My son, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight, 2 that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge. 3 For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; 4 but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. 5 Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. 6 She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it. 7 Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say. 8 Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house, 9 lest you lose your honour to others and your dignity to one who is cruel, 10 lest strangers feast on your wealth and your toil enrich the house of another. 11 At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent. 12 You will say, “How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction! 13 I would not obey my teachers or turn my ear to my instructors. 14 And I was soon in serious trouble in the assembly of God’s people.” (Prov. 5:1-14 NIV)
The Teacher addresses the issue of marital unfaithfulness. Adultery and sex outside of marriage is so common today that it is spoken about as if it is not a problem. The chattering classes speak of illicit sex openly, but they never want to face the real misery that is caused when there are relationship breakdowns. Here is a timely warning for all young men and women. There is a very real attraction to have sex, it is a gift that God has given to be enjoyed within marriage, but to have sex outside of marriage will end in bitterness. The warning is also for middle-aged and older men and women. Many have shipwrecked their lives late in life. We need to pay attention to wisdom, and embrace the insight that comes from wisdom. We need to maintain discretion in the way that we behave around others. The problems are the same with same-sex relations today but in this passage the warning is with opposite-sex relationships. The Teacher cautions the young about their speech. The issue of society needing to change their views about how women should be respected is currently being highlighted in the news. This is a responsible message, and there certainly is need for a major change, but it is strange that some of the people who are promoting this message show little respect for the family unit, or for fidelity within marriage. When the family unit is not cherished, it should come as no surprise that society is reaping a harvest of abuse in every area of relationships.
As the young man was warned about being enticed by sinful men in chapter one, so he is now warned about the allurement of the adulterous woman. Her words are seductive offering pleasure and happiness, but it leads to a bitter end. Her words are as sweet as honey and as smooth as oil. To follow this path leads to death and the grave. Adultery is an offence before God and it is ruinous to the naïve person who thinks that they can walk down that path and step away unscathed.
There is a contrast between the words of the young man that should preserve knowledge and wisdom and the deceitful, sweet and smooth words of the adulterous woman that will not preserve but will lead to death and the grave.
The adulterous woman does not use wisdom to think about her lifestyle. Her way in life lacks direction and she has no knowledge to discern good from evil or right from wrong.
The Teacher continues his advice to encourage the young man not to turn away from wisdom. The earlier warning against the adulterous woman saw the young man close enough to her to be able to listen to her words. The Teacher warns the young man to choose a path that is far from the adulterous woman. We are not even to go near her door. One way to avoid trouble is to stay clear of it.
To give in to temptation leads to several losses. There is a loss of honour, a loss of dignity, a loss of wealth, and your toil goes in to enrich someone else’s house.
At the end of life there could be many regrets because wisdom had been rejected. The description of the body and flesh being spent, reminds us of the teaching of Ecc. where it is taught that, in the end, we have to give an account for how we have lived our lives. There will be regrets resulting from discipline being hated. How discipline in learning and obeying would have saved him from so much harm! There was also a loss of public reputation among God’s people.
There is not the same stigma attached to the sin of adultery today. This is not progress but a rejection of wisdom, and no good will come from this.
Lord God help us to stick to the straight path that keeps us away from wrong. We are never mature enough Christians to ever take the risk of placing ourselves in a compromising place. Lord help us to be wise, and protect us from all harm. We thank You that when we do sin we can find forgiveness and restoration. As Christians our lives are testimonies to Your grace and love, help us not to bring shame upon the gospel. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.