|Who’s the bigger fool? The fool, or the fool who follows her? In the end, I guess it doesn’t matter because if they both continue in their way, they both will end up destroyed. In this passage Solomon deals with the “strange woman,” and the man who falls for her. Proverbs spends a lot of time dealing with the subject of strange women, not so much because woman are particularly evil, but because men are particularly lustful.
We mentioned before that by “strange women” the Bible does not mean women who are weird or unbalanced. It means women who are foreign to a man’s God-given relationships. Again, Solomon opens with an admonition to his son to “attend wisdom…bow…to understanding,” and “regard discretion.” These are strong, active words that imply hard work. Because being a fool is easy. Being wise takes daily effort.
So, how does Solomon describe this particular type of fool he calls the “strange woman?”
She’s a lot like an easy credit card. She comes across as sweetness and light, and she can smooth talk anyone, but when the interest on that debt is both bitter and painful.
She’s con-artist. While Solomon shows you here true colors first, and then explains how sh plays her game, she will do the exact opposite: If you have second thoughts about her, she can become whatever she needs be in order snare you. She knows better than to show her true colors. Those won’t come out until it’s too late. Is she a fool? Absolutely. She just a very cunning one.
When Solomon opens this chapter, he makes an appeal to his son’s thinking: “My son, attend unto my wisdom…..” Now he moves onto what his actions should be: “Remove thy way far from her…” (v. 8). If the Proverbs are anything, they are very practical. Besides giving us words of wisdom, they also give us practical application.
Solomon next moves onto warnings as he describes the dire consequences of falling prey to the strange woman: Again, like bad debt, your honor, your time, your wealth and your efforts will all be spent paying for bad choices (vv. 9-10).
Perhaps the most painful part is coming to the realization later in life when you realize all of the hurt and heartache could have been avoided had you heeded sound advice in the first place: “And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and they body are consumed, and say, ‘How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof!”
Thankfully, in the case of this man, he came to that conclusion and perhaps found forgiveness in God, because he also says: “I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly” (v. 14). He did not die in his ignorance. He saw the light and responded to it. We can’t erase the past, but we can always yield today to God’s way.
In the close of this chapter, Solomon reminds his son that there is no such thing as zero accountability: “The ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD. And he pondereth [mentally weighs] all his goings” (v. 21). When we sin, it’s usually right after we’ve convinced ourselves: “God will never know.” But God always knows. He sees both the good and the evil. To tell whether your heart is in the right place, you have to ask yourself whether the phrase: “God is watching me” brings you comfort and joy or fear and anger.
This man who fell prey to this strange woman is not entirely a victim. For a fleeting moment he had the power to “control his destiny.” It happened when he was faced with the choice of following after this woman, or turning away from her. After that, he was like a sheep being led to the slaughter: “His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden [tied up and taken along like a captive] with the cords of his own sins” (v. 21). In other words, the ropes that will bind him will be of his own making. In the end “he shall die without instruction” (v. 23a). His folly will just lead him further and further astray (v23b).
While Solomon was looking specifically at the strange woman, his words can apply to any addiction or sinful habit that distracts us from following God. I said before that the “strange woman” is any person that is foreign to our God-given relationships. But this stranger does not always have to be a person. The stranger can be anything that keeps us from our God-given purpose. God’s advice when it comes to these strangers is simple: “Remove thy way far from her, come not nigh the door of her house.”