The book of Proverbs is one which introduces a new method of instruction in the Bible. In this book Solomon uses a short sentence, generally unrelated to its predecessor, which contains a complete idea. Proverbs contains observations and instruction in nearly every area of the life of the child of God. Many of these ideas are easily understood by the youngest of school children.
The author, Solomon, is a man who is intriguing to most of us. Our earliest Sunday School memories bring us back to Solomon and his wisdom. He was also important in secular history as a rich, powerful leader of an important nation. Solomon in all his splendor was also a humble child of God who could recall his own past sins. He could then warn others of his failings in the past and give advice for the future.
Chapter seven contains a number of these short proverbs, but it also contains a parable. Like other chapters. Solomon gives a warning to young men against the sin of adultery. Solomon, who was the possessor of one thousand wives and concubines is no mean authority on the subject. He does not speak as the hypocrite, however, but as the sinner who knows and can well warn.
Thus, to Solomon’s parable.
Solomon stood at his window in the evening to view the activities of the city. Below him he saw a group of young men, “simple ones” he called them. We may understand these young men to be representative of young men of most generations. They were not retarded, nor were they lacking in worldly knowledge. They were “street-wise”, but foolish in their knowledge of the ways and effects of sin.
One of these took leave of his fellows to look for something to do that evening. Idleness was his way of life in the evening and a search for excitement was his main activity.
At this same time, but some distance down the street, Solomon saw a woman also looking for excitement. She also was idle, but had a particular goal in mind for the evening. Although she was dressed “with the attire of an harlot”, she was from all outward appearances a well-respected woman. Her husband was a merchant, gone away on business, and would not be back for some time. Her attire might almost be excused as simply being flashy or quite in the style of the rest of the world.
Of course, the two met. She made certain of that. She threw herself upon the young man most immodestly upon seeing him, and declared that he was the very young man she had been waiting for. Really? Me? How flattering to our simple young man.
Yes, he was the very young man. Not because he was handsome or because of his pleasant personality, but because he was simple. Any one of his fellows could also have filled the bill.
She quickly explained to the young man that he had nothing to fear from her. She was, she said, sincere in her speech, having that day been to the temple to pay her vows and to worship. She could now cover any new evil with what she had paid that day.
Solomon saw the young man resist her initial advances. No, he didn’t want to go home with her. But, “with the glittering of her lips she forced him”. She described the beauties of her house and especially of her bed. She told him that surely they would not be found out. She promised him love and the adventure that he sought that evening.
The young man followed the woman to her house. Perhaps he had not looked for something as serious as adultery. He had wanted only a little fun, nothing of consequence, that evening. His conscience had been pricked, but certainly not enough to overcome his earthly desires. “He went after her straightway as an ox goeth to the slaughter.”
A parable with this plot could be made much fun of today. Imagine the delight of a modern audience seeing a play involving a reversal of roles, a somewhat timid young man being enticed by a subtle woman. The woman would certainly be the heroine with the young man being a near hero, somewhat befuddled, but altogether pleased with the night’s results. A mockery would be made of sin.
Solomon saw the consequence of that man’s activities, however. To Solomon, this young man had nothing to brag about the next evening to his friends. Rather, he had been led into a sin, in which Solomon saw the young man as gone, and the young man “knoweth not that it is for his life.”