The Word for today:
Two shadowy figures–the evil man and the strange woman–appear, disappear, and re-appear throughout the chapters of Proverbs. They are not incidental characters. In fact, if Proverbs could be said to have a plot, it would center around the efforts of the evil man and the strange woman to lure the young man (to whom the book is addressed) from the ways of wisdom to the paths of folly.
The evil man and the strange woman represent secular and spiritual enticement, respectively. The evil man seeks to lure the young man with common bait–wine, women, and ‘song’ (secular culture). He makes his appeal to the young man’s flesh. Many are ensnared by these carnal appetites.
But should the young man not succumb to these generic allurements, the strange woman (who is the far more menacing of the two) enters the scene…
The strange woman represents physical adultery and–on a spiritual level–the allure of cults.
She flaunts her easy morals and seeks to lead the young man down a wrong street:
In the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness,
the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart.
She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home;
now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait.
She seizes him and kisses him, and with bold face she says to him,
“I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows.” (Proverbs 7:9-14)
Notice that she is religious! She leads him to believe that she is right with God–“I have offered sacrifices … I paid my vows.”
Those who would never be taken in by the evil man (who represents the more blatant sins of the flesh) often find these more subtle spiritual charms irresistible.
Of the two, the evil woman is more deadly, because while one might return from the far country of carnal sin (the prodigal son did), there’s often no returning from spiritual adultery, from the lure of cults and idols of any sort:
Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death. (Proverbs 7:27)
God calls it adultery when his people leave him to pursue idols. (An idol is anything you place above God.) The entire book of Hosea is built around the theme of spiritual adultery.
Today we have many cults and all types of false religions around us. Often they carry Bibles, which they skillfully distort. Their common theme is that faith alone in Christ alone is not sufficient for salvation–that we must join their group and do certain things. They add something to the gospel of grace, saying you must believe in Jesus, plus. The ‘plus’ is the heresy.
Like the prostitute, they are all dressed up—attractive, alluring, offering something to man that will draw him away from true love, Jesus Christ.