Our topic “Counseling Teens from Proverbs” comes because of a burden on my heart several years ago when a study from the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania said that the average father spends seven to eleven minutes a week in meaningful conversations with his children beyond short phrases like “pass the butter, “pass the salt,” or “thank you for the meal.”
When I thought about that, it was tragic. That’s not the way it was in my home. I checked with other evangelical fathers and mothers and found out that this statistic wasn’t too far off. This message on counseling teens from Proverbs is the result of a book that I wrote called Growing in Wisdom: A Bible Study in Proverbs for Fathers and Sons. The end of each chapter includes father-son interactive activities for fathers and sons to engage in Proverbs together to grow in a meaningful relationship where they’re saying more than just “pass the salt,” “pass the butter,” “thank you very much.” Because that’s what some fathers do.
Many fathers have come up to me over the years with their sons and said, “Son, this is the man who wrote the book that we went through.” That’s very encouraging to me. I took every one of my sons through this book. I’ve taken young men who I’ve mentored over the years through this book. It doesn’t matter how old they are, even though the book is really written for an older junior or teen.
Preliminary Understandings about Proverbs
Most people who haven’t done a study will probably say that Solomon wrote all of Proverbs. He did write the majority of it, but he didn’t write all of it. We see very clearly that Solomon wrote a portion of it in Proverbs 1:1 where it says “The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel.” If people stop there and don’t think as they’re working through the book that there were other people who wrote parts of Proverbs, then they might think that Solomon wrote it all. But in Proverbs 22:17 there’s a break in Solomon’s writings, where it says “Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise…” The words of the wise were other wise men that said something that God approved, which allowed that Proverb to be put in the Book of Proverbs. There’s a whole list of those proverbs that go down through Proverbs 24:34.
Then, when you get to Proverbs 30 you see that chapter 30 was written by Agur: “The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, the oracle.” Then Proverbs 31 says, “The words of King Lemuel, the oracle which his mother taught him.” I don’t know whether he or his mother will get credit for writing chapter 31, but it’s really from his mother. An oracle is something written as an infallible guide or an authority. God saw fit to place in Proverbs this writing by King Lemuel as he remembered the teachings that his mother had taught him about the virtuous woman.
In summary, Solomon is primarily the author here. In 1 Kings 4, we know that Solomon wrote many proverbs. In verses 29-32 it says:
“And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol, and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005.”
We’re getting the benefit of those proverbs as we look into how the book of Proverbs applies to counseling teens.
Addressee: To whom the book of Proverbs was written
The addressee of the book was “my son,” talking primarily of Solomon’s sons, but not just Solomon’s biological sons by birth. It was to the sons that came to the palace and were workers in the palace. They were greeters of kings. They held the door. They did the serving. These were young men of character and Solomon was teaching them how to engage with kings because he himself was a king and had a lot of very influential people come. We’re going to see that flavor of different addresses to kings as we move through the Book of Proverbs.
When I wrote Growing in Wisdom: A Bible Study in Proverbs for Fathers and Sons, I took a look at the number of times the phrase “my son” appears in the book of Proverbs, which is around 29 times. I looked at the topics around the phrase “my son.” You have to understand that when he says “my son,” it would be like if I were to say to my son Timothy, “Now, look, this is the way you ought to do this, and you need to cut the grass this way,” calling him to alertness again to something. I might continue, “It’s important that you edge the yard correctly, and furthermore, I’d like you to wash the car this afternoon. Timothy, when you wash the car, you do this.” It’s drawing his attention to something. Anytime you see the phrase “my son” in Proverbs, you want to look around it and see what the topic is. It’s amazing. When you do that, you see the things that Solomon thought were more important than just some of the other average proverbs. They’re all important, but there were times when he was drawing his son’s attention to something.
The book of Proverbs was written between 1015 and 975 BC.
The proverbs were taught in the palace, primarily by Solomon to his sons as he trained them in wisdom for positions in the palace. If you have not looked at some of those kingly verses that refer to who these young men were going to be serving, just take a look at a couple of them with me.
Proverbs 20:2: “The terror of a king is like the growling of a lion; whoever provokes him to anger forfeits his life.”
The message here is: “Sons, be careful when the kings come in because they are powerful people.”
Proverbs 21:1: “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.”
The message here is: “Yes, son, the kings are powerful, but know that God is more powerful and He turns the hearts of kings.”
Proverbs 23:1-3: When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food.”
In my case, it would be ridiculous for me to say to my son, “Now, son, when you sit down with President Obama, you need to be careful what you eat.” My son is never going to sit down with President Obama. Frankly, I wouldn’t want him to sit down with President Obama. I wouldn’t teach my son that because he probably would never have the opportunity, but this father (Solomon) is saying to his sons, “Look son, when the kings come to the palace, you need to be careful.” He’s addressing them for positions of interaction with higher powers or higher authorities. He wants them to be young men of character.
Other officials and sages taught students addressed as “my son.” It wasn’t just Solomon that did this training. They probably had classrooms of young men who were there to serve—whether they were going to be cooking, whether they were going to be waiters, whatever they were going to do. These sons needed to understand the character in these principles of proverbs. It’s broader application is for a father to his sons or to his daughters. We’re all sons and daughters, so all of it applies to us as well even though we may not sit with a king.
Definition of a proverb
A proverb is a short witty saying that gives you a standard by which you might judge your life or a truth reduced to a small nugget that can be remembered easily and applied to life situations.
When we interpret Proverbs, it’s not primarily a theological book. In other words, you’re not seeing anything systematic. The first eight chapters of Proverbs contain more narrative. After that, there’s a proverb followed by another proverb that makes no connection to the proverb before it. If you’re going to do a theology of Proverbs, you’ve got to do a study where you take one topic at a time (for example, wisdom, knowledge, or the sluggard) and write down every verse you find related to that topic. If you want a systematic theology of Proverbs, it’s going to be scattered verses all throughout the book. But it is a fascinating study that would leave you with about 30, 40, or 50 sheets of topics. Then when you come to the end of your study on a specific topic, you have a systematic theology of what the writer has said about that particular topic.
Most Proverbs are isolated and they interpret themselves; however Proverbs is still a sacred, God-centered book. We know many of the Proverbs. For example: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (3:5-6). This is a God-centered proverb.
The book of Proverbs is filled with figures of speech, never contradicts other Scripture (of course), and is a book of general principles alongside some promises. For instance, the one that troubles me the most is Proverbs 22:6, which reads, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” This proverb, when taken as a promise, interprets parents who have a prodigal as having failed. That’s not necessarily true. We all know of families with three children of which two are godly young people and one is a prodigal. What happened? We can’t guarantee the will of a child as if it were an assembly line. At the end of the line, the will of the child cannot be controlled or manipulated. Yes, as a general rule or principle, when you train up a child in the way he should go, he won’t depart from it. But there are those exceptions where the general principle outweighs preaching that verse as a promise, which otherwise puts parents who say “What did I do wrong?” on a guilt trip.
Examples of proverbs in life today
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
A stitch in time saves nine.
Most gossips get caught in their own mouth traps.
A Study of the “My Son” Topics in the Book of Proverbs
A. Fear of the Lord
If you do a topical study within Proverbs and the fear of the Lord is one of your topics, you’re going to see it referenced many times. Proverbs 1:7 says: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” It’s as if he’s saying: “Look, son. If you want to have wisdom and knowledge, it comes from a proper fear of the Lord.”
When you fear the Lord, you have an intellectual response. What I mean by that is what is said in Proverbs 2:5, where we read: “….then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.” There’s a certain intellectual understanding. As a youth pastor for 20 years—before I went for my doctorate and realized I couldn’t keep up with youth anymore and it would be better to counsel their parents than to counsel the youth—I realized that many of the young people did not have a grasp of who God was. Their theology of God was very weak. Their understanding of the attributes of God was very weak. As a result, we were asking them to trust in a God who they didn’t even know what He was like. If somebody is going to fear the Lord, there has to be an intellectual understanding of who God is, what He’s like, and what His attributes are.
I like the churches that have creeds. I was brought up in a Lutheran church. After having been in Baptist churches and Bible churches for years I wrote an article on the creeds, and I thought back to the Apostles Creed that I learned in the Lutheran church. Of course, at that time, I was unsaved and would have gone to hell if I had died. It wasn’t applicable to me. I didn’t understand it, but I could say it. The creeds are very wonderful. But in some of our reformed churches, our kids are trusting in creeds. They’ve gone through their catechism; they’ve made their profession of faith based upon what they know intellectually, but it hasn’t progressed beyond the intellect. Then you get to our Baptist and Bible churches where we don’t have creeds and they’re trusting in saying a prayer at camp and “Once saved, always saved.” We have to be careful. That’s all that these kids know. If all a kid knows as he grows up is the “Now, I lay me down to sleep” prayer, we’re in trouble with our young people because their intellectual understanding of who God is doesn’t lead to a proper fear of Him.
There’s an emotional response that has to be there as well. In Proverbs 15:33, we read: “The fear of the LORD is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.” There’s a humbling. There’s an emotional response when we see who God is. When we intellectually know what God is like, there ought to be a humbling in the contrast between who God is and who we are.
Then there’s a volitional response where there’s a choice that has to be made. We need to lead young people to make proper choices. It says in Proverbs 1:29: “Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD…” They might have known about it. They might have understood it. I don’t know whether they had an emotional response or not, but they didn’t make a choice for God. “The fool said in his heart, ‘There is no God.'”
We want our young men and our sons and daughters to understand what it means to fear the Lord.
B. Steps to wisdom
As you look at this book in a somewhat systematic way, you see steps to wisdom. But in Proverbs 9:10, we see this: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”
Step 1: Choose the fear of the Lord
We’ve discussed this already, that there is a need to choose the fear of the Lord.
Step 2: Pray and ask God for wisdom
Proverbs 2:3 says: “…yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding…”
The young person who prays is a young person who is going to understand who God is and who they’re praying to.
Step 3: Develop attentive, diligent, obedient listening
When you study the word “hearing” or the word “ear” in Proverbs, 23 times you see the word “hearing” and 14 times the word “ear.” I have spoken before hundreds of young people, and they heard me, but did they hear me? They heard the words. You know what it’s like if you have any children. Your children hear you and then they walk away. We have a foster son named Michael, and Michael was a little ADD. I’d have to walk up to him and say, “Michael, here is what I want you to do today,” followed by a list of the tasks I wanted him to do. Then I’d have to say, “Now, Michael, look at me. Repeat what I just said to you so I know that you heard me.” Even that doesn’t mean that he heard me. That just means he knows what I said to him. Whether he walks away from me and does it determines whether he really heard me.
Whenever you see the word “hearing,” you want to say to your son, “Look, James tells us that it isn’t just about being a hearer of the word, but being a doer of the word.” When we’re talking to our son, we have to say, “Look, you have to develop attentive, diligent, obedient listening.”
Step 4: Tell the young person that you’re on a treasure hunt
If you’re really going to find wisdom, you’re going to be on a treasure hunt. By this I am referring to Proverbs 2:4, which says: …”if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures…”
We need to teach our young people how to study the Word, how to get into the Word, and how to come up with right definitions of the words used. We need to spend time with them digging into a proper interpretation of the Word. When you look for silver, usually you don’t find it on the surface. Usually you have to dig into a mine and find the silver in the rock. For hidden treasure, I think of a pirate ship where the captain of the ship says to his men, “Men, take this treasure of jewels and gold and put it in the dinghy. We’re going to take it up onto this island.” Then the crew takes it up far on the island, leaves it on the shore, and gets back in the boat thinking, “When we get back in a few years, that chest is still going to be on the shore.” Nobody would be a part of that crew. Instead, we would find a place between two solid rocks, dig down eight feet, put the treasure down deep, and then cover it up. Nothing is going to move those two rocks and right in the middle we’re going to find our chest whenever we come back to it.
Treasures are deeper. A lot of times we’re looking on the surface with a little “Daily Bread” verse that has no depth on either side of it out of its context. We need to be teaching and counseling our young people to dig deeper into the truths that are going to make their life different.
Step 5: Claim wisdom’s promises
Like I said to you, there are some promises all throughout Proverbs. I want you to look at the “if, then” verses in Proverbs 2:1-5. It says: “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then…..” [emphasis added]
There’s a result. Tell your son, “If you dig that way, if this is your motivation, if you’re receiving these words and you’re putting your ear to attention to those words, ‘…then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.'” [emphasis added] We want our sons to understand that wisdom comes through a deeper understanding of who God is, making right choices, digging at it like a treasure, and responding to it appropriately.
C. Evil companions
There’s a large passage about evil companions just in Proverbs 1. You might ask why it is one of the first topics, and the answer would be that, “Son, there’s going to be evil companions around you.” In the first eight chapters of Proverbs, the topic of the strange woman, the immoral woman, and the immodest woman come up frequently. Why do you think Solomon said to his son, “Son, be careful about strange women”? We do it today too with our sons because there were strange women around in Solomon’s day, just like there are in our day. We need to let our children understand who the sinners are and understand the sinners’ enticements:
In Proverbs 1:11-12 and 16 it says, “If they say, ‘Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason; like Sheol let us swallow them alive, and whole, like those who go down to the pit…for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.” That sounds like the headlines of the paper today, doesn’t it? At the time that I taught this to my sons, we didn’t have all of the school and theater shootings, but we have them today. Some shootings start with a couple of guys who get together and say, “Let’s go shoot up our classmates.” Something’s wrong. It starts with this enticement of excitement.
Luring by money
Next, the sinners lure by money in verses 13 and 14, where they say, “we shall find all precious goods, we shall fill our houses with plunder; throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse…” It’s similar to saying, “If you really get with us and become part of our group, you’re going to have money.” It also refers to companionship in verse 14 where it says to “throw in your lot among us.” All those things are appealing to today’s youth, but if it’s for the wrong reasons with the wrong people, what should the response be? It’s clear in Scripture: just say “no.” It says, “Don’t consent. My son, if sinners entice you, don’t consent. Just learn to say ‘no’.” Proverbs 1:15 continues, “my son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths.” In other words, control your feet and watch where your feet go. You have a choice as to whether you walk this way or whether you walk the other way.
Reasons for the response
Then, we want to understand the reasons for the response. Proverbs 1:15-16 explains that it’s wrong and it’s only for fools. Do you want to be a wise son or do you want to be a foolish son? Then, in Proverbs 1:18-19, they reap what they sow where it says: “…but these men lie in wait for their own blood; they set an ambush for their own lives. Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors.”
Therefore, teach your sons about evil companions since the topic appears all throughout Proverbs, but then teach your sons about quality friendships.
D. Quality friendships
I won’t develop this here, but generally we’re saying to avoid the characteristics that destroy friendships and build the characteristics that develop friendships. If you’re going to get your young men and women to understand friendships, all you need to do is have them get a concordance and do a study of the words “friends,” “companion,” and “neighbor” only in the Book of Proverbs. That’s enough. You’ll find so many verses that include instruction about what a good friend is and what an evil friend is.
I had my sons make those lists about good and evil friends, and then I said to them, “Let’s take a look at a couple of your friendships.” For sake of example, let’s say two of the friends are named Joe and Bob. I then asked, “Do any of these characteristics describe Joe? Do any of these characteristics describe Bob?” Let’s say that Bob shared the characteristics of an evil friend. Then I’d say, “Maybe you want to consider how much time you’re going to spend with Bob or whether or not you’re going to have an evangelistic goal to reach Bob, because Bob isn’t a good friend for you.”
Solomon wanted his sons to be good choosers of friendships so he lists a lot of the characteristics. But even beyond that, I said to my sons, “Sons, what kind of a friend are you? Which of these characteristics better fit you and who you are? Are there characteristics where you’re being a friend who is weak and you ought to strengthen that up?” Again, Solomon wanted his sons to be friendly, to be neighborly, and to be the companions sometimes of kings.
E. Honoring parents
When you look at this, it’s a fascinating study as far as the emotions of parents.
Honor your parents by hearing them
We already talked about attentive, diligent, obedient listening. Honoring father and mother is the first commandment of the second tablet and the first commandment with a promise. If children really want to honor their parents, they’re going to honor their parents by being sensitive to their emotions.
A foolish son brings hurt to his parents
I had my sons go through the different verses in Proverbs that say, “Son, your very behavior brings either blessing or grief to your parents.” When you do a study of the theology of the way in which a son’s behavior affects his parents’ emotions, in Proverbs 17:21 you read: “He who sires a fool gets himself sorrow, and the father of a fool has no joy.” Son, do you want to bring your mother and father sorrow or joy? Because the very behavior that you do affects their emotions. Similarly, Proverbs 17:25 reads: “A foolish son is a grief to his father and bitterness to her who bore him.”
A wise son brings happiness to his parents
These are fleshed out so much more in each chapter of my book, but look at Proverbs 23:24 where it reads in the positive: “The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.” Son, do you want your parents to rejoice and be glad in you or be sad in you? Similarly, Proverbs 29:3 says, “He who loves wisdom makes his father glad, but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.” Do want to make your father glad? Your very behavior in wisdom and foolishness affects the emotions of your parents.
Honor your parents by avoiding the consequences of the fool and striving for the rewards of the wise.
F. Work and slothfulness
What does the Scripture say? You see verses about the sluggard all throughout, but when do a study on the sluggard and put them together, you have a powerful understanding of the difference between the results of the sloth or of the sluggard and the results of the diligent son.
A wise son develops wise work habits
He works as diligently as the ant. I remember taking my sons outside when I taught them this. It was in the summer and we went to an anthill. I said, “Son, let’s take a look. Just observe what’s happening here.” Solomon probably took his son to an anthill. Then in Proverbs 6:6-8 he says, “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.” So we see that a wise son works with a schedule. He doesn’t think he’s going to plant in the harvest, but rather he plants and gathers in the summer so that he has food for later on.
Verse 9 continues: “How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.” From this verse we see that the sluggard has poor work habits and wants to sleep rather than work. He has no work or sleep schedule and is deceitful to his employer where it says that he wants to receive but he doesn’t put his hand to the work.
What else does a sluggard do?
- He makes excuses for not going to work. In Proverbs 26:13 the sluggard says, “There is a lion in the streets!” as an excuse not to go to work.
- He desires payment for doing nothing and will not take care of his own belongings. Why do we want our kids to take care of their bicycles? Why do we want them to take care of their rooms? Proverbs 24:30-31 says: “I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down.” He didn’t even keep his wall up because he was too lazy to take care of that which God had given him. He was a poor steward of those things that God had given him.
- He does not take counsel according to Proverbs 26:16, which says: “The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly.” You need to ask yourself if your son is a sluggard or if he is really wise and diligent, putting time into what he does.
G. Strange woman
There are four large sections of Scripture and some scattered sections throughout Proverbs about the strange woman, and I would add the strange man to that. I want to make applications and stretch your mind a little bit by saying that this is talking about both sexes. This is talking about this strange woman who might lure your son, but it might also be talking about the strange man who would like to target your son as a sex object.
A number of years ago when I was a youth pastor in a church in Pennsylvania, a married man came to me. He had two sons and a daughter and his sons were the same age as my son at the time. He would regularly invite athletic young men over to his house after games and at other times for pizza or something similar. He was a member of the church. He came to me several times and asked me if he could work with young people. I said, “I really don’t need you.” But more than not needing him, I knew that his wife and children would travel and that his relationship with his wife wasn’t really good, and I knew what he did. I also just noticed some mannerisms—not effeminate mannerisms, very masculine mannerisms—that made me draw a parallel between his behavior and some of the things that the strange woman did. So I had this sense in addition to the fact that I knew I didn’t need him in the youth ministry. As soon as I left that church, this man went to the pastor who took over my position and eventually got involved with these young men and wound up molesting five athletic young men. I repeat: five. Not one young man, but five young men.
Therefore, when we look at the characteristics of the strange woman, in your mind I want you to apply those characteristics to a strange man as well because the strange men use some of the same tactics that the strange woman does to lure the foolish young lad into her house.
Speaks words of flattery
When you look at verses 1 & 5 of Proverbs 7, it says, “My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you;… to keep you from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words.” This adulteress uses words of flattery. Proverbs 2:16 echoes this concept: “So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words…” The adulterous woman knew how to use words and how to entice the young man with her words. We might imagine it in phrases like any of the following:
- “You really are physical.”
- “You’re handsome.”
- “You look so sharp.”
- “I like that shirt.”
- “Man, you did a good play on the field.”
The man I told you about in the case study was at all the soccer games and all the basketball games, ready to greet the guys when they came off the field with a great big, manly hug. It just seemed normally abnormal.
Disloyal to spouse and to God
Proverbs 2:17 describes the strange woman as she “who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God.” Applying this to our case study of the strange man it would be he who forgets the companion of his youth (or who forgets the companion of his wife). There was a problem between this man and his wife and you can now look back and you can see why that was there. But he forgot her. He was disloyal to his spouse.
Always on the go, seldom at home
Look at Proverbs 7:11-12. These verses describe him as well. It says: “She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home; now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait.” This man was seldom at home. He was always with the guys down in another town where he had crews with some of the teenagers. He was always with the jocks. He would call them up and say, “Hey, let’s go down to such and such a town.” He acted like he was a teenager himself. He was seldom at home.
He was also loud. He might call out, “Hey, Joe! Nice play.” Or, “Oh, everybody’s great. You guys are phenomenal.” You would hear him on the sidelines. It sounded normal, like the excited father when his son scores a goal, but he did it for everybody and especially for those five young men that he was targeting.
Crafty and deceitful
He was crafty and deceitful. It says in Proverbs 7:10: “And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart.”
You should have seen this guy. He was in shape and wasn’t a big belly man. He worked out. He wore tight jeans, cowboy boots, a cowboy hat and a long, leather jacket. He smelled really good and the kids admired him. But when I talked to them after his fall, he said it was all part of the lure. The kids had to admire him first. They had to trust him first. It’s the same way with the strange woman.
Focuses on outward beauty
Proverbs 6:25 reads: “Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes.”
I don’t know if this man in the case study had eyelashes or not since I never looked. If I’m allowed to evaluate a man, I would say that he was a handsome man. He knew he was a handsome man. Every hair on his head was right in place and he always wore the most perfect clothes. He had a hospital job and made a lot of money, and as a result, his wardrobe was what every teenager would have desired.
Loud and stubborn
Proverbs 7:11 says: “She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home.”
A religious hypocrite
Here, we have to know what Proverbs 7:14 is talking about. In this verse, Proverbs quotes her as saying, “I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows.” This particular sacrifice was where you would give meat and you would get a piece of meat back. After being religious and getting this piece of meat back, she was really saying to this young man, “If you come to my house, you’re going to get a good piece of meat. You’re going to get some food.” What teenager won’t come to a house where somebody says, “Hey, we going to have a pizza party Friday night. We’re going have pizza, Coke, pretzels, popcorn, pickles and potato chips.” Teens would come.
Other times the man in the case study would host sleepovers. The invitation would be: “Come over to my house and bring your sleeping bag. My wife and children are gone. We’re just going to sleep over and watch TV all night, and we’re going to have a great time.” He was a religious hypocrite. In fact, he told me that he started a home bible study for the parents of two of the young men that he targeted and molested. His purpose in doing so was to gain the parents’ trust so that the young men could eventually stay over at his house. One of the young men was there one Friday night by himself, helping the man cut wood. The man said, “I’m going to call your parents up and see if you can spend the night.” The man’s wife and children were gone. He had a big master bedroom with a big screen TV and he said to the young man, “Come on in here. You can sleep in this room.” The parents trusted him because he was a man leading a Bible study. It’s not unheard of that pastors would molest, but here was a youth worker who did the same thing.
Lures with all the senses
Sight: His appearance was sharp.
Hearing: He was loud. Everyone could hear him.
Touch: He would grasp and hug and slap them on the butt.
Taste: He would offer for them to come to his house with an offer of good food.
Smell: He smelled like a Polo cologne factory.
The strange man or woman lures in all the senses.
Lies and deceives about love
The young man that the married man made most progress in molesting later said, “But he said that he loved me. He said that he loved me. In fact, he would say, ‘When I show my wife that I love her, I do things like this. How can I show you that I love you?'” There was confusion about love. I had to work with this young man and get him to understand how that wasn’t love. I had to tell this young man, “I’ve talked to the other four (young men that he molested) and he said the same thing to them. How many young men does he love? Apparently five of them, because he said this same thing.” How many young men would the prostitute love? Anyone that would come to her house.
Stretch your mind a little bit about this passage because I don’t think that I’m doing it a disservice because you can see that there’s a parallel in the way that the strange woman and the strange man work together.
The consequences can be untimely death, destructive diseases, poverty, mourning. The counsel to the wise son is to stay away from her area.
Let me just tell you this. My sons were jocks. My son Tim played football and my son Ron played soccer. When the man in the case study had these parties, I let my sons go to the parties. But when he had the sleepovers, if they were going to go to sleep at one o’clock at night, I’d say “Sons, give me a call. I’ll come pick you up.” My sons would protest, “But they’re going to start early.” I would reply, “I’ll be glad to take you back as early in the morning as they’re going to start, but you will not sleep over.” As soon as this thing broke, I said to my son, “Son, did he ever touch you?” He never tried to touch my sons at all and never tried to lure my sons at all. I really believe that it’s because I never let him work with young people.
You might ask, “Well, why didn’t you say something about this man at the time?” How can you make a charge against somebody when there’s just uncomfortableness? I wish I had said something in one sense, but you can’t bring a charge against somebody and then alert them that somebody may be onto them because then they’ll really put it under. When it broke, this man had handled five different young men.
In summary, the commands related to the strange woman are:
- Stay away from her area.
- Be alert to her lures.
- Let wisdom and understanding be the woman in your life.
- Understand the meaning of biblical love.
- Embrace the words of your father.
- Guard your private space.
We teach our children and our teenagers what’s private and what’s not, what somebody can touch and what somebody can’t touch, what is a “yes” touch and what is a “no” touch. All those things are involved in guarding your private space. Teach young men or young women to watch out for the “no” touch people (the people that are touching in the wrong ways).
In conclusion, I believe Proverbs has a lot to say about counseling our teenagers—whether men or women—to be careful of the strange man and the strange woman as well.