One can listen to this Proverb and perhaps interpret it in several ways. On the surface it’s great advice to young men of any age.
Pro 7:1 My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee.
Pro 7:2 Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.
Pro 7:3 Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.
Pro 7:4 Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman:
Pro 7:5 That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.
Pro 7:6 For at the window of my house I looked through my casement,
Pro 7:7 And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding,
Pro 7:8 Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house,
Pro 7:9 In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:
Pro 7:10 And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.
Pro 7:11 (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house:
Pro 7:12 Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.)
Pro 7:13 So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him,
Pro 7:14 I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows.
Pro 7:15 Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee.
Pro 7:16 I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt.
Pro 7:17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.
Pro 7:18 Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves.
Pro 7:19 For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey:
Pro 7:20 He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed.
Pro 7:21 With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him.
Pro 7:22 He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks;
Pro 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.
Pro 7:24 Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth.
Pro 7:25 Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths.
Pro 7:26 For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her.
Pro 7:27 Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.
It is interesting to look historically at how at one time the reformers, even Old John Gill saw this some 200 years after Luther. Here is a brief summary of his commentary on the verses…probably not looked at this way in the church today. It’s a bit repetitive, but I pulled out several of the verses that he comments upon.
The subtil, cunning, and appealing nature strikes me.
Reminds me of another appealing and ancient conversation:
Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
Gen 3:2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
Gen 3:3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
Gen 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
Gen 3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil
That they may keep thee from the strange woman,…. Nothing has a greater tendency than Christ and his Gospel, and an intimate acquaintance with them, and a retention of them, to keep from all sin, from all fleshly lusts, from the sin of uncleanness; and also from all the errors, heresies, idolatry, superstition, and will worship, of the whore of Rome; a stranger to God and true godliness, to Christ and his truths, the Spirit and his operations;
To deliver thee from the strange woman,…. As the Gospel of Christ and its doctrines, or the instructions of wisdom, are a means of delivering persons from the evil man, his company, ways, and works; so from a naughty woman, an adulteress, called a “strange” woman; not because of another nation, or unknown, but because she belongs to another person, and not to him whom she entices into her embraces. Gersom interprets this of the sensitive appetite, and Jarchi of idolatry; as others do also of superstition and all false doctrine, and everything that is contrary to true wisdom; and the whole that is here and afterwards said may well enough be applied to the whore of Rome, from whose fornication, or spiritual adultery, that is, idolatry, will worship, and antichristian doctrines, the Gospel delivers men; see Pro 7:5, &c.
even from the stranger which flattereth with her words; that useth smooth and soft words to work upon the passions, move the affections, and win the hearts of men; and ensnare them and draw them to commit wickedness with her; see Pro 5:3; and so antichrist, and all false teachers and heretics, with good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple, Rom 16:18.
For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb,…. “Mulsa dicta”, “honey words”, as is Plautus’s (e) expression. The Septuagint and Arabic versions premise something here which is not in the Hebrew text,
“do not give heed to a wicked woman;”
and the Vulgate Latin version,
“to the fallacy of a woman:”
but there is no need to connect the words by such a supplement; since, as they lie, they give a reason why it was necessary to attend to wisdom and understanding, in order to act discreetly and speak knowingly; since there is so much danger of being drawn aside by a wicked woman, a lewd and adulterous one; the kisses of whose lips, her confabulations and songs, are as pleasing to the carnal senses of men as honey is sweet to the taste; she promises them a great deal of pleasure in her embraces, and in the enjoyment of her: so the poet (f) describes an agreeable voice to be sweeter than the honeycomb;
and her mouth is smoother than oil; her fair speeches, enticing words, and flattering fawning language, and amorous expressions, easily find their way and slide into the hearts of men, to prevail upon them to listen to her, and yield to her temptations. Gersom interprets this strange woman of the imaginative faculty; and Jarchi of heresy: it is applicable enough to the whore of Rome; who, by the blandishments of pomp and grandeur, and the allurements of wealth and riches, draws many into her idolatrous practices; which are spiritual adultery, signified by her golden cup, Rev 17:4.
(e) Rudens, Act. 2. Sc. 3. v. 84. Poenulus, 1, 2. v. 112. (f) φωνα γλυκερωτερα η μελικηρω, Theocrit. Idyll. 21.
To keep thee from the evil woman,…. This is one use of the profit arising from attending to the instructions of parents, and to the law of God, as taught by them; to preserve from fornication and adultery, one of its precepts expressly forbidding adultery and all corporeal uncleanness; and the whole of it directing to an observance of all duties respecting God and our neighbour, which requires diligence and industry, and prevents idleness, that inlet to all sin, and especially to uncleanness (k);
from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman; the same with the evil woman, the lewd and adulterous one; see Pro 2:16. Jarchi interprets this of idolatry; the character well agrees with the idolatrous church of Rome, or antichrist, represented by a whore, Rev 17:1; as this woman is called “the woman of evil” (l), for so it may be rendered, one very evil, given up and abandoned to sin; so antichrist is called “the man of sin”, 2Th 2:3; and as this woman is said to have the “smoothness of a strange tongue” (m), as the words may be translated, and are by the Targum; so the religion of this false church is delivered in a strange language the people understand not, by which they are kept in ignorance and deception; now the word of God read and explained in the mother tongue, and especially the Gospel part of it, the doctrine of wisdom, is a means of preserving persons from the errors and heresies, superstition and idolatry, of the church of Rome, and from being carried away with their false glosses, and gaudy worship, and all its deceivable ways of unrighteousness.
(k) “Otia si tollas periere cupidinis arcus”, Ovid. de Remed. Amor. l. 1. v. 139. Quaeritur Aegistheus, “quare sit factus adulter?–in promptu causa est, desidiosus erat”. Ibid. v. 161, 162. (l) מאשת רע “a muliere mali”, Baynus, Mercerus, Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis. (m) מחלקת לשון נכריה “a lenitate linguae extraneae”, Montanus; “a laevitate linguae peregrinae”, Michaelis; “ex lubrica glabritie linguae peregrinae”, Schultens.
For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ,…. They do not preach him, but themselves; they do not seek the things of Christ, his honour and glory, the spread of his Gospel, and the enlargement of his kingdom and interest; they seek their own things, worldly honour and applause, riches, wealth, and grandeur; they seek to please men, and so are not the servants of Christ: they introduced the observance of meats and drinks in to the kingdom of Christ, which it do not consist of, and neglected the doctrines of righteousness and peace, from whence springs joy in the Holy Ghost, and so in these spiritual things did not serve Christ; and therefore, as they were not acceptable to God, were not to be approved of by Christian men, but to be marked and avoided:
but their own belly; which they made a god of, and devoted themselves to the service of all their views were to gratify and indulge their sensual appetite. The false teachers among the Jews were particularly addicted to this vice: hence the apostle sometimes calls them dogs, Php 3:2, on account of their voraciousness, and who, in Isaiah’s time, were greedy ones that could never have enough, Isa 56:11; and in our Lord’s time devoured widows’ houses, under a pretence of long prayers for them, Mat 23:14; and were like the Cretians, evil beasts, and slow bellies, Tit 1:12, unwilling to labour, and lived upon the spoil of others:
and by good words, and fair speeches, deceive the hearts of the simple: they were deceivers; they lay in wait to deceive, made use of the hidden things of dishonesty, walked in craftiness, and handled the word of God deceitfully; and therefore to be marked and avoided: they deceived “the simple”, harmless, and innocent, that think no evil, nor are aware of any; who have little understanding of things; persons of weak minds, easy to be imposed upon; very credulous, ready to believe every word, so the simple man does, as Solomon says, Pro 14:15; and such false teachers choose to tamper with, and make their attacks upon, being able to gain upon them the most easily, as their father the devil, the old serpent, did, when he first assailed human nature: the “hearts” of these they deceive; they work upon their affections, blind their understandings, impose on their judgments, and corrupt their minds from the simplicity that is in Christ: and this they do “by good words and fair speeches”; either by making use of the words of Scripture, and a show of arguments taken from thence; so Satan cited Scripture in his dispute with our Lord; and so heretics, in all ages, have pretended toil in favour of their principles, by which means they have gained on many to follow their pernicious ways; or by using words and phrases that faithful ministers of Christ use, such as the grace of God, the righteousness of Christ, the Spirit of Christ, but in a different sense; as some among us now frequently make mention of them, when they mean no more by them than the light of nature within them, and the dictates of a natural conscience; or by an elegant style, a set of fine words, a flow of rhetorical expressions, great swelling words of vanity, which such men generally affect, and so work themselves into the admiration of the common people; or by doctrines suited to the carnal minds and reasonings of men, which tickle human nature, and swell it with pride and vanity; as by preaching up the purity and power of it, asserting man’s free will, and the strength of it to that which is good; the capacity of man to keep the law, and perform good works; justification by them before God, and acceptance with him, on account of them; atonement for sins committed, by repentance and reformation; that God does not regard trifling things, some sins are venial, and easily passed over; that concupiscence is no sin; God does not rigorously exact duty, he takes the will for the deed, and is merciful unto all, and if but sincere, there is no doubt of heaven; and such men, generally speaking, instead of correcting vice, and reproving men for their sins, connive at them, indulge them in them, soothe and flatter, commend and defend them, whereby they attach them to their persons and interest.