When it comes to the moment of enticement, when reason and passion compete, it is tragic that passion is often the victor. The author—Solomon—himself is a sobering example: even though he wrote all these proverbs on wisdom and sexual purity, “King Solomon . . . loved many foreign women” (1 Kings 11:1).
In today’s passage, the father urges his son to hold on tightly to the wise words that will keep him from the words of the seductress (Proverbs 7:1–5). This chapter then takes the form of a narrative featuring a youth (Proverbs 7:7), a seductress (Proverbs 7:10), and a list of victims (Proverbs 7:26).
The young man is described as naive and innocent (Proverbs 7:7)—exactly the type of person for whom the book of Proverbs is written (Proverbs 1:4). He is found in the company of other young and simple men, walking near the woman’s corner at dusk (Proverbs 7:7–9)—perhaps not the wisest place nor time to be, where temptation lurks.
Verses 10–21 tell us what happens next. The brazen woman, who has crafty intent, comes out to offer the youth food, a perfume-covered bed, and a place where they can “drink deeply of love till morning” (Proverbs 7:18). She tells him that he is the special one she has been looking for (Proverbs 7:15), and succeeds in leading him astray (Proverbs 7:21) into a one-night stand with no strings attached. Why not, when it seems so good!
Verses 22–23 are filled with pathos. The ox is led to the slaughter, the deer to the noose, the bird to the snare. That which seemed so good and inviting is a tragic entrapment. A young man, a crafty woman, and now, another victim added to the list!
And so the father warns his son to beware the consequences of his actions (Proverbs 7:24). There are always strings attached, he says. Look more carefully, scratch the silky surface, peel back the smooth talk, and smell beyond the perfumed bedroom—the pungent odour of death is there. Can’t you smell it, my son?
Don’t let your heart or body go to the woman’s house (Proverbs 7:25), the wise teacher warns, because you don’t want your name to appear on her long list of victims: “Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng” (Proverbs 7:26).
Verse 27 summarises the warning. The woman’s house, as popular and attractive as it may seem, is an expressway to the place of the dead. Using a variety of metaphors, the wise teacher and father urges the young man to look beyond her seductive appeal and to consider the consequences, so that when reason and passion compete, wisdom will be his sister and understanding his relative (Proverbs 7:4).