Proverbs 2:18 "For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead."
Most people don’t spend time in their front yard. With the exception of playing basketball and hockey or riding bikes on the driveway, most people prefer the back yard over the front yard when spending time at home. Certainly, there are exceptions in a world with a wide variety of property layouts, but most people feel more comfortable in the privacy of their back yards. Rarely will a pool be installed in a front yard. It is even more unlikely for a hot tub to be placed in a front yard. While many people do sit on their front porch, most people eat and gather on their back deck.
In our culture, homes and properties are designed to reflect this social tendency. Our homes are designed to let us impress from the front and relax in the back. It’s all about curb appeal in the front and privacy in the back. We spend our money on architecture and landscaping for the front and decking and fencing for the back. Rarely, if ever will a privacy fence be installed in a front yard while it is extremely common in the back yard. The front yard is all about appearance while the back yard is all about activity. With this in mind, the back yard is what really tells the story about a homeowner. If you can see your neighbor’s back yard, then you can see who they really are and what they’re really all about since that is where they feel free to be their true selves. Perhaps the most obvious, but most troubling illustration of this fact is the drug dealer who is growing illegal vegetation or the monster who is holding someone against their will or the criminal who has hidden evidence of some crime. No one grows marijuana in their front yard. No one, as sick as they may be, hides a person they’ve kidnapped in a shed in the front yard. No one buries a murder weapon or a set of bones in the front yard.
We can be someone we’re not in the front yard but we are who we are in the back yard. It comes natural for us to be reserved in the front yard but it comes just as natural for us to let our guard down in the back yard. When we feel safe in a place of privacy, we do what we want and we do what we like.
Given his wisdom from God and his meticulous observation of humanity, Solomon fully understood the human tendency to look one way on the front end but act a different way on the back end. Speaking of the strange woman’s house, he knew that it would look one way from the front and another way from the back. He wanted his son to look beyond the front yard. He wanted his son to look beyond the warm and welcoming colors on the front of the house and see the concerning colors on the back of the house. He wanted his son to look beyond the flowers and landscaping at the front of the house and see the rocks and dirt in the back of the house. He wanted his son to know what was really happening in the house of the strange woman. An evil woman does a very effective job at making her house looking appealing and harmless from the front. Solomon desperately wanted his son to be able to see beyond that and see the cemetery in her back yard.
According to this verse, an evil woman’s house “inclineth,” or leans toward death. Her paths and sidewalks lean “unto the dead.” Her attractive house of pleasure is a gateway to destruction. Her enticing house of excitement is a passageway to an early end. In this case, prostitution or at the very least, enticed fornication leads to emotional, psychological, spiritual and even physical deterioration. For a man especially, her invite can lead to life-crippling and life-deteriorating addiction. Her activities, whether prostitution or adultery or power-grabbing through flattery and fornication, can easily lead to an early death for her victims. Sexually-transmitted disease, rage-filled vengeance by another man or Judaism’s swift penalty could all lead to an early death for Rehoboam if entered her decorated doors. Solomon would reiterate this backyard point over and over throughout the Book of Proverbs.
Of this strange woman, Solomon writes in Proverbs 5 that “her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.”
In Proverbs 6, Solomon writes, “For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life.” He continues to describe the dangers of listening to her when he writes, “Whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away. For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.”
Again, describing the strange woman in Proverbs 7, he writes of the man who listens to her this way: “He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.”
Finally, in Proverbs 8, Solomon writes of the man who falls prey to a “foolish woman” when he pens these words: “But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.”
It is clear that this wise father wanted his son to look beyond the front yard and see the back yard. He wanted him to see the cemetery in the back yard. He wanted him to see the graves and the tombstones in the back yard. He wanted him to see beyond the fluff and beyond the flattery. He wanted him to see what the strange woman was really up to and who she really was. Her house was definitely not the high road as it didn’t lead upward. Her house was the house that would lead Rehoboam downward. It would lead him down a path of darkness and destruction.
We need not be young men to apply the lesson of this proverb to our lives. The BACKYARD Principle is applicable to all of us in all circumstances. Let us learn to look beyond the advertisement. Let us learn to look beyond the cover. Let us learn to look beyond the impressive architecture. Let us look beyond the beautiful landscaping. Let us look beyond the front yard and see the condition of the back yard. Let us get on our tippy toes and peer over the high privacy fence to see what someone or something is all about. Let us look beyond the promised fun before entering a life of addiction. Let us look beyond the offered pleasure before investing in a romantic relationship that could cost us our spiritual success. Let us all look beyond the front yard enticements and see the backyard consequences.