This past week we celebrated the Fourth of July with a large group of people. At one point, I happened to turn in the direction of a man telling a young boy a joke. The joke was crude and inappropriate even among adults, but this was spoken to a younger child. I looked on as the dad, who was part of the group, seemed to laugh and sense nothing inappropriate about what was said.
In Proverbs 7 we have the opposite situation going on. As it begins, a father is instructing his son to keep his words and to treasure his commandments. To do so is life and to fail to do so will lead to death. In this case, death is the result of a young man being seduced by the forbidden woman.
The father goes on to tell of how he has seen through the latice of his home a young man who passes along the street corner and turns by the forbidden woman's house. She rises to meet him in the street. She has made herself attractive, prepared her home, and begins to seduce the young man with loud words. She invites the young man in and tries to displace his fears by assuring him that she has offered her sacrifices and paid her vows and that her husband would not return till the full moon.
Then in verse twenty-one we read these words, "With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. At once he follows her..." These words catch my attention. Already, the father has said that this man lacks sense (7). He demonstrates this by passing by the wrong place at the wrong time. We are told that he passes "along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house." Notice the words, "to her house". This seems to imply that because this young man has already made a couple decisions, the outcome is a foregone conclusion. Because he goes to her corner and turns onto the street where she lives, he has taken the road to her house.
Yet, despite this we are told that she has to seduce him with his speech, persuade him and compel him to come in. He is not a youth that arrives here simply because she is pretty (10). Nor is he compeled only by something physical (13). The primary reason that he will go in to her is because he lacks sense. What little sense he has still needs to be overcome for her to succeed. Therefore, through her speech she seductively persuades and compels him to enter.
At this point, he is like an ox going to the slaughter, or a stag caught fast, or like a bird that rushes into a snare (29). Therefore, the young man "at once" follows her and it will cost him his life (22-23). Whatever hesitation he had, it has now been overcome. A few moments ago he needed to be compeled and persuaded, but now he follows her at once. Even more sadly is the fact that what he once knew to some degree that this was wrong but now he has forgotten. A new ethic has emerged. A new worldview has been formed. He once hesitated, he once was not persuaded, he once needed to be compelled; but now he does not even know that it will cost him his life (23). As if, this young man has had a change of mind and even a change of heart.
Therefore, the father says, "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 arew a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death." (24-27)
You can hear the urgency in this fathers instruction. Watch your heart! Do not turn to her ways or to her path. Why? For her victims are laid low, and they are a mighty throng. To give your heart to this is to lower all of you to Sheol which will lead to death. To give your heart to this will effect your heart and mind and soul; and these are the very things that are to be given to the Lord.
The seductive woman is not the only thing that results in this. Sin is crouching at our door at all times. We must beware of it. I have seen people who once knew the danger of drugs, who now approve of it because they have something to gain by it. Sin entices, compels and persuades us that our mind needs to be changed, our heart needs to be convinced, and our memory needs to be erased of the consequences of sin.
We would all do well to heed the wisdom in Proverbs 7.