This may be the largest chunk of Proverbs that we have examined thus far. There are many preachers who have no trouble preaching through the details we find here. But it is contrary to my nature, a fault which I’ve not been able to overcome thus far in my ministry. And besides, the Holy Spirit has seen fit to make this warning as clear as crystal. There is little need for in-depth analysis by anyone. So, I’m changing gears just a little bit.
As I was reading these two paragraphs yesterday, I was struck with Solomon’s opening comments. “At the window of my house, I looked through my casement” – the lattice covering the window – you might apply that to the blinds we have today. And I “beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding.” I know that Solomon was given an extraordinary gift of wisdom, for the Bible tells us so. But was there anything specific which helped him determine that he was looking at a simpleton – someone “void of understanding?” If perhaps we can understand the criteria he used that evening, we might be enabled to see foolish people among our acquaintances. We might even be warned about foolishness in ourselves.
What sort of things give away the simpleton?
By the way, “the simple ones” refers to foolish people, and some commentaries suggest – “seducible people.” “Void” is a word which speaks of emptiness. “Void of understanding” therefore suggests an empty head. What gives such people away? How can an observer spot the empty-headed fool?
Well, such people put themselves in danger – they walk into the way of temptation. “I discerned …a young man… passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house.” In the Lord’s model prayer, He reminds us to plead, “lead us not into temptation.” This world is spiritually dangerous, and we are constantly stumbling into tempting situations. But the fool chooses the path which leads right past the weakest point in his character. When you see a person who deliberately risks his life or his soul, you’ve found a fool – a simpleton. Don’t try to pet the snarling, teeth-baring pit bull; and likewise don’t pet the whore and the harlot.
When did this drama unfold in Solomon’s sight? “In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night.” The fool frequently wastes the best part of the day with the worst possible activities. Maybe the best part of your day is the morning, and certainly the best time of the day to sleep is at night. But this young man, is spending time which could have been with the warmth of his family – on the street. When he should have been deep in sleep, he is awake in another person’s bed. The waste of time is often an indication of foolishness. And of course, YOU would never commit the sin described in this chapter. But in what other ways do you waste the precious time which the Lord has given you?
“In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night” – this also suggests obscurity – hiddenness. It might come at any point in the day, but especially at night, we are prone to think that we aren’t being observed. “My parents will never know that I’ve stolen this little trinket from its display at Walmart. No one will ever find out what I am watching on YouTube or the internet.” Remember – Solomon was a king. He reminds us that the King is watching from his window, high above the street and the harlot’s house. You may think no one knows what you are doing, but you are a fool – God knows. It is unlikely that this “young man void of understand” doesn’t know what temptation he is entering. But for the sake of an illustration, let’s pretend he’s so simple-minded he can’t discern his danger. “Behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot.” Can we say that there is a certain uniform which belongs to the whore, the harlot? It may not be politically correct to point out such things, but there used to be such a uniform. And even today, despite the missing label, foolish women wear the clothing of harlots and seducers. Some of them want men to look at them, and others are so blind that they can’t see what they are doing. I know that we shouldn’t blame the victim of the sexual assault, but quite often they have encouraged the attack by their risque attire. Only a fool walks into a “gay bar” or a “biker’s bar” or a tavern at all. And the foolish young man of this text, should know he’s walking into the arms of a harlot by the very clothing she is wearing.
Solomon looked down from his home in the sky and saw this youth fall under the woman’s “fair speech” and “flattering lips.” Verse 21 says that she forced him – forced him. How could she force him? For someone to be forced to do something he didn’t want to do requires weakness in the victim. Generally, the simpleton doesn’t recognize his own weakness. “Hey, I can handle one beer; one joint; one party at that girl’s house – the one with the bad reputation. I can say ‘no’ to any temptation, even to the second temptation. I can balance myself on the precipice between morality and immorality.” Maybe you have succeeded once or twice, but there is no guarantee of this third time. “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”
Verse 22 tells us that the simpleton is blind to the destruction before him. “He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as fool to the correction of the stocks.” But it’s only a little adultery, just a couple drinks and a few puffs; what harm is there in that? After a night in jail for impaired driving you may find your life totally and forever changed. That woman’s venereal disease may rob you of a future happy marriage or destroy the one you have. Rarely when on the edge of temptation….rarely on cusp of sin… do we seriously consider the consequences of our actions. Foolishness kicks in and we become as doomed as the steer in the stockyard.
Perhaps we should also consider the sins of this woman.
Verse 10 tells us that she has a “subtle heart.” That is a common word rarely translated “subtle.” It means protected; she has a well-guarded heart. She thinks she has disguised her purpose – “this fool, the police, Jehovah will never know my intent.” Actually everyone will know, but she probably doesn’t know herself.
Verse 11 says that she is loud, stubborn and wandering out of the path. Some foolish men are attracted to women who make themselves into spectacles. Some men void of understanding like loud women. They don’t realize that such women are unlikely to change their ways and as such they will always be approached by other foolish men. Paul exhorts us all – “study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands.” And Peter says especially to the ladies, Let your beauty “be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” I have found that most loud women are also stubborn. I can think of specific examples. Stubbornness is not a good feature on anyone – man, woman or child.
Another thing about the woman whom Solomon saw was that she was no common street-walker. Among other things, she had her peace offerings and had performed her religious duties. After all her church-going, offerings and prayer muttering, she considered herself protected. And she was apparently married, although she doesn’t speak with much respect of her husband. “The good man is not at home” – “The old man is out for a week.” “He has taken a bag of money with him and gone on a long journey. “He’s probably engaged in the same kind of immorality that I am.” Whatever her thinking, this “strange woman” is as guilty as the simple-minded young man in justifying her sin. Together, they explain away any wickedness in what they are planning on doing. But they aren’t the least bit successful – even Solomon from his widows could see the obvious.
How many fools, like these, are there in this world? Billions? Is anyone completely free from temptations like these or others? None. How important it is to recognize the signs of weakness and simple-mindedness?
Avoid the path toward temptation. Don’t give your heart and mind time to meditate on temptation. Remember that no sin can be hidden from the Lord. And no sin will go unpunished. Don’t adorn yourself with trappings of a sinful lifestyle. Recognize your weaknesses and seek the Lord’s strength. And remember what happened to Lot’s wife; Ahab, Herod and Absalom..