Proverbs seems aimed at a young man–someone who is at least an adolescent since he is capable of being sexually tempted. He may be old enough to be a young married man. After all, one of Solomon’s exhortations is to be satisfied with one’s young wife (Proverbs 5:18-19).
I don’t know at what age men got married in Israel in Solomon’s day, but his wisdom seems aimed at males ranging from adolescence to early marriage.
As Scripture, Proverbs is a book meant to be read by all people, young and old, male and female. But to apply the lessons, if you are not a young man, then you need to imagine being a young man in most cases, so you can apply Solomon’s warnings to yourself.
Solomon’s warning in Proverbs 7 is specific and detailed. He wants the young man to avoid the trap of a married, wealthy, immoral woman. He doesn’t explicitly say she is older, but Solomon doesn’t call her young. The impression we get is that she is older than the youth, and certainly more experienced.
And she is not tempting the young man only with sex, but with the enjoyment of wealth that is not his and he did not earn. Her bed is a luxury that the man could not afford unless he was wealthy. Her mention of the husband’s “bag of money” that he took on his trip emphasizes his immense wealth. If he has so much money to risk going somewhere far away (an inherently dangerous endeavor in the ancient world) then we can safely assume he has far more wealth in his home estate.
So, here’s a rich woman offering a night of sinful pleasure to a young man.
The adulterous temptress of Proverbs 7 seems unprecedented in the Bible. The closest situation is the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. But Joseph was a successful and capable manager. The wife’s desires, while wrong, made more sense. She wasn’t offering herself to a young stranger who hadn’t accomplished anything. Joseph was a genuinely admirable man. (more…)