The scope of this chapter is, as of several before, to warn young men
against the lusts of the flesh. Solomon remembered of what ill
consequence it was to his father, perhaps found himself, and perceived
his son, addicted to it, or at least had observed how many hopeful
young men among his subjects had been ruined by those lusts; and
therefore he thought he could never say enough to dissuade men from
them, that "every one may possess his vessel in sanctification and
honour, and not in the lusts of uncleanness." In this chapter we have,
I. A general exhortation to get our minds principled and governed by
the world of God, as a sovereign antidote against this sin,
II. A particular representation of the great danger which unwary young
men are in of being inveigled into this snare,
III. A serious caution inferred thence, in the close, to take heed of
all approaches towards this sin,
We should all pray, "Lord, lead us not into this temptation."
|The Word of God Recommended.
1 My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee.
2 Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of
3 Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of
4 Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding
5 That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the
stranger which flattereth with her words.
These verses are an introduction to his warning against fleshly lusts,
much the same with that,
&c., and ending
as that did
To keep thee from the strange woman; that is it he aims at; only
there he had said, Keep thy father's commandment, here (which
comes all to one), Keep my commandments, for he speaks to us as
unto sons. He speaks in God's name; for it is God's commandments
that we are to keep, his words, his law. The word
of God must be to us,
1. As that which we are most careful of. We must keep it as our
treasure; we must lay up God's commandments with us, lay them up
safely, that we may not be robbed of them by the wicked one,
We must keep it as our life: Keep my commandments and live
not only, "Keep them, and you shall live;" but, "Keep them as you would
your life, as those that cannot live without them." It would be death
to a good man to be deprived of the word of God, for by it he lives,
and not by bread alone.
2. As that which we are most tender of: Keep my law as the apple of
thy eye. A little thing offends the eye, and therefore nature has
so well guarded it. We pray, with David, that God would keep us as the
apple of his eye
that our lives and comforts may be precious in his sight; and they
shall be so
if we be in like manner tender of his law and afraid of the least
violation of it. Those who reproach strict and circumspect walking, as
needless preciseness, consider not that the law is to be kept as the
apple of the eye, for indeed it is the apple of our eye; the law
is light; the law in the heart is the eye of the soul.
3. As that which we are proud of and would be ever mindful of
"Bind them upon thy fingers; let them be precious to thee; look
upon them as an ornament, as a diamond-ring, as the signet on thy
right hand; wear them continually as thy wedding-ring, the badge of
thy espousals to God. Look upon the word of God as putting an honour
upon thee, as an ensign of thy dignity. Bind them on thy
fingers, that they may be constant memorandums to thee of thy duty,
that thou mayest have them always in view, as that which is graven
upon the palms of thy hands."
4. As that which we are fond of and are ever thinking of: Write them
upon the table of thy heart, as the names of the friends we dearly
love, we say, are written in our hearts. let the word of God dwell
richly in us, and be written there where it will be always at hand
to be read. Where sin was written
let the word of God be written. It is the matter of a promise
I will write my law in their hearts), which makes the precept
practicable and easy.
5. As that which we are intimately acquainted and conversant with
"Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister, whom I dearly love and
take delight in; and call understanding thy kinswoman, to whom
thou art nearly allied, and for whom thou hast a pure affection; call
her thy friend, whom thou courtest." We must make the word of God
familiar to us, consult it, and consult its honour, and take a pleasure
in conversing with it.
6. As that which we make use of for our defence and armour, to keep us
from the strange woman, from sin, that flattering but destroying
thing, that adulteress; particularly from the sin of uncleanness,
Let the word of God confirm our dread of that sin and our resolutions
against it; let it discover to us its fallacies and suggest to us
answers to all its flatteries.
|The Foolish Young Man; Enticements of the Adulteress.
6 For at the window of my house I looked through my casement,
7 And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the
youths, a young man void of understanding,
8 Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the
way to her house,
9 In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:
10 And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an
harlot, and subtil of heart.
11 (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her
12 Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait
at every corner.)
13 So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent
face said unto him,
14 I have peace offerings with me; this day have I paid my
15 Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy
face, and I have found thee.
16 I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved
works, with fine linen of Egypt.
17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.
18 Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us
solace ourselves with loves.
19 For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey:
20 He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home
at the day appointed.
21 With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the
flattering of her lips she forced him.
22 He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the
slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks;
23 Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to
the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.
Solomon here, to enforce the caution he had given against the sin of
whoredom, tells a story of a young man that was ruined to all intents
and purposes by the enticements of an adulterous woman. Such a story as
this would serve the lewd profane poets of our age to make a play of,
and the harlot with them would be a heroine; nothing would be so
entertaining to the audience, nor give them so much diversion, as her
arts of beguiling the young gentleman and drawing in the country
squire; her conquests would be celebrated as the triumphs of wit and
love, and the comedy would conclude very pleasantly; and every young
man that saw it acted would covet to be so picked up. Thus fools
make a mock at sin. But Solomon here relates it, and all wise and
good men read it, as a very melancholy story. The impudence of the
adulterous woman is very justly looked upon, by all that have any
sparks of virtue in them, with the highest indignation, and the
easiness of the young man with the tenderest compassion; and the story
concludes with sad reflections, enough to make all that read and hear
it afraid of the snares of fleshly lusts and careful to keep at the
utmost distance from them. It is supposed to be a parable, or imagined
case, but I doubt it was too true, and, which is worse, that
notwithstanding the warning it gives of the fatal consequences of such
wicked courses it is still too often true, and the agents for hell are
still playing the same game and with similar success.
Solomon was a magistrate, and, as such, inspected the manners of his
subjects, looked often through his casement, that he might see with his
own eyes, and made remarks upon those who little thought his eye was
upon them, that he might know the better how to make the sword he bore
a terror to evil-doers. But here he writes as a minister, a prophet,
who is by office a watchman, to give warning of the approach of the
enemies, and especially where they lie in ambush, that we may not be
ignorant of Satan's devices, but may know where to double our guard.
This Solomon does here, where we may observe the account he gives,
I. Of the person tempted, and how he laid himself open to the
temptation, and therefore must thank himself if it end in his
1. He was a young man,
Fleshly lusts are called youthful lusts
(2 Timothy 2:22),
not to extenuate them as tricks of youth, and therefore excusable, but
rather to aggravate them, as robbing God of the first and best of our
time, and, by debauching the mind when it is tender, laying a
foundation for a bad life ever after, and to intimate that young people
ought in a special manner to fortify their resolutions against this
2. He was a young man void of understanding, that went abroad
into the world, not principled as he ought to have been with wisdom and
the fear of God, and so ventured to sea without ballast, without pilot,
cord, or compass; he knew not how to depart from evil, which is the
Those become an easy prey to Satan who, when they have arrived to the
stature of men, have scarcely the understanding of children.
3. He kept bad company. He was a young man among the youths, a
silly young man among the simple ones. If, being conscious of
his own weakness, he had associated with those that were older and
wiser than himself, there would have been hopes of him. Christ, at
twelve years old, conversed with the doctors, to set young people an
example of this. But, if those that are simple choose such for their
companions as are like themselves, simple they will still be, and
hardened in their simplicity.
4. He was sauntering, and had nothing to do, but passed through the
street as one that knew not how to dispose of himself. One of the
sins of filthy Sodom was abundance of idleness,
He went in a starched stately manner, so (it is said) the word
signifies. He appeared to be a nice formal fop, the top of whose
accomplishments was to dress well and walk with a good air; fit game
for that bird of prey to fly at.
5. He was a night-walker, that hated and scorned the business that is
to be done by day-light, from which the evening calls men in to their
repose; and, having fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness,
he begins to move in the twilight in the evening,
And he chooses the black and dark night as fittest for his
purpose, not the moonlight nights, when he might be discovered.
6. He steered his course towards the house of one that he thought would
entertain him, and that he might be merry with; he went near her
corner, the way to her house
contrary to Solomon's advice
Come not night the door of her house. Perhaps he did not know it
was the way to an infamous house, but, however, it was a way that he
had no business in; and when we have nothing to do the devil will
quickly find us something to do. We must take heed, not only of idle
days, but of idle evenings, lest they prove inlets to temptation.
II. Of the person tempting, not a common prostitute, for she was a
and, for aught that appears, lived in reputation among her neighbours,
not suspected of any such wickedness, and yet, in the twilight of
the evening, when her husband was abroad, abominably impudent. She
is here described,
1. By her dress. She had the attire of a harlot
gaudy and flaunting, to set her off as a beauty; perhaps she was
painted as Jezebel, and went with her neck and breasts bare, loose, and
en deshabille. The purity of the heart will show itself in the
modesty of the dress, which becomes women professing godliness.
2. By her craft and management. She is subtle of heart, mistress
of all the arts of wheedling, and knowing how by all her caresses to
serve her own base purposes.
3. By her temper and carriage. She is loud and stubborn,
talkative and self-willed, noisy and troublesome, wilful and
headstrong, all tongue, and will have her saying, right or wrong,
impatient of check and control, and cannot bear to be counselled, much
less reproved, by husband or parents, ministers or friends. She is a
daughter of Belial, that will endure no yoke.
4. By her place, not her own house; she hates the confinement and
employment of that; her feet abide not there any longer than
needs must. She is all for gadding abroad, changing place and company.
Now is she without in the country, under pretence of taking the
air, now in the streets of the city, under pretence of seeing
how the market goes. She is here, and there, and every where but where
she should be. She lies in wait at every corner, to pick up
such as she can make a prey of. Virtue is a penance to those to whom
home is a prison.
III. Of the temptation itself and the management of it. She met the
young spark. Perhaps she knew him; however she knew by his fashions
that he was such a one as she wished for; so she caught him
about the neck and kissed him, contrary to all the rules of
and waited not for his compliments or courtship, but with an
impudent face invited him not only to her house, but to
1. She courted him to sup with her
I have peace-offerings with me. Hereby she gives him to
(1.) Her prosperity, that she was compassed about with so many
blessings that she had occasion to offer peace-offerings, in token of
joy and thankfulness; she was before-hand in the world, so that he
needed not fear having his pocket picked.
(2.) Her profession of piety. She had been to-day at the temple, and
was as well respected there as any that worshipped in the courts of the
Lord. She had paid her vows, and, as she thought, made all even with
God Almighty, and therefore might venture upon a new score of sins.
Note, The external performances of religion, if they do not harden men
against sin, harden them in it, and embolden carnal hearts to venture
upon it, in hopes that when they come to count and discount with God he
will be found as much in debt to them for their peace-offerings and
their vows as they to him for their sins. But it is sad that a show of
piety should become the shelter of iniquity (which really doubles the
shame of it, and makes it more exceedingly sinful) and that men should
baffle their consciences with those very things that should startle
them. The Pharisees made long prayers, that they might the more
plausibly carry on their covetous and mischievous provisions. The
greatest part of the flesh of the peace-offerings was by the law
returned back to the offerers, to feast upon with their friends, which
(if they were peace-offerings of thanksgiving) was to be all eaten
the same day and none of it left until the morning,
This law of charity and generosity is abused to be a colour for
gluttony and excess: "Come," says she, "come home with me, for I have
good cheer enough, and only want good company to help me off with it."
It was a pity that the peace-offerings should thus become, in a bad
sense, sin-offerings, and that what was designed for the honour of God
should become the food and fuel of a base lust. But this is not all.
(4.) To strengthen the temptation,
[1.] She pretends to have a very great affection for him above any man:
"Therefore, because I have a good supper upon the table, I
came forth to meet thee, for no friend in the world shall be so
welcome to it as thou shalt,
Thou art he whom I came on purpose to seek, to seek diligently,
came myself, and would not send a servant." Surely he cannot deny her
his company when she put such a value upon it, and would take all this
pains to obtain the favour of it. Sinners take pains to do mischief,
and are as the roaring lion himself; they go about seeking to
devour, and yet pretend they are seeking to oblige.
[2.] She would have it thought that Providence itself countenanced her
choice of him for her companion; for how quickly had she found him whom
2. She courted him to lie with her. They will sit down to eat and
drink, and then rise up to play, to play the wanton, and there is a bed
ready for them, where he shall find that which will be in all respects
agreeable to him. To please his eye, it is decked with coverings of
tapestry and carved works, exquisitely fine; he never saw
the like. To please his touch, the sheets are not of home-spun cloth;
they are far-fetched and dear bought; they are of fine linen of
To gratify his smell, it is perfumed with the sweetest scents,
Come, therefore, and let us take our fill of love,
Of love, does she say? Of lust she means, brutish lust;
but it is a pity that the name of love should be thus abused. True love
is from heaven; this is from hell. How can those pretend to solace
themselves and love one another who are really ruining themselves and
3. She anticipated the objection which he might make of the danger of
it. Is she not another man's wife, and what if her husband should catch
them in adultery, in the very act? he will make them pay dearly for
their sport, and where will the solace of their love be then? "Never
fear," says she, "the good man is not at home"
she does not call him her husband, for she forsakes the guide
of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God; but "the
good man of the house, whom I am weary of." Thus Potiphar's
wife, when she spoke of her husband, would not call him so, but
It is therefore with good reason taken notice of, to Sarah's praise,
that she spoke respectfully of her husband, calling him lord.
She pleases herself with this that he is not at home, and therefore she
is melancholy if she have not some company, and therefore whatever
company she has she may be free with them, for she is from under his
eye, and he shall never know. But will he not return quickly? No: "he
has gone a long journey, and cannot return on a sudden; he
appointed the day of his return, and he never comes home sooner
than he says he will. He has taken a bag of money with him,
(1.) "To trade with, to buy goods with and he will not return till he
has laid it all out. It is a pity that an honest industrious man should
be thus abused, and advantage taken of his absence, when it is upon
business, for the good of his family." Or,
(2.) "To spend and revel with." Whether justly or not, she insinuates
that he was a bad husband; so she would represent him, because she was
resolved to be a bad wife, and must have that for an excuse; it is
often groundlessly suggested, but is never a sufficient excuse. "He
follows his pleasures, and wastes his estate abroad" (says she), "and
why should not I do the same at home?"
IV. Of the success of the temptation. Promising the young man every
thing that was pleasant, and impunity in the enjoyment, she gained her
It should seem, the youth, though very simple, had no ill design, else
a word, a beck, a wink, would have served, and there would have been no
need of all this harangue; but though he did not intend any such thing,
nay, had something in his conscience that opposed it, yet with her
much fair speech she caused him to yield. His corruptions at length
triumphed over his convictions, and his resolutions were not strong
enough to hold out against such artful attacks as these, but with
the flattery of her lips she forced him; he could not stop his ear
against such a charmer, but surrendered himself her captive. Wisdom's
maidens, who plead her cause, and have reason on their side, and true
and divine pleasures to invite men to, have a deaf ear turned to them,
and with all their rhetoric cannot compel men to come in, but such is
the dominion of sin in the hearts of men that its allurements soon
prevail by falsehood and flattery. With what pity does Solomon here
look upon this foolish young man, when he sees him follow the
(1.) He gives him up for gone; alas! he is undone. he goes to the
slaughter (for houses of uncleanness are slaughter-houses to precious
souls); a dart will presently strike through his liver; going
without his breast-plate, he will receive his death's wound,
It is his life, his precious life, that is thus irrecoverably thrown
away, he is perfectly lost to all good; his conscience is debauched; a
door is opened to all other vices, and this will certainly end in his
(2.) That which makes his case the more piteous is that he is not
himself aware of his misery and danger; he goes blindfold, nay, he goes
laughing to his ruin. The ox thinks he is led to the pasture when he is
led to the slaughter; the fool (that is, the drunkard, for, of
all sinners, drunkards are the greatest fools) is led to the
correction of the stocks, and is not sensible of the shame of it,
but goes to it as if he were going to a play. The bird that
hastes to the snare looks only at the bait, and promises herself
a good bit from that, and considers not that it is for her life.
Thus this unthinking unwary young man dreams of nothing but the
pleasures he shall have in the embraces of the harlot, while really he
is running headlong upon his ruin. Though Solomon does not here tell us
that he put the law in execution against this base harlot, yet we have
no reason to think but that he did, he was himself so affected with the
mischief she did and had such an indignation at it.
|The Seduction of a Youth.
24 Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to
the words of my mouth.
25 Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in
26 For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men
have been slain by her.
27 Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers
We have here the application of the foregoing story: "Hearken to me
therefore, and not to such seducers
give ear to a father, and not to an enemy."
1. "Take good counsel when it is given you. Let not thy heart
decline to her ways
never leave the paths of virtue, though strait and narrow, solitary and
up-hill, for the way of the adulteress, though green, and broad, and
crowded with company. Do not only keep thy feet from those ways, but
let not so much as thy heart incline to them; never harbour a
disposition this way, nor think otherwise than with abhorrence of such
wicked practices as these. Let reason, and conscience, and the fear of
God ruling in the heart, check the inclinations of the sensual
appetite. If thou goest in her paths, in any of the paths that lead to
this sin, thou goest astray, thou art out of the right way, the safe
way; therefore take heed, go not astray, lest thou wander
2. "Take fair warning when it is given you."
(1.) "Look back, and see what mischief this sin has done. The
adulteress has been the ruin not of here and there one, but she has
cast down many wounded." Thousands have been undone, now and for
ever, by this sin; and those not only the weak and simple youths, such
as he was of whom he had now spoken, but many strong men have been
slain by her,
Herein, perhaps, he has an eye especially to Samson, who was slain by
this sin, and perhaps to David too, who by this sin entailed a sword
upon his house, though so far the Lord took it away that he himself
should not die. These were men not only of great bodily strength, but
of eminent wisdom and courage, and yet their fleshly lusts prevailed
over them. Howl, fir-trees, if the cedars be shaken. Let him that
thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.
(2.) "Look forward with an eye of faith, and see what will be in the
end of it,"
Her house, though richly decked and furnished, and called a house of
pleasure, is the way to hell; and her chambers are the
stair-case that goes down to the chambers of death and
everlasting darkness. The cup of fornication must shortly be exchanged
for the cup of trembling; and the flames of lust, if not quenched by
repentance and mortification, will burn to the lowest hell. Therefore
stand in awe and sin not.