Proverbs 7:17

I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.


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A bed that smells like heaven does not justify the hell of fornication. The strange woman is thorough in her seduction, as Solomon continued his parable of a young man taken down to death and hell by her feminine wiles (Pr 7:27). She left nothing to chance. She was an expert in womanly arts, and she prepared a sensory overload to capture her prey.

The parable is long in details of how a skilled adulteress seduced a young male victim (Pr 7:6-23). Solomon graphically described the enticement and conquest in order to get his son’s attention (Pr 7:1-5,24-25), adequately represent the power of the temptation (Pr 7:21-22,26), and teach the hidden horror of the consequences (Pr 7:23,27). In the short verse before you, he continued a description of her specially prepared bed (Pr 7:16-17).

A perfumed bed is an erotic addition to lovemaking. Myrrh, a gum-resin from several species of plants used for perfume and incense, is considered to have a “deep and haunting” smell. Aloes, the fragrant resin or wood of the Agalloch tree, has a sweet, woody, and fruity aroma. Cinnamon, a spice that most men know well, has a sweet, woody smell. Combined, the olfactory impression by this bed would be great.

The Holy Spirit deals with sex and sin differently than many Christian parents. Still fighting off the hangover of Victorian confusion, they may prudishly blush or cringe at graphic descriptions like this parable. They would never talk about such things or in such a way to their children. They somehow think they are holier than the Holy Spirit. They make the fatal assumption that such subjects should not be discussed with children.

The results of this distortion are painful – the children know their parents are out of touch with reality, they will not confide in their parents, they are unprepared for the world’s temptations, and they enter marriage with enough ignorance and confusion to perpetuate sexual dysfunction for another generation. Parent, let the Holy Scriptures be your guide, and lean not to your own understanding or upbringing about any subject (Pr 3:5-6).

Christian man, the inspired Solomon in the book of Proverbs is the ultimate father. He showed great love and concern for his son and the horrible dangers of fornication and adultery. It is the wisdom of God to deal with these matters openly, plainly, and powerfully, as in the parable of this chapter. Embrace, rather than reject, his approach.

Christian woman, the inspired Solomon was an expert on women. Here he showed the arts of a very seductive woman. A wife grasping some of the wisdom here and in his Song will help her husband from wandering and wondering. A mother displaying some of the wisdom here and in his Song to her husband will earn the confidence of her children and provide an example to them of a godly wife. Sadly, some Christian wives cannot comprehend, or have rebelled against, being sexually desirable and enticing in marriage.

Decorating and perfuming the bed were additional tools of capturing all the senses of a man (Pr 7:16-17). The lovemaking experience would be powerfully pleasant and memorable. Simple smells can resurrect ancient memories. The perfect wife in Solomon’s Song perfumed herself and her garments (S.S. 1:12-13; 4:10-15; 5:5).

Now you listen, young man. The olfactory pleasure of this whore and her offered intimacy is great, very great. The aromatic pleasure, coupled with the delight of the other senses, has stolen the hearts and minds of many men. Your nose will powerfully tell you that this hot, perfumed, soft, womanly creature and her bed offer great pleasure.

But young man, have you smelled death before? Have you had a good whiff of hell? Have you smelled the sweat of fear? Have you discovered the scent of a polluted conscience? These are the horrible smells that the morning light will bring. Plug your nose now, and run from her. She lies! Her bed lies! Her perfume disguises the smell of death and hell that are hiding there (Pr 7:27). Plug your nose now, and run from her.

If you get close enough to this woman to feel the perfumed heat emanating from her body and smell her fragrance, you have chosen the death of a fool. You are playing Russian roulette with all the chambers loaded. Plug your nose now, and run from her. Your only true safety is staying far away from her (Pr 4:14-15; 5:8; Matt 5:29-30; Rom 13:14).

The Lord Jesus Christ, described gloriously by the psalmist in Psalm 45, came forth as the royal bridegroom in garments smelling of myrrh, aloes, and cassia (Ps 45:8). The pleasant aroma is for the comfort and pleasure of His people, whom He has chosen for His everlasting bride. Is the Lord Jesus Christ precious to you today, dear reader?