Friday Column: Brent’s Bent
We finally get a glimpse of Lady Folly. Granted, she is factually a person our author was aware of, but she is the embodiment of Lady Folly. Our author relates to his students something he witnessed with his eyes, the seduction of the simpleton. Indeed, Solomon seems preoccupied with sexual immorality, having discussed it several times. However, Solomon knows the damage caused by sexual sin. It is ruinous in multiple ways. And repetition is often a device used within instruction to ensure a pupil learns the material.
Solomon begins by directing students to God’s Law. What does God say about this? Indeed, God has prohibited sexual immorality within the Law. Therefore, the student need only properly esteem that Law, making it the apple of his eye. Furthermore, unlike the gaudy phylacteries worn by later Pharisees, the young man needs to write God’s Law on his heart. Those fortunate enough to live under the New Covenant already realize that God changed the nature of His Law so that the follower of the New Covenant can write God’s Law on his heart rather than a stone (Hebrews 10.15-17). It enables the disciple to carry God’s Word with him always.
After writing God’s Law on one’s heart, he seeks Lady Wisdom. She is here pictured as a sister. Think of the relationship many brothers have with their sisters. Do they not tend to be protective of them? Even Jacob’s brood did something drastic to protect the honor of their sister Dinah (cf. Genesis 34). So, the sister figure stands in stark contrast to Lady Folly, the seductress. With Wisdom, there is life, but Folly brings death. And this analogy of brothers and sisters continues under the New Covenant within the Body of Christ (cf. 1 Timothy 5.1-3).
These first five verses set the stage for the subsequent confrontation and seduction of the youth. As Solomon looks out his window, he sees the “simple ones” (KJV) gathered in the streets. But as is typically the case when the Bible uses words like a fool or simple, it is not about a lack of intelligence. Instead, such words denote a disdain for or a lack of instruction. Typically, it is because simple ones pursue carnal things rather than those spiritual experiences that bring wisdom. Hence, we have those who, if pure of heart, would have sought the safety of their homes. Instead, these men preferred hanging out in the dangerous streets.
One of the young men broke away from the pack to go towards “her” house (i.e., Lady Folly). Here, Solomon uses the poetry of the lengthening shadows to demonstrate the impending doom befalling the young man he is watching. The seductress is already out in the streets, making her way toward our simpleton. Though dressed as a harlot, this woman was someone’s wife. She took advantage of her husband’s absence to satiate her carnal desires. It seems that this was something she often did.
The seductress’ words obfuscate the evil deed by couching it similarly to the thanksgiving peace offering in which the priests sat down on the same day to consume their portion of the sacrifice (cf. Leviticus 7.15). Thus, she has a lot of food that they must eat together. It may be that the “harlot” is aware of the adage that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Or it may be that this hints at her likewise being pagan on top of sexually immoral. Is she an Israelite? We don’t know. Her talk of paying vows might refer to the proceeds earned through sacred prostitution (i.e., prostitution in service to a fertility goddess like Astarte).
If so, Lady Folly poses more than the risks discussed in Proverbs 6. She is also a threat to his spiritual life. Solomon says the young man is like an ox to the slaughter. In other words, he is oblivious to what is about to happen. The adulteress has laid a successful trap. But unfortunately, this young man does not realize the cost his actions will ultimately cost. Sadly, many breaking God’s Law is unaware of the long-term consequences.
To such threats, Solomon offers three forms of defense. First, keep your mind safe. When a man’s thoughts wander in the direction of Lady Folly, he is in danger. Second, keep your distance, avoiding all contact, physically and mentally. Third, keep your eyes on her scorecard. In so doing, you will see the countless slain and her chambers of death. God does not shy away from telling us about men who were victims of illicit love or how they suffered afterward. Samson. David. Solomon. Each of those men sowed to the wind and reaped a whirlwind because of a woman.
Everyone should flee sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6.18), but let the young men not have the same tragedy befall him as the wicked Abimelech. When Abimelech attacked Thebez, a woman cast down a millstone that struck Abimelech’s head, crushing his skull. He asked his armor-bearer to run him through with his sword so no one could say of him, “A woman slew him” (Judges 7.50-57). So may it also never be said of a man, spiritually, that a woman slew him. Stay away from Lady Folly.