Today’s article crosses the line into pastoral ministry and is not meant to be a simple theology lesson. Every Sunday, during our second service, we have a Question and Answer time. We have been doing this for 4 years, since our beginning as a church, and it has proven to be one of the best decisions made in regards to really dealing with questions people have about biblical ministry, truth, personal issues, etc… One question came last Sunday that I believe is essential to answer and I will do so in this article. The question read,
“Please explain Proverbs 6:26, particularly the second half of the verse.”
The verse reads, “For on account of a harlot one is reduced to a loaf of bread, And an adulteress hunts for the precious life.”
Proverbs is a book that cannot be exhausted. It was written by King Solomon (1:1; 10:1; 25:1), but there were also other writers from later periods of Israel’s history (30:1; 31:1). The structure of the book makes it favorable, and easy, to memorize. The subject matter is that of truth that is meant to cause discernment leading to 1) avoidance of evil, 2) pursuit of righteousness. The audience is the young son(s) of Solomon, particularly Rehoboam. He would need tremendous wisdom as the next king of Israel. Proverbs were collected and arranged in order to train him in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:14-17).
Of particular importance for any king, but certainly one of the holy nation of Israel, YHWH’s people, is sexual fidelity. Granted, Solomon is the last person to teach anyone how to remain devoted to a single wife (1 Kings 11:1-13). However, in his early years, he was that kind of man. It is presumed that these proverbs were written during that early period (1 Kings 3:1-9; 4:29-34). In those early days, Solomon observed something. A young man who traveled near the home of the harlot far too many times. And one time, like a spider attacking a moth on her web, the harlot brazenly approaches this young man and draws him in (7:6-27). He does not know that this encounter will cost him his life and he will never return-ever (7:22-23). This is exactly what Proverbs 6:26 is speaking of. There are women, Solomon says, who want to destroy “the precious life.” There are women, married women, who want to watch as a young man’s life, with so much in front of him, is suddenly crumbled and shattered by the effect of sexual promiscuity. She flatters him, tricks him, and finally snatches him, bringing him into her life, for a short time, and then watches delightfully as he falls, never to get up again. She wipes her mouth after eating to her full, and returns to her web awaiting her next victim (7:26; 30:20).
The proverb in view here is that of a woman who makes a habit of opening her body up for sexual immorality. She keeps herself capable of exercising that craving and makes her desirable to the naïve young fool (6:25). She sees her body as simply a tool. To her, alluring and drawing in a man is an impulse as strong as lust itself is in the heart of a man. She is crafty, cunning, and smart. She is beautiful, outwardly (31:30). No one can deny that. Her beauty is simply a trap-a bait that allures the heart of the unsuspecting young fool.
Solomon does not want Rehoboam to be like the young fool. A king is supposed to be exalted. He is supposed to be useful. He is supposed to be easily distinguishable from the common people in all his pomp and circumstance. However, the moment he consents and ends up with “his neighbor’s wife” (6:29), he is reduced to the futile loaf of bread. This is a way of saying that the glory of a king has now descended to about as much usefulness to others as a loaf of bread; not much. Instead of tremendous dignity, glory, and power, he is now, as a result of following his eyes, and not YHWH’s commands, full of commonness, darkness, and weakness. He is lost. He cannot return.
This woman knows this. She wants him useless. To her, in a sinister way, she wants him dragged down to her chambers of Sheol so that she can know some of the feeling of rulership over him. She may not have her name of the door of the office of king of Israel. But, she has successfully accomplished what an entire army cannot-defeat of the king. She knows that the weakness of a man is his passions. She exploits that. She develops that. She attracts that. She is smooth in her words, beautiful in her appearance, and brazen in her approach. What man can stand against this advance! The answer-a wise man.
Here are the steps of resisting this wolf in woman’s clothing.
Listen to older, mature, wise men, particularly godly parents (Proverbs 6:20-23). Structure your life around instructions, not interests. Discipline yourself to listen to, obey, and perpetuate godly instruction. This alone will protect you from a thousand unknown sins.
Realize that every woman has the potential of this harlot. It is easy for men to think naively about women. However, if depravity means anything, it certainly means that no woman is above this potential. That is not to say that he should treat women in a hateful manner. It means that he must work hard to hold up righteousness so that she is helped along in her purity.
Do not be fooled by beauty (6:25). This is an admission that there are beautiful women in the world. Although beauty is admired by God (Genesis 12:11; 24:16; 29:17; Exodus 28:2; 40), and is evident in the world (Deuteronomy 21:11), don’t be fooled. Like a ring of gold in a pig’s snout, so also is beauty without the fear of God in her heart (Proverbs 11:22; 31:30).
Exalt the woman’s husband in her hearing. This is a crafty way of avoiding adultery. Speak well of her husband. Make friends with him, while avoiding her. If she advances, retreat. If she attacks, drag her husband into the picture. Joseph did this with Pharaoh’s wife (Genesis 39:6-12). He understood that he was given a trust by Pharaoh and why would he destroy that trust for the likes of her? Be rude, if necessary. If she is that brazen, she deserves it.
Men, understand that there are women who “hunt for the precious life.” They want you dead. They don’t care about you. They want you as about as useful as a loaf of bread. Don’t go there! Stay off her street. If you know of a woman who seems to be getting too close, take action. Remember your instructions from God, realize what is in her heart, disallow her beauty, and, if necessary and appropriate, take the offensive and get to know her husband. Sadly, many women in the church are like this (and, in my opinion, many young ladies are learning these skills by being allowed to fraternize far too closely with the boys in church). This is why Paul said that a woman must dress modestly and without show (1 Timothy 2:9). She must work hard to defy her tendency to destroy the precious life of godly men.