May 10th 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.

Next we have the picture of the seductress, and a description of the tactics she em- ploys to ensnare her hapless prey. She also is restless (12) but hers is the restlessness of the evil one 'going about seeking whom he may devour' (1 Peter 5:8). Kidner's terse analysis can hardly be bettered: 'First, comes shock treatment (13); second, a circum- stantial story - it is a special day, a celebration; it would be unthinkable to refuse (14); third, flattery: he is the very one she had to find (15); fourth, sensuous appeal (16-18); fifth, reassurance 19, 20). The whole is pressed home with a flood of words (21)'. 'Straightway' in 22 is better rendered, as in RSV, as 'all at once', the idea being that up to a point he has been indecisive, then all at once that indecision yields to the seduction of lust, and he follows her, not knowing that it will cost him his life (23). The important thing in all this distasteful picture is to see how such a tragedy takes place. It is all enact- ed on the level of the senses. There is no exercise of the mind or the understanding from beginning to end. He is a young man without sense (7), i.e. he lives by his feelings, and feelings are the only criterion to which he will give heed or credence. They are his final court of appeal. He is not prepared to listen to any reasonable advice or warning, in- deed, he is not amenable to it. One has generally to wait until the mad fit has passed over before any heed will be given - and often, alas, it is too late then for much to be done, except in terms of a sad salvage operation. This is just as true in the spiritual paral- lel as in the literal, and in tomorrow's Note we will look at the lessons for spiritual life in this picture.