Proverbs chapters two and four through seven have very detailed descriptions of a wayward woman, a woman who entices men to sleep with her. I think it is important to see what we can learn from these passages because any time there are this many verses on one subject it’s like God has put flashing lights around a billboard and we need to pay attention. Also King Solomon wrote these instructions for his sons and King Solomon certainly had the background to know what a seductive woman is like. First Kings Chapter eleven tells us that he had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines, now that’s a large harem. Besides there are so many distractions in this day for spouses and we need to be aware of the trap of adultery. Marriages are falling apart because someone falls into that trap and sadly divorce often follows. Solomon wrote this warning to his son’s generations ago but I believe that it is still pertinent information for all of us today. Let’s look at some of these chapters.
My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and to insight, “You are my relative.” They will keep you from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words. At the window of my house I looked down through the lattice. I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who had no sense. He was going down the street near her corner, walking along in the direction of her house at twilight, as the day was fading, as the dark of night set in. Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent. (She is unruly and defiant, her feet never stay at home; now in the street, now in the squares, at every corner she lurks.) She took hold of him and kissed him and with a brazen face she said: “Today I fulfilled my vows, and I have food from my fellowship offering at home. So I came out to meet you; I looked for you and have found you! I have covered my bed with colored linens from Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. Come, let’s drink deeply of love till morning; let’s enjoy ourselves with love! My husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey. He took his purse filled with money and will not be home till full moon.” With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life. Now then, my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say. Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths. Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death. Proverbs 7:1-27, (New International Version or NIV).
The first thing I notice in this passage is how to avoid the snare of adultery. Notice two things, two pieces of information that is necessary; wisdom and insight. How do we gain wisdom and insight?
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10, (NIV)
So to attain wisdom and insight (knowledge of God) we begin by fearing the Lord. Does this mean that we are afraid? Maybe, but not exactly fear as in afraid of judgement. I think that we should all fear our Lord because of the power and wonder and glory and all the things Jesus is capable of doing. If you fear judgement then that is better than not fearing judgement from God but reverence is also a part of this definition. Fear of the Lord brings about wisdom and insight which according to Proverbs chapter seven will keep us from wandering into the dangerous territory of adultery.
The second thing I notice is that this woman, this wayward woman is a social butterfly who doesn’t stay at home and is actually on the hunt for a lover. She is married but she doesn’t honor her vow of marriage. She is looking for love anywhere she can find it. She also dresses provocatively and feels no shame in such attire. She watches for her prey and is bold to approach and cunning with her smooth speech and with her eyes. In other words she knows how to seduce, how to flirt, and how to draw male attention to herself.
Something that surprises me is that she is religious. Notice that she has paid her vows and has food from her offering at home. I would have to do a little research to find out what exactly this is talking about but the implication here is that she follows some type of religion. To be honest with all of you I have seen this type of woman in action. She uses religion as an enticement. The logic usually goes something like this: We can make love with each other and be forgiven because King David did with Bathsheba and God forgave them so God will forgive us too, in time. If we skip to the end of this passage we see a different kind of ending than God’s forgiveness.
Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death. Proverbs 7:27, (NIV).
Notice how Solomon described the poor young man who succumbed to the adulteress. He says that the guy followed her like an ox going to the slaughter-house or a deer being shot with an arrow or like a bird stepping into a trap. The poor guy is not realizing that a few hours of fleshly pleasure will cost him his life. I think in our day this is a fatal mistake, when someone thinks that adultery doesn’t do any harm to a marriage. In Proverbs chapter six Solomon warns his sons of the consequences of an affair with a married woman.
For a prostitute can be had for a loaf of bread, but another man’s wife preys on your very life. Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished. People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his hunger when he is starving. Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold, though it costs him all the wealth of his house. But a man who commits adultery has no sense; whoever does so destroys himself. Blows and disgrace are his lot, and his shame will never be wiped away. Proverbs 6:26-33, (NIV).
There definitely are consequences to having an affair. Whether you are male or female the sin will not go unpunished. Notice that shame and disgrace comes as a result of adultery and your good reputation is destroyed, it’s wiped out! Proverbs chapter two adds to the description.
Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words, who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God. Surely her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead. None who go to her return or attain the paths of life. Proverbs 2:16-19, (NIV).
Notice that last sentence…none, not a few or some or even many but none who go to her ever return and do not live. This really helps to understand the hold that adultery can have on people I mean some act like they are on drugs or under some kind of spell. Solomon also wrote in another book of the Old Testament what he found from personal experience.
I directed my mind to know, to investigate and to seek wisdom and an explanation, and to know the evil of folly and the foolishness of madness. And I discovered more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are chains. One who is pleasing to God will escape from her, but the sinner will be captured by her. Ecclesiastes 7:25-26, (NIV).
Solomon certainly had a lot of education about women to pass on to his sons and perhaps the reason he has so many warnings about the wayward woman and staying away from her is because he knew what the consequences would bring. His description, “more bitter than death” is enough for me to listen to his warnings. Why do so many men today not heed such warnings is the questions most woman want to know. But there is a way to avoid the trap of adultery in another verse from Proverbs.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. Proverbs 4:23-27, (NIV).
Guard your heart and you will keep away from the snare of adultery. The heart is where we need to place a guard to avoid committing adultery. The eyes see but the heart desires and so we need to guard our heart and realize that nothing escapes the eyes of God, nothing! The sad part of all of this is that a wife can’t guard her husband’s heart nor can a husband guard his wife’s heart. Each is responsible for guarding their own heart. When one fails to guard the heart then sin creeps in. Oh it may take years before sin becomes fully entrenched but bit by bit, sin left unchecked, unrepentant, and unguarded will destroy a person, a marriage, and a family.
If you have been the victim of a wayward woman then know that you are not alone. There are many of us and not all victims are women some victims are husbands. My hope and prayer for you would be that God will comfort you and will help you see why you became the victim. God will help you forgive your spouse but not all marriages will be restored. The hold an adulteress has over the wayward spouse is powerful because the enemy wants families to be destroyed. That is the number one goal of Satan to destroy Christians and Christian families. If God allows restoration of your marriage I am truly happy for you and I acknowledge that you have done a lot of work within your marriage to repair trust and love once more. But most of us don’t get that happy ending so for the rest of you I want you to know that God will heal you and teach you to forgive if you submit to Jesus Christ in loving obedience. Our happy ending may take a while but I am convinced that it will come. Hang in there!