“Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call insight your intimate friend, to keep you from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words. For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness. And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart. She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home; now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait. She seizes him and kisses him, and with bold face she says to him, “I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows; so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you. I have spread my couch with coverings, colored linens from Egyptian linen; I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love. For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; he took a bag of money with him; at full moon he will come home.” With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life. And now, O sons, listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth. Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death.” Prov. 7:4-27
Again, Solomon encourages us to accept wisdom’s warnings. Here he shares a tragic story of a man who is not wise. This story seems to have a slightly different element from the previous passages we’ve studied so far. In this one, it seems that the man is more intentional about what he’s doing. He is passing along the street “near her corner” in the darkness of night. He seems to be avoiding the wise counsel that Solomon has given regarding staying far away from the house of the woman who tempts him. When we choose to draw near to the “forbidden” woman, we can be sure that we will be likely to be pulled in by sin.
And sure enough, as this man is lurking under the cover of night with his ill intentions, a prostitute meets him. She has been waiting for someone just like him to come along. They always do and she knows it. Her husband is gone and she is up to no good. She has offered her peace offering at the temple and, typically, afterward there would be a feast. So, she made some preparations and “eagerly” waited for someone to come along. Apparently, she has spent a good amount of time getting all of this ready knowing that it would just be a matter of time before some lustful young man would come looking. She knows how common it is for a man to seek to indulge his lustful passions.
Solomon is not only pointing out how common it seemed that men were passing by these corners looking for the very services these women offered. But, it is pointed out how it is equally common for women to be engaging in their lusts. “Now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait.” For those seeking an opportunity to sin, it will not be long before they will find opportunity. Sin and temptation are common to man. 1 Cor. 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” It seems to be that Solomon and the Bible want us to understand that our temptation is common to man. We are among company when we face lustful thoughts and desires. It is also very common for many to plunge headlong into those lusts at which point it becomes sin. James describes this process as follows: “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” Jms. 1:14, 15. That is the same process we see here in Solomon’s story. The man is tempted and lured and enticed by his desires. He begins to pursue those desires when he sets off to approach the woman’s house. But, he could have still turned back and saved himself from his sin. But, he continued on and his temptation turned into full blown sin. In fact, both the man and the woman in the story were following similar paths. When their lustful desires met, there was a collision of lustful, impassioned sin between them. “Let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love.” Here we see the focus on the short term. Neither one of them had any intentions of this lustful meeting extending beyond the morning when it was likely that her husband would return. They were not looking for a loving relationship. They were looking for the more common explosion of lust and infatuation with no strings attached—the one night stand!
But, just as James has pointed out: once desire and temptation gives birth to sin, the sin grows and brings forth death. The woman’s house in the story is described as “the way to Sheol (the grave or hell), going down to the chambers of death”. Solomon creates a picture of those who pursue this course as being similar to an ox heading for slaughter. I picture a large corral filled with a whole herd of oxen being wrangled up together for death. As far as the bird being caught in a snare, I picture a whole flock of birds all being caught together in a net. Solomon is not talking about one or two here. He says, “many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng.”
The practical takeaway that I get from this counsel, aside from the things we already learned in the previous passages, is twofold. First, it is very important that, when we are tempted, we do not pursue those temptations. We are to go far away from our temptation, not nearer to it. Often, when we begin to be tempted by lust or desire, we want to flirt with the edges. There were times when I was tempted to look at porn but I didn’t want to. So, instead, I would look at bikini models or something like that. I would think that it was somehow better. More often than not, I would be looking at porn within a matter of time afterward. Rather than see how close to the edge of the cliff we can get, we should be seeing how far from the edge we can get—it’s the only safety. When tempted, we must learn to turn away and go in a completely different direction somehow. The above promise in Corinthians says that for EVERY temptation God provides a way of escape so that we can endure it. But, I’ve found that if I don’t take that way of escape I do not endure it. Instead, my desires end up giving birth to sin. The second very practical thing I think we can learn from this passage is that lustful and adulterous sin is very common for both men and women. I think the Bible wants us to know this because just having that understanding can tend to strip away some of the mystery. It kind of makes it seem less special or something. It’s not unique and I think we all are kind of drawn to uniqueness. What is truly unique and special regarding relationships in this world is when you find a spouse to love long-term. The marriage relationship provides a lasting and genuinely fulfilling bond that no one-night stand can ever duplicate.
So, may we call wisdom our “sister” and insight our “intimate friend” so that we would be kept from the “forbidden woman” and adultery of lustful sin—that our hearts would not turn aside to her ways as do so many others!