Yesterday, Solomon warned his son against adultery (Proverbs 6:20-35).
Today, Solomon tells his son a story to further illustrate the point.
The story line is as follows:
- Solomon’s introduction and exhortation to wisdom (vv. 1-5)
- The story of seduction
- Description of the victim (vv. 6-9)
- Description of the tempter (temptress) (vv. 10-12)
- The bait and trap (vv. 13-20)
- The victim’s fall and snare (vv. 21-23)
- Consequences of choices (vv. 24-27)
As Solomon introduces this story, he pleads with his son to not just hear his words, but fully embrace them. Notice Solomon’s verbs – all active, not passive: Keep, store up, guard, bind, write, say. Solomon is telling his son that wisdom and insight (v. 5) are precious treasures to be safeguarded, not casually tossed in the corner, to be picked up at a later time. In fact, wisdom, if held close, will save his life (v. 2)
Solomon goes on to tell his story. He first introduces the victim – a young man, hanging out with his buddies, out too late, not home where he should be. He is described as young, naive, and lacking common sense. Also, he and his buddies are out looking for trouble (v. 8). Solomon’s word choice indicates that the boys knew about this woman, and the goal was to go by her house, and hopefully catch of glimpse of her. She obviously was beautiful, and she dressed provocatively to draw attention to herself and her beauty. Solomon describes this woman and her reputation in vv. 11-12… unruly, defiant, out to see and be seen, never content.
What happens next is an unexpected event that the boys had not planned for – the woman comes out to meet them as they go by, and actually speaks to them. Solomon describes her attire and her intent – to draw attention to herself. Because the boys had not been taught by their dads like Solomon was teaching his son, they chose to be in the wrong place (Proverbs 5:8), and fell victim to her beauty and charm (Proverbs 5:3, Proverbs 6:24-25).
Reminding his son of the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39), Solomon continues the story by saying that the woman grabs one of the boys (like Potiphar’s wife grabs Joseph, Gen . 39:12), and kisses him. Rather than running away like Joseph, the boy is totally awestruck and captivated by what is happening.
Solomon then describes her pitch to the boy (my paraphrase): “I have just been to my church and we celebrated our special day. There was a big dinner, and there was a lot of food left over, so much so that I cannot eat it all before it goes bad. My husband is out of town for a long time. Are you hungry? Would you like something to eat? Would you please help me out? I will make it worth your time.”
And with no moral grounding, being in the wrong place, the bait is taken, the trap is sprung, and the victim is snared – the young man is now past the point of no return. Solomon says this might even cost him his life. Does that mean that this woman is a stalking serial killer that lures in boys and murders them? No, not at all. It means that this boy’s choices will lead him down a path that could ruin him, morally, spiritually, socially, or physically. Solomon says this to remind his son about the righteous wrath of a husband who catches someone sleeping with his wife (Proverbs 6:32-35).
Solomon closes with a summary of his teachings on the perils of adultery. Solomon’s advice? Steer clear of any situation that might lead to adultery, as it always ends badly for all.
We can certainly understand Solomon’s warning to avoid adultery in the physical sense. But what about the spiritual sense? Do we guard our heart against anything or anyone who might lure us away from the Lord? Material things? Money? Job? Title? Power? Other people? Others’ opinions of us? Something else?
Time to take inventory again…