In the first section of Proverbs (chapters 1–9), the writer writes as a father urging his son to avoid sexual temptation and adultery, and be faithful if he is married. This issue is highlighted in these three passages, Proverbs 5:1–23; Proverbs 6:20–35; Proverbs 7:1–27.
Sexual temptation is an ever-present issue in the life of all, especially the young. Today, some might even see the single who abstains from sexual activity and the married couple who remain faithful within marriage as oddities, relics of the past. The Bible encourages active, pleasurable sexual activity within a marriage between man and woman, but warns against other kinds of sexual activity—such as that outside of marriage.
The two women whom the young man meets are “the wife of your youth” (Proverbs 5:18) and the prostitute (Proverbs 6:26)—also described as the adulteress (Proverbs 5:3, 20) and the immoral woman (Proverbs 6:24). These two women compete for the attention of the young man, and parallel the two women, Wisdom and Folly, who compete for his spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and volitional loyalty.
The father urges his son to be faithful to his wife just as he had urged his son to dine continually at Lady Wisdom’s table. The prostitute and adulteress are to be avoided, as is Madame Folly.
Like the devil himself, Folly and the prostitute are masters of subtle suggestion. They are always prowling around looking for victims to devour (Proverbs 5:3–4; Proverbs 6:25; Proverbs 7:10–12; see also 1 Peter 5:8). They seek to lure people into their trap—a trap that leads only to death (Proverbs 5:5; 6:27–28; 7:22–23, 26–27).
The Bible makes clear that the people of God are to resist Folly and the adulteress, and to follow Wisdom, who leads them in the way of God (see James 4:7).
How do we resist one and embrace the other? Proverbs makes it clear in 9:10: Fear the Lord! Reverence for God and His Word is the essential sword which God has provided for this battle against sexual temptation.
Church reformer John Calvin once wrote: “God’s speaking is opposed to all the clamours of Satan . . . The only unfailing security for the faithful is to acquiesce in God’s word.”