The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Proverbs 5

Pro 5:1

Pro 5: In this chapter the "father" exhorts to discretion (vv 1,2), and then explains how to avoid seduction (vv 3–6). This is followed by a second exhortation to prevention (vv 7,8), and an explanation that obedience will avoid ruin and regret (vv 9–14). Finally, he warns against sharing love with strangers (vv 15–17); instead it should be found at home (vv 18–23).

MY SON, PAY ATTENTION TO MY WISDOM: By the very nature of things, in this context the father MUST know more about his subject than does his son... for he became his father by interaction with a woman, when the son had no existence or knowledge in the first place, OF ANYTHING! It is as simple as that. And even if the father has some memory of sins which he regrets, years later, this should not stand in his way of offering useful advice: the knowledge of failure, or simply less than perfect discipleship, only serves to make him even a BETTER guide and instructor -- or at least a MORE EXPERIENCED one! While the son is at an age when he can scarcely imagine, or is only beginning to grasp, the power and allure of sex, the father already knows it well. And his knowledge -- and instruction and admonition and warning -- can be communicated to the son when he is of an age to receive the most benefit by it.

LISTEN WELL TO MY WORDS OF INSIGHT: "Incline your ear" (Pro 4:20).

Pro 5:2

THAT YOU MAY MAINTAIN DISCRETION: The Heb "mezimmot" -- which appears elsewhere usually in a bad sense (Job 21:27; Psa 10:2,4; 21:11; 37:7; 139:20; Pro 12:2; 14:17; 24:8; Jer 11:15) -- here signifies wise, prudential consideration (cp Pro 1:4; 2:11; 3:21; 8:12; Jer 23:20; 30:24; 51:11).

AND YOUR LIPS MAY PRESERVE KNOWLEDGE: The young man's lips should be familiar with the words of knowledge and wisdom (cf Mal 2:7); they should emphatically NOT be familiar with the lips of the adulteress (v 3)! Knowing what is right and being able to articulate that with one's lips is really a protection against the power of the seductress's speech (vv 1-6).

Pro 5:3

Vv 1-10: Warnings against the immoral or adulterous woman. However, with but a little imagination, the warning may be expanded even further. The two genders might be quite easily reversed, with the father warning his daughter against the pleasant and seductive words -- smooth as oil -- of the immoral man. And, given the world in which we live, the genders may be reversed yet again -- and the young man warned against such seductions by an older MAN!... and the young woman warned against such seductions by another WOMAN!

And the expansion may be carried further yet, as GVG puts it: "While this truly has a literal basis, and is a necessary exhortation because of the natural tendencies and foolishness and lust of the flesh, the principal lesson is broader and deeper. The strange woman is Folly personified, just as Wisdom is so beautifully personified in Pro 8." And so the warning is against being seduced by any and all kinds of worldly foolishness. For anything, or anyone, that turns us aside from following God and His commandments is a source of spiritual "adultery".

Vv 3-5: The "strange", or foreign, woman appeared already in Pro 2:16–19. Now she is described as a deadly threat. "A man should never permit the words of a woman to intervene between him and the laws of God. This is a rock upon which myriads have made shipwreck of the faith. Adam sinned in consequence of listening to Eve's silvery discourse. No temptation has proved more irresistible to the flesh than the enticing words of a woman's lips... Adam was a striking illustration of this truth" (Elp).

HONEY... OIL: Honeycomb is one of God's sweetest creations. Pure, golden, sweet honey oozes from its cells. It drips with delightful pleasure for the man wanting a delicious treat. Oil, which smoothes the dryness and texture of any food, and is very pleasant in a dry climate, is also a precious food. Together they represent a smooth, sweet delicacy, which Solomon used to describe the deceitful danger of flattery from a strange woman.

FOR THE LIPS OF AN ADULTERESS DRIP HONEY: Here honey signifies the perceived "sweetness" of sin... so that our spiritual senses -- by which it might be resisted -- are dulled over time. Here the adulteress masquerades as the true "bride of Christ" (ct Song 4:11).

AN ADULTERESS: Heb "zuwr" = a stranger, a foreigner. The AV has "a strange woman", the RSV "a loose woman".

AND HER SPEECH: The word "khekh" denotes the palate, or roof, of the mouth, which -- along with the lips and tongue -- is instrumental in forming words.

IS SMOOTHER THAN OIL: Of his betrayer, David wrote: "His words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords" (Psa 55:21).

"What is a strange woman? Any woman you have not married is a strange woman to you! She is off limits for you; she is foreign to your marriage; she is not your intimate companion; she belongs to someone else; she is an alien to your embrace. You have no right to exchange sweet words with her, for your ears and heart belong to another. Job said, 'I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl' (Job 31:1). If he could not look, then neither could he listen to her words.

"Good fathers will warn their sons of the horrible temptation of loose women, as Solomon does in this chapter. He points out the horrible consequences of sexual sin (Pro 5:3-14), the safety in a good marital relationship (Pro 5:15-19), and the judgment of God on men who compromise in this area of life (Pro 5:20-23). This is not a light matter at all. Many strong men have been wounded and slain by her (Pro 7:26)...

"Solomon was a realistic father. He told the truth plainly. There is no wisdom in telling a son that strange women are revolting. Paul admitted that sin has pleasure for a season (Heb 11:25). To tell young men otherwise is a lie, and they will be unprepared for the horrible temptation that will come their way some day. Wise fathers will admit the attractive temptation, but they will also describe the horrible consequences.

"God made men to desire and pursue women, in order to bring about marriage (Pro 30:19; Gen 34:1-4; Exo 22:16; Deu 21:10-14; 24:5). It is the greatest chase of a man's life. The adoring response of a woman, declaring her love and submission with intimate and tender words, is one of the most powerful temptations a man will ever face. Her kind and passionate words of affection, respect, and desire are like gasoline to a fire, and any man who denies this is either a liar or has an unnatural sexual problem.

"Strange women know these facts well. They use their power of speech to seduce victims. It was this deceptive and delightful speech from other women that Solomon repeatedly warned against (Pro 2:16; 6:24; 7:21; 22:14). David also described the danger of soft and smooth words hiding evil motives (Psa 55:21). Men, get away from her!

"Potiphar's wife tried to seduce Joseph with words, but he defied her (Gen 39:7-12). Samson, on the other hand, fell to Delilah's obvious and destructive lies, because they were clothed in seductive flattery (Jdg 16:15-17). Do not think poorly of Samson, until you have followed Joseph's example two or three times!

"The only safety is distance. 'Remove thy way far from her' (Pro 5:8). No man can easily resist the flattery of a woman. It is too pleasant, delicious, and tantalizing. It is like honeycomb and oil, sweet and smooth. It strokes the soul and stirs the fire of a man's sexual lusts. The willingness of a woman for intimacy, expressed in alluring and bold language, is like throwing a match in a powder keg. Get away from her!" (LGBT).

Indeed, a man may be stronger, taller, and bigger than the woman. He may even be smarter than the woman -- although that is less likely than the other! He may even fancy himself the "head" -- in some parody of the Bible-based order of things. But as the whole life story of Samson demonstrates in terribly plain fashion, all his strength and presumed "superiority" is dissipated absolutely, when her real "weapons" (her attractiveness, and sensuality) are brought to the forefront of the "battle". Then he is totally overmatched! He is out of his weight class! He is a "Belgium" or a "Poland" trying to withstand the Nazi blitzkrieg; he doesn't stand a snowball's chance in the proverbial "hell"! He is a "goner"! And his best, perhaps his only, defense is: "Run for your life!"

This sober warning applies to face-to-face conversations, telephone conversations, letters and notes, internet chatting, and emails. Seductive flattery from a woman is too much, even if it is words on a computer monitor. It will lead your heart to plan the sin that will destroy you (Jam 1:14,15). Get away from her! Run for your life!

The "strange woman" has one other great strength, and that is deception. Only the coarsest of street prostitutes announce their intentions plainly. Society "prostitutes" -- more or less "respectable" women -- hide THEIR intentions behind honorable words and pleasant manners (Pro 7:13-18), and the naive or inexperienced may be led down the path of destruction, into a terrible trap! Their massed batteries of guns and tanks and missiles are concealed from the unsuspecting until the last possible moment; and then it may well be too late to escape.

Pro 5:4

This verse introduces two powerful contrasts: (a) the sweetness of honey (v 3) with the bitterness of gall (v 4), and (b) the smoothness of oil (v 3) with the sharpness of the sword (v 4).

NOW IN THE END SHE IS BITTER: What is said of illicit sex here is said of alcoholic drink in Pro 23:31,32: in the beginning "it goes down smoothly", but "in the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper".

NOW IN THE END: The "end" here alluded to is described more fully in v 5 (HER "end") and vv 11,12 (HIS "end").

THE END: An interesting word: "achariyth": the last or end, hence the future, according to Strong. Kidner says, "Surely there is an AFTERWARD -- and Proverbs does not allow us to forget it, whether for warning or encouragement, since nothing can be judged by its first stages. It is instructive to study this word, variously translated, in Pro 5:11; 14:12,13; 16:25; 19:20; 20:21; 23:18,32; 24:14,20; 25:8. 29:21. Here it utterly reverses the promise: the delicious ends as the disgusting; the soothing, as the murderous."

SHE IS BITTER: The verb "marar" describes things that are harmful and destructive for life, such as the death of the members of the family of Naomi (Rth 1:20) or finding water that was undrinkable (Exo 15:22–27). The word indicates that the sweet talking will turn out badly.

Wiersbe wrote, "God crated [packaged] sex not only for reproduction but also for enjoyment, and he didn't put the 'marriage wall' around sex to rob us of pleasure but to increase pleasure and protect it." The sexual affair engaged in outside of marriage will only -- and inevitably -- lead to bitterness and sorrow, and its aftereffects and memory will muddy the pure springs of marital joy.

AS GALL: The word means "wormwood" (AV, RSV, NET); it refers to the aromatic plant that contrasts with the sweetness of honey. Some follow the LXX and translate it with "gall"; this is based on the Greek "absinthos" -- the name of a powerful drug that induces forgetfulness, saps the willpower, and finally destroys the addict. The point is that there was sweetness when the tryst had alluring glamour, but afterward it left a bitter and ugly aftertaste. What was luscious in the mouth becomes sour and bitter in the stomach. See Deu 29:18; Jer 9:15; 23:15; Lam 3:15,19; Amo 5:7; 6:12; in the NT cp Rev 8:11 ("wormwood") and Heb 12:15 ("bitter root").

SHARP AS A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD: The Hebrew has "like a sword of [two] mouths", meaning a double-edged sword that devours or cuts either way (cp Psa 149:6). There is no movement without damage. There may be a wordplay here with this description of the sword with two mouths, and the subject of the passage being the words of her mouth -- which also have two sides.

The strange woman turns out to be bitter and cutting. Her first impressions are deceitfully dangerous; they disguise the fatal poison; they cover the deadly blade. She will take you to death, all the while you "enjoy" the trip! She will take all your time, for lusts are not satisfied with short liaisons or infrequent contact. The guilt will devour you day and night. Fear of being caught and exposed will destroy your confidence and conscience. The lie you must live to cover your sin will turn your life into a perpetual drama of deception. How bitter! How cutting!

Beyond all this, know that she certainly deceived others in order to seduce you, and it is only a matter of time until she deceives you for another! The betrayal of "love" and devotion will leave you vulnerably insecure. The prospect of revenge by her husband or father will chase you wherever you go -- you'll be afraid of shadows and looking over your shoulder all your life! And your reputation will be destroyed, while those you care about most in the world will quite possibly come to despise you!

Since she has, undoubtedly, had other "lovers", your health will be at risk -- and perhaps terminally so, such is the world we live in now! Neither does her "love" come cheaply, whether she is a true prostitute, or only an "imitation" one! She will expect much in exchange for her "favors" -- and you will pay in ways you can scarcely imagine. And then, finally, as if it all weren't enough... there comes the Last Judgment -- almost too much to contemplate (vv 11,12)!

Pro 5:5

This verse is generally parallel to Pro 2:18,19; 7:27; 9:18.

HER FEET GO DOWN TO DEATH: The Law of Moses commands death for the adulteress (Lev 20:10; Deu 22:22).

HER STEPS LEAD STRAIGHT TO THE GRAVE: "Grave" is the Hebrew "Sheol" -- the "covered place", the place of the dead. Solomon had more experience with women than any hundred men. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines, and these were "high-class" women (1Ki 11:3). God gave him exceeding great wisdom and understanding to analyze their danger (1Ki 4:29). He also knew of his father's adultery with his mother (2Sa 11:1 -- 12:25), his brother Amnon's incest with his sister (2Sa 13:1-39); his brother Absalom's folly with his father's concubines (2Sa 16:21,22); and his brother Adonijah's obsession with Abishag (I1Ki 2:12-25). He saw a miserable life of pain and trouble, caused by adultery many times. All men die physically, but they can also die to joy and success in this life. The grave, or Sheol, is a "hell" after death, and there is another "hell" in this life -- a living "death": a tortured existence of guilt, misery, defeat, and pain. Scripture commonly uses death and hell in this figurative way (Pro 23:14; Psa 18:5; 86:13; 116:3; Jon 2:2; Luk 15:24; 1Ti 5:6; Jam 5:20).

The "other woman" has ripped many homes apart. Children were confused; long-term marriages were violated; pain -- emotional, spiritual, and physical -- was multiplied. Men have lost their jobs, their focus, their health, their wealth, their wives, their children, their reputations, their confidence, their peace, and their eternal wellbeing by this heinous sin. Its results are truly described as "death". Ask any sober man who has come back from this living "death" (Pro 5:14; Psa 51:8).

"Yet it is no less true that wicked women take men down to LITERAL death, eternal death... How many adulterers have been killed by the jealous spouse of their paramour (Pro 6:34,35)? How many whoremongers have died from venereal disease (Pro 7:23)? How many have become trapped in sexual addiction (Pro 5:22,23; 6:32; Hos 4:11)?... No wonder the Lord Jesus taught the plucking out of right eyes and cutting off of right hands, rather than following the steps of this cruel fiend (Mat 5:27-30). Paul said, "Flee youthful lusts" (2Ti 2:22). Get far away from her, now (Pro 5:8)! She hides the precipice over [Sheol] behind her skirts! Step back! Run away! Never go near her again!" (LGBT). True it is: "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death" (Pro 14:12).

Pro 5:6

SHE GIVES NO THOUGHT TO THE WAY OF LIFE: The KJV reads: "Lest THOU shouldest ponder the path of life." But the NIV changes the subject: "SHE gives no thought" (cp RSV, NET, and KD also). On this, Waddoup comments, "Verse 6 presents a little difficulty of exposition. Many scholars say it should read: 'SHE (not thou) ponders not the way of life' (or 'walks not in the way of life'); 'her paths move to and fro: she knows not', suggesting the strange woman 'tottering on the edge of the abyss' (Plumptre). Cohen renders it: 'Lest SHE should walk the even path of life. Her ways wander, but she knoweth it not.' Alternatively, she changes her disguises with the object of stopping her victims from pondering the path of life, for if they do, she is likely to lose them." Then he quotes Charles Bridges: "She works upon every weakness; seizes every unguarded moment -- all with one deeply-hidden object -- lest thou shouldest ponder the way of life. The checks of conscience must be diverted. The intrusion of one serious thought might break the spell, and open the way of escape."

HER PATHS ARE CROOKED: "Shifty" and "slippery" (as Moffatt). i"To prevent you reflecting on the path of life, she continually changes her allurements to hold you entrapped -- and you are no match for her guile" (HPM). Or, alternatively, "her ways are moveable" (KJV) -- ie, go to and fro, stagger, wander, like the steps of a drunken person (cp Isa 24:20; 29:9; Psa 107:27; Lam 4:14).

BUT SHE KNOWS IT NOT: This is the greatest irony of the whole scenario: SHE doesn't even know what she is doing!

Pro 5:7

NOW THEN, MY SONS: "Children" in AV. The word is "sons", literally, but it may refer to children of both genders. To some extent, and with slight modification of particulars, the advice may apply also to daughters. "But this time [in ct to v 1] it is not 'my son' who is addressed, but 'sons' or 'children'. The suggestion has been made that this set of talks might be for a more mature person. Yet we now know there are others present. To show that what follows is vital for all God's sons, they are all addressed (although the text reverts to the singular to show that there is nevertheless a personal message for each one). This is confirmed when we reach the end of the road to learn that Wisdom has built her house and set up her seven pillars. The difference in aspect between the two sets of talks is this: the first is spoken to an individual, whereas the second is to a group or ecclesia; the Teacher speaks first to one member, then another, or even all together, as he thinks fit." (Waddoup).

LISTEN TO ME; DO NOT TURN ASIDE FROM WHAT I SAY: "Whoever you are that read or hear these lines, take notice of what I say, and mix faith with it, treasure it up, and depart not from the words of my mouth, as those will do that hearken to the words of the strange woman. Do not only receive what I say, for the present merely, but cleave to it, and let it be ready to thee, and of force with thee, when thou art most violently assaulted by the temptation" (Henry). Cp Pro 7:24.

Pro 5:8

KEEP TO A PATH FAR FROM HER, DO NOT GO NEAR THE DOOR OF HER HOUSE: There is a contrast made between "keep far from" ("rachaq") and "do not go near" ("quarab"). The "door of her house" is an ominous phrase, as the cross-references indicate (Pro 2:18; 7:8,11; 9:14)!

"Flee fornication" (1Co 6:18). "Flee youthful lusts" (2Ti 2:22). True, it may seem "unheroic", but it is the course of wisdom! Even the "strongest" of men are no match for the "weakest" of women! And Paul told men to "make no provision for the flesh", or "do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature": this means avoiding anything that might even lead toward the possibility of sin (Rom 13:13,14). "We ought to be jealous over ourselves with a godly jealousy [2Co 11:2], and not to be so confident of the strength of our own resolutions as to venture upon the brink of sin, with a promise to ourselves that hitherto we will come and no further [ct Job 38:11]" (Henry).

Also, compare the idea behind Jesus' words in Mat 5:27-29: "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into Gehenna." In other words, do not just avoid evil but take steps to get away from places where it might lurk. Likewise, our minds should "walk away", as it were, from lustful thoughts and desires, and not linger so that they might develop into sin.

"How close should you get to a cliff in the dark? How close should you allow a baby to play near a pool? How many loaded guns should you leave accessible to young children?

"The strange woman, a whore or adulteress, is a great danger for men (vv 1-5). Many Christian homes and pulpits are too refined to speak openly about her, and the rest are too carnal and worldly to notice or care. But God's wisdom is to identify her, condemn her, and give men sober and practical wisdom against her.

"To be silent on this subject is to commit moral murder and reject God's word, for fornication is a great threat to men. Few can resist an attractive woman using words and wiles inviting him to intimacy (vv 13-21). Samson, the strongest of men, gave away his glorious secret to a Philistine whore, whom he knew sought his destruction (Pro 7:26). Our proverb is a simple solution -- a wonderful rule from heaven. Do you truly want to walk with God and please Him in all things? Here is wisdom: stay far away from her, and don't even get near her! The cure for sexual temptation is to get far away from it, just as you would a cliff in the dark. Get away! Get far away! Get far away now! Sexual temptation is too great to play with it. You must run away from any influence even leading to thoughts of other women. You cannot justify any! Get away!...

"But men play with television, where attractive women with few clothes and no morals create a powerful stimulus for sexual thoughts. David, the man after God's own heart, whose name was much set by in Israel, would not set a wicked thing before his eyes (Psa 101:3). Reader, you must treat the television like an intruder at night. Fear it, and hate it!

"Job made a covenant with his eyes to avoid even looking or thinking on any woman other than his wife (Job 31:1). And he begged for painful judgment, if he did (Job 31:9-12)... But men play with pornography, where numerous techniques are used to create the ultimate visual images. The strange women in the pictures are everything Solomon warned against. To argue that no one gets hurt with pornography is to ignore God, your present or future wife, your own soul, and your children. For it will totally destroy you. Men play with pools, beaches, and cruises, where women wear less than underwear, though much prettier. What is wrong with such vacations? Pro 5:8, that's what!

"Men play with malls and popular restaurants, where barely-dressed women parade back and forth. Such places may be the eyes and hands you must remove from your life! Men play with office situations, where forward secretaries vie for male attention with sensual clothing and flirtatious ways. Can't quit your job because of sexual temptation? Is that what you would tell Joseph, who went to prison to avoid his [would-be] mistress? Joseph knew what to do. He ran from her presence so hastily that he left a garment in her hands. And he did this knowing the full consequences of his right choice (Gen 39:7-20).

"Men play with temptation of neighbors, church members, and other friends. The choice is simple -- either get totally away from the situation or prepare to die. You cannot play with fire and not get burned. You cannot walk the edge of a cliff in the dark and not fall. Even if the act never occurs, the damage to your soul from sexual fantasies will be deep and permanent, apart from the healing grace of God. The thought of foolishness is sin!

"If you need to cancel subscriptions or the internet, cancel them! If you need to change gyms to avoid women in spandex, then change your membership! If you can no longer vacation at the beach, then learn to love the mountains! If you need to ask for a transfer away from your departmental secretary, then ask for it immediately!" (LGBT).

"Do not go near the door of her house!" The old preacher John Robertson tells a short story, which wonderfully illustrates this point -- provided we make due allowances for the popular (though erroneous) concepts of "hell": "One memorable night, a young lad and an old Scotchman being in Paris together, found themselves in front of one of the dens of infamy; the fragrance of the spices of Araby seemed to float in the air, and the sound of music and dancing broke upon the ear. The glitter and dazzle of fairyland was at the door; and the Scotch boy said, 'What is that?'... The hand of that Scotchman came like a vice to the wrist of the lad who was with him, and the voice hardened to a tone that he never forgot, as he said, 'Man, that is hell!'

" 'What!' It was a new idea to the country lad. Hell with an entrance like that! -- with all the colours of the rainbow; with all the flowers and beauty, and the witching scenery and attractions! I thought hell was ugly; I thought I would get the belch of sulphur at the pit's mouth; I thought harpies on infernal wing would be hovering above the pit: but here like this? Yes, I saw above the gate -- and I knew French enough to know what it meant -- 'Nothing to pay.' That was on the gate; but, though there be nothing to pay to get in, what have you to pay to get out? That is the question. Character blasted! soul lost! Mind that. Just examine your ways. Do not be taken in by the flowers and music, and the beautiful path that is at your feet this afternoon." Yes, indeed, the door to "hell" (or "Gehenna"!) may be lovely and inviting, and the path to "Gehenna" may be decked out with beautiful flowers, but the destination is the yawning grave. Don't be fooled by "false advertising"!

Pro 5:9

LEST YOU GIVE YOUR BEST STRENGTH TO OTHERS: The term "hod" ("vigor; splendor; majesty") in this context means the best time of one's life, the full manly vigor that will be wasted with licentiousness. Here it is paralleled by "years", which refers to the best years of that vigor, the prime of life. Life would be ruined by living this way, or the revenge of the husband would cut it short.

AND YOUR YEARS TO ONE WHO IS CRUEL: "One" is masculine singular -- the male accomplice of the "strange woman", or the "pimp". Cp Samson with Delilah and her "puppet-masters" the Philistines. Or, the "one who is cruel" could be the betrayed husband, who exacts his revenge. Or, the "cruel one" could be a blackmailer (cp v 10n).

"When a girl gives away her virginity, or a wife commits adultery, God declares they are humbled -- reduced greatly in value and polluted (Gen 34:2; Num 5:11-31; Deu 21:14; 22:24,29; Jdg 19:24; Eze 22:10,11). Therefore, virgins carry a high premium to godly men (Exo 22:17; Lev 21:14; Deu 13:22-31; 2Sa 13:18,19; 2Co 11:1,2). If it is true for the woman, it is much more true for the man, who is the image and glory of God (1Co 11:7). When a man falls to a whore, he is spoiled in the sight of God and men" (LGBT).

It is a hideous, a gruesome, a grotesque picture, and ought to be "painted" absent any pastels or soft lights. But... it ought also to be accompanied by this reminder: there is no pit so deep, no place so far away, no situation so ugly and sinful, from which the sinner cannot extricate himself, with the help of God! Can an adulterer reclaim his honor? Solomon's father David was an adulterous murderer; and he paid a terrible price for his sins, for the rest of his life (Pro 6:29-35; 2Sa 12:10-12). Yet he remained king and prophet, and saints have admired him and his psalms most highly. There is forgiveness with God when sinners truly repent (2Sa 12:13; 1Co 6:9-11). The woman of Samaria and the woman taken in the very act of adultery were grievous sinners, but they were forgiven and regenerated by the Lord Jesus. Many harlots -- and their "customers" -- will enter the kingdom of God, for Jesus can forgive them all (Mat 21:31,32). He came into the world to save sinners (1Ti 1:15). And through Paul he forgave even the incestuous fornicator at Corinth (2Co 2:6-11).

Yet even this reminder -- that there can be forgiveness for the most heinous of sins -- ought to be, itself, mitigated yet again: there is NO forgiveness for the man who sins wilfully, thinking that there will always be time and opportunity for "repentance" later, thus presuming upon the grace of God -- as though the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth were a genial Santa Claus figure, a kindly "grandfather" type whose sole business is to give good "gifts", no matter what kind of "children" we have been! Thus the Apostle Paul warned against those who say, calculatingly, "Let us do evil that good may result" -- adding, "Their condemnation is deserved" (Rom 3:8). And again he wrote, "Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?" -- as though there were no limits to the divine forebearance, and as though it had nothing to do with one's attitude! To which his response was a curt and appalled "God forbid!" -- "By no means!" (Rom 6:1,2). A life of intentional sin, expecting and counting on a "death-bed" repentance that will snatch eternal life out of the jaws of eternal death, is truly contemptuous of God's holiness. And such a life will be rejected with contempt by God Himself!

Pro 5:10

LEST STRANGERS FEAST ON YOUR WEALTH: "Koach" refers to what laborious toil would produce -- a metonymy of cause. Everything that this person worked for could become the property for others to enjoy (cp Hos 7:9; Job 6:22,23). Truly he "has squandered [his] property... in wild living... and prostitutes" (Luk 15:13,30). "The price of infidelity may be high; for everything one works for -- position, power, prosperity -- could be lost either through the avaricious demands of the woman or the outcry for restitution by the community" (EBC).

AND YOUR TOIL ENRICH ANOTHER MAN'S HOUSE: How might this come about? First of all, illicit affairs can be huge drains on one's resources -- whether it be with paid prostitutes, or mere mistresses. Secondly, if one is discovered, there can be tremendous attorneys' fees and the terrible financial drain of divorce settlements. And along the way, there could even be the paying of blackmail, in the vain attempt to cover one's sins.

Pro 5:11

AT THE END OF YOUR LIFE YOU WILL GROAN: For "the end", see v 4n. "Such a man will wake up one day to discover that he has been exploited by his chosen circle, with whom he has no real ties (vv 9,10), condemned by his conscience (vv 11-13), and on the brink of public ruin" (v 14) (CPro 109).

Or, the end of one's life may be the Judgment Seat, as GVG puts it: "This time of closing the accounts of life comes inevitably to all, and how unbelievably soon it seems to come! In youth, life seems to stretch out endlessly before us, with all its glitter and attraction; but how soon it is all over, and wise indeed are they who early face this universal fact!" "Such is the picture of sin. Its 'pleasure is but for a season'; 'its wages death eternal' (Heb 11:25; Rom 6:23)" (Bridges). So, as the Preacher says, "It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart" (Ecc 7:2). Feasting, or partying, is the atmosphere and activity that leads to foolish thoughts and fornication in the first place. A visit to an AIDS hospital ward, or a funeral, however, will cause young men to consider the grave and righteous living, before it is too late. Where will you go today?

GROAN: The verb "naham" means "to growl, groan"; it refers to a lion when it devours its prey, and to a sufferer in pain or remorse (eg, Eze 24:23; and sw in Pro 19:12; 20:2; 28:15) -- a primeval, animal cry of anguish when the guilty finds himself destitute.

WHEN YOUR FLESH AND BODY ARE SPENT: The use of both “flesh” and “body” underscores the fact that the whole body is exhausted. This could describe, among other things, the wasting effect of AIDS or other venereal diseases. Physical ruin will go along with financial and spiritual ruin. "The role of venereal disease in history has been dramatic, though greatly underplayed. Plagues of syphilis have been responsible for millions of the world's crippled, blind, insane and dead" (CPro 110).

Pro 5:12

YOU WILL SAY, "HOW I HATED DISCIPLINE! HOW MY HEART SPURNED CORRECTION!": Life is so short; many years can pass in a moment, or so it will seem! It will soon be too late! Why do you continue in haughty disregard for instruction and reproof? The day is fast approaching, when you will regret your rebellion. You will regret the many times you rejected the teaching of parents, preachers, and other counselors (Pro 1:25,30; 13:1,18; 15:5).

How painfully did Samson recall his parents' warning (Jdg 14:1-3)? As he blindly stumbled in a perpetual circle grinding for the Philistines, how many times did he recall their words?: "Isn't there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?" But the foolish Samson had let lust destroy learning, and now it was too late. The best he could hope for was death -- a sort of redemptive death, when a redeemed life would have been so much better, and enjoyable, and productive!

Pro 5:13

I WOULD NOT OBEY MY TEACHERS: The Hebrew term "moray" is from the root "yarah", which also yields the noun "torah" -- the Law!

OR LISTEN TO MY INSTRUCTORS: Or "incline my ear" to my instructors. Solomon in this chapter has warned his son and children of the horror of adultery (vv 1-2,7). From the desirable, and seemingly innocent, enticement of a strange woman (v 3), a foolish man is brought down to destruction and misery (vv 4-10). When the sin has worked its course, he cannot believe his folly at rejecting so many warnings (vv 11-13). But by that time it is too late!

Pro 5:14

I HAVE COME TO THE BRINK OF UTTER RUIN: "I was ALMOST in all evil" (AV). The "almost" or "the brink of" suggests one who saved himself from the precipice at the last possible moment, and now is giving his "testimony": "I was lost but now am found!"

IN THE MIDST OF THE WHOLE ASSEMBLY: "In the midst of the congregation and assembly" (AV). The two words together are properly a hendiadys: two terms which should be blended together, thus signifying "the whole assembly". (The Hebrew word 'congregation' has the same meaning as the Greek 'ecclesia', that is, 'called-out ones'.) This suggests a judicial proceeding. We remember that the Law of Moses provided the death penalty for adultery -- stoning in the midst of the whole assembly (Deu 22:22; Lev 20:10; cp Eze 16:40; Joh 8:5). Did this man narrowly escape such a fate? Which raises the question: is this King David's testimony, given through his son Solomon, having to do with his affair with Bathsheba?

Pro 5:15

Vv 15-18: DRINK WATER FROM YOUR OWN CISTERN, RUNNING WATER FROM YOUR OWN WELL. SHOULD YOUR SPRINGS OVERFLOW IN THE STREETS, YOUR STREAMS OF WATER IN THE PUBLIC SQUARES? LET THEM BE YOURS ALONE, NEVER TO BE SHARED WITH STRANGERS. MAY YOUR FOUNTAIN BE BLESSED, AND MAY YOU REJOICE IN THE WIFE OF YOUR YOUTH: Here is an elaborate allegory consisting of a series of metaphors: what is at issue is private versus common property. The images of the cistern, well, or fountain are used of a wife (eg, Song 4:15) because she, like water, satisfies desires. Thus, in slightly veiled and euphemistic language, these verses teach that a man should take sexual fulfillment from his wife only ("Drink waters from your own cistern"); otherwise, his "waters" (the sexuality of his own wife) will overflow into the streets for all and sundry. She will turn to other men ("sharing" the "waters" with "strangers"!) due to his unfaithfulness or neglect.

Thus, in v 15, the "waters" of one's own "cistern" signify the legitimate joys of pure marital relations; but in v 16, the "waters" that "overflow in the streets" and "the public squares" signify illicit sexual pleasures sought outside of marriage. (The same image is presented in Pro 7:11,12: "Her feet never stay at home; now in the street, now in the squares, at every corner she lurks.")

The other side of the picture -- with the same figure of speech -- appears in Pro 9:17,18 -- where the man who is tempted to stray is warned, "Stolen water is sweet... But little do they know" -- those who 'steal' such 'waters' -- "that the dead are there" -- that is, that the adulterous man is drinking from a 'poisoned well'! What smell so "sweet" are in the fact the bloated and putrefying corpses of its previous victims, scattered all around him. And in the end such 'waters' will kill him too.

YOUR OWN CISTERN: The word in Hebrew ("bowr") describes a pool hewn out of the rock, in which run-off water may be collected and used later. The same figure of speech is used in Isa 51:1,2 to describe Sarah, along with Abraham, the "ancestors" of all the faithful. Likewise, the woman, or wife, is called the "vessel" in 1Th 4:4 and 1Pe 3:7. "It may be remarked that the allusion to the wife, under the figures employed, enhances her value. It indicates the high estimation in which she is to be held, since the 'cistern' or 'well' was one of the most valuable possessions and adjuncts of an Eastern house. The teaching of the passage, in its bearing on the subject of marriage, coincides with that which is subsequently put forward by Paul, in 1Co 7:9" (Pulpit).

"It is dark and no one can see. The door is shut and no one can get in. A man and a woman are alone in the room, hearts beating and allowing themselves to get carried away. Her husband and his wife have no idea what is going on. For the moment it is exciting as passions are aroused, but afterwards it will be bitter. It will change the relationship between the husbands and the wives, it will fill them with an overwhelming sense of guilt and they will carry the secret with them for the rest of their lives, burdened by the knowledge of their unfaithfulness and sin.

"When Joseph was tempted like this, his reply was, 'How can I do this and sin against God?' Then he fled from the situation. David fell into a similar temptation with Bathsheba, and the consequence of that followed him for the rest of his life. Samson was also tempted by Philistine women -- eventually they cost him his eyes and his life.

"So let us follow the wisdom given to us here, as well as the example of Joseph to stay faithful to our God, our husbands and wives. Be captivated by the love of your own wife. Our ways are in full view of the LORD and wicked ways lead to death.

"Stay faithful" (RP).

RUNNING WATER FROM YOUR OWN WELL: The father transforms the image of a cistern, a manmade receptacle for catching runoff water, to that of a well, which contains fresh water supplied by underground streams. The son's wife, he says, is like a well filled with fresh water, not a mere cistern containing runoff water! [The wife is a well, a source of life-giving water, whereas the "strange woman" is just the opposite: she is a deep pit (Pro 22:14), yawning open like a freshly-dug grave, and the man who "falls" for her will go down to "Sheol" (Pro 5:5)! The "well", or "fountain", GIVES! The open pit only TAKES, or swallows up.]

The term "nazalim" (running water) refers elsewhere to streams that bubbled out of a rock in the wilderness (Psa 78:16), the streams of Egypt (Psa 78:44), streams produced by rainfall (Isa 44:3), and the waves of the Red Sea (Exo 15:8); it seems to be roughly synonymous with the phrase "living (ie, running, or fresh) water." The latter refers to streams (Zec 14:8) or to the fresh water produced by a well (Gen 26:19) or a spring, in contrast with a cistern (Jer 2:13; 17:13). In Song 4:15 "living water" is associated with a well, while "nazalim" refers to mountain streams. Both refer metaphorically to the sexual pleasures the young lady has to offer her husband.

Pro 5:16

SHOULD YOUR SPRINGS OVERFLOW IN THE STREETS, YOUR STREAMS OF WATER IN THE PUBLIC SQUARES?: Once again, the instructor transforms the "cistern" of v 15 into a "spring" or "fountain". The son's wife, rather than being a mere cistern or well, is more like a bubbling fountain that produces streams of sexual satisfaction. Springs and streams are viewed as the handiwork of God (Psa 104:10), in contrast to manmade cisterns and wells.

Pro 5:17

LET THEM BE YOURS ALONE, NEVER TO BE SHARED WITH STRANGERS: The point is that what is private is not to be shared with strangers; it belongs in the home and in the marriage. The water from that cistern is not to be channeled to strangers or to the public. Though the world calls it casual sex, God calls it fornication, adultery, and whoredom; He will judge every violator. As part of the lesson, the father exhorted his son to limit his sexual pleasure to his wife only (cp vv 15,19,20). And he then added the incentive of having a completely legitimate family without any dilution of it through other women (vv 16-18).

Pro 5:18

MAY YOUR FOUNTAIN BE BLESSED: The positive instruction is now given: find pleasure in a fulfilling marriage. The "fountain" is another in the series of implied comparisons with the sexual pleasure that must be fulfilled at home. That it should be blessed (Heb "barak") indicates that sexual delight is God-given; to be blessed is to be endowed with fruitfulness, so that the marriage would fulfill all that God intended it to do. As wells were a great blessing in the Middle East, and a necessity to sustain life in the wilderness and desert, so men -- like Isaac (Gen 26:19-26), and Moses with the children of Israel (Num 21:16,17) -- blessed and worshiped God, singing praises to Him, for their provision. And so, here, might a man bless and thank Almighty God for providing him the blessing of a loving, sustaining wife. Likewise, the children his wife bears to him are a great blessing (Psa 127:3-5; 128:3-6).

For the Hebrew "let your fountain be blessed", the LXX reads, "Let your fountain be your own" -- possibly reading "lebaddeka" for "barak" (EBCn). But, as has been seen above, the Hebrew, or MT, reading is perfectly reasonable and satisfactory.

AND MAY YOU REJOICE IN THE WIFE OF YOUR YOUTH: Meaning, the wife you married when you were young. A man should rejoice in the wife who has from the vigor of youth shared the excitement and satisfaction, the joy and the contentment of a divinely blessed, monogamous relationship. (Note here that forbidding to marry is one of the hallmarks of the great apostasy -- 1Ti 4:3 -- and that this system has seriously degraded marriage as a divine institution, and opened the floodgates of terrible abuses, on the part of its "clergy".)

"Usage elsewhere suggests that a man was sometimes tempted to divorce his first wife (Isa 54:6; Mal 2:14,15). Similar expressions include 'bridegroom of her youth' (ie, the man to whom she was betrothed/married when she was young, Joel 1:8), 'sons of youth' (ie, sons born to a man when he was still young, Psa 127:4), and 'companion of youth' (ie, the husband a woman marries in her youth, Pro 2:17; or a friend whom one has known from youth, Jer 3:4)" (RB Chisholm, BibSac 157:628).

This phrase is quoted twice in Mal 2:14,15. The context of the proverbs is the danger of being enticed by the "strange woman". Malachi is referring to the warning of Israel and the daughters of Moab (Num 25). As Israel was corrupted with the daughters of Moab, so the priesthood was corrupt in Malachi's day -- the time of Nehemiah. The exhortation, using Pro 5, is that false religion, though appealing, ends in death.

Pro 5:19

A LOVING DOE, A GRACEFUL DEER: This is a common figure in the Song of Songs, where the man is a young gazelle or stag (Song 2:9; 8:14), and the woman is a young doe, and her breasts like two fawns (Song 4:5; 7:3). These animals are evocative of grace, beauty, gentleness, fleetness, and surefootedness (Deu 12:15; Psa 42:1; Isa 35:6; Pro 5:19; Hab 3:19). "What elegant creatures these gazelles are, and how gracefully they bound!... We shall meet these graceful gazelles all through Syria and Palestine, and the more you see of them the greater will be your admiration... Persian and Arab poets abound in reference to them... I have often stopped to admire the grace, and ease, and fearless security with which these pretty animals bound along the high places of the mountains" (LB 171,172). Women frequently were named after pretty and graceful animals, such as "Tabitha" (Aramaic), or the corresponding Greek "Dorcas" (Acts 9:36,40).

"Coupled with Solomon's adjectives of loving and pleasant, we see a wonderful word picture of a delightful and prized woman worthy of love and protection. Lady Wisdom calls all men to view their wives this way and treat them accordingly. A husband should carefully treat his wife with gentle affection and patient tenderness, just as if he were caring for a loving hind and pleasant roe. Paul confirmed this rule in the New Testament, when he commands men to cherish -- treat with special care -- their wives (Eph 5:28,29)" (LGBT).

MAY HER BREASTS SATISFY YOU ALWAYS: As to the female breasts as objects of sexual attraction to the male, see also Eze 16:7; 23:3,21; Hos 2:2; and cp Song 1:13; 7:3,7; 8:8,10. The father, or instructor, here is a realist: he understands, and deals with, the sexual urges of the young man, and points the way in which they may be satisfied legitimately. This approach gives credibility to his instruction.

"The perpetual importance of breasts for attraction and lovemaking is forcefully brought to our attention by Solomon's plain language. Nothing has changed: breasts are still beautiful and important in the appearance and performance of a woman (Song 4:5; 7:1-10; Eze 16:7; 23:3,8; Hos 2:2). Women in Solomon's day were as concerned about their breasts as much as women are today (Song 1:13; 8:8-10). But our wicked society tries to expose breasts to public view, which God's saints must fight with all their power. Immodest clothes that emphasize, enhance, or expose the size or shape of breasts must be rejected. And this rule of holiness and godliness must apply to the other parts of a woman's body that also attract the attention and desire of men. The present state of public undress makes it hard for men to be satisfied husbands at home for great marriages. God hates female immodesty (Isa 3:16-24; 1Ti 2:9,10; 1Pe 3:3,4).

"This proverb binds every man to be content and satisfied with his wife's breasts, the rest of her body, and her lovemaking. It is a choice. Every husband must choose to focus on what he has, rather than bemoan his fate for what he does not have. It is a command. Our proverb here is not a suggestion, and every man can do it, if he will obey the Lord (Gen 3:16; 1Co 7:3-5; 11:9; Eph 5:22-24; Tit 2:4,5)" (LGBT).

MAY YOU EVER BE CAPTIVATED BY HER LOVE: God approves sexual joy in marriage, and it is a protection against unfaithfulness (1Co 7:5). "Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this... life that God has given you under the sun" (Ecc 9:9).

CAPTIVATED: "Ravished" (KJV), "infatuated" (RSV), or "exhilarated" (NASB). All these are true, but the sense is probably "intoxicated" (see Strong): the verb "shagah" means "to swerve; to meander; to reel" as in drunkenness (sw Pro 20:1; Isa 28:7; more generally, see Song 7:2n).

Pro 5:20

WHY BE CAPTIVATED, MY SON, BY AN ADULTERESS? WHY EMBRACE THE BOSOM OF ANOTHER MAN'S WIFE?: "Captivated" is sw v 19 -- "intoxicated". And of course, this highlights the great power, and danger, of sexual attraction: it can be as intoxicating when the object is the unlawful lover as when it is the lawful wife! But common sense alone would imply that such brief liaisons with strangers give no time for intimacy -- that requires a lifelong bonding with the wife of one's youth.

ADULTERESS: More literally, "strange woman" (AV) or "foreigner" (NET), the Hebrew "zuwr". However, it does not mean that the woman is non-Israelite. This term describes a woman who is outside the moral boundaries of the covenant community -- she is another man’s wife, but since she acts with moral abandonment she is called "foreign"!

Pro 5:21

FOR A MAN'S WAYS ARE IN FULL VIEW OF THE LORD, AND HE EXAMINES ALL HIS PATHS: All a man's ways, or paths, are known to the LORD (Psa 11:4; 119:168; 139:1-12; Job 34:21; Jer 16:17) -- even though the wicked man may wish to deny that fact (Psa 94:6-9). When the fool says in his heart, "There is no God", what he really means is: 'the God who does exist will take no notice of what I do!'
(Psa 14:1-3). As Bridges puts it, "practical atheism is the root of human depravity." But no matter how careful someone might be to conceal sin, he cannot conceal anything from God. Anyone who does not take into account God's omniscience will get entangled in sin. "The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good" (Pro 15:3). Those who are fully committed to Him are strengthened (2Ch 16:9), but those who have sinned against Him will be punished (Jer 13:25-27; Ecc 12:14; Heb 4:13; 13:4).

The watchfulness of the LORD is especially worth noting, in the context of sexual sins: for these sins are done in secret. Adulterers rendezvous in private or dark places (Pro 7:9; Job 24:15). The pornography addict hides materials or media and makes excuses for being alone (Eze 16:17; 23:14-16). The fantasizing person believes thoughts, imaginations, and desires are totally hidden from everyone (Pro 24:9; Psa 10:11; Eze 8:12), but he -- or she! -- is so very wrong: God sees everything!

Pro 5:22

THE EVIL DEEDS OF A WICKED MAN ENSNARE HIM; THE CORDS OF HIS SIN HOLD HIM FAST: Sometimes it will be true that a wicked man receives judgment only at the end of days, and at the Judgment Seat. But other times, the wicked will bring their own punishment upon themselves, by their folly and misguided actions in this life (Pro 1:18,31; Psa 7:15,16; 9:15; Hos 4:11-14). The little cords of their sin, which they have been plaiting and tying together for long periods, finally become so strong that they cannot free themselves! They have bound themselves to their own sins with unbreakable ropes, and now there is no remedy! "A rooted habit becomes a governing principle. Every lust we entertain deals with us as Delilah did with Samson -- not only robs us of our strength, but leaves us fast bound" (Tillotson, BI). "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?" (Rom 7:24). "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life" (Gal 6:7,8). (Fascinating, isn't it, that the sin of promiscuity in the young is lessened, in the minds of some, as simply "sowing wild oats"! Let the verses in Galatians provide the antidote to such a silly, selfish "justification": the "sowing" of such will produce a terrible "harvest"!)

Examples of the truth of this verse: Agag (1Sa 15:33), Adoni-Bezek (Jdg 1:7), Haman (Est 7:10), and Judas (Mat 27:3-5).

Pro 5:23

HE WILL DIE FOR LACK OF DISCIPLINE: "Lack of discipline" is a better translation than "without instruction" (KJV). People usually do not become unfaithful to their spouses because they do not know better but because they do not choose better.

LED ASTRAY: "Led astray" is exactly the sw ("shagah") as in Pro 5:19,20 -- where it is translated "captivated" but really means "intoxicated".

BY HIS OWN GREAT FOLLY: "With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed -- an accursed brood! They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness" (2Pe 2:14,15). "Sexual sins give pleasure for a season, but it is a very short season (Heb 11:25). And then comes destruction and misery (Pro 5:9-11). Just ask Samson! The lust of the flesh craves sex, which is a man's bodily desire for it (1Co 7:1-9). The lust of the eyes fantasizes about women, either in person or in pictures. The pride of life tells a man he is the best and deserves the best, so he justifies sexual liberties. The combination of lusts is lethal. The blinded victim cannot see past the curvaceous body, the wanton eyes, the bold face, and the luscious lips to the destruction ahead (Pro 6:25; 7:13). He cannot hear above her seductive voice the warnings of his teachers (Pro 5:3; 7:14-18). His lusts have conspired together to take a woman for great pleasure. He goes after her as an ox to the slaughter and a bird to the snare (Pro 7:22,23); he cannot see he is committing suicide (Pro 2:18,19)" (LGBT).

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