Proverbs: Primer for Princes (4)

The Strange Woman

You can almost see the wise and concerned father taking his son aside for a down-to-earth talk on some of the realities of life (was it David to Solomon, or Solomon to Rehoboam?) It must have weighed heavily upon his heart as it occupies a large place in several of the first seven chapters of Proverbs. In fact, it comprises a large majority of the “narrative” type sections of Proverbs. Here was something which would ruin princes and hinder their ablility to reign for God.

Now a word of caution before we examine the subject. Why “strange woman” and not a strange man? Is this part of the cultural and gender bias which critics claim is rife through the Bible? Is the problem of morality all one-sided? Nothing could be further from the truth. A father is instructing his son. Thus, it is a strange woman who would be his danger. If Proverbs had been the advice of a mother to her daughter, it would have been a strange man. So it is not gender bias, but simply the background of the Proverbs which explains the fact that it is the woman who is cast in the role of the temptress. Scripture, as well as experience, supports the fact that men must equally share responsibility in this area.

But our concerned father is giving his son wise counsel about the dangerous tactics which mark this “strange woman.”

Fair Speech

In ch 7:21, we read, “With her much fair speech she causeth him to yield.” You would probably refer to this as smooth talking or, more colloquially, a good pick-up line. She is able to reason with her target and to convince him of the legitimacy of their actions. You could easily marshal together some of the common arguments raised here, I’m sure. Her mouth is smoother than oil (ch 5:3). She talks a persuasive language.

“Everyone’s doing it.” Because it is common, it must be right, or so thinks the world. Society devolves to the lowest common denominator and whatever is going is good. The ever descending spiral of morality in our society means that what is permissible today becomes commendable and laudable tomorrow.

“The old morals are archaic. This is the 21st century!” Time may change man’s appreciation for truth; it may erode his sensitivity to sin and to God, but it has not changed God. He is the Same. If His values and attributes were to change, He would not be God. What the Word of God called sin in a past age, is still sin in the sight of God. There are areas, especially dealing with outward appearance such as dress, which do take the norm of society for a benchmark against which to describe what is modest and becoming, but we do not take the moral values of society as a benchmark. We take the unerring and unchanging Word of God.

“Love is really all that matters. It makes everything ‘right’.” Really? Are you sure it’s love? Infatuation and passion have a long, sordid history of passing for love. But even if it is truly love, is that the ultimate absolute? Does love supercede God’s truth and His very character?

Delilah combined fair speech and persistence in her successful attempt to gain Samson’s secret (Judges 16:16). These two elements endanger anyone whose vision, unlike Joseph’s, is not filled with God.

Flattering Words

Notice how in Proverbs 7:5 she “flatters with her words.” Now when someone has nice things to say about us and to us, our tendency is to want to please that person. We want to please such people not only as a means of repaying their kindness, but also to insure that the nice compliments keep coming. She makes him feel “special” by her words: “Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face” (ch 7:15). Building up another’s ego, making him feel “special,” placing him on a pedestal – all this is a cruel way of manipulating a person. To yield to flattery is to allow another to control and manipulate you. It hardly needs mentioning that a believer is to recognize only One as Lord of his life and to yield control to no one else.

Flattery tends to make us think more highly of the person doing the flattering than we perhaps might otherwise (ch 2:16). It causes us to drop our defenses and to yield to subtle manipulation.

Flirtatious Ways

Solomon says, “Watch out for her eyelids!” “Neither let her take thee with her eyelids” (Prov 6:25). What an expression! Don’t let her “take” you. It is a hunt: marking your target and going for it. Those sensuous, inviting, daring eyelids evoke a response of adventure, intrigue, daring, and thrill. Something within rises to the challenge or, more accurately, jumps at the bait. You go for the bait and find only a barb! You are snared; you are taken!

Flirting is an acceptable thing in our society. It is now an acquired skill for men as well as women, a compulsory course in the school of “growing-up.” It is accepted as the norm in the office, school, or social setting. It suggests a very suave person, someone who has a lot of self-confidence and poise. It dares you to respond.

Solomon warns that all this is the fruit of an evil person – man or woman. Stay away! Avoid jumping at the bait!

Flames of Passion

It is hard to select just one verse from the many sections in which he deals with the strange woman to highlight the danger of passion (ch 2:16-19; 5:3-14; 6:24-35; 7:5-23). Perhaps it is enough to say that in every instance there is the appeal to the sensuous (ch 7:17, 18). By her speech, her flirting, her flattering, her promises, and body language, she incites passion and excitement. When emotion is roused to fever pitch, reason and calm mental processes are abandoned. Solomon’s language is both graphic and tragic, “He goeth … as an ox to the slaughter” (ch 7:22).

False Expectations

The tempter promises an experience unlike any other (ch 7:13-21) – excitement, thrills, satisfaction; “Let us take our fill of love” (ch 7:18). What seems so fraught with the wine of life will become the bitter gall of disappointment. His very life is at stake. All usefulness for God, all potential is on the line (ch 7:23). Little wonder that Solomon insists, “Go not nigh the door of her house!” (ch 5:8). “Keep thy heart with all diligence” (ch 4:23).

Few dangers are as crippling to believers as this one. It will leave wounds and scars (ch 6:33), remorse, and regret (ch 5:11-13). “Be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long” (ch 23:17).