Sticking with the concept of summarizing the whole chapter this month, Proverbs 7 continues the imperative to the sons of the king. The imperative here is one of warning: avoid the adulteress.
This, like Proverbs 5, carries a double meaning. Now, these double meaning moments in Scripture are not a matter of just making up something and claiming it’s present in the text. Nor is it a matter of allegorizing everything, where nothing is what it really says, and instead it all means some invisible indiscernible to normal people stuff.
Rather, it’s seeing the symbolism for what it is. Take, for example, Star Trek. On its face, Star Trek is about a group of people exploring the galaxy, seeking out new life forms and new civilizations. There is a lesson every episode, about dealing with Tribbles or whatever else, but there’s an underlying point as well. Not that everyone speaks English in the future, but that people can work together across racial, cultural, and (dare I say it?) planetary lines. And those partnerships work.
Both lessons are intended. I think Proverbs runs the same way. There is the surface lesson and the undercurrent lesson.
Proverbs 7 warns, sternly, against the adulteress. Since the text is addressed to sons, that’s a logical warning. Be wary of the woman that would lead you from home. Throughout the whole chapter, this echoes: wisdom stays close to what matters most.
Think about it: how much less trouble would Natalie Portman have gotten into if she had not fallen for Hayden Christiansen (Star Wars Prequels) or Chris Hemsworth (Thor/Avengers)? A whole lot less! And the universes involved would have been better off, too. All she had to do was keep her heart fixed on someone from her own planet.
Of course, that’s an extreme example, but consider it well.
More appropriately, this is a warning about falling from your family to chase your own desires. Face it, no one really jumps into adultery because they’re repulsed by the individual they fall with. No one jumps into adultery because everyone else wants them to, but they don’t have an interest. It’s always based on fulfilling some form of desire.
And it comes back to destruction. Every time. You cannot fold the abandonment of your marriage vows neatly to the side and have everything else be okay. Failing to honor your marriage is like leaving a thermal exhaust port that connects to directly to the main reactor—you’re doomed, eventually.
This should be obvious, but we need to be reminded. So consider yourself reminded. Also, another observation that I think is relevant: if you are in a position to choose your leaders, your influencers, your examples, then it is absolutely fair to hold them to this standard. If they have, especially regularly, trampled on righteousness, then they are not fit.
Now, the caveat: sometimes, people are the innocent third-party in those cases. It is never fair to judge an abandoned spouse for the other’s adultery—never. It is never fair to share the blame between a victim and an attacker, and that includes those where the issue is simply age. NEVER.
There is more here, though, and it is similar to the idea in Proverbs 5. The adulteress is the not just a literal woman who is tempting the sons of the king.
The adulteress is the also the false wisdom of the world. The quick route, the short path. The dark arts, or the process of concentrating power into a ring, just so that it’s easier to wield. All of these ideas show us the same principle: what is right often requires us to walk farther and evade something that looks excellent.
Wisdom, though, knows what true excellence is. Proverbs 7 reminds of that.