Proverbs 5:7

And now, O sons, listen to me,

    and do not depart from the words of my mouth.

Proverbs 5:7 ESV

These are the words of a parent who has traveled further down the road than his child, and thus has seen some of the twists and turns of life that are in his child’s future. Here, the writer wants to get his child’s attention because there are dangers ahead (see 8-14).

In the first clause, listen conveys the idea of “pay attention and do.” Simply hearing what I’m saying isn’t enough; you need to understand and do. I think of a coach calling his team into a huddle to explain what he wants them to do. Often the call to attention in that scenario is, “Listen up!” By that he means “pay attention, I’m about to give you instructions that you need to understand and execute.”

The second clause indicates the expectation of an ongoing commitment to what is about to be said. It isn’t enough to hear and understand; committed application is the expectation.

How often do we read the Bible with the intent to understand and apply? It’s easy to fall into the trap of reading Scripture seemingly for the sake of reading … without listening. At the end of those sessions we can say we read X number of chapters, but we can hardly explain anything that we read. Is that helpful?

Proverbs 5:15

Drink water from your own cistern,

    flowing water from your own well.

Proverbs 5:15 ESV

This commandment is set against the previous section about the forbidden woman. As a summary illustration we are told to drink only from our own cistern or well. Since the forbidden woman is not yours, leave her alone.

The comparison to property is not meant to demean the intrinsic value of the forbidden woman, it is intended to shock the man’s heart into clarity. Since I don’t want others taking my stuff, I will not take someone else’s woman. She is forbidden to me.

Proverbs 5:6

“she does not ponder the path of life;

    her ways wander, and she does not know it.”

Proverbs 5:6 ESV

Here, the author identifies the naive way in which the “forbidden woman” wanders through life. First she gives no thought to her path in life. In contrast, Proverbs 4:26 says, “Ponder the path of your feet, then all your ways will be sure.” Thus, the forbidden women’s ways will be unsure because she gives them no thought.

Note also that she wanders and is unaware that she is wandering. Meandering here and there, here and there, without realizing it. This reminds me of the drunk driver who is unaware that he is floating right and left, crossing the lines as he drifts back and forth. I think this illustration may be helpful for the modern reader, because almost instinctively we recognize the destruction and possible death that can come from drunk driving. Here, the author leads with the destruction and death imagery in vs. 5, “Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol.”

So, if the forbidden woman leads to destruction and death, why do men follow her? The answer is folly. Fools chase folly. Wise men chase wisdom. The path of the deceiver leads to death. The path of God leads to life. Choose wisely.

Proverbs 5:4

but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,

    sharp as a two-edged sword.

Proverbs 5:4 ESV

“But in the end …” is a signal to put on your seat belt because you are going to be on a bumpy ride. In this proverb, the writer presents the bad outcome as the result of a deception. In verse 3 we see that the forbidden woman is a smooth talker, “smoother than oil.” As we have said in a previous post, “Because everything is not as it appears, wisdom is a necessity.”

Verse 4 is the first of many examples of bad outcome. Here, the reader’s physical senses of taste and touch are assaulted: “she is bitter as wormwood” and “sharp as a two-edged sword.” An engaged reader might even recoil at the bitter taste of wormwood or the painful thought of being cut by a two-edged sword. That is the writer’s intention, like a splash of cold water to shock us into clarity. Everything about the forbidden woman draws us in, “For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil.” BUT! “But in the end …”

Verse 4 reworded: If you don’t want to have a bitter taste or be sliced and diced, avoid the forbidden woman.

Proverbs 5:22

“The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him,

    and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.”

Proverbs 5:22 ESV

Beware the risk of playing around with sin. Many think “I’ll do this for a while, then I’ll stop when I’m ready.” Unfortunately, sin isn’t always so accommodating; it has its own desires and agenda.

This proverb describes the binding nature of our sin; it holds us captive. And, the more we submit to our sin, the more we are bound by it. Don’t treat sin as a game, something to dabble with. Sin is deceptive and deadly.

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