Why should a man ask for the hearts of his children - especially the hearts of his sons? That is a good question because in our day we are told that our children need to think for themselves - which is true. The problem comes when that statement is made meaning that they should throw off the beliefs and morals of their parents and adopt the foolish morals of society itself. That is not wisdom but the height of foolishness. From what is said here by the Lord in verses 26-28 we will see why this is such a bad thing for the sons of a society to do.
The plea of the father is simple - he wants to have his son's heart. He asks for it very plainly - and restates his request so that we understand that for which he asks. He wants his son to delight in his ways. The request is that his son sets or places his heart in the hands of his father. The restatement of that request lets us see that the father desires for his son to adopt and take up his ways. But this is not a request for the son to grudgingly take up his father's ways - but rather that the son would "delight" in them. "Ratsah" is delight and it means to accept something favorably - to be pleased with it. The father desires for his son to enjoy and favor the ways that he teaches him. This is nothing more than passing to our son the same way we live - to pass our morals and our beliefs to them. And we will see in the very next verse why this is important.
Whose job is it to pass to the next generation the things of God and the ways of the Lord? It is the job of the father to do this - and if the father does not take this task seriously - the problems of this passage will riase their ugly head in any society.
When a son does not delight in the godly ways of a godly father, what results is that the desires of his lower nature take over and head in a hell-ward direction. One of the first things that will show itself is the lusts of his flesh. Granted this is a two way street - for the one he is warned of is the harlot - the immoral woman. The truth is that without the influence of godly fathers, the daughters also turn away from the things of the Lord - and find that their fallen nature takes over in their choices as well.
The son is warned that the harlot is a deep pit. In Proverbs 22:14 this deep pit is identified as the mouth and voice of the harlot and the prostitute. She lures one in with her words and with her enticing promises of sex that is beyond that which marital life can offer. The fool is the one who listens to her - draws near - and then falls into this deep pit. And for what reason is a deep pit dug other than to lure the unsuspecting animal near for the capture and the kill. The end of the matter is death and destruction. One finds himself lying broken in the bottom of the pit with no way out. so also is the adulterous one - who begins thinking only of pleasure and ends knowing nothing but guilt and destruction.
The "adulterous" woman here is actually the "strange" or "foreign" woman. God warned against these women because of how they would tempt His people to leave Him and worship their foreign gods instead. Interesting is the fact that the vast majority of this alien worship involved sexual immorality and the abandonment of the marriage vow and the defilement of the marriage bed. This foreign or strange woman is described as a "narrow well." The word here for well is "beer" and it can mean either a well of refreshing water - or a narrow pit that only offers entrapment and misery. What I find fascinating about the use of this word is that God encourages us elsewhere in Proverbs to "drink water from your own well," in reference to the sexual relationship in marriage. But when we abandon our "own well," and go out into the streets seeking illicit sexual affairs - we move from our own well to a narrow pit that holds no water - but rather holds us in our sin and disgrace as the illicit sexual activity destroys our families and our marriages.
While the foreign woman promises incredible sexual ecstacies to the fool she seeks to entice, the truth is that she is lurking like a predator, ready to pounce upon her unsuspecting prey. Just like the male black widow spider is lured to mate with the female - not realizing that she will destroy and consume him when the act is done - so the fool strolls into the den of the whore not fully seeing that this is not a pleasure den, but a robber's lure. Still, he comes, thinking that this is all about pleasure, when he is about to experience the trigger of the trap that will enslave him. He is about to have stolen from him all that he will truly treasure.
This robber is waiting to add to her own lair of prey. She desires to increase the "faithless among men." This faithlessness is called "treachery" in the Old Testament. There is a word we don't seem to use as much any longer. This word means to act as a traitor and to betray someone. Here it refers to those who are married and their treachery toward their wives and toward the Lord before Whom they entered into their marriage vows. How many marriages have been destroyed simply because a man did not remember his vows before God - instead choosing to listen to the lies of his own flesh and the tantalizing lies of a strange woman.
Oh, fathers, how we need to do two very valuable things in life. First, how we need to treasure our wives. We need first to SHOW the way to our sons by how we treat our wives and cling to them. You cannot have instruction without example - and in this situation how the world needs the example of godly fathers cherishing their wives in front of their children. Second, we need to have a generation of fathers who desperately want their son's hearts. We need to call to them to cherish the father-son relationship as a place where they can receive wisdom and instruction and warning. We need to love them and delight in them so that they continue to give their hearts to us. Then, when we have that marvelous gift of their hearts, we need to use that trust to teach them the things of the Lord - urging them to a lifestyle and to choices that will bless them for generations. Among these teachings is desperately needed a call to watch their own hearts - covet the strength of their own marriages - and to protect the purity of their marriage covenants before God.