1 My son, keep my words
and store up my commands within you.
2 Keep my commands and you will live;
guard my teachings 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 to insight, “You are my relative.”
5 They will keep you from the adulterous woman,
from the wayward woman with her seductive words.
6 At the window of my house
I looked down through the lattice.
7 I saw among the simple,
I noticed among the young men,
a youth who had no sense.
8 He was going down the street near her corner,
walking along in the direction of her house
9 at twilight, as the day was fading,
as the dark of night set in.
10 Then out came a woman to meet him,
dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent.
11 (She is unruly and defiant,
her feet never stay at home;
12 now in the street, now in the squares,
at every corner she lurks.)
13 She took hold of him and kissed him
and with a brazen face she said:
14 “Today I fulfilled my vows,
and I have food from my fellowship offering at home.
15 So I came out to meet you;
I looked for you and have found you!
16 I have covered my bed
with colored linens from Egypt.
17 I have perfumed my bed
with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.
18 Come, let’s drink deeply of love till morning;
let’s enjoy ourselves with love!
19 My husband is not at home;
he has gone on a long journey.
20 He took his purse filled with money
and will not be home till full moon.”
21 With persuasive words she led him astray;
she seduced him with her smooth talk.
22 All at once he followed her
like an ox going to the slaughter,
like a deer[a] stepping into a noose[b]
23 till an arrow pierces his liver,
like a bird darting into a snare,
little knowing it will cost him his life.
24 Now then, my sons, listen to me;
pay attention to what I say.
25 Do not let your heart turn to her ways
or stray into her paths.
26 Many are the victims she has brought down;
her slain are a mighty throng.
27 Her house is a highway to the grave,
leading down to the chambers of death.
Are you paying attention?
Perhaps the question is familiar. Maybe you’re prone to daydreaming or even zoning out in the middle of a conversation. A lapse in focus can usually be harmless, but in the wrong circumstance, even a momentary failure to see what is happening can be disastrous.
The ‘woman’ pictured in Proverbs 7 represents the temptation of lust which, of course, manifests itself in more than just adultery. Solomon mentions the roaming adulteress because it was most likely the taboo, relatable example of the day. In our day, you will most likely find this temptation luring online or through a co-worker before you’d ever come across a modern-day Delilah.
The author, in poetic fashion, describes the process of pursuing what is initially enticing as a lethal trap. It may be why, later on in Scripture, the author of James writes, “but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.” (Jas. 1:14-16).
Translation: sin, especially sexual sin, feels exciting to our flesh at the outset and can be overpowering if we are not focused on its eventual result: death.
Pastor Ben Stuart calls it “paddling downstream.” If you are at the outset of sexual sin, the place where you can feel the temptation gaining ground in your mind, allow your mind to take you past the momentary pleasure to the eventual outcome. There you’ll see the shame and guilt that we’ve all experienced after such a lapse in judgment. When you do, you can harness that realization to stop you from giving in to the temptation in the first place.
Healthy desires may lead you to fantasize, but each of us has to be on guard against allowing that fantasy to lead us to do something we will regret. While they are alluring and convincing, there is only shame and frustration after the fact.
So often, we have been told that sexual sin is unavoidable as men, but that is not the way of God. Equip yourself by memorizing His truth, surrounding yourself with godly men, and preparing yourself in advance. The best defense, in this case, is an offense. If you are on His path, you will not be on sin’s path. Live so aggressively for the Kingdom that your defenses never take a hit. Do not let your heart turn to ‘her ways.’ Notice that it is a matter of allowing and that the ways are plural. There is more than one way to destruction, but they all begin with the belief in the lie, “It’s worth it.”
Father, keep us from the path that leads to death. Use the men in our lives to keep us on course. Use Your Word to remind us of what is good. And may we be so intensely passionate about Your mission that we see worldly pleasures as trivial and sin as an undesirable distraction. Amen.