I use a King James Version, Thompson Chain Bible for my study and preaching. It has marginal notes which can take me to topical studies at the back after the Book of Revelation. And beside first line of verse 13 is the number 3881 followed by the word “harlots” and a reference – 2:16. The editor of this Bible is telling me that the “foolish woman” of verse 13 is a whore, a harlot. And if I wanted to pursue this subject I just need to follow the chain of verses beginning with Proverbs 2:16 or I could turn to the back and find #3881 with a all the verses of #3881 printed out. But the point is – the editors think that this “foolish woman” is a harlot – an adulteress. And I am not going to disagree with Brother Thompson, whoever he was.
But the context gives us permission to allegorize this wicked, foolish woman. The last verse tells us that the foolish man who listens to this woman “knoweth not that the dead are there (in her house) and that her guests are in the depths of hell.” The verbs are in the present tense – “the dead ARE there; and that her guests ARE in the depths of hell.” While many of her customers will indeed end up in hell for eternity, that is not what it says.
And what is the opposite of “foolish”? What are some of that word’s antonyms? The first two offered by Google, the only two offered by Google, were “sensible” and “wise.” I can agree with those. The opposite to foolish include “sensible” and “wise.” But what if we go back to the first word in this chapter – “Wisdom hath builded her house.” She has sent out her maidens into the highways and hedges, inviting the simple to her feast. She is offering to foolish humanity the blessings of salvation and eternity as her guests. Would we be wrong if we contrasted this wise woman “Wisdom” and this “foolish woman”? Doing that we might allegorically suggest that this foolish woman was the opposite of Christ – Satan. We might say that she is the opposite of spirituality – she is the world and the flesh – as well as the Devil. Or we might say that she is simple stupidity.
Let’s lay aside the details of this woman’s sin for the sake of a general application. Let’s just say – here is a wicked woman who has been tasked by Satan to keep the simpletons from listening to the servants of Wisdom. She has a hundred ploys and tricks to accomplish her purpose. And she has certain characteristics, some of which Solomon brings to our attention.
Here are some women to avoid.
“A foolish woman is clamourous.” Are you like me? I have grown up with general definitions in my head which I haven’t verified for years. Sometimes my perception of a word is spot on, but other times I’m only in the ball park. Many times, I can’t give you a dictionary definition of a word – only my foggy idea. What does the word “clamourous” mean to you? To me it has always meant “noisy, boisterous.” The first definition in Google is “making a loud and confused noise.” In the Bible the Hebrew word is used 34 times and only once translated “clamourous.” Most often it is rendered “roar” followed by “noise.” It is also translated “tumult,” “uproar” and “loud.” It would seem that my old definition has been close enough. From this verse, I think we can say that a foolish woman is loud and obnoxious. A foolish woman wants to be the center of attention, and when people are looking the other way, she boisterously asserts herself. She is the opposite of humble and quiet. What if we read the verse backwards? “A clamourous woman is foolish?” That may not be politically correct, but is it accurate?
Can you picture any women like this? A month ago we got a small package with gifts from one of Judy’s sisters. When I opened it, I found a nice big coffee mug with the word “Kindness” emblazoned around its middle. There was another for Judy which said, “Love.” And then there was a note, “Dear David and Judy, I’m so sorry. I bought these mugs before I realized they produced under the name “Ellen Degeneres.’” Does anyone need a nice coffee mug, I seem to have one too many?
There are hundreds of loud, obnoxious, agenda-driven women in this world who can very easily wear the label found in this verse. They are found in the entertainment industry, in the news media, in politics, even in religion. Stay away from the appealing – but clamourous – woman.
Another kind of woman to avoid is the simple one – the empty headed one. Solomon’s example is loud and boisterous, but in reality she has nothing worth sharing. She may be extremely funny. She may be rich. She may have influence and power. But what she has for the foolish man who passes by is either wicked or useless – pointless. Ask her what she thinks of herself and you’ll hear lots of self-congratulatory comments. But what is her passion and purpose? To turn the simpletons away from Wisdom. And why? Because she is simple herself – seduced – she has been deceived.
In verse 14 we see her in places where she should not be. Instead of working at her loom, her spinning wheel, or her pottery wheel, she is sitting idly on her porch boisterously calling to people passing by. Or instead of being at home, raising and teaching her children, she is seated in the city’s high places. She is in government, usurping the authority of her husband or taking authority from other good men. She is drawing the lights and cameras to herself, entertaining and often misleading. Some of these foolish women are in pulpits pretending to be servants of God. Ignoring denominational titles, can you picture one woman pastor or church leader who is a Biblical literalist? As long as they ignore some of the simple declarations of the Word of God, they have nothing to teach.
Oh, but they are appealing, with beautiful siren voices calling “passengers who go right on their ways” – verse 15. Why do some of the cable news channels use beautiful, surgically enhanced women to read the news? Because they are more appealing to the eye than Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley But from what little I have seen of cable news, those women are not meekly reading the headlines. They are often aggressively attacking those whose opinions differ from theirs. They can be described as “clamourous.” I can’t listen to them, whether I agree with their position or not.
What women should we avoid, whether we are men or women ourselves? We should avoid those women who try to make pleasure more appealing than righteousness. Those who say or imply, “Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” I don’t keep up with that sort of thing, but how long was Ellen Degeneres in the public eye before she “came out of the closet”? Such people suggest that secret sins are the sweetest sins. They suggest that secret sins aren’t sins at all. And they think that when they get enough of society to agree, they will get rid of the God who says He will judge those secret sins.
These “women” and they are not all female, say to us “We have what you really want.” And the sad fact is – the simpletons of the world do want what these people offer. The fallen nature which inhabits us all, yearns for these pleasures. But the person who listens to her, “knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.”
Solomon reminds us of people we need to avoid.
And he points out the sort of people we must not become.