Proverbs 5:7-14

And now, O sons, listen to me,

    and do not depart from the words of my mouth.

Keep your way far from her,

    and do not go near the door of her house,

lest you give your honor to others

    and your years to the merciless,

10 lest strangers take their fill of your strength,

    and your labors go to the house of a foreigner,

11 and at the end of your life you groan,

    when your flesh and body are consumed,

12 and you say, “How I hated discipline,

    and my heart despised reproof!

13 I did not listen to the voice of my teachers

    or incline my ear to my instructors.

14 I am at the brink of utter ruin

    in the assembled congregation.”

Proverbs 5:7-14 ESV

In the preceding verses (3-6) the writer warned of the dangers presented by the forbidden woman. Here in verses 7-14, he continues that warning.

By going near her door you risk much. For example, you risk giving “your honor to others and your years to the merciless” (5:9). The second part of this couplet describes the risk as letting “strangers take their fill of your strength” and letting “your labors go to the house of a foreigner” (5:10). In other words the risk of going near her door is giving the rest of your life – time, energy, and resources – to someone else.

Is the risk worth the moment of forbidden pleasure? The writer answers that question like this: “… at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed” (5:11). I think the groaning is the result of three things. First, groaning comes from the fatigue and futility of laboring your life away, knowing that the reward of your labor is consumed and enjoyed by strangers, and not by you. In other words when you work overtime a stranger’s kid gets new sneakers, not your kids. This is a groaning of futility.

Second, groaning comes from the realization of how you got into this spot – being a fool – and how you could have avoided it had you walked the path of wisdom. Notice how the writer describes this realization: “… and you say, ‘How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof! I did not listen to the voice of my teacher or incline my ear to my instructors'” (5:12-13). This is a groaning of frustration. Why didn’t I just listen?

The third groan comes from a desperate sense of finality. “I am at the brink of utter ruin …” (5:14). In other words, “It’s over.” And this is what the fool can not see waiting for him at the end of the path of folly.

Like the writer of this passage, I also implore you to choose wisdom. “My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding” (5:1).


  1. Craig,
    This series of proverbial expounding has been enjoyable and instructive. Today’s notes are a great reminder that God puts up these warnings for our benefit. Thanks.

    • CraigDunning says

      Thanks, Bill.

      Concentrated time in Proverbs is both instructive and convicting. At least for me. Thanks for the encouraging words.

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