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David Hubbard: Scripture Outline

Introductory Call to Attention—Positive (7:1–5)

Illustration from Personal Observation (7:6–23)

Concluding Call to Attention—Negative (7:24–27)

The structure of the speech reflects the teacher’s urgency. It begins and ends with calls to attention—the first positive, pointing to the benefits of a close attachment to wisdom and the sexual continence which that attachment will bring (vv. 1–5); the second negative, listing the deadly results awaiting those who buy the slick coaxings of the aristocratic harlot (vv. 24–27). Between the two calls is an extended description of the occasion of the seduction (vv. 6–9), the tactics of the temptress (vv. 10–20), and the response of the man who is the target of her wiles (vv. 21–23). “Chastity always makes sense” is the teacher’s premise, and he makes the seduction especially attractive to pound home his point.  An outline of the speech for teaching or preaching might look like this:

Introduction — Rely on wisdom in times of temptation 7:1–5

Immorality is deceptive 7:6–9

It is more apparent to others than to us

It blocks the flow of our common sense

Immorality is hurtful to others 7:10–20

The woman is degraded by her conduct

The husband is betrayed by her infidelity

Immorality is death-dealing in its outcome 7:21–23

The overture is bright with promise

The epilogue is dark with defeat

Conclusion — Reject the seductive opportunity; it is a dance of death 7:24–27

Lindsay Wilson: This warning example is meant to make clear to the implied reader that the path of adultery, or sexual intimacy outside of the God-given context of marriage, is extreme folly. What you think you see is not what you get. The outward form or enticements are not matched by the reality – it will cost him his life (v. 23). Furthermore, folly in other areas of daily living will also lead to a dead end, in contrast to the gift of life offered on the pathway to wisdom. The solution is to embrace wisdom (v. 4) and prize her teaching (vv. 1–3), but not to stray from her paths into the way of folly (v. 25).

Tremper Longman: The purpose for developing an intimate relationship with Woman Wisdom is to block out an illicit relationship with the “strange/foreign” woman. . .   It is telling that the father mentions flattery as the first characteristic of the woman that might attract the son to an illegitimate relationship (see also 6:24). It is not her beauty but her appeal to the man’s vanity that is so dangerous.

Max Anders: The Story of a Seduction (7:1-27)

MAN IDEA: A young person must be convinced not only that marriage is good but that immorality is deadly, whether it involves another man’s wife or a prostitute.

SUPPORTING IDEA: In Proverbs 6, the father explained the importance of maintaining sexual purity. Now he dramatizes the story of a seduction, taking his son through a verbal role-playing scenario to prepare him for the real thing, explaining the specific details as a way to prepare his son to deal with such situations.

Paul Koptak: The story of the chapter unfolds in a mirror-like fashion:

A  7:1–5 Call to attention—protected from the woman

B  7:6–9 A simple young man wanders

C  7:10–20 The woman described and quoted

B′  7:21–23 A simple young man is slain

A′  7:24–27 Second call to attention—an image of the woman’s slain victims



David Hubbard: The teacher uses a whole cluster of techniques to rivet the student’s attention on the subject.

  • First, the quartet of nouns in verses 1–2 emphasize the inescapable character of the admonitions — “words,” “commands” (twice), and “law” (see 6:20, 23) are not options or casual suggestions.
  • Second, the vital nature of the theme is spotlighted in its life giving (“keep . . . and live”; see Amos’s “seek me and live” in 5:4) and light-bringing (“the apple [or pupil] of the eye” governs the amount of the light and the focus of our vision) qualities (v. 2).
  • Third, “bind” and “write” (v. 3) mark it as a permanent and indelible truth to be carried with us and stamped within us, like Moses’ command to love the Lord (Deut. 6:6, 8).
  • Fourth, treasuring the teacher’s law is tantamount to treating wisdom (and “understanding”) as “sister” and “nearest kin” (see Ruth 2:1; 3:2 for the same Hebrew root) and so making her not an abstract idea but a person whose love and care will protect (“keep” or guard) us from the flattery of the seductress (vv. 4–5), as Miriam guarded the young Moses, cradled in the reed basket and floating in the shallows of the Nile (Ex. 2:1–10).
  • Fifth, the artistic use of word order in Hebrew thrusts the imperative verbs into urgent prominence by placing them first and last in their clauses: “Keep my words and my commands treasure” (v. 1); “say to wisdom . . . and understanding call” (v. 4); the technique is called chiasm from the Greek letter chi, shaped like an x.

A.  (:1-2) Life and Vitality are at Stake

My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you.

            Keep my commands and you will live;

            Guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.”

Paul Koptak: the learning of wisdom is the way to live. The whole person—eye, hand, and heart—is to be dedicated to the task (cf. Deut. 6:5–9).

B.  (:3) Never Lose Sight of God’s Standards

Bind them on your fingers;

            Write them on the tablet of your heart.”

Paul Koptak: Keeping (šmr) the teachings, symbolized as a relationship with Wisdom, will keep (šmr) the young man from the other woman and her seductive words (Prov. 7:2, 5). Those words are literally smooth or slippery (cf. 2:16; 5:3) and lead astray (7:21). Smooth talk is always dangerous in Proverbs, for it leads one off the path of wisdom and onto the path of death.

C.  (:4) Remain Loyal to Wisdom

Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister,’

and call understanding your kinsman.”

Where do your loyalties lie?

Max Anders: In Old Testament culture, sister was a term of endearment for a wife or lover (Song 4:9-10,12; 5:1-2).  Kinsman (NIV, “relative”) is used in Ruth 2:1 and in general refers to someone who knows you intimately. The writer exhorts the young man to love wisdom rather than an immoral woman.

D.  (:5) Seduction is Rampant

they will keep you from the adulteress,

            From the wayward wife with her seductive words.”



A.  (:6-9) The Naïve Fail to Avoid Temptation

  1. (:6)  The Wise Observe From Their Safe House

At the window of my house I looked out through the lattice.”

David Hubbard: The “window,” designed to circulate air and vent cooking smoke and other fumes, was conveniently screened for shade and privacy. He could linger there “in the twilight,” take in the scene, and never be discovered by the youth below.

  1. (7)  Character of the Naïve

I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men,

                     a youth who lacked judgment.”

  1. (:8-9)  Dangerous Conditions

He was going down the street near her house

                     At twilight, as the day was fading, as the dark of night set in.”

David Hubbard: The bad choice began with the impulse to leave the group and venture out alone into an evening so “black” and “dark” that it seemed to offer anonymity and obscurity. The thirst for illicit adventures, untried experiences, is part of the deceptiveness of immorality. It was as though the teacher could have predicted what the youth had only subliminal hankerings for. Naivete with a taste for the lurid had blocked the flow of the young man’s common sense.

Max Anders: He was in the wrong place. Whether deliberately or carelessly, he was walking near the home of a seductive woman. They evidently were acquainted with each other (v. 15), and it is likely that he realized she might be in the neighborhood.

He was there at the wrong time, at night when much immorality took place in the concealment of the dark. The Hebrew phrases describe ever-deepening darkness, moving from twilight, as the day was fading, to the middle of the night, to darkness.

B.  (:10-12) Sexual Seducers Aggressively Target Their Prey –

But Can Easily Be Recognized

  1. They Initiate Fraternization

Then out came a woman to meet him

David Hubbard: If we can reconstruct the setting of the scene described here (vv. 6–23), it appears that a husband and wife of foreign citizenship are residing in Jerusalem. They are obviously people of means, perhaps diplomats or merchants. The husband has departed the country for a month, and the wife is left alone filled with desire and furnished with opportunity to engage in sexual activities with an upper-class Israelite man. To arrange the liaison she attires herself as a harlot in order to gain access to and attract the attention of someone for whom she craves. Her maneuvers are watched by the teacher who undergirds his warnings to the young by his personal experience.

  1. They Dress Seductively

dressed like a prostitute

Tremper Longman: She may not be a prostitute, but she is dressed like one. We are uncertain what this means in ancient society. It may mean she was veiled, but it almost certainly means that her dress was provocative. Since she seems well-off and never asks for money, we assume she is not a professional.

  1. They Have a Hidden, Harmful Agenda

and with crafty intent

Allen Ross: The expression literally means “guarded in heart,” but Driver has shown the word’s semantic development from “guarded” to “crafty, sly.” She has locked up her plans and gives nothing away. But her bold attire gives her away—she knows her victim and comes boldly to trap the gullible youth. She will be more successful than Potiphar’s wife was with Joseph, because this youth lacks strong convictions.

  1. They Are the Opposite of Meekness and Sweetness

She is loud and defiant

Eric Lane: She is all mouth – plenty to say and a loud voice for everyone to hear (v.11).  She is quite unashamed of her (presumably) lewd conversation.

  1. They Are Homebreakers Instead of Homemakers

her feet never stay at home

Tremper Longman: In terms of her actions, however, she is anything but silent, according to v. 11. In language that will echo in the description of Woman Folly (9:13), she is boisterous and defiant. The description suggests just how much she lacks self-discipline. She is not content at home, so she is out on the streets. As is well known, the “foot” is not infrequently a euphemism for genitalia (see discussion at 6:25–28). Thus, the assertion that her feet do not rest at home (v. 11b), but rather that she has a “foot” in the street and a “foot” in the public squares, may have double meaning and suggest that she has taken her sexual desire from the private sphere of marriage to the public areas. This also reminds us of the admonition of the father not to let one’s sexuality manifest itself in public areas (5:15–17). The interpretation that this encounter is like an ambush is confirmed by the fact that she is said to lurk beside every street corner. She has been waiting for someone like this youth to come by.

  1. They Accost You Everywhere You Turn

“now in the street, now in the squares, at very corner she lurks.



A.  (:13a) Initiating Sexual Contact

She took hold of him and kissed him

David Hubbard: He spotted her wantonness in her mannerisms—the “loud” and unconventional (“rebellious” or stubborn) speech, blanched of all grace and refinement (v. 11), the rapid, shifty movements that propelled her from her own property to the streets, plazas (“square[s]”), and corners where she kept lurking, as though in ambush for her prey (vv. 11–12). One can sense the teacher’s outrage as he describes her degraded comportment. The hurtfulness of immorality knows no bounds. Brazen lust has an aristocratic woman in its clutches and it reduces her to the status of a sex-starved clown. Her face was empty of all shame (“impudent”) as she smothered the young man in her embraces and showered him with kisses (v. 13). Is it possible that she knew him through the professional circles that she and her husband frequented?

Roland Murphy: The tempo of the narrative increases with the appearance of the woman. The speaker takes some time to describe her style (vv 11–12), and suddenly she is kissing the youth (v 14)!

B.  (:13b-15) Stalking Her Prey

and with a brazen face she said: ‘I have peace offerings at home;

today I fulfilled my vows.  So I came out to meet you;

I looked for you and have found you!’”

Allen Ross: By expressing that she has fellowship offerings, she could be saying nothing more than that she has fresh meat for a meal or that she has become ceremonially clean, perhaps after her menstrual period. It is also possible that she is a participant in a fertility cult, and having made the appropriate offering she now needs a male partner. At any rate, her claim is probably a ruse for winning a customer; after all, nothing this woman says can be believed.

Paul Koptak: She says she has been busy making preparations at home. Three enticements follow:

  • the sacrifices at home offer the delicacy of meat to eat (7:14),
  • the bed at home offers the pleasures of love (7:16–17),
  • and the husband not at home promises a sense of security (7:19–20).

Having touched his lips with a kiss, all her other seductions come from her words. She is able to appeal to all his senses and make it sound as if her home is a place of paradise. What the young man does not know is that these words are the bait of a trap. The contrast between her many words and his silence is telling.

Ray Ortlund: Back in those times, religious sacrifices could include a meal from the meat of the animal sacrificed.  Eating meat was a luxury anyway.  So here the woman is saying, “Not only am I caught up on my religion, but I also have a feast of extra-special food waiting at home.  It’s a special occasion, like Prom Night or Mardi Gras.  Come on, everybody needs a break.  And you’re the one I want to share all this with.”

C.  (:16-17) Adorning Her Lair

I have covered my bed with colored linens from Egypt,

I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.”

Lindsay Wilson: The description of her ‘bedroom’ is opulent and sensual. There are coverings and coloured linens imported from Egypt (v. 16; see 31:22). The bed is perfumed and spiced with expensive, delicious aromas (v. 17). She is painting a picture that would arouse and stimulate desire, all as a prelude to her daring invitation to make love all night and delight in it (v. 18).

Allen Ross: The third step is the report of her careful preparations. She is not poor, for she has a bed, and it has been made ready with fine, colored, imported linens from Egypt and perfumed with the best spices—aphrodisiac scents fit for a wedding bed (cf. Ps 45:8). Such lavish planning and preparation would overwhelm the gullible youth.

Tremper Longman: Sexual enjoyment appeals to all the senses, not just touch and taste (the sacrificial meat) but also sight (colored linens) and smell (myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon).

D.  (:18-20) Seizing the Opportunity to Portray Lust as Love

Come, let’s drink deep of love till morning; let’s enjoy ourselves with love! 

My husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey. 

He took his purse filled with money and will not be home till full moon.”

Paul Koptak: “Till morning” is meant to be a sign of the delights they will enjoy throughout the night, but it also suggests that it will only be that long. It is an impoverished definition of love—sensual pleasure without emotional attachment and commitment.

Max Anders: At this point, the only thing restraining the young man is his fear of the consequences if they should be discovered. So the seductress assures him that her husband has left on an extended journey. He took a large amount of money with him for expenses because he did not plan to return until the full moon, probably several days away.

E.  (:21) Seducing Her Victim

With persuasive words she led him astray;

she seduced him with her smooth talk.”



A.  (:22a) The Fateful Choice Made Impetuously

All at once he followed her.”

B.  (:22b-23) 3 Images of Entrapment with No Possibility of Escape

  1. Like an Ox to the Slaughter

like an ox going to the slaughter

  1. Like a Deer Being Trapped and Killed

like a deer stepping into a noose till an arrow pierces his liver

  1. Like a Bird Being Snared and Killed

like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life.”

David Hubbard: Evidently there is something about sexual immorality that anesthetizes our judgment. Part of it, I suppose, is the sheer passion involved. More than one sorry culprit has said to me, “I never thought it could happen. Before I really knew what was going on I had committed the adulterous act.” Adrenalin shoots through our systems, hormones race about in our bodies, our nerves are all atingling. The chemistry and neurology that God placed within us to urge us to populate the earth and to bind us to our life partners is set to boiling in the wrong laboratory and with the wrong coworker. Nothing less than sheer mayhem is the result.

Lindsay Wilson: What began with the promise of making love all night has now degenerated into a scenario that is deadly. It will cost him his life, but he does not know it because he has been duped by her flattering words. The enticing offer promised much, but delivered only death.



A.  (:24) Urgency of Listening and Heeding the Warning

Now then, my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say.”

Max Anders: The father concludes his account with a stern warning. First he commands his sons to pay attention to his words. Then he issues two prohibitions: do not let your heart turn to her ways, and do not stray into her paths. Both commands aim to help him avoid temptation before it gains momentum, by guarding the heart (4:23) from going astray and by keeping himself physically away from the place of danger. The young man in the story was doomed because he wandered too close to a temptation he did not have the strength to resist.

B.  (:25) Urgency of Guarding Your Heart

Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths.”

C.  (:26-27) Surprising Multitude of Victims –

Sucked in and Destroyed with No Escape

Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. 

Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.”

David Hubbard: There were pagan overtones in the harlot’s account of sacrifices and vows (v. 14). If she was a non-Israelite, resident in the holy land, as we have assumed, she would have been a devotee of pagan gods, either of Egypt (see v. 16) or Canaan. If the latter is the case, there may be another echo of pagan mythology in the mention of “Sheol” and “death” in verse 27. Death (Mot) was a Canaanite deity to whom was credited the long winter drought which Baal had to conquer if the vernal fertility was to be enjoyed in the land. The ritual act of intercourse to which the woman invited the young man was designed to encourage Baal to have intercourse with the goddess Anat and thus fertilize the land. In a subtle yet telling bit of irony, this wisdom speech, as its last word, may be saying that Mot not Baal, death not sexual prosperity, is the ultimate conqueror when the divine command is paid no heed.

Roland Murphy: She is described as a warrior who has a host of victims that she has slain! There may be an echo of the famous ancient Near Eastern goddesses that excelled at love and war, such as Ishtar and Anat. That would be a fitting reference. There can be no mistake about the finality of all this: in v 27 Sheol and Death, ever the “enemies” of human existence, are in parallelism. That is where her victims are; cf. 2:18–19. Similar metaphors are used in 22:14; 23:27. These final verses, when interpreted in the light of the “houses” in 9:1–4 and 9:18, suggest another level of meaning. Wisdom and Folly are in conflict, mirrored in this episode of the young man with the “stranger.” In other words, the admonition (vv 25–26) and the story are an anticipation of a deeper struggle that dominates chaps. 1–9.