In focus today, let us take a look at Proverbs 7:11. This verse illustrates one of the most critical aspects of studying the Bible, so I want you to read that verse. Just that verse.
Ready to think about it?
The verse defines an unnamed “she” as being rebellious and troublesome, and that she does not stay at home makes it even worse.
Ah, wait, you say, let us consider the context! That is certainly the first step in the process. Proverbs 7 is presenting a warning about the wiles of the harlot, or the dangers of foreign women, depending on your translation philosophy. I would present this chapter as warning about becoming intimately, in several connotations, involved with those who practice faith foreign to yours.
So, then, those women who are unwilling to stay home, those are the ones to avoid?
This is an exercise in learning to read the context and the idea presented in the passage. Some folks would argue that understanding what is meant means you are not taking the Bible literally—that is not the case. If you force a foolish literality on the text, you miss what is really there.
Now, the word choices and the context still drive the meaning. The text does not mean a thousand different things to a thousand different people. It means one thing, and may apply differently.
How do we arrive that meaning? How do we understand?
The first challenge is understanding the words and phrases in the verse. Then we try to understand the context of the verses around the one in question, and then understanding the concept of the entire book. All the while, there is a need to grasp the background of the entire Bible as you consider.
So, what about Proverbs 7:11?
One marker of the dangerous woman, or the dangerous man, is their unsettled nature. They are unable to be satisfied. It is not that one should never leave the house—nor that being noisy is necessarily bad.
Solomon is not cautioning his son that he must have a stay-at-home-all-the-time-wife. While I count my beloved’s opportunity to work from home, teach at home, and be at home a blessing, that is one way to be a God-honoring wife. Not the only way. (Considering she has worked out of the home full-time and part-time in our marriage, that should be obvious I feel that way, but…)
He is warning him about a critical reality we still see people miss: those who are dissatisfied with their current life are not likely to be satisfied with you, either. They are just getting a fix.
How often do we see it? Husband has an affair, ditches his wife, marries his lover—and then they get divorced due to unfaithfulness? Woman marries a man, longing for him to be more like a different man, and then is constantly annoyed that he is…himself.
This passage is part of an overall description of a person. Not a command to absolutely not do anything on the list. Rather, if you see someone that fits this description, be wary! Be concerned.
Not someone who does not fit one phrase of it. Let’s stop being silly with our study of Scripture, either in our teaching of it or our critique. This verse does not command women must stay at home and be silent--
And clear study reveals that. Wisdom pays attention.