"And behold, a woman comes to meet him, dressed as a harlot and cunning of heart..."
Solomon describes the woman for the first time here. There are three things that he wants you to know. She comes to meet him. She is dressed as a harlot. She is cunning of heart.
a woman comes to meet him
This is the Hebrew word ishshah which means woman, female, wife. If the verse had been translated a wife comes to meet him, it would be more powerful and possibly convey the shock in the verse. A woman who is pledged to another man comes to meet this guy who is wandering by. She is pledged; her husband is counting on her trustworthiness as he is away on business trying to earn enough for the family.
This is the Hebrew word qara which means encounter, engage, befall, meet. The idea is that this man has taken enough steps toward her that she is ready to spring the trap and to make sure that he does not get away. She goes out to meet him. She is aggressive sexually, and he is captivated by her aggressiveness. He is pulled in the last part of this seduction to his destruction by her aggressiveness, her dress, and her cunning soul.
If she had greeted him as she greets her husband, he would not have been interested. She does not go out to meet her husband before he makes it home. She does not dress up in a sexy way to greet her husband. She does not use all her mental and emotional smarts to meet her husband's needs. No, this is saved for the new man. Her husband gets the tired, wore-out housewife presenting him a list of honey-do chores and a disinterested approach to his interest in her.
If she put the same energy into her marriage that she is putting into capturing this new young man, her marriage would take fifty steps forward. But her energy is wasted on that which will cause her and her husband and this new man's destruction. She does not even realize that she is doing all this work on something that cannot last and will ultimately prove devastating to her emotional and mental health.
she is dressed as a harlot
This is the Hebrew word shith which means a garment, dress. Solomon wants us to know that this characteristic of the kind of clothes she is wearing is huge.
This is the Hebrew word zanah which means to commit fornication, to be a harlot. The idea here is that this woman is trying to dress so as to attract attention to her body so that a man other than her husband will notice her body and want physical intimacy with her. She is hoping, most likely, that through physical intimacy she will be able to hook him into staying and wanting emotional and mental intimacy.
Unfortunately, it never works that way. A man does not go from physical intimacy to emotional and mental intimacy. He moves the other way around. He wants and needs physical intimacy so much that if he is given the end product first, there is no reason to work hard at what he finds difficult – emotional and mental intimacy. This is why marriage was set up the way it was by God. One makes a commitment to another person to pursue them, to take care of them, to meet their needs, to find out who they are, and then after the wedding comes the physical intimacy. Almost any woman can capture a man for a few moments with physical intimacy; it takes work on both his and her part for her to capture him emotionally and mentally for the kind of intimacy that she longs for and that a marriage needs to be a great thing.
Young ladies, if you dress in such a way that the first thing young men notice about you is your body, then do not be surprised when the only thing they are interested in is your body. It is unfortunate that our culture is constantly pushing young women to dress in more and more revealing ways. Do not follow this destructive tendency. You do not have to dress like a puritan, but do not dress so that your body is more noticed than your face.
This woman is right; she can capture a man's heart with the way she dresses but not for the long term. If you are going to dress to capture a man's heart, dress that way for your husband – not for other men.
she is cunning of heart
This is the Hebrew word natsar which means to watch, to guard, to keep, cunning. The idea is that this woman is watching intently and is strategic in her quest to drag this young man into her trap of illicit pleasure. It is unfortunate that she uses her smarts to capture the wrong man. She captures this other man instead of her husband.
Now sometimes a husband can be a very difficult thing to capture the attention of because he is on to career and other things, thinking that he has already captured you. But she needed to use all the smarts and strategy she is using in the wrong way to be used on the right man.
Solomon is saying here that this woman has planned out the whole affair. It is not spontaneous to her. She knows where she wants this to go and has known for a long time. If you are foolish to be involved in an affair or headed toward one, you can be sure that the woman is fifty steps ahead of you. As a man you are only thinking about the climax of physical intimacy, but she is thinking way beyond that. Sexual intercourse is only setting the hook and then the reeling you in really begins.
Solomon is screaming: Young men don't get caught in this trap of the attractively dressed woman who seems to want you when her husband is away! And, young lady, put your energy into your marriage and you will be so better off. You already have what you are trying to capture: a man. This new one is not any better than the one you have. In fact, you know that he is worse because he is willing to cheat and be unfaithful.