And I find more bitter than death the woman
This was the issue of his diligent studies and researches, and the observations he had made; this was what he found by sad and woeful experience, and which he chose to take particular notice of; that he might not only expose this vanity among others, and caution men against it, even the love of women, which at best is a bitter sweet, as the poet F11 calls it, though here adulterous love is meant; but having this opportunity, might express his sincere repentance for this folly of his life, than which nothing had been more bitter to him, in the reflection of his mind upon it: death is a bitter thing, and terrible to nature, ( 1 Samuel 15:32 ) ; but to be ensnared by an adulterous woman is worse than that; it brings not only such diseases of body as are both painful and scandalous, but such horrors into the conscience, when awakened, as are intolerable, and exposes to eternal death; see ( Proverbs 5:3 Proverbs 5:4 ) . By "the woman" is not meant the sex in general, which was far from Solomon's intention to reflect upon and reproach; nor any woman in particular, not Eve, the first woman, through whom came sin and death into the world; but an adulterous woman: see ( Proverbs 5:4 ) . Some interpret this of original sin, or the corruption of nature, evil concupiscence, which draws men into sin, and holds them in it, the consequence of which is death eternal; but such who find favour in the eyes of God are delivered from the power and dominion of it; but obstinate and impenitent sinners are held under it, and perish eternally. Jarchi, by the woman, understands heresy; and so Jerom and others interpret it of heretics and idolaters: it may very well be applied to that Jezebel, the whore of Rome, the mother of harlots, that deceives men, and leads them into perdition with herself, ( Revelation 17:4 Revelation 17:5 Revelation 17:8 ) ( 18:23 ) ; and who is intended by the harlot, and foolish and strange woman, in the book of Proverbs, as has been observed; whose heart [is] snares and nets, [and] her hands [as] bands;
all the schemes and contrivances of a harlot are to ensnare men by her wanton looks and lascivious gestures; which are like snares laid for the beasts, and likeness spread for fishes, to take them in; and when she has got them, she holds them fast; it is a very difficult thing and a very rare one, ever to get out of her hands; so Plautus F12 makes mention of the nets of harlots: the same holds true of error and heresy, and of idolatry, which is spiritual adultery; the words used being in the plural number, shows the many ways the adulterous woman has to ensnare men, and the multitudes that are taken by her; see ( Revelation 13:3 Revelation 13:10 Revelation 13:14 ) ; whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her:
or, "who is good before God", or "in his sight" F13; (See Gill on Ecclesiastes 2:26); to whom he gives his grace and is acceptable to him; such an one as Joseph was shall escape the snares and nets, the hands and bands, of such a woman; or if fallen into them, as Solomon fell, shall be delivered out of them, as it is observed by various interpreters: nothing but the grace of God, the true fear of God, the power of godliness and undefiled religion, can preserve a person from being ensnared and held by an impure woman; not a liberal nor religious education, not learning and good sense, nor any thing else; if a man is kept out of the hands of such creatures, he ought to esteem it a mercy, and ascribe it to the grace and goodness of God; but the sinner shall be taken by her;
a hardened and impenitent sinner, that is destitute of the grace and fear of God; who is habitually a sinner, and gives up himself to commit iniquity; whose life is a continued series of sinning; who has no guard upon himself, but rushes into sin, as the horse into the battle; he becomes an easy prey to a harlot; he falls into her snares, and is caught and held by her; see ( Proverbs 22:14 ) .
F11 Musaeus, v. 166. Vid. Barthii ad Claudian. de Nupt. Honor. v. 70.
F12 Epidicus, Act. 2. Sc. 2. v. 32. "Illecebrosius nihil fieri potest", ib. Bacchides, Sc. 1. v. 55. Truculentus, Act. 1. Sc. 1. v. 14-21.
F13 (Myhlah ynpl bwj) "bonus coram Deo", Pagninus, Mercerus, Drusius, Amama, Rambachius; "qui bonus videtur coram Deo ipso", Junius & Tremellius.