Many today counsel men that the right way to respond to immodestly dressed women is to keep their eyes focused on the eyes of these women when interacting with them. Although this advice has some merit in some situations, clear biblical teaching shows that it is a dangerously inadequate approach in many cases.
In poignant counsel directed to save the life of his son, Solomon warns about how evil women seek to ensnare men with the ungodly use of their eyes:
Pro 6:23 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:
24 To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.
25 Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.
26 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.
This inspired warning teaches us that keeping one’s gaze fixed on the eyes of an immodestly dressed woman will often be a perilous approach when faced with such an encounter because many women who purposely dress in that way seek to seduce men not just through their immodesty but also through the flirtatious and alluring use of their eyes.
Some may seek to downplay the importance of this teaching for ordinary settings because in its context it speaks of the dangers that openly wicked women such as harlots pose to young men. Similar teaching in Isaiah 3, however, shows that facing such challenges from women using their eyes seductively is a danger not only just from adulteresses but also from proud women among God’s own people!
Isaiah records at some length God’s blistering denunciation of proud women in Judah:
Isa 3:16 Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet:
17 Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will discover their secret parts.
18 In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon,
19 The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers,
20 The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings,
21 The rings, and nose jewels,
22 The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins,
23 The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails.
24 And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty.
Noteworthy aspects of this passage include the following:
(1) these are women among God’s own people who are denounced by God Himself for their pride;
(2) their pride manifests itself in their misuse of their beauty through how they comport themselves, how they dress, and how they use perfume;
(3) the passage does not say anything explicitly about their being immodest in their dress; and
(4) God specifies that these women “walk with wanton eyes.”
Holladay’s lexicon explains that the Hebrew verb used here signifies that they “toss seductive glances.” The rendering of the Hebrew in other versions makes plain their ungodly use of their eyes: “seductive eyes” (NAU); “flirt with their eyes” (NET); “glancing wantonly with their eyes” (ESV).
Isaiah 3:16 corroborates the teaching of Proverbs 6:25 about evil women who use their eyes in ungodly ways to ensnare men. Furthermore, Isaiah 3:16-24 makes clear that such ungodly use of the eyes is a problem not just with conspicuously wicked women who dress immodestly but also with women among God’s own people who proudly use their beauty in ungodly ways.
Through Ezekiel, God made known His intense jealousy against Samaria and Jerusalem for their spiritual adultery (Ezek. 23:1-35). He instructed Ezekiel further “to declare unto them their abominations” (Ezek. 23:36-39).
God then related their “political adultery” through a vivid description of how they prepared themselves for their lovers from other nations:
Eze 23:40 And furthermore, that ye have sent for men to come from far, unto whom a messenger was sent; and, lo, they came: for whom thou didst wash thyself, paintedst thy eyes, and deckedst thyself with ornaments.
Although this figurative language pertains to the ungodly alliances that God’s people formed with other nations at that time, the legitimacy of its use is based on the reality of what evil women do when they prepare themselves for illicit relations with men (see also Jer. 4:30 for similar teaching). The explicit mention of painting their eyes correlates with and underscores the teaching about that practice in Proverbs 6 and Isaiah 3.
Unlike the three preceding passages, which explicitly mention the ungodly use of eyes by evil women, Revelation 2:20 likely warns men similarly through implicit teaching that is related:
Rev 2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
The glorified Christ here warns believers in the church at Thyatira about the seductive influence of an evil woman Jezebel who was leading His servants to commit fornication.
In a telling remark, the OT records that queen Jezebel “painted her face [Heb. put her eyes in painting] and tired her head” before her death (2 Kin. 9:30), which suggests that she wanted to accentuate her importance through these actions. Unrepentant of her sinfulness, she thus appears to have been similarly minded to the evil women denounced by God for taking pride in their external appearance (Isaiah 3:16f.).
Through the name Jezebel, therefore, Revelation 2:20 warns us at least implicitly about the evil influence in the church of evil women who misuse their eyes to ensnare susceptible men to commit immorality.
Based on the teaching of these four passages, parents and other who advise young men should not instruct them that fixing their gaze on the eyes of immodestly dressed women would protect them from temptation and ensnarement. Men must actively seek to avoid encounters with such women (cf. Prov. 7:24-27), and when such an encounter is unavoidable, they must beware of being ensnared by the eyes of ungodly women!
 Cf. “She painted her eyes and adorned her head” (NAU); “she put paint on her eyes and adorned her head” (NKJ). Thomas L. Constable comments on this verse: “Hearing of Jehu’s return, she painted her eyes and arranged her hair. Evidently she anticipated her fate, and wanted to present an imposing appearance to Jehu and to die as a queen” (BKC: OT, 556).