11th May 2018 – Proverbs 7:10-23

10 And behold, the woman meets him,
    dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart.
11 She is loud and wayward;
    her feet do not stay at home;
12 now in the street, now in the market,
    and at every corner she lies in wait.
13 She seizes him and kisses him,
    and with bold face she says to him,
14 “I had to offer sacrifices,
    and today I have paid my vows;
15 so now I have come out to meet you,
    to seek you eagerly, and I have found you.
16 I have spread my couch with coverings,
    coloured linens from Egyptian linen;
17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh,
    aloes, and cinnamon.
18 Come, let us take our fill of love till morning;
    let us delight ourselves with love.
19 For my husband is not at home;
    he has gone on a long journey;
20 he took a bag of money with him;
    at full moon he will come home.”
21 With much seductive speech she persuades him;
    with her smooth talk she compels him.
22 All at once he follows her,
    as an ox goes to the slaughter,
or as a stag is caught fast
23     till an arrow pierces its liver;
as a bird rushes into a snare;
    he does not know that it will cost him his life.

The literal infatuation spoken of in these verses is sometimes paralleled in spiritual situations, as when young and impressionable people are influenced and swayed by a strong-minded personality in such a way that they 'go overboard' in some dangerous or mad excess, sometimes to the peril of their souls and of their sanity. One has known of women of magnetic personality, strong and masterful, assuming and arrogating to themselves an authority and leadership in spiritual things that Scripture says belongs properly to man, and gathering round themselves numbers of easily led (and even more easily misled) people and exercising an undue authority over them detrimental to their truest spiritual welfare. And, of course, the fascination in such a situation is a paramount factor - it is a fascination absent from the regular provision of the established means of grace, because the latter is not concerned to fascinate, but to build up; children will always be more attracted by sweets and ice-cream than by porridge, meat and potatoes, but sensible parents know which is better for their children's true welfare. Christians who hanker after spiritual titillations in preference to honest-to-goodness, down-to-earth nurture are really showing themselves to be like the young man 'without sense' in the passage before us, and are lacking in gumption. If the message of Proverbs could be learned at depth by Christian young people today, it would deliver them from both the literal and spiritual danger underlined in these verses, and would keep them anchored and give them balance in spiritual life. Which brings us back to the truth expressed in 1-5 which some of us have come to believe, in our ministry, that there is no substitute for a steady diet of the word of God.