“For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness.” (Proverbs 7:6-9, ESV)
Just as we saw last time that our temptations to sin are common to us all – so all of our temptations have common elements to them. Here again, getting some understanding of these matters in a detailed fashion becomes a necessary weapon in waging the battle.
Note first then that it is “the simple” who succumb. The word is not mean to convey a state of defectiveness nor meant as a put-down, as much as it is merely descriptive. The truth is, sin thrives wherever we remain naive. In dealing with sin, we must become as “wise as serpents.” We must suspect our own hearts of the most wicked and deceptive propensities. And, we must assume temptation is waiting for us at every turn. There are no safe places. We can be tempted to the most licentious and wicked things in the midst of prayer, Bible study or worship, as we can walking along the beach and exposed to the near nakedness our society seems to promote as pure and healthy.
The one who leaves his simplicity behind, is the one who no longer thinks he can arrive at some sort of truce with sin or to some place where he can no longer be surprised by it. He comes to understand its vicious nature. And, that the Enemy of our souls seeks our utter destruction without relenting for any cause. The simple think they can win one little skirmish and send sin packing. The wise realize that there will always be retaliation. That sin lies in wait for a more opportune time. It never, never, never – goes away.
Note secondly that such simplicity is tied to youth. The idea here is not merely lack of numerical age, but of immaturity. So it is Paul can admonish Timothy – almost certainly in his 40’s if not older – to “flee youthful passions” (2 Tim. 2:22). It is true, some passions are more likely to take the lead at different stages in our lives. Not many 16 year olds are as captured by the idea of an old man’s temptation to retire from life and take it easy having “earned” their divorce from responsibility. And as the ancient Rabbis used to say of an old man who’s physical response to sexual stimulation is no longer as active: “Let no one congratulate himself on victory over sins he can no longer act upon.” But it seems that the Author’s intent here is to point out that it is those with little experience of understanding sin and its ways who are most likely to be prey to its machinations. Temptation is wily, clever and tirelessly inventive.
Third, we see that we contribute to our fall into temptation by the simple and immature mindset that thinks one can flirt with sin, and then not be captured by it. Our Author sees this “simple” one, “among the youths, a young man lacking sense” – “passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness.” Do you see the progression there? Do you recognize it in yourself? “It’s not sin to just catch a glimpse, just to get close”. “I can get warm by the fire without getting burned.” But Beloved, this is not mere fire – this is Hell fire. One cannot get near to it without being burned – consumed! So seeing how close you can get, teasing your own soul with just “passing near”, moves to getting closer as it gets darker and you stand less chance of being seen or recognized by others. Till at last, in the dark of night, in a series of concentric rings drawing closer and closer, your orbit near Temptation’s corner finds you captive to Her gravitational pull – and crash you will.
This Beloved is wisdom. Stop lying to yourself. Drop the naiveté. Wake up. You must stop the cycle back before you pass near Her corner. You will crash. You will burn. Her feet are in Hell.