My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. — Proverbs 7:1-2
The value of God’s Word and His wisdom exceeds any other treasure. Don Wolfe, a long-time member of our Portland congregation, was taught that truth by his Christian father. He often testified about how he was taught the Scriptures when he was just a small child being raised by a single parent after his mother left the home. His godly father was faithful to take him to church and Sunday school regularly. However, much of what he learned of the Word of God was based on a Scripture game he and his father often played. They would take turns quoting verses to each other until dropping off to sleep each night. A particular passage that always came up was, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:15-16). Don never got away from those verses.
He related, “Following graduation from high school, I got a job, married, and spent two years in the United States Navy during the Korean conflict. I drew the line on what I would and would not do: I never tried cigarettes, liquor, or drugs, but I had a lot of worldly ambitions. Shortly after I came home from the service, the Lord showed me that I had let the love of the world creep into my heart. I was living with an empty profession, and I didn’t see how I would ever have the courage to face up to the truth and get straightened out with the Lord.
“One night, as I sat in a young people’s meeting, it seemed as though the Lord shut me away from everything around me. His Spirit was dealing with me, and at the close of that service, I didn’t care what anybody thought about me. All I wanted was to make sure I was right with God. I made my way forward to the altar of prayer, and kneeling at the foot of the pulpit, I repented with bitter tears. I told the Lord I wanted to be a real Christian. The Lord was faithful to encourage me as I prayed, and that night He saved my soul, witnessing that I had been forgiven. When I rose to my feet I had peace in my heart at last. All the fear of death was gone, and the burden of condemnation was rolled away. What a joyful night that was!”
Don’s story changed from one of defeat to one of victory because he yielded his life to God. Although he had known the Word of God from early childhood, he began to treasure God’s commandments and to live according to God’s precepts, as instructed in today’s key verses. He went on to raise his family of seven children in the Gospel, worked for many years as a respected educator and musician in the Portland area, and served faithfully in a variety of roles in the church. Even in his senior years, he still rejoiced that he could report spiritual victory until he went to his reward in Heaven in 2019.
The story recorded in Proverbs 7 is a sad contrast to Don’s testimony. Solomon told of a young man who did not keep God’s commandments close to his heart, and his story did not have a happy ending.
God has laid out a plan in His Word that, if followed, will give us victory over sin. Studying the Bible, treasuring its commandments, and following through in obedience will help us remain victorious in spite of the challenges that life inevitably brings our way. Don Wolfe is one who has proved that, and we can do so as well.
Like prior chapters, today’s text continues the emphasis on the importance of wisdom. In chapter 7, wisdom is presented as the treasure that provides safety, including the preservation of moral purity. Conversely, ignoring wisdom will lead to destruction. As an illustration, Solomon told of a young man who was ensnared by the cunning ways of an adulterous woman. The chapter ends with another exhortation to take heed.
Like a father would teach a son or a teacher his pupils, Solomon directed his warning to young men. In verses 1-5, the words commandments, words, and law all refer to the wisdom of heeding God’s instructions. To keep wisdom as “the apple of thine eye” (verse 2) meant to care for it as one would the pupil of the eye, which is vital to seeing. If the pupil were injured, the individual would find himself living in darkness, and the person who does not hold the law dear will be in spiritual darkness. Jewish people wrote out Old Testament passages and wore them on their arms and foreheads as reminders, but in verse 3, Solomon said to bind God’s instructions on the heart, the seat of one’s will and being. Wisdom should be prized as a beloved sister or a relative who offers protection. This devotion to wisdom, Solomon counseled, would be a defense against immoral temptations.
An illustrative metaphor begins at verse 6. The word casement could be translated as lattice. In Solomon’s time, glass was not used in windows, but windows often had lattice, which gave some privacy and yet allowed ventilation. A person could stand inside and look out without being seen.
A young man, inexperienced and foolish, allowed himself to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Verse 7 uses the phrase “void of understanding” to describe the young man. Adam Clarke observes that he was “destitute of a heart; he had not wisdom to discern the evil intended nor courage to resist the flatteries of the seducer.” Whether by intent or accident, he came to the corner where the seductress lived, and she set about to trap him. A willful and uncontrolled woman, she used boldness and flattery. When she said in verse 14, “I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows,” she referred to religious sacrifices she had made. In such offerings, the priests kept some of the meat, but the Law required the giver to eat what remained that day or the next, so she was indicating that she was observant of the religious law. She claimed there was no need to be concerned about her husband because he had taken money and gone on a long trip.
Solomon gave graphic word pictures to describe the youth’s yielding: like an ox going to slaughter, a fool to the stocks, or a bird into a snare. Verse 23 refers to a dart striking through the liver. This could be a reference to the fact that the liver was considered the seat of sexual desire in ancient writings. It also could imply that the woman’s husband would carry out judgment on him and his wife by killing them both or having them both killed for their transgression.
In verses 24-27, Solomon concluded by again issuing a warning. He wanted others to learn from this youth’s example. They needed to work at keeping the wisdom of God in their hearts so they would avoid the temptations that destroyed this youth and many others as well.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The superiority of the way of wisdom
E. The warnings of wisdom
2. Concerning other acts of folly
f. The folly of harlotry (7:1-27)
(1) The call to obedience (7:1-5)
(2) The ways of a harlot (7:6-23)
(3) The conclusion (7:24-27)
We will benefit in this life and throughout eternity if we cherish God’s Word and follow His commandments.