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
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"
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;
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
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
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
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
"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.
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
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
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
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)!
This verse is generally parallel to Pro 2:18,19; 7:27;
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;
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).
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
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!
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
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.
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]"
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
"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
"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
"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"!
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
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!
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
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.
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)
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).
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!
I WOULD NOT OBEY MY TEACHERS: The Hebrew term "moray"
is from the root "yarah", which also yields the noun "torah" -- the
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!
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?
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"
"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.
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.
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).
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
"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.
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)"
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
"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
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"!
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;
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!
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).
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
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).