Here we have the "harlot" described for us in very expressive language. Interesting that we don't even call sexually immoral women harlots any longer - but the term is what God uses to describe a woman who has sexual relations with men - and is not married to them. Harlot is the word "zanah" and it means to commit fornication, another word we've left behind in our enlightenment - or should we say, "endarkenment." This word is used to describe anything from adultery and prostitution to fornication and unfaithfulness. It is the word used for the women involved in sexual immorality, and that is what it refers to in this passage. Let's take a closer look at how she is described.
1. She reduces you to a loaf of bread . . . This was the price of a prostitute. What God intended to be a beautiful thing in the sexual relationship between a man and a woman has now been reduced to giving someone a loaf of bread for sex. What a sad picture of how high we fall.
2. She hunts for the precious life . . . The adulteress hunts for our very lives. Too often we see sexual things in our lives without this revelation. We would think twice about illicit sex if we grasped that we were not being seduced - we were being hunted for the kill.
3. Hugging fire . . . The harlot wants us to think of her embraces. She's there to comfort us and bring us pleasure. Interesting that the Scriptures say that when we do this we're hugging fire to ourselves. The harlot promises pleasurable embraces - but would we think of them this way if we were getting ready to hug a burning log to our chests with the result that we'd be badly burned?
4. Burned clothes . . . The result of embracing the harlot is to be physically burned - and what would be burned is our clothes first of all. All affairs seek secrecy. We don't want any trace of our indiscretions leaving any evidence. But in a day when a person had very few changes of clothes - we are told doing this is like embracing fire while thinking your clothes won't be burned. The fact is there is evidence - and just like burned clothes - their will be proof of our unfaithfulness.
5. Walking on hot coals . . . The harlot wants us to think that we can walk into her bedroom without harming ourselves. Yet the Scriptures tell us that doing so is like walking on hot coals and thinking we won't burn our feet. Our "walk" is going to be extremely hindered! That is the result of sexual immorality. We get burned - and that burning severely hinders our ability to walk with the Lord - and sometimes walk much at all. Imagine being laid up for weeks with feet scorched and blistered. Those caught in adultery not only hinder their walk with God - for many it is even painful to walk outside among people because of the stigma attached to their actions. Think first about this - before visiting the harlot.
The conclusion to this is a warning - so is the one who has sex with his neighbor's wife! All these pictures - and they are graphic pictures indeed - are what we'll get for a few moments of stolen pleasure. Just seeing these things by themselves - we'd run from the situation - but our problem is that often the pleasure promised - and our blindness to the situation - keep us from seeing all this. God knows that these graphic pictures will help us to see the real danger - the real harm - the real damage that will come from visiting the harlot.
The warning is clear - "Whoever touches her will not go unpunished!" This word "unpunished" means to be acquitted - to be declared free, clean, or pure. The one who visits and uses the harlot will not enjoy these things. There will be punishment for adultery - and that punishment is sure.
Ours is a visual society . . . and that in itself is often why we get in trouble. The harlot used to be a physical woman alone - and not images we see on billboards, in magazines, and in movies and television shows. But thanks be to God that in His battle against sin He has given us pictures - graphic portrayals that get our attention. He does so to remind us of the dangers of sexual sin. May we see the pictures - be horrified at what they show us - and turn from the harlot at every opportunity for sin.