"Do not pay attention to every word people say,
or you may hear your servant cursing you-
for you know in your heart
that many times you yourself have cursed others.
All this I tested by wisdom and I said,
'I am determined to be wise'-
but this was beyond me.
Whatever wisdom may be,
it is far off and most profound-
who can discover it?
So I turned my mind to understand,
to investigate and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things
and to understand the stupidity of wickedness
and the madness of folly.
I find more bitter than death
the woman who is a snare,
whose heart is a trap
and whose hands are chains.
The man who pleases God will escape her,
but the sinner she will ensnare.
'Look,' says the Teacher, 'this is what I have discovered:
Adding one thing to another to discover the scheme of things-
while I was still searching
but not finding-
I found one upright man among a thousand,
but not one upright woman among them all.
This only have I found;
God made mankind upright,
but men have gone in search of many schemes.'"
This pattern of watching words continues. Many get lost in great speeches that only they can appreciate. Any words can be spoken and sound kind, but there could be deceit just under the surface. If you watch how people treat others and their actions while they think no one is watching then that would be a better indicator than their words. We are not responsible for what others say, only for the words that come from us. Solomon set his mind in search for why people choose stupidity and folly. Thinking you have a vast amount of wisdom is a good sign that you don't.
Now ladies don't think the worst here even though it sounds unflattering. This isn't a censuring of women in general. Now think of this in the time that it was written. This man had wives and concubines, not just a few, a ton. He apparently had a problem with women! Women were forced into this position without any rights. Since this was a problem for him he must have known that the temptation of women (representing any sin) would be understood be all men even if the women did nothing to provoke it. Let me tell you that there are plenty of upright women in the bible. Acts 17:4 "Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-faring Greeks and quite a few prominent women." You just have to look at those who were with Jesus when He was on the cross, mostly women. I can't imagine the number of times that men have used these verses against women when the true evil was inside of them. Goodness or evil are not determined by whether you are male or female. There are many touchy subjects in the bible, I will not shy away from them. The entire bible is for our benefit, to learn, teach, and grow in our relationship with God. Who am I to pick and choose just the good parts to use and ignore the rest?
Did Solomon think women could be wise or upright? Yes, in Proverbs he personified wisdom as a responsible woman. I think he was showing that no one can stand before God and be considered upright on their own merit. This shows that goodness and wisdom are sometimes scarce to all of us. Remember during this time, the men had a religious education and women did not so I don't think he was trying to insult women here. If only one out of a thousand were upright that were educated then there would be fewer who did not have the same education.