Scripture Focus: Proverbs 7:22-23
All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life.
Reflection: Lady Folly
By Erin Newton
As Proverbs’ dramatic poem continues, the father gives another example to educate his son in the way of wise living. There is a man walking the streets; he is a fool wandering into a trap laid out by a seductive woman.
The seductress in Proverbs 7 is often referred to as Lady Folly. The woman is crafty. She is wealthy and intelligent. She has an aim and meticulously sets her trap.
First, she lures the fool in with excitement. Grabbing him for a kiss, the thrill is her hook.
Second, she conceals her ruse with religiosity. She has done her duty of worship and now is ready to share a ceremonial meal. Third, she aims for his ego and lavishes him with flattery. Finally, she tempts him with sensual pleasures and reassurance of secrecy.
The relationship with the woman ends with the death of the foolish man. “All at once he followed her … little knowing it will cost him his life.” (v22-23)
Although the story utilizes a real-life scenario of prostitution or adultery, which must have been common enough to be understood in this poetic way, the story has no particular judgment on gender. If anything, both genders are at fault in this story. In fact, the antithesis of Lady Folly appears in the next chapter when we meet Lady Wisdom. The book of Proverbs closes with the heralding of the smart, ambitious, hardworking woman. Let the reader understand, this poetic depiction of Folly is not a condemnation of women as the root of all evil.
The moral of the story goes beyond wise sexual ethics. This is a story of a person who is aimless in life, senseless, easily lured by temptation. The person is drawn to excitement although it is tainted with impropriety. The person doesn’t stop to discern religious charades from true piety. The person is distracted by self-promotion and self-gratification instead of seeing the trap waiting ahead.
We are all in danger of being this fool. Temptations toward pleasure, thrills, and pride lurk around every corner. Perhaps the most sinister deception is the false pretense of loving God while leading others into sin and death.
The goal is more than avoiding seduction. The aim is to develop a heart that sees past these pretenses. The proverb teaches that wisdom is the guard against the places where seduction can bait a fool.
From John: As we talk about Lady Folly and Lady Wisdom this week, we’ll share this poem dramatizing the two ladies. It’s worth the repetition and meditation.
Music: “Again and One Mo’ Time” Aaron Smith
Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus said: “In all truth I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave. Now a slave has no permanent standing in the household, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free.” — John 8.34-36
Read more about Temptation Has No Gender
In addition, these passages have been often misused to paint all women as temptresses and all men as victims.
Read more about Emulating Christ’s Love
Proverbs chides its readers, “Why commit sexual sin?” There are no benefits. Those who do this, do so because of folly and a lack of wisdom.