Today: [Proverbs 7] Avoiding the Pitfall of Infidelity. In this chapter Solomon describes the progression of infidelity and what leads to the difficulties and problems inherent in a lifestyle of promiscuity. His descriptions are very accurate because this is something Solomon knows something about. In the narrative of Solomon’s life for all his wisdom it was his downfall to be snared by the pagan influence of the many wives and concubines he surrounded himself with. To his sons and young men in general Solomon seeks to give insight and education in hopes that they will not make the mistakes that he made in his own life.
[Pro 7:1-27 KJV] 1 My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. 2 Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. 3 Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart. 4 Say unto wisdom, Thou [art] my sister; and call understanding [thy] kinswoman: 5 That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger [which] flattereth with her words. 6 For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, 7 And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, 8 Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, 9 In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night: 10 And, behold, there met him a woman [with] the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.
Verse 1 of this chapter begins with an exhortation of a father to his son to keep his words and lay up his commandments with him. Here in Proverbs 7 we find 8 commandments:
1. Keep my words (preserve yourself from disobedience).
2. Lay up my commandments (take them to heart).
3. Keep my commandments (that you might live).
4. Keep my law as the pupil of your eye.
5. Bind them upon your fingers (as a reminder).
6. Write them on the table of your heart.
7. Make wisdom your sister.
8. Make understanding your kinswoman.
These 8 commands are the preamble again to a longer admonition against adultery. This is something close to Solomon’s experience due to his involvement with many foreign women. What is at the core of this problem. In our culture the idea of sexual exploit and infidelity is rooted in the error of looking to outward things for what we ought to be looking to the Lord for. The modern idea of so-called love is akin to worship. The entire cult of celebrity in popular culture is based on worship – hence we call pop culture icons “idols”, “celebrities”, “stars” and “luminaries”. What in ancient cultures was expressed as worship at pagan altars with corrupt sexual practices is carried out in popular culture on the altar of media distribution into our lives and homes. We seek out such things because they provide an extension of meaning and fulfillment to our lives. We often emulate the same conduct in our interpersonal relationships when we look to others (through infidelity, a roaming eye, illicit relationships) for what we ought to be looking to God for. God is a jealous God. What you allow to come between you and God – God will remove. Thus the end of such things is always disappointment.
11 (She [is] loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: 12 Now [is she] without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.) 13 So she caught him, and kissed him, [and] with an impudent face said unto him, 14 [I have] peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. 15 Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. 16 I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved [works], with fine linen of Egypt. 17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. 18 Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves. 19 For the goodman [is] not at home, he is gone a long journey: 20 He hath taken a bag of money with him, [and] will come home at the day appointed.
In verse 7 Solomon deploys the literary artifice of a theoretical simple minded young man. He makes 8 observations about this young man:
1. He is simple minded – he does not think deeply.
2. He is void of understanding.
3. He frequented places where infidelity was common.
4. He went by the way to her house (sought more intimate contact).
5. He passed by where she waited (knowingly exposed himself to sin).
6. He was met by the harlot (an inevitable outcome).
7. He allowed himself to be persuaded (to give himself over to adultery).
8. He faced his doom as an ox to the slaughter; a fool to punishment; a bird to the snare.
The order in which Solomon lists these things is a pageantry of inevitable moral failure. One vulnerability led to a snare and the snare led to total captivity. The path of deliverance is seen in choices that the young man could have made early on. He didn’t think deeply. Even in our culture we tend to mock and despise those we consider to be overly thoughtful. The world says “just do it…” The world says “if you can’t be with the one you love – love the one your with…” without any thought to consequences. This young man got into trouble because he put himself in the environment where his problem would evidence itself, surround him and take him captive. His deliverance would have been to simply take a deeper perspective and realize before the snare was set and not put himself in that place of vulnerability.
What are some of the warning signs? For one thing the young man was idle. He was looking for something to occupy himself. He had no anchor within himself. He was not one to be alone with his own thoughts so he sought out the company of others in an indiscriminate way. I have known people in my life time that would never choose to be alone with their thoughts. They absolutely refuse the contemplative life. They are going to find some level of interaction in the absolute determinate never to have to face themselves alone with their thoughts to think deeply or reflectively about their life.
The young man was indiscriminate about where he hung out. We all seek out social settings. Kitty and I have been in leadership councils with single people who saw themselves as the spiritual elite and leadership of the Christian community in Springfield, Missouri. Yet the conversation was about what bar they hung out in the night before. One older single woman who prided herself on an assertion for her high moral standards thoughtfully spoke of getting drunk in a bar and attempting to share Christ with a male patron on the bar stool beside her. She got his number so she could go back the following day when she was sober so she could lead him to Christ. What’s wrong with this picture? This woman had such a high opinion of herself that this incident was a boast that she was proud of rather than something that she kept to herself thinking she could have handled this entire incident differently.
Verse 10 speaks of the attire, the attitude, and body language of what this passage calls a harlot. There is nothing unambiguous about what we used to call a woman on the make. She will send signals that are unmistakable. She will telegraph her intentions in such a way that there is no mistaking what continued interaction will lead to. Solomon knew these things all to well. In his personal history his life ends in captivity to pagan women he surrounded himself with. Unfortunately for Solomon’s sons – his actions spoke louder than his words and the outcome for them was not positive.
21 With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. 22 He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; 23 Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it [is] for his life. 24 Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. 25 Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. 26 For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong [men] have been slain by her. 27 Her house [is] the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.
Verses 21 – 27 describe the inevitability of a situation like this that takes over at a certain point. The young man had no inner confidence or estimation of his own self-worth therefore the harlot’s words were compelling to him. Verse 22 tells us that the young man could see the end result of the situation but was held captive until in verse 23 the trap is sprung, his error exposed and now he must endure the shame and the difficulty that will come next. Solomon concludes the passage exhorting his sons to hear his words and to not allow their hearts to decline to her ways or go astray into her paths. This shows us that the problem and the vulnerability is a heart problem and not anything else. Going back to the error of being void of understanding and upholding simple-mindedness as a virtue that sets the young man up for captivity and devastation.
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