On December 19th, 1998, then president Bill Clinton was impeached on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. He was accused of lying under oath and trying to cover up an illicit affair that he had with a young intern that worked with him at the White House.
History records that the President of the United States had a sexual affair with one of his staff, lied about it, and was nearly removed from office because of it.
Mr. Clinton's defenders at the time kept saying that he did nothing wrong, and the offense was no big deal. Of course, it was a serious thing because if there had been no illicit sex, there would have been no lies or impeachment trial.
At the time, I remember that they often showed President Clinton and his family leaving church on Sunday with the President clutching his Bible. This was to show Americans that he was really a righteous man.
Perhaps if Mr. Clinton had opened that Bible to Proverbs 7 he would have found the wisdom and warning that might have saved him from the terrible sin and fall that he took.
We are not as influential as presidents but our soul is just as precious, so let us look at Proverbs 7 and read about Solomon's warning against falling to the charms of an immoral woman. The proverb has been regarded by some as a caution against idolatry for Israel but it serves equally well in warning a person against sexual sin.
My son, keep my words
And treasure my commandments within you.
Keep my commandments and live,
And my teaching as the apple of your eye.
Bind them on your fingers;
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
Say to wisdom, "You are my sister,"
And call understanding your intimate friend;
Solomon begins by extolling the value of his teaching and the importance of the wisdom he is trying to impart, especially for a young man.
The wisdom he gives should be:
- Like a treasure
- Protector of life
- The favorite thing among many
- Something to be memorized
- Known and appreciated like a family member or friend
That they may keep you from an adulteress,
From the foreigner who flatters with her words.
Here he describes a concrete benefit derived from knowledge of and adherence to this wisdom - it will keep you from being seduced into sexual sin.
For at the window of my house
I looked out through my lattice,
After setting up his point (that wisdom guards against the fall into sexual sin), he gives an example to prove the point.
And I saw among the naive,
And discerned among the youths
A young man lacking sense,
Passing through the street near her corner;
And he takes the way to her house,
In the twilight, in the evening,
In the middle of the night and in the darkness.
He introduces the male character in this story. A young man without wisdom or experience. He isn't trapped unwittingly by temptation, he foolishly goes out to look for it. Solomon shows that the young man is persistent; he is there in the early evening until the middle of the night.
In modern language we would say, "A young fool looking for trouble."
In verses 10 to 21, Solomon paints a portrait of this immoral woman and describes how she seduces this naive and foolish young man. What is amazing about this portrait is how accurately it describes the immoral woman of every generation and culture.
And behold, a woman comes to meet him,
Dressed as a harlot and cunning of heart.
He begins with her looks. She dresses provocatively. She is not a prostitute, but she dresses like one to draw sexual attention. He also describes her heart (which cannot be seen) as cunning. In other words, she knows exactly what she is doing and is aware of the effect that she has on men, and knows where to find them.
She is boisterous and rebellious,
Her feet do not remain at home;
She is now in the streets, now in the squares,
And lurks by every corner.
She breaks convention, she breaks rules, and no one tells her what to do. She is available, knows what she wants, and is always on the lookout for it.
So she seizes him and kisses him
And with a brazen face she says to him:
She is aggressive - she kisses him first and not the other way around. She gives him a taste of the sensuality that is to come. Solomon now quotes the words she uses to seduce the young man, words uttered without shame or embarrassment.
In verses 14-21 she uses three lies to complete her seduction:
I'm Not a Bad Person
"I was due to offer peace offerings;
Today I have paid my vows.
"Therefore I have come out to meet you,
To seek your presence earnestly, and I have found you.
"I have spread my couch with coverings,
With colored linens of Egypt.
The "offerings" mentioned are thanksgiving offerings for blessings received. According to Leviticus 7:16, the person offering such a sacrifice had to eat the meal by the second day and could share it with a guest.
She is drawing him near while throwing a few crumbs to satisfy any needs his conscience might have. She may be dressed like a prostitute, she may be sexually aggressive, but she is not a bad person. After all, she has religion! And, of course, if she is not a bad person, then he is not a bad person either. In this way, his conscience can be quieted.
This is Going to Be Fun
"I have spread my couch with coverings,
With colored linens of Egypt.
"I have sprinkled my bed
With myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.
"Come, let us drink our fill of love until morning;
Let us delight ourselves with caresses.
Everything is clean and fresh, and smells good. Let's make love, wonderful love!
There is an interesting warning that the young man does not notice because he is caught up in the seduction. Her bed is perfumed with the same mixtures used to embalm dead bodies. He is going to his grave and does not know it.
She promises to satisfy him. She calls what they will do "love". She guarantees that he will enjoy himself all night long. She appeals not to his mind or to what is right or good, but to his most basic sense and promises immediate gratification.
Nothing Bad Will Happen
"For my husband is not at home,
He has gone on a long journey;
He has taken a bag of money with him,
At the full moon he will come home."
With her many persuasions she entices him;
With her flattering lips she seduces him.
The last barrier is the fear of consequences, which she appeases with assurances that nothing bad will happen. She refers to her husband not as her husband but as the "Goodman" as if he were not connected to her, as if she had no allegiance to him.
The husband is not home and will not be home for a long time, we won't be caught - relax, chill! This was not the last lie, but Solomon summaries the encounter by saying that she flatters him and draws him in to her plan with her smooth words, "safe sex", this is her promise.
Solomon leaves the readers to imagine the rest of the story and writes the final outcome for the young man because of his behavior. He gives three images to explain what is really happening to this fellow. He compares him to:
A. The Sacrificial Bull
Suddenly he follows her
As an ox goes to the slaughter,
Because of their contrary nature it sometimes required many blows to get the bull to move one foot forward towards his stall, but then suddenly, without warning, he would charge ahead into his own captivity. The young man has done no speaking and remained motionless but suddenly he makes up his mind, throwing all caution to the wind, and follows the woman home to his own destruction.
B. The Deer Within Range
Or as one in fetters to the discipline of a fool,
Until an arrow pierces through his liver;
This passage can be translated two ways and the way not printed in the text makes more sense. It should read, "As a stag goes in a trap until an arrow pierces his liver." Of course the trap is the hunter's trap, a way to lure the animal within range of his arrow - then it is too late. The young man was safe until he came within the influence of the woman, and once there he was trapped and didn't even know it.
C. The Bird in a Trap
As a bird hastens to the snare,
So he does not know that it will cost him his life.
Birds are constantly looking for food, and flutter quickly from one possible source to another. One of these is a trap and the bird quickly seeks it out without realizing that what he thinks will sustain his life will actually take it away. In the same way the young man rushes into a situation that he thinks will bring his life pleasure but will only cause pain and death in the end.
With this verse Solomon closes out the story of the young man and the immoral woman. In the last verse he will go back to addressing his readers and leave them with a final warning.
Now therefore, my sons, listen to me,
And pay attention to the words of my mouth.
He calls on his readers to pay attention to what he has taught them and the final words of warning he is about to impart.
Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways,
Do not stray into her paths.
Don't Go There!
Stay away from this type of seductive, dishonest and rebellious woman. Do not let anyone like this near to your (heart), and do not go looking for this type of person (paths).
For many are the victims she has cast down,
And numerous are all her slain.
Her house is the way to Sheol,
Descending to the chambers of death.
She is Dangerous!
Many times young people think they can "handle the situation", but Solomon warns that sexual seduction is very powerful and many who may have thought they could "handle it" failed miserably in the end. Men are especially susceptible in this area and should recognize this weakness.
Solomon's story may be a parable or a real life episode, but the message to his readers is that if you are not careful this could happen to you and the consequences are very real. Adulterers and fornicators are destined for hell (Hebrews 13:4).
Solomon effectively drives home his warning against sexual sin. I would also like to draw a few lessons from this chapter on how sin, any sin, seduces us:
1. Sin begins by getting our attention.
We begin by being curious about evil, we just want a glimpse, a feeling or an idea of what it is like. This is so because sin is usually wrapped up in excitement, mystery, or pleasure. This is how addictions usually begin, ("just try it once to see what it's like"). Don't be curious about sin, you do not have to know or experience it, not even once.
2. Sin draws us in with lies.
- "it's not so bad"
- "you'll be okay"
- "just this once"
If you need arguments to convince your conscience - beware. The best defense against lies is to know the truth (God's Word) and do not violate your conscience. It is an early warning device given to us by God. We violate it to our own destruction.
3. Sin always gives us short-term gain for long-term pain.
Regardless of the "spin" the White House put on the outcome of the impeachment trial at that time, Mr. Clinton will forever be remembered for the affair he had with Monica Lewinsky and the events that followed it. A few moments of forbidden sex in exchange for a political legacy, not much of a bargain.
Let us make sure that the lesson taught by Solomon so long ago is not lost upon us today. We all have souls and will be judged by God regardless of our position here on earth.
- I encourage young men to heed the warning here and be careful not be seduced into sexual situations.
- I encourage young women to strive to be modest and sexually pure, and not provoke any man to disrespect her.
- I encourage all to be careful of the temptation we experience regardless of age. Everyone is vulnerable at certain times, even Presidents!