1 My son, keep my words
and treasure up my commandments with you;
2 keep my commandments and live;
keep my teaching 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 call insight your intimate friend,
5 to keep you from the forbidden woman,
from the adulteress with her smooth words.
6 For at the window of my house
I have looked out through my lattice,
7 and I have seen among the simple,
I have perceived among the youths,
a young man lacking sense,
8 passing along the street near her corner,
taking the road to her house
9 in the twilight, in the evening,
at the time of night and darkness.
10 And behold, the woman meets him,
dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart.
11 She is loud and wayward;
her feet do not stay at home;
12 now in the street, now in the market,
and at every corner she lies in wait.
13 She seizes him and kisses him,
and with bold face she says to him,
14 “I had to offer sacrifices,
and today I have paid my vows;
15 so now I have come out to meet you,
to seek you eagerly, and I have found you.
16 I have spread my couch with coverings,
colored linens from Egyptian linen;
17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh,
aloes, and cinnamon.
18 Come, let us take our fill of love till morning;
let us delight ourselves with love.
19 For my husband is not at home;
he has gone on a long journey;
20 he took a bag of money with him;
at full moon he will come home.”
21 With much seductive speech she persuades him;
with her smooth talk she compels him.
22 All at once he follows her,
as an ox goes to the slaughter,
or as a stag is caught fast
23 till an arrow pierces its liver;
as a bird rushes into a snare;
he does not know that it will cost him his life.
24 And now, O sons, listen to me,
and be attentive to the words of my mouth.
25 Let not your heart turn aside to her ways;
do not stray into her paths,
26 for many a victim has she laid low,
and all her slain are a mighty throng.
27 Her house is the way to Sheol,
going down to the chambers of death. – Proverbs 7:1-27 ESV
When I was a child, whenever we would visit my father’s family in rural Pennsylvania we would always take one night to go out and look for deer. My dad had a high-powered flashlight that plugged into the cigarette lighter of the car and had a beam on it that would seemingly go for miles. At dusk, we would pile into our old station wagon and head out into the country in search of deer. My dad would cruise slowly down those one-lane roads with all of us kids hanging out the window, waiting in silence as he worked the powerful beam of that spotlight back and forth across the fields. Then suddenly, they would appear.
Pairs of glowing orbs mysteriously floating in the darkness. Then the spotlight would reveal their source: hundreds of deer standing like statues, ears up, tails twitching, and noses nervously sniffing the air for signs of danger. I was amazed by the power the spotlight held over them. It was like they were in a trance, transfixed to the spot on which they stood, unable to stand. It’s why, in most states, it is illegal to hunt deer using any kind of light source. It’s unfair. They can’t help themselves. They’re defenseless. And I can’t help but think of that scene every time I read the warnings that Solomon gives his son regarding the immoral woman.
He followed her at once, like an ox going to the slaughter. He was like a stag caught in a trap, awaiting an arrow that would pierce its heart. – Proverbs 7:22-23 NLT
The innocent young man was transfixed and seduced by the mesmerizing allure of forbidden fruit and false flattery. Each and every day, young men AND old men get caught in the headlights of lust. The enemy trolls the highways and byways of life looking for men AND women who he can transfix with the bright light of sin. And unlike most law-abiding hunters, Satan ignores any and all rules, taking down as many innocent victims as possible, like stags caught in a trap. He finds his work easygoing because most men are easy prey.
But there is another factor involved in this scene that sets it slightly apart from my childhood memories of “deer spotting.” It’s subtle but significant. Solomon describes seeing a naive young man who lacked common sense. He is one of the simple ones, open-minded and foolish. He is gullible and lacking in common sense or moral character. He is incapable of making good choices or recognizing the danger of his situation. So he crosses the street near the house of an immoral woman. In other words, he puts himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. “It was at twilight, in the evening, as deep darkness fell” (Proverbs 7:9 NLT). He had no business being there, but he also had no sense to know better. He was a fool. He was like a deer strolling smack dab into a camp of hunters.
Deer are naturally wary. They have a built-in defense mechanism – a fright and flight response wired into them by God. But due to the effects of the fall, men have had their spiritual senses deadened. Our spiritual receptors have been dulled by sin and we no longer have the capacity to sense danger or know what to do about it if we do. And we become easy prey for the enemy, like deer tied to a stake with a target painted on our side. So, Solomon warns his son. He begs him to listen to his words of warning. He says, “Don’t let your hearts stray away toward her. Don’t wander down her wayward path” (Proverbs 7:25 NLT).
Stray away from what? Wander away from what? It is when our hearts stray from God that we become prey for the enemy. It is when we wander off God’s path that we find ourselves in the high weeds or like a deer in the headlights. The words of an old hymn summarize our situation well.
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, oh take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above
Be warned. Be worried. Be wary. Keep your heart close to God. Walk His path. Keep close to His side. He will give you wisdom, discernment, and the sensory perception to see danger and run from it. His way is the way to true life.
You see, Godly wisdom has its benefits. That may sound like an understatement or an extreme case of overstating the obvious, but in either case, it’s true. When we seek God and follow His ways, we gain an extreme advantage in this life. Without Him, we are left vulnerable to the temptations that are guaranteed to come our way as we live our lives on this planet.
Solomon knew that and so he went out of his way to teach his sons to seek the wisdom and insight God had to offer them. In this Proverb, he warns his sons in very graphic detail about the one temptation that faces just about every member of the male side of the species: The adulterous woman. He uses a story to illustrate for his sons just how susceptible they will be without the wisdom and insight that God provides. He describes “some naive young men, and one in particular who lacked common sense” (Proverbs 7:7 NLT). The Hebrew word translated “naive” here can also mean “open-minded, one easily persuaded or enticed.”
These young men lacked the capacity to defend themselves from temptation. They were naturally open-minded or, in a way, empty-headed, and unable to say no to the tempting offers this world throws at every young man. One of the young men, who becomes the focus of Solomon’s story, was “void of understanding” according to the King James Bible. He lacked common sense. He didn’t have any wisdom from God that would warn him of the dangers that lie ahead. So when the adulterous woman spotted him walking by her house, she pounced. One of the first things that should jump out at us is the fact that this young man was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It says, “He was crossing the street near the house of an immoral woman, strolling down the path by her house” (Proverbs 7:8 NLT). He had no business being there. Yet Solomon describes him as “strolling” along, completely unaware of just how much danger he was in. Without the wisdom of God, he was going to find himself defenseless to the temptations headed his way. He was going to buy into the flattering words from this woman’s lips that to a wise man would have been obvious lies. “You’re the one I was looking for!” she would say, and “like an ox going to the slaughter,” he would allow her to lead him to his own demise. He would be easily seduced by her “pretty speech” and suffer the devastating consequences of his mistake.
But he would not be alone. “For she has been the ruin of many; many men have been her victims” (Proverbs 7:26 NLT). The list of names of the men who have become victims of this temptation is long and continues to grow. All because men continue to reject the wisdom that God offers. Even so-called godly men fall prey to the adulterous woman because they reject the wisdom God offers them. They refuse to listen to His Word. Instead, they choose to give in to their desires and satisfy their natural pleasures. They live for the moment and seek to meet the needs of their flesh, rather than live in the power of the Spirit. The wisdom of God could protect them, but they refuse to listen. Wisdom has its benefits, but only if we take advantage of all it has to offer. We have to want the wisdom of God more than we want the pleasures of this world.
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.