Practical Reflections on Proverbs 7

Proverbs 7  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 5
In this seventh chapter we have another aspect of Wisdom's ways. It is not open wickedness in which the will is active against which it directs its remonstrances; it speaks of the snares laid for those who have no intention to do evil, but whose lusts and passions lay them open to those snares. Hence, the soul is called upon to be previously diligently filled with the precepts and counsels of wisdom that it may be in no way taken in them.
This is a very important point. It is not sufficient (how often has the Christian found it!) not to have any intention to do evil, nor even to have the intention to do right. We are in a world of snares and temptations. We have to watch and pray lest we enter into temptation—to have the soul filled with the divine things of wisdom, and the thoughts of wisdom guiding the mind and the path, so that the allurements of evil and Satan's wiles take no hold upon us. The mind lives in another sphere. It is indeed another nature to which evil is offensive, and which detects it in the allurement itself and deals with that as evil instead of being attracted by it. The precepts and light of divine wisdom fill and guide the thoughts; and evil is evil—is contrary to the state of the soul, walking in lowliness and obedience, not as fools but as wise, simple concerning evil indeed, but wise concerning that which is good. The words of counsel, implying as we have seen obedience and subjection of heart, are to be kept and the commandments of a father laid up. And they are to be kept as well as laid up, and treasured, delighted in, kept before one's mind on the fingers and tables of the heart, and confessed and owned as that with which we are of kin, to keep us from the flatteries and allurements of sin.
The young man void of understanding went, note, the way of her house. It was not a deliberate purpose as verse 21 shows; but the path of wisdom and her precepts would never have led him there—would have led and kept him elsewhere. He followed at least the idleness of his heart. This is a solemn warning. Nor is there light on this path. He was not walking in that light in which a man does not stumble. Not is the conscience ever really good there. It is not an actually bad conscience, but a good conscience is always in the presence of God. “He that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in God.” Here there were passions ready to be ensnared, without a safeguard; and a conscience which darkness suited better than light, which was not walking in the light; idleness of will which had shame, in a measure, of its own ways. It was not a path in the broad daylight of God. And, oh! how great a thing it is, and how blessed a thing I Look at the path of Jesus: where was that? We have greatly to seek this.
But now we have the boldness of a hardened conscience—a terrible thing. A defiled one with a broken heart Christ can meet; but a bold one is a shocking thing. There is no home to such a heart. But the idleness of passion is no safeguard against its ways. It can flatter, awaken lust, be ready to minister to it to win its ways. It reckons on fear in the unhardened, though it has none. It has its means, however false, of guarding against it; for one is a mean thing even if hardened. There was no “good-man” at all. It was naked vice; but stolen waters are sweet, though sin fills with fear. And the idle soul is caught in snares its will did not seek; but it was none the less the path of death. Nor is it the only snare the idle soul may meet. The soul that does not watch and pray (that is not filled with wisdom's ways and wisdom's thoughts, kept by God's presence) will meet temptation somewhere. Still here it is the snare of the strange woman. Her house is the way to hell. She hath cast down many wounded, and strong men are all her slain. It is not human strength that resists temptation and passion; and such temptation has been the ruin of many who in this world were mighty and even morally mighty. They have fallen under the snare and were ruined; those who otherwise boast themselves have through this been weakness and brought to ruin. The wise man presses it on him who had ears to hear.
Hebrew scholars make here a word which usually means “strong” to mean “numerous.” I confess I do not see why, nor how it can be sound with col—all. Many wounded has she made to fall, and strong ones are all her slain. I do not see the sense of numerous are all her slain; but that strength is of no avail against the snare, figuratively to show the danger and how powerful the snare is. To say that all her slain were strong ones is every way to the purpose. However, this I must leave to abler Hebraists than myself. Only the Hebrew word is everywhere else used for mighty or strong. The Authorized version gives “strong,” but turns “all” into “many.” I confess “strong ones are all her slain” is much more to the moral purpose of the sentence than anything else.