishments attached to it, and other violations of it led to sickness and early death, so that obedience promoted long life. “Apple of the eye” refers to the pupil which we so carefully guard against harm, it being the means of the entrance of physical light. So, through the law is the entrance of spiritual light. “As God would have us to keep His law as the apple of our eye, so He keeps His people (Deut. 32:10), in answer to their prayer (Ps. 17:8), as the apple of His eye (Zech. 2:8), [Faussett].

Proverbs 7:3 “Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the Table of thine heart.” 3:3; 6”21. Anciently, signet rings were often used to seal letters, documents, etc., (Esther 3:12; 8:8-10). Rings were also given in token of affection, (Luke 15:22). So that to bind the Law of God upon one’s finger would be to constantly be reminded of His love, as well as to have that sign of the authority of God by which every thought and deed of ours is to be tested. But that this was not to be a mere outward submission to God’s Word is shown by the requirement that it also be written upon the table of the heart.

Proverbs 7:4 “So unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman.” Our chiefest pursuit is to be of the divine wisdom which will not only guard us from evil, but which will also be our fairest companion. This divine wisdom is to be treated as a beautiful and delightful kinswoman. “Since, O youth, thou delightest in the intimacy of the fairest maidens, lo! Here is by far the loveliest one, wisdom,” [T. Cartwright]. This verse calls for a closeness and affection such as is found in close-knit families. Men often do not understand women, nor women men: thus, the counsel of a sister or brother could warn one of the snares of a flatterer of the opposite sex. The next verse suggests that this is the value of making wisdom one’s kinswoman.

Proverbs 7:5 “That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.” 6:24. The plural “they” refers to both wisdom and understanding, which are distinguished throughout Proverbs. Human wisdom and understanding often are put to work to try to justify sin, but divine wisdom and understanding will keep one from sin, and from its subsequent punishments. Note carefully that God’s Word is never given to keep the youth from having a wife of his own, but only to keep him from the strange and immoral woman. God’s Word does not forbid pleasure, 5:19, but it does forbid illegitimate pleasures.

Proverbs 7:6 “For at the window of my house I looked through my casement.” Evidently this was a real occurrence that Solomon observed, and it served so well to illustrate the danger that he recounts it. A parable is but an illustrative story and an expanse of proverb, so that this fits in well here. Glass was probably not in use in Israel this early, so that this not the meaning here. The Hebrew word is derived from a verb meaning “to perforate”. It was probably a lattice-work which gave some degree of privacy, but from which one could see out, for “casement” means literally “lattice,” (Judges 5:28). We may learn many lessons simply by observing other people’s mistakes and profiting from them.

Proverbs 7:7 “And behold among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding.” Strong passion is characteristic of youth, and many think that yielding to these evidences manhood, but actually the opposite is true. Lack of discretion and self-control is characteristic of immaturity. Manhood is manifested by self-control and understanding of what is right and proper, and acting accordingly. If giving in to unrestrained lust evidences manhood, then most animals are manly, for they follow no rule but lust. Clearly then the giving in to lust without regard to the consequences is evidence of beastliness, not manhood.

Proverbs 7:8 “Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house.” This youth violated the precepts of 4:15; 5:8, and instead approaches near to the place of temptation. When one toys with temptation, he is more guilty when he falls into sin, then if the sin had suddenly overtaken him. “Circumstances which give an occasion to sin are to be noticed and avoided. They who love danger fall into it.” –[Faussett]. The modern entertainment media would take this story and make a hero and heroine of this careless youth and the immoral woman, but this is simply because “Fools make a mock at sin,” (Prov. 14:9). They mock at its presence, its power, its penalty and the provisions God has made for its removal. Alas, how many people go to saloons, Dancehalls, etc., and then wonder why they fall into sin so easily.

Proverbs 7:9 “In the twilight, in the black and dark night.” “Lust hates the light, being conscious of its own guilt. Sin hides itself in hindred darkness (Job 24:15; John 3:20). The sinner thinks no eye can see him in the dark; but God’s eye is upon him (Ps. 139:12).” –[Faussett]. A great deal of crime is committed under the cover of darkness in order to escape the detection of human law, but no darkness is dense enough to escape the detection of Divine law. This foolish youth sought fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness: it only led him to the blackness of darkness forever.

Proverbs 7:10 “And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of a harlot, and subtil of heart.” When men foolishly seek for occasions of sin, they shall meet with them. This woman, though attired as a harlot—i.e., scantily and provocatively dressed—was not really a harlot, but was an unfaithful married woman, as subsequent verses will reveal. She used the absence of her own husband for occasions of sin. She wholly revealed herself physically, but one thing she did not reveal was her heart—her motives—which were subtle. Much later, Solomon will speak from actual experience in his old age about such a woman, (Eccl. 7:26). A woman or a man, that is unfaithful to their own spouse, can certainly not be trusted to deal more faithfully with one she is not married to.

Proverbs 7:11 “She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house.” Eastern women were generally kept secluded from men and did not generally talk with strangers, and among some people, for a woman to talk publicly with a man was to compromise her reputation as a chaste woman. Even in N.T. times, women were commanded to be “keepers at home”, (Titus 2:5), and they were warned against wandering about, (1 Tim. 5:13-14), but were commanded to be diligent home-makers. The description of the loudness stubbornness, and home duty forsaking woman of our lesson reminds us of some of the women’s lib advocates of our day who betray their husbands, children and themselves in their quest for personal liberty. The only true liberty for man or woman is to be in subjection to God’s will for them: anything else is not freedom, but is the worst kind of bondage—the bondage of sin.

Proverbs 7:12 “Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.” “She is here, and there, and everywhere but where she should be…Virtue is a penance to those to whom home is a prison,” [M. Henry]. Note the stages of her departure from her own place: “without,” then “in the streets,” and finally “lieth in wait at every corner,” and that with evil in mind. This was Tamar’s sin, (Gen. 38:11-26). Restless wives easily get into trouble and sin when they go to bars, dancehalls, etc., today because they have left their God-given place of service and blessing. For both man and woman, God’s wisdom is very plain when the place of blessing is for each. May God help us to understand this and to get into our places and be content there.

Proverbs 7:13 “So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him.” The Hebrew had an adage: “The man seeks what he has lost” (i.e., the missing rib, from which woman was made). In the present case, it is the woman who catches him, and not he her. “Caught” suggests that he is ensnared, as indeed the context declares in clear terms. Doubtless her kiss flatters his masculine ego that he is all but irresistible to women, but her aim is something else, for this woman is like the black widow spider, which devours the male as soon as she mates. “Impudent” is everywhere else rendered “harden,” “strengthen” etc., so that it suggests that she sets her face contrary to the usual feminine modesty and acts brazenly instead.

Proverbs 7:14 “I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows.” “Hereby she gives him to understand that she was compassed about with so many blessings that she had occasion to offer peace-offerings, in token of joy and thankfulness; so that he needed not fear having his pocket picked,” [M. Henry]. “She indirectly implies her piety. But it is peace-offerings or thank offerings, not offerings for sin, that she mentions. The thought of sin must not be suggested to the youth’s conscience: that would undo all her schemes,” [Faussett]. It is so today that many people profess to give thanks to God even while they are in the midst of offending Him by their sin. This is inconsistent and hypocritical. Some seem to think that mouth worship excuses sinful manners.

Proverbs 7:15 “Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee.” Here is a sample of her flattery, (6:24; 7:5). She acts as if he were the sole object of her heart, when in truth, any one else would have done as well for her. In the east, her coming out into the streets to seek a man would have been considered an act of great immodesty in most cases, even had she not been manifestly an immoral woman. Every person is duty-bound to so conduct himself or herself that there will be no question in the minds of anyone as to one’s morality and piety. We are not to seek for sin, as this woman did, nor are we to yield to it if it finds us, as this boy did.

Proverbs 7:16 “I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with find linen of Egypt.” History records that Solomon had brought such lien out of Egypt, so that it was a common luxury in the land, (1 Kings 10:28). Luxurious living often leads to lustful living while poverty more often leads to piety. Most of the revivals of true worship have taken place during times of privation, while time of plenty generally lead to forgetting God, (Deut. 32:15-18; Prov. 30:8-9). No one likes to live in poverty, yet poverty generally impresses us with the need to daily trust the Lord, while we too often forget God and trust in our money in times of plenty, and learn to use our money to fulfill the lusts of the flesh.

Proverbs 7:17 “I have perfumed my bed with mrryh, aloes, and cinnamon.” Easterners used spices for perfumery, and only in more recent centuries have the artificial perfumes been compounded. The heady scent of perfumes were meant to stir the heart, (27:9), even as now, and in a land where filth and unpleasant orders generally dominated the towns, a room filled with all sorts of pleasant odors would add much to the romantic atmosphere. For all of her apparent piety in verse 14, her mention of “bed” here suggests what she has in mind—that her mind is far from the worship of the Lord.

Proverbs 7:18 “Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves.” “Of love, does she say? Of lust she means, but it is a pity that the name of love should be thus abused. True love is from heaven,” [M. Henry]. Yes, but most of what goes under the name of love in our day is straight out of hell. True love always desires the best for the beloved: it never degrades or disgraces the beloved. It is a very selfish “love” that has no interest but self-gratification, yea, it is nothing more than pure animal lust. Though she speaks of taking her fill of “love”, the truth is,  this lust that she misnames, is insatiable—incapable of being satisfied—because it has not God’s blessings on it.

Proverbs 7:19 “For the Goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey.” “Good man” is an obsolete English term for the master or husband of a house. The Hebrew says simply “the man (husband) is not in the house.” She thus removes any fear that the youth may feel. All the restraints that fear of exposure might pose, she endeavors to remove, as if the fear of man were the only consideration. What is not considered, is that the eye of God is upon all evil, and He will take knowledge of it, and will punish all sinners for their sins. This, not whether man will discover their misdeeds, ought not be the controlling factor.

Proverbs 7:20 “He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed.” This also is designed to put the youth at ease, for the bag of money suggests, either that this was a business trip, all of which must be taken care of before his return, or, that it was designedly a long trip, also so much money would not be needed. In either case however there is an appointed time to return, and he would not arrive before that. “Day appointed” is rendered by some “in the day of the full moon” which would be equally as definite a time. Perhaps she means to justify her own unfaithfulness by intimating that he is a negligent husband in leaving her alone for so long a time.

Proverbs 7:21 With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him.” “Speech” means “captivating speech” —the sort that overcomes his better judgment. His own depravity also argued with her for yielding. “His corruptions at length triumphed over his convictions,” [M. Henry]. Alas, how many strong men have been so “forced” because their desires agreed with the temptation. But such “force” never justifies anyone in yielding to it, for no one—not even the devil—can force anyone to yield to sin; the yielding comes from inside, not from the outside. “The devil made me do it!” is a false teaching, made to excuse sin.

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.” “’Straightway” implies the youth’s precipitancy, and his rash inconsiderateness as to the grievousness of the sin and its penalty,” [Faussett]. In sin, things are never as they seem to be for Satan paints sin in the deceptively beautiful colors that please men’s proud and unholy desires, not in the black color that they truly are. The youth follows this woman to what he thinks will be the fulfillment of his desires, not knowing that it leads to death.

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.” When ones goes into the ways of sin, he necessarily lays aside the breastplate of righteousness, (Eph. 6:14), and so he is open to the judgment that follows sin. Everyone who sins, does so in the deceived belief that judgment will not find him. “The ‘dart’ of the husband, the magistrate, Satan, and, above all, God (Job 16:13), strikes the youth in body, in resources, in reputation, and worst of all in soul,” [Faussett].

Proverbs 7:24 “Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth.” These words are meant to be a counteractant (contrary action) to the fair speech and flattering lips of this woman. This is therefore the application of this story, and the summary of what Solomon began in verse 1. It is better to listen to counsel, however it may go against one’s desires, then to heed the enticement of a deceiver and finally be brought to Judgment.

Proverbs 7:25 “Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths.” The heart always first declines to evil before one goes astray in the path of evil, which is why there is a need for us to suppress the first motions of sin—the thoughts and desires—and we will not therefore be found in the paths of wickedness. The Latins had a saying for it: obsta principii—resist beginnings. If we nip sin in the bud, we will not have to eat of the bitterness of its fruit.

Proverbs 7:26 “For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her.” One of Satan’s very effective tools is human pride. He appeals to it by telling the tempted one: “Do not fear” Only the weak succumb to evil. You are strong. You may walk by sin and look upon it, but you shall not be caught by it.” So he ensnares many, and not a few of these are strong, for sin is always more powerful than human strength and wisdom when men foolishly toy with it. Those who are destroyed by this evil woman were not just the ignorant and weak, but were the wise and the strong. Satan’s snares are all by very gradual steps away from truth and right, each so subtle that man does not realize he is approaching the brink until too late.

Proverbs 7:27 “Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.” Here, as in many places, the end of sin is eternal death. The school of experience is a hard one, but many people will learn in no other for they reject the wise counsel of fathers—both physical and spiritual fathers. The youth thought this woman’s house was the house of delight, but it turned out to be the house of damnation, and instead of being the way of happiness, it turned out to be the way to hell. All sin must be judged, either in the sinner, or in his Surety. Where is yours judged?

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