Proverbs 7:21-27

Proverbs 7:21-27 "With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks;  Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life. Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death."
Baptist Church East Aurora NY
There is a tremendous amount of skepticism and distrust within society, and for good reason.  Mankind will do anything to get what he wants, especially when it comes to power and wealth.  There aren’t enough trees in the world to provide the pages necessary to record every lie, scam or cheat in human history.  At some point, every man, woman, boy and girl have experienced some sort of loss at the hands of trickery.  As infants and toddlers, we are raised to trust our parents, grandparents and teachers.  This early instruction breeds an inclination to trust people.  In short time, however, we typically learn the hard way that not everyone can be trusted.  When the classmate tricks us into giving him our lunch or when the neighborhood girl tricks us into giving her our allowance, we begin to rethink trust.  The longer we live, the more scams we see.  The longer we live, the more deception we see.  The longer we live, the less trusting we become.

While we typically become skeptical of others in time, there is one person we almost never become skeptical of.  We learn to distrust salesmen, politicians, family members and the media but there is one person we never learn to distrust.  Who is this trustworthy soul?  Who always seems to be credible?  Who always seems to be thinking straight?  Who always seems to have the right motive?  Who always seems to be telling the truth?  Who always seems to be honest?  Who never gives us a reason to question them?  As the old-time Christian chorus goes, “It’s ME, it’s ME, it’s ME Oh Lord!”

We question everyone else’s motive but our own.  We question everyone else’s sense but our own.  We question everyone else’s intention but our own.  We distrust everyone else’s heart but our own.  We’re skeptical of everyone’s else mindset but our own.  Sadly, this common approach to life is one of the greatest flaws in the human soul.

Solomon told the tragic story of Proverbs 7 to his son and evidently, to all of his children knowing full well what they would be thinking at the end of it.  He knew that they would be thinking what most of our children say when we share similar stories with them.  He knew that they would be thinking what most of us said when our parents shared similar stories with us.  He knew that his kids would be thinking that they wouldn’t be fooled by this “strange woman.”  It is within our nature to give ourselves too much credit.  It is within our nature to think poorly of others and highly of ourselves.  Hearing this story told, Solomon’s children easily developed a mental picture of an evil woman with what they saw in their minds as obviously evil intentions.  For that reason, they convinced themselves that such evil would be easy to detect and therefore, avoid.  They focused on the woman in the story instead of on the young man in the story.  They didn’t think about where the young man’s mind was at.  They didn’t think about why he was out in the streets at night.  They naturally assumed that if they were in his shoes, that they would have no problem detecting her evil intentions and then easily walking away from her.  They gave themselves too much credit.

Given the nature and details of the villain in the story, it would be natural for Solomon’s audience to focus on her as the problem in this young man’s demise.  Given her power over the young man, it would be natural for the listener to credit her deception as the cause of the young man’s moral failure.  Solomon wanted to make sure that his children understood who the problem really was in the story – it wasn’t the “strange woman,” it was the “young man void of understanding.”  Deception from without is not our greatest threat in life - deception from within is our greatest threat in life.  The strange woman’s SEDUCTION in Proverbs 7 is not the focus on Solomon’s lesson – the young man’s INDISCRETION is the focus of Solomon’s lesson.

Long before this woman TRICKED the young man into sexual immorality, he TRICKED HIIMSELF into finding no harm with being curious about sexual immorality. 

Long before this woman DECEIVED the young man into sexual immorality, he DECEIVED HIMSELF into thinking that there would be no danger in perusing the dark streets with the hopes of observing prostitution.

Like so many men in our world today, this young man had no intention of committing sexual sin when he went out for what he thought was a harmless stroll.  He was merely curious and wanted to see with his eyes what he had imagined with his mind.  Like so many women in our world today, this young man had no intention of committing adultery with a married soul when he engaged in what he thought was a harmless conversation.  He was merely curious of what she had to say and what she was like.  On that night, he had no intention of doing such wickedness and more importantly, he had no idea that it would be so difficult to resist.  His mistake was not ignorance about strange women – his mistake was ignorance about young men.  His mistake was not ignorance regarding the deceptive heart of evil people – his mistake was ignorance regarding the deceptive heart that beat within him.

Solomon was not teaching his son that he needed to be strong in order to resist and defeat evil women.  He was teaching his son that he needed to be aware of his weaknesses with evil women.  Solomon described this woman as irresistible and unbeatable.  He described her seductive power over men in the same way that the Bible describes a man’s physical power over women.  In verse 21, he wrote that she “caused him to yield” or MADE HIM GIVE IN to her invitation with her words.  In that same verse, Solomon wrote that she “FORCED HIM” to have sex with her.  That is exactly how the Bible speaks about a rape when describing a man’s sexual crime against a woman.  Solomon went on to describe this woman as a butcher leading an unintelligent cow to the slaughter.  He described her as an armed guard leading a fool to the stocks.  When summarizing the story, he made it clear to his kids that the young man was no match for this woman and that it had little to do with her seduction.  He was no match for this woman because he was so weak toward women.  He was described as a clueless bird flying into a net that he didn’t see.  He lacked UNDERSTANDING about life.  He lacked UNDERSTANDING about deceivers and scammers.  Most importantly, he lacked UNDERSTANDING about HIMSELF.  This young man didn’t lose his purity because he was young. This young man didn’t lose his purity because he had no will power or back bone.  After all, Solomon told Rehoboam that this woman had destroyed “MANY STRONG MEN.”  This young man lost his purity because he tricked himself into thinking he could handle anything that came his way that dark night.
  
If we focus on the threats around us and never acknowledge the threat within us, we will make the same mistake that this young man made.  If we see deception in everyone but in ourselves, we will fall prey to our own foolishness just as he did.  Paul told Corinthians believers, “Let no man deceive himself” (1 Corinthians 3:18).  Jeremiah 17:9 must never be forgotten as it tells us that “the HEART is DECEITFUL above ALL THINGS, and desperately wicked: who can KNOW it?”  Rather than focus on detecting deception around you, focus on detecting deception within you.  Rather than focus on identifying external threats to your morality, focus on identifying internal threats to your morality.  What are you most vulnerable to?  What are you most susceptible to?  What are you weak to resist?  What are you weak to deny?  Those things are the things that will cause you the greatest risk and harm in life. Those are the things that Satan will tempt you with.  Those are the things that you shouldn’t try to fight – those are the things that you should try to AVOID.

The emphasis of this lesson is not on the danger of the stranger as much as it is the absence of self-awareness.  The emphasis of this lesson is not on avoiding the bedroom as much as it is AVOIDING the STREET CORNER.  The moral of the story is NOT “Don’t be fooled by an evil person” – the moral of the story is “DON’T FOOL YOURSELF.”  Solomon finished the lesson by telling his children, “let not THINE HEART decline to her ways” (vs. 25).  This is consistent with what he teaches all throughout the book of Proverbs as our spiritual success hinges on how well we take care of our heart.  The health of the body hinges on the health of the physical heart.  The health of the soul hinges on the health of the spiritual heart.  Just three chapters prior to this lesson’s conclusion, Solomon penned these words: Keep THY HEART with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”  There is nothing more influential to our spiritual success than our OWN HEART.  There is nothing more important to our morality than our OWN HEART.  The hearts of evil men and evil women are far less important and far less influential to our morality than are our own hearts.  Know your heart and you will know who to avoid.  Know your heart and you will know what to avoid.  

Sadly, Solomon stands as the ultimate example of how important it is to know ourselves and to diligently keep our hearts.  He knew how powerful women can be, especially when dealing with men with sexual and romantic weaknesses.  He knew certain women can force certain men to do whatever they want them to do.  He knew certain men would be powerless to resist women.  At some point in his life, he failed to know his own heart and avoid women.  At some point in his life, Solomon thought too highly of himself.  Solomon thought all of the wisdom God gave him would be enough to manage hundreds of women.  He failed to be honest with himself.  He deceived himself.  The wisest man on earth fooled himself.  He tricked himself into thinking he would be strong enough to resist a woman’s spiritual influence on him.  He didn’t realize that wisdom doesn’t take away weaknesses – he didn’t realize that wisdom merely exposes and highlights weaknesses.  Had Solomon been honest with himself, he would’ve admitted that he was a one-woman guy who needed to severely limit time with women.  Had he been honest with himself, he would’ve known that he was a one-woman guy who needed to guard his eyes and his heart from pretty ladies.  Scripture tells us that he would be no match for his 700 wives and 300 concubines.  They would FORCE him to do what they wanted him to do and it would come at a tragic price. Nehemiah 13:26, “Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless EVEN HIM did outlandish [foreign or “strange”] women CAUSE TO SIN.”

Your biggest enemy isn’t a bad strange man or an evil strange woman.  Your biggest enemy isn’t the wicked world in which you live.  Your biggest enemy isn’t even Satan himself.  Don’t fool yourself – your biggest enemy is your weaknesses within you.  Understand yourself and let that understanding guide you out of harm’s way and into the way of holiness.  When it comes to your spirituality, work smarter, not harder.”  

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