THE BOOK OF PROVERBS: Chapter 5 The Pitfalls of Immorality

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Edward D. Andrews
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored ninety-two books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

What can Christians do to stay safe in such an influential world that caters to the fallen flesh? We might have thought that a book, like Proverbs that is 3,000 years old would be out of date on such modern issues, but God’s Word is ever applicable. King Solomon in Proverbs chapter 5 will give us the answers we need. However, it is up to us to follow the counsel.

Pay Attention to the Father

Proverbs 5:1 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

My son, be attentive to my wisdom;
incline your ear to my understanding,

My son, be attentive to my wisdom: The Hebrew (qā·šǎḇ) be attentive means to listen and pay attention, to give heed. In other words, it means that you accept the information that you are given as true and then favorably respond to it. Wisdom: (Heb. ḥāḵ·mā(h)) is sound judgment, based on knowledge and understanding. It is the balanced application of that knowledge to answer difficulties, achieve objectives, sidestep or ward off dangers, not to mention helping others to accomplish the same. The wise person is often contrasted with the foolishness or stupid person. – Deut. 32:6; Prov. 11:29; Eccles. 6:8.

Incline your ear to my understanding: The Hebrew (nā·ṭā(h)) incline is when one leans their ear in the speaker’s direction so that they can hear better. This is simply a more literary way of saying be attentive or pay attention. The believer needs to carefully listen to the Father and heed his words. Understanding (Heb. teû·nā(h)) is the ability to see how the parts or aspects of something are connected to one another. One who possesses understanding can see the big picture (the entire matter) and not just the isolated facts. – Prov. 2:5; 9:10; 18:15.

Like many of the other chapters in the book of Proverbs, it begins with the plea for the son to heed his father’s wisdom. Immorality is likely the greatest pitfall for any young man. Thus, Solomon takes this issue up five times in the first third of Proverbs. (2:16-22; 5:3-23; 6:24-35; 7:5-27; 9:13-18) If the young man or woman for that matter is to avoid falling into immorality, he or she will need to pay attention to wisdom, the ability to apply Bible knowledge, and listen to understanding, the ability to see into a given situation, so as to ascertain right from wrong.

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Thinking Ability to Protect You

Proverbs 5:2 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

that you may keep discretion,[1]
and your lips may guard knowledge.

That you may keep discretion: The phrase discretion (i.e., thinking ability) has been used in 1:4; 2:11; 3:21. In all four verses, the phrase is referring to the ability to make wise choices as well as use good judgment. Discretion (thinking ability): (Heb. mezimmah) In the evil sense, this can mean wicked plans, evil ideas, schemes, and devices. In the favorable sense, it can mean shrewdness, perceptiveness, discretion, and prudence. In the favorable sense, it is the ability to judge wisely and objectively. Mezimmah, therefore, the human mind and thoughts can be used for an admirable and upright end, or for evil purposes. – Ps 10:2; Pro. 1:4; 2:10-12; 5:1-2.

And your lips may guard knowledge: The lips (śā·p̄ā(h)) here, which is serving as a protection, guarding or watching over our knowledge is being contrasted with “the lips of a forbidden woman” in the next verse. In other words, your lips should be filled with wise words that will serve as a protection in contrast to the flattering lips of an adulteress.

In order to possess the good sense or the good judgment and the sensibility needed to avoid what we will label as innocent appearing situations, that is, it seems innocent enough, but it is really a dangerous situation that can lead to ultimate downfall; the young one needs to see where there may not even be evidence that there is seduction in the air.

An older woman may use cunning, smoothness, and crafty ways to slip into the affections of an inexperienced young man in the ways of the world. Being innocent, the young man may not perceive her charms. Once he is seduced, he may still find it difficult how he fell into the disgraceful situation that brought about this ultimate wrongdoing. Many young men have lost themselves to the seductive woman, being sexually exploited.

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Beware of a Smooth Lips

Proverbs 5:3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

For the lips of a strange woman drip honey,
and smoother than oil is her mouth,

For the lips of a strange woman drip honey: The (zār) strange woman (2:16) is referring to those who set aside what was in harmony with the Mosaic Law and thus distanced and estrange themselves from God. Therefore, the immoral sensual woman (prostitute) was not necessarily a foreigner. “The strange woman,” the prostitute, is described as one “who forsakes the companion of her youth” (2:17), which is referring to the husband of her young womanhood. She has ignored and disregarded the prohibition on adultery that was a part of the covenant of her God, the Mosaic Law covenant. (Ex. 20:14) Solomon uses the sweetness of (Heb. nō·p̄ě) honey (the sweetest substance in the ancient world and the smoothest substance in the Israelite home) to illustrate the temptation to sexual immorality that the “strange woman” can bring to bear (achieve) by her appeal to a man with her use of beauty, sexual attraction, and smooth words. It is a fine warning to Christians today.

And smoother than oil is her mouth: Her (Heb. ḥēḵ) lips, the contributing factor to the young man’s downfall, were used as a figure of speech, in reference to her words. The Hebrew word zarah rendered “stranger” here in this context was a reference to a woman that had left the Law, who is now a prostitute or an immoral woman. In this Proverb, like is true of most seductresses throughout history, it is not her physical beauty alone, but primarily the sound of her voice and her words that lead the young man astray. Again, honey is the sweetest substance in the ancient Israelite home and is compared to her words. Verse 3 uses the sweetness of honey to illuminate the enticement to sexual immorality that the strange woman (forbidden woman) will wield by her entreaty to a young man with her seduction of flattering and smooth words, smoother than oil.

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You Can Remain Chaste in an Immoral World

Proverbs 5:4-5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
sharp as a two-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death;
her steps take hold of Sheol;

But in the end she is bitter as wormwood: What initially seemed so sweet and appealing will only end as bitter as (Heb. lǎ·ʿǎnā(h)) wormwood, a leafy plant that yields a bitter-tasting extract. In Scripture, among other things, wormwood is compared to the aftereffects of immorality.[2]

Sharp as a two-edged sword: This encounter has the possibility of making one ill, in severe pain, and even leading to death like a two-edged sword. This brief encounter of sexual immorality will feel like you are being slashed with a two-edged sword, which at the very minimum will cause you emotional wounds and pain.

Her feet go down to death: That one sexual encounter can lead to death might seem highly unlikely, until the age of seeing the world through the internet. Sexually transmitted diseases, such as AIDS, Syphilis if not treated can cause death, certain types of HPV[3] can cause cervical cancer, which if not caught can end in death, Gonorrhea and Chlamydia can cause sterility if not treated; in addition, it can lead to PID[4] which again, if untreated can cause death. Hepatitis B can lead to a debilitating disease and over time failure of the liver. This is all in the age of extraordinary science. Can we imagine in the Ancient Near East, with no medication to treat diseases? Then, death can also come from a spouse that is betrayed and acts out in rage to take the life of the two violated the marriage bed.

Her steps take hold of Sheol: The seductress’s steps lead to (Heb. šeʾôl) Sheol, which is a transliteration of a Hebrew word that refers to the grave of humankind. The wisdom here would be in taking a moment, to think of the outcome of one’s actions, as opposed to the momentary pleasure of immediate gratification.

A distressed inner-self, an unexpected child, a disease transmitted through a sexual encounter, or the breakup of a home, all bitter results of an immoral indiscretion. In addition, let us consider the massive emotionally distraught spouse, who may never be able to trust you again because of your unfaithfulness. It only takes one act of betrayal to alter the course of multiple lives for generations.

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She Lures Her Prey Off the Path of Life

Proverbs 5:6 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

she does not ponder the path of life;
her ways wander, and she does not know it.

She does not ponder the path of life: Unlike wisdom, the strange woman does not (Heb. pā·lǎs) ponder, examine or weigh, pay attention or scrutinize, give careful thought or consideration to the path that she is traveling.

Her ways wander, and she does not know it: Rather, she is (Heb. aʿ) wondering without any destination, aimlessly through a life of immorality, not even knowing the end consequences. In other words, through shear ignorance, she has sidestepped the path of life. Does this sound like the person we should allow to seduce us? Her ignorance is willful rejection of wisdom, and so we should not be deceived by feeling sorry for her. She is the predator, not the prey.

Her entire objective is to lure her prey off the path of life. There is only one path to eternal life and that is a marriage commitment to one mate for life, which she has refused to travel. Rather, she has willfully chosen the path of sexual immorality and worse still, she has purposely chosen to be a temptress, to drag others down this path that leads to Sheol, death.

The Believer’s Path Is Far Away from the Immoral Path

Proverbs 5:7-8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

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,

And now, O sons, listen to me: After a section of giving his sons counsel about their unrealistic nature of ideas or desires about the strange woman’s suggestion of underlying passion and sensuality, the father enters into another plea for his sons to listen (Heb. šā·mǎʿ), that is pay attention and obey, never departing from his words.

And do not depart from the words of my mouth: The Hebrew for put away (sûr) from (4:24) meant to remove something concrete or abstract, to take it away, to cause it to go away. Here, the same Hebrew word (sûr) has the meaning depart, leave, that is, to make a movement away from the words of the father and the path of the righteous, life.

Keep your way far from her: The sons’ way (dě·rěḵ) or path of righteousness (life) is another route, which is different from the strange woman, that is, the immoral woman. The Hebrew far (rā·ḥǎq) is to be a great distance from another. The sons’ path of righteousness is certainly far removed from the immoral path of the strange woman. Her is the strange woman from verses 3-6.

And do not go near the door of her house: Passing by the door of her house may seem innocent enough but is really a dangerous situation that can lead to ultimate downfall. The son needs to see where there may not even be evidence that there is seduction in the air. Verse 8 has it contrasted as to the sons warning to keep themselves far from her and do not go near.

The sons need to stay as far away as possible from the door of temptation, the fleshly influence of the strange woman. There is no reason to take the risk of listening to her raspy voice, seeing her sensual figure, exposing them to her immodest clothing. How foolish to place human senses, seeing, hearing, and smelling, in the presence of temptation.

Bringing this counsel into the twenty-first century, we need to keep far away from all immoral influences, whether they come through a person or immoral music, entertainment, the internet, or even books and magazines.

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Keep Your Way Far off from the Wayward Person

Proverbs 5:9-10 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

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,

Lest you give your honor to others: Is there not a lack of (Heb. ) honor (reputation and self-respect) on the part of the young man, who gives his body, mind and heart in the prime of his life, to one who is merely using him for her pleasures? Is it not shameful to seek out immediate gratification, or the selfish passions of another?

And your years to the merciless: He will lose his years (early death or spent unwisely) to a woman who not only has no mercy (Heb.ʾǎḵ·zā·rî) for him but is also cruel in her ruthless pursuit of him. The blindness of his passion will cause him to not see the losses he is about to suffer because of following his physical desire.

Lest strangers take their fill of your strength: He will lose his (Heb. kōa) strength (honor, physical health, sexual vitality, and self-worth). He will lose his labors (cost of adulteress). Bible scholar Longman states, “The point of these verses is clear: The price of infidelity may be high, for everything one has worked for, position, power, prosperity, can be lost either through the avaricious demands of the woman or the outcry for restitution by the community.”[5]

The Immorally Erring Believer

Proverbs 5:11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

11 and you groan at your end,
when your flesh and body are consumed,

and you groan at your end: To (Heb. nā·hǎm) groan is to indicate vocally in an inarticulate way pain, discomfort, or displeasure. You were in such a rush to feed your fleshly desires, and now you groan over the pain and suffering that has resulted, such as sexually transmitted diseases. At your end, does not necessarily mean the end of your life, but rather the end of the affair with the strange woman.

When your flesh and body are consumed: Here the (Heb. bā·śār) flesh and (Heb. šeʾēr) body is referring to the literal body of flesh and muscles, the physical body or the whole person, we well as your personality and being. Any sexually transmitted disease will consume (Heb. kā·lā(h)) and hasten the deterioration of an already imperfect body. This would also be the case of being consumed with shame, guilt, anxiety and the stress or worry of being caught.

Besides the disease and pain that you may bring upon his own flesh and body when you turn to immorality, the possible disease and pain upon your wife who is one flesh with you, and upon your future children, you also bring disunity, a suspicion that will plague you for life, and a lack of peace into his married life. But worse than this, you bring yourself to a spiritual death in that you leave the path of life and enter on the path that leads to death. You pay the price of having God’s disapproval, whose eyes have been upon your ways and paths.

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I Have Paid a High Price

Proverbs 5:12-13 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

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.

And you say, “How I hated discipline: Here hated (Heb. sane˒) has an emotion ranging from disliking intensely, abhor, detest, loathe, open hostility, antipathy or aversion towards a person or thing, but in other places it can have the weaker sense of being “set against,” also being toward a person or thing. Discipline (Heb. mû·sār) is repeatedly mentioned throughout the book of Proverbs. In the Scriptures, discipline often carries the sense of correction, admonition, rebuke, or chastisement. It is the practice or methods of teaching and enforcing acceptable patterns of behavior: correction, admonition, or modification, whether it is self-discipline or the discipline of another. According to The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, it “denotes the training of the moral nature, involving the correcting of waywardness toward folly.” (Garland and Longman 2008, 48) Do we need this training? Whether we are disciplining ourselves, or are being disciplined by another, by grasping the counsel within the Scriptures, and then applying it in our lives, it moves us to become a better servant of God. If we are to move over from inherited death to life, we need discipline. – Prov. 1:3; 3:11; 5:12

And my heart despised reproof: Here the Hebrew term (nā·ʾǎ) for despise has the meaning of looking down on with contempt, to scorn, reject, spurn, strong dislike, which matches hatred from line 1. Here reproof (Heb. tô·ḵǎ·ḥǎṯ) has the sense of an act or an expression of criticism or disapproval, even condemnation. It is speaking strong words of disapproval, which may also include punishment. – Ps 39:12; Prov. 1:23, 25, 30; 3:11; 5:12; 6:23; 10:17; 12:1; 13:18; 15:5, 10, 31, 32; 27:5; 29:1, 15; Ezek. 5:15.

I did not listen to the voice of my teachers: The Hebrew term (shama˓) means to listen, to hear, to pay close attention, and respond, heed, or obey on the basis of having heard. In other words, you did not obey the words of the instructions from the teacher or you did not pay attention to the words of the teacher.

Or incline my ear to my instructors: The Hebrew (nā·ṭā(h)) incline is when one leans their ear in the speaker’s direction so that they can hear better. This is simply a more literary way of saying be attentive or pay attention. You need to carefully listen to the instructor and heed his words.

Regret is all you have left, so you start in with the “only If” or “why did I not.” You ask yourself, why did I reject corrective counsel? Why did I not listen to my teachers? Why did I not take instructors words seriously? Why did I allow the strange woman to have her way with me? Why have I ruined my life? It is all too little too late, as I have failed to heed the voices of reason and logic. My life has been one of regret where had I listened to the teachers and instructors instead of stubbornly discarding their counsel, life would not have been one disaster after another. Now, late in life, my conscience has condemned me and my long hatred for the instructors and teachers is regretful. I have failed to obey my teachers, my instructors, and my father.

The Dishonorable Marriage

Proverbs 5:14 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

14 I am at the brink of utter ruin
in the assembled congregation.”

I am at the brink of utter ruin: The Hebrew (rǎʿ) ruin is literally “in all evil.” The sense for the term here is a calamitous event, which resulted in a great loss and misfortune. Here the young man has been so inundated with foolish behavior that he has now become the victim one can suffer: dishonor, disgrace, terrible public shame, even possibly death. Under the Mosaic Law, some sexual immorality could lead to the death penalty. Under the law of Christ, the penalty for unrepentant sexual immorality is total, eternal destruction, death.

When one lives life to the world’s idea of the fullest extent of looking for nothing more than one avenue of pleasure after the other, it will eventually come to the “if only” syndrome. If only I had listened to my father, to the teachers, to the instructors. If only I had taken other paths in life. If only I had paid attention to the wise advice I had received. However, this is too little too late because this foolish one who sought pleasure, immediate gratification above all else had ruined his life and his reputation is stained. It is vital that we ponder the high price of sexual immorality before we are immersed by it!

In the assembled congregation: The two words assembled (Heb. qā·hāl) and congregation (Heb. ʿē·ḏā(h)) mean the same thing, a group of people who are gathered together, usually for religious purposes. In this case, it is the community of this man, who have gathered together to examine his sexually immoral offenses.

Immorality or sexual misconduct can seem like the greatest thing in the beginning, until it becomes public knowledge. The family, the community, and the congregation now know, and your shame is unbearable, you are in utter ruin!

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Enjoy Your Marriage

Proverbs 5:15 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

15 Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.

Drink water from your own cistern: The Bible is not squeamish about sexual relations, and we do well to follow that example, if we are to help, our young ones avoid the pitfalls of this world. The cistern (Heb. bôr) or well is an underground tank for storing precious rainwater and is being used as a poetic expression for the precious wife, who satisfies the desires of her husband. This is considered a private water source, unlike the water supply in public places. Therefore, the point is quite clear, just as you drink water from your own cistern or well, you only have sexual relations with your own wife.

Flowing water from your own well: Having sexual pleasure with one’s wife is compared to drinking refreshing water from your own well. This comparison may not resonate with many in our modern world, but ancient Palestine had a dry climate that left them waterless at times. Moreover, they had to dig wells to seek out water, so it was a very precious staple of life. This figurative language instructs the husband to have sexual relations only with his wife. Just as the precious water of the arid climate of Palestine from the husband’s own well brought physical life to the husband, so to sexual intimacy from his wife brought pleasure to his life.

Sexual Satisfaction Is not to Be Sought Outside Marriage

Proverbs 5:16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

16 Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets?

Should your springs be scattered abroad: Springs (Heb. mǎʿ·yān) refers to a natural flow of groundwater that comes to the surface, which flows from beneath the ground, and should be distinguished from water that is stored in a well or a cistern. Scattered abroad means to be thrown or moved, spread far from the place from which it originated.

Streams of water in the streets: Streams translates a word (pě·lěḡ), which refers to a natural body of water that flows on or underground within the bed and banks of a channel.

Both springs, as well as streams, are regularly used in the Old Testament as a means of enjoyment or pleasure. However, the cisterns and wells spoken of in verse 15 are located on the property of the owner, while the streams and springs of verse 16 are often at a distance.

Just as the “cistern” of verse 15 stood for the wife’s sexual affections for her husband, the “springs” and “streams of water” of verse 16 is a reference to the husband’s sexual affections for his wife.

In other words, verse 16a would read something like, ‘shall your [the husband’s] springs [sexual affections] be scattered outward [someone other than his wife]? Verse 16b would read, ‘in the streets [where prostitutes are], shall there be streams of water [the husband’s sexual affections]?’ Verse 15-16 gives the reader an analogy that the “cistern” [the wife] satisfies the sexual desires of the husband, and the “springs” and “streams of water” [the husband] satisfies the desires of the wife.

Using figurative language, the Scriptures employ the terms cistern and well of verse 15 and springs and streams of verse 16 as expressions of “water sources” to denote a source of the wife’s sexual affections for her husband in verse 15 and to denote a source of the husband’s sexual affections for his wife in verse 16, with the point being made that sexual satisfaction is not to be sought outside of the marriage. Of course, the love between husband and wife properly involves the marital relationship. However, all those outside the marriage must be excluded from its intimacies.

Forbidding Any Kind of Unfaithfulness in the Marriage

Proverbs 5:17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

17 Let them be for you alone,
and not for strangers with you.

Let them be for you alone: This verse replicates and reinforces the command in verses 15–16. The pronoun them (Heb. hā·yā(h)) is a reference to the “cistern” and “well” of verse 15 and the “springs” and “streams” of verse 16, which are used to denote a source of the wife’s sexual affections for her husband in verse 15 and to denote a source of the husband’s sexual affections for his wife in verse 16. In other words, the water sources (sexual affections) of your household are for you alone and should not be shared with others.

And not for strangers with you: Stranger: (Heb. zār) was applied to those who forsook what was in harmony with the Mosaic Law and so were estranged from God. Thus, at Proverbs 2:16, the one morally estranged harlot or prostitute is referred to as a “strange (Heb. zār) woman.” (Prov. 2:16; 5:17; 7:5) The point being made here is simple, do not share your sexual affections with another.

Sexual intimacy should be for you and your spouse alone, which like life saving-water, it should not be wasted on strangers. May the sexual desires that the husband receives from his wife and the wife receives from her husband, be his and hers alone, never to be shared with another. These verses, 15-17, are forbidding any kind of unfaithfulness in the marriage, even flirting.

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Take Sexual Satisfaction (Pleasure) In the Wife of Your Youth

Proverbs 5:18 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

18 Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,

Let your fountain be blessed: A fountain (Heb. mā·qôr) is a well, a fountain, a natural spring of groundwater, which is a relatively small body of water either on the surface of the ground or just below the ground, which denotes the sense of life and cleansing associated with clean and pure water. (Prov 5:18; 25:26; Jer. 2:13; 17:13; 51:36; Hos 13:15; Zech. 13:1) Here the meaning of your fountain is the husband’s wife, who is the source of his sexual affections. Blessed (Heb. bā·rǎḵ) refers to God blessing the husband. It is God pronouncing good or showing favor, having favorable circumstances or state at a future time, for the husband who has a righteous standing before God because of his having remained faithful to the wife of his youth, as he has never had sexual relations with anyone other than his first wife, either by committing adultery or by finding a manufactured reason for divorcing your first wife. Happiness and being highly favored by God characterize this rejoicing in your wife.

And rejoice in the wife of your youth: The meaning of blessed from line one is seen in the parallel word in the second line of our verse, “and rejoice (Heb. śā·mǎḥ) in the …” Both blessed and rejoice are referring to the husband who is content, full of joy because of his wife, who is the source of his sexual affections. This text is emphasizing the sexual affections within a marriage, as has been the case since verse 15. The Hebrew samach is a command to take sexual satisfaction (pleasure) with your first wife, which infers that the husband should never look for or seek sexual relations outside of the wife of his youth, which is speaking of the young age when they were married, i.e., the first wife. The marriage should embrace sexual satisfaction, joy, and contentment.

May the husband’s sexual desires continue to be quenched by the wife of his youth, not in seeking out a second wife, a mistress, or a prostitute? God will certainly bless, i.e., bring happiness and rejoicing in the sexual satisfaction between a husband and the wife of your youth but not in any other relationship with any other person.

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Husbands Be Intoxicated with Satisfaction in the Pleasures of Your Wife’s body, Love, and Affection that She Gives You

Proverbs 5:19-20 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

19 a loving doe, a graceful mountain goat.
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
be intoxicated always in her love.
20 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a strange woman
and embrace the bosom of a foreigner?

A loving doe, a graceful mountain goat: The wife is described as “a loving doe, a graceful mountain goat.” (Prov. 5:18-19) Solomon was an intelligent observer of the wildlife in Israel, so unquestionably he had a good reason for using this metaphor. To the husband, who has allowed his passions for his wife to continue over the years, she is as desirable and attractive as a female deer, and he is intoxicated with the pleasure she continually brings him, with her body and her love. The husband should reciprocate this to her and her alone. Solomon “characterizes the wife of his youth as a doe or graceful deer, terms that are erotic and reminiscent of Song of Songs 2:9, 17; 8:14.”[6]

The female wild goat has to be tough as well as graceful. As God made clear to Job, the wild mountain goat gives birth in the mountainous peaks and bluffs, in rocky, remote and difficult places where food may be rare and temperatures are brutal. (Job 39:1) Notwithstanding these difficulties, she takes care of her offspring and teaches them to climb and leap among the rocks as gracefully, swiftly, and agilely as she does. The wild goat also bravely and fearlessly protects her young from predators. It is nothing to see a female wild goat fighting an eagle for great lengths of time, as her young kid hides beneath her for protection.

Women of God, who are wives and mothers, they oftentimes must raise their children under unfavorable conditions. Like the wild female mountain goat, they show commitment, devotion, and unselfishness in caring for their God-given privilege that is a very heavy responsibility at times. And they courageously endeavor to protect their children from both physical and spiritual dangers. So, Solomon was not belittling women with this metaphor, rather he was actually bringing attention to a woman’s grace and beauty, her spiritual qualities that radiate through even in the most difficult conditions. In this context, the Hebrew word (chen), translated graceful, means ‘grace or elegance of form and appearance that is attractive and draws interest from her husband, pleasing, and stimulating him.’

Let her breasts satisfy you at all times: Here in this context (Heb. dǎḏ) breasts, a sexually desired area of the body should be taken as a symbol or image of love, affection, or charm. NJPSV[7] translates literally: “Let her breasts satisfy you at all times.” John H Walton writes, “The wish that the son might be intoxicated by his wife’s breasts and inebriated [intoxicated] by her love is also paralleled in the Song of Songs, where the woman claims that the man’s ‘love is better than wine’ (Song 1:2, 4; 4:10). Love and lovemaking make one lightheaded, similar to the effects of drinking wine.”[8]

Be intoxicated always in her love: The Hebrew word (shaga), which is rendered intoxicated, is generally used in reference sin that is committed unintentionally, like our innocent appearing situation that we have spoken about throughout Proverbs chapter five. On reference work reads, “The primary emphasis in the root [shaga] is on sin done inadvertently. This is indicated in several ways. First, the two derivatives from [saga, shegia, and misgeh] indicate an act perpetrated in ignorance, not willfully. Second, in the … The Scripture pinpoints at least three causes for such wandering. The first is wine and strong drink (Isa 28:7; Pro. 20:1). The second is the seductive strange woman (Pro. 5:20, 23) versus the love of one’s wife, which ought to ‘captivate’ one (Pro 5:19). The third is the inability to reject evil instruction (Pro 19:27).”[9] The wife of your youth is like a loving, tender doe, and the husband should be intoxicated with satisfaction in the pleasures of her body, love, and affection that she gives him.

Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a strange woman: Stranger: (Heb. zār) was applied to those who forsook what was in harmony with the Mosaic Law and so were estranged from God. Thus, in Proverbs, the one morally estranged harlot or prostitute is referred to as a “strange (Heb. zār) woman.” (Prov. 2:16; 5:17; 7:5.)

And embrace the bosom of a foreigner: While a foreign (Heb. nāḵ·rî) woman was initially, in the Israelite history, a reference to an immoral woman, who were morally alienated from God and came from outside of Israel; however, in time the term foreign woman came to include any prostitute or adulteress. Her smooth words were flattering and seductive. God created man so that he should be exhilarated with his own wife not the breasts of a foreigner, the wife of another mam.

How do we close out this section, by looking at the implications of our day? Why would there be a need for any man or woman for that matter to place themselves in innocent appearing situations by flirting in the workplace because the spouse is not there, by a teenager living a different lifestyle while at school, or by spending time alone with someone of the opposite sex? Why be enticed into sexual affection outside of the marriage? The Christian loves to exaggerate their abilities by saying, ‘my faith would never allow me to be unfaithful,’ or ‘the Holy Spirit will protect me from advancements of the stranger,’ or simply, ‘I would never cheat on my spouse.’ These are all innocent appearing mindsets of fools. The Bible is full of warnings to all Christians, even those who believe that they are so spiritually strong that they would never stumble. In fact, these warnings are most appropriate for these latter ones, as they are willfully blind and ignorant of their own sinful nature. James writes, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own desire [or own lust]. Then the desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” – James 1:14-15.

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Everything Is Openly Exposed to the One Who Examines Us

Proverbs 5:21 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

21 For a man’s ways are before the eyes of Jehovah,
and he examines all his paths.

For a man’s ways are before the eyes of Jehovah: Here ways: (Heb. dě·rěḵ) is a course of conduct, what is done, the manner in which you conduct yourself on this journey filled with life-choices that you make in this imperfect age of Satan’s world. The father is giving the son the way to go by way of wisdom. Proverbs 4:11 tells us that the father has taught the son the way (dě·rěḵ) of wisdom; the father has led the son in the paths of uprightness. The apostle Peter tells us “the eyes (Gr. ophthalmos) of the Lord [the Father] are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Pet 3:12) The Father emphasizes this love, this care, and sensitiveness for all of his servant’s welfare. The Psalmist writes, “The eyes of Jehovah are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.” (Psalm 34:15) How reassuring and heartening it is to know that the Father understands our circumstances and takes notice of our heartfelt supplications!

And he examines all his paths: Here to examine (Heb. pā·lǎs) means that the Father is giving careful thought and consideration, thinking about, pondering, overserving our paths. Paths (Heb. mǎʿ·gāl) is figuratively referring to the ways (line one) that we conduct ourselves in life as in a well-worn path. This is either conforming to the moral standard of God as we focus on the proper spiritual course of life by observing the indicators (Scriptures) on the path, which leads to life, of which there are few who on it; or, we can follow the paths (ways in line one), which is spacious and leads to destruction, of which there are many who are on it. The Father is aware of our actions even in the darkness. Yes, everything is openly exposed to the One who examines all of our paths (ways), for which we will have an accounting one day. Therefore, whether our actions are good or bad, they all are examined by God.

We began Proverbs chapter 5, by looking at the consequences of immoral behavior. The reality is that our actions, even our desires that are not immediately dismissed, are “before the eyes of Jehovah.” Regardless of how well we might believe that we are hiding inappropriate sexual desires, or worse still acting on those sexual inappropriate desires, it will ruin our relationship with God, as he sees all things. Is some brief immediate gratification worth losing the most precious relationship we can have, with God? Moreover, nothing stays hidden forever, and the wife will eventually discover this dirty secret sinful life.

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The Importance of Self-Discipline and Self-Control

Proverbs 5:22-23 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

22 The errors of the wicked ensnare him,
and he is held in the cords of his sin.
23 He will die for lack of discipline,
and because of his great foolishness he will go astray.

The errors of the wicked ensnare him: Error: The Hebrew noun of the Old Testament (ʿāwōn) and the Greek (anomia, paranomia) if the New Testament relates to erring, acting illegally or wrongly. This aspect of sin refers to committing a perverseness, wrongness, lawlessness, law-breaking, which can also include the rejection of the sovereignty of God. It is an act or a feeling that steps over the line of God’s moral standard, as something God forbids, or the person ignores carry out (doing) something that God requires, whether it be by one’s thoughts, feelings, speech, or actions. It also focuses on the liability or guilt of one’s wicked, wrongful act. This error may be deliberate or accidental; either willful deviation of what is right or unknowingly making a mistake. (Lev. 4:13-35; 5:1-6, 14-19; Num. 15:22-29; Ps 19:12-13) Of course, if it is intentional; then, the consequence is far more serious. (Num. 15:30-31) Error is in opposition to the truth, and those willfully sinning corrupt the truth, a course that only brings forth flagrant sin. (Isa 5:18-23) We can be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. – Ex 9:27, 34-35; Heb. 3:13-15.

The Hebrew (lā·ḵǎḏ) translated ensnare here means, in essence, to be captured, to be taken over, to be overthrown, to be caught, the sense being seized and to be taken control of without authority. The person is taken control of by force, which here means the force can come from two places: an outside source or internally. He is taken control of by the force (influence) of the wicked one, or he is taken control of by the force (influence) of his own sinful desires, which overcome his lack of self-disciple, this being the case based on the first line of verse 23.

He will die for lack of discipline: He is taken control of by the force, i.e., ensnared, (influenced) by his own sinful desires, which overcome his lack of self-disciple. Self-disciple and self-control (Heb. mû·sār) are the moral qualities of a wise person. (Prov. 1:3) A servant of God is obligated to be satisfied with his one wife.

And because of his great foolishness he will go astray: The foolishness (Heb. ʾiw·wě·lěṯ) of the foolish one, who has the trait of acting stupidly or rashly because he is devoid of wisdom or understanding, the Hebrew noun focusing on the evil behaviors which occur in this state. The Hebrew verb (šā·ḡā(h)) means to go astray, wander, stray, err, to sin either intentionally or unintentionally by being led astray due to the wicked one’s influence or one’s own lack of self-discipline or self-control.

An unwise person lacks discipline, the ability to control oneself. His life is led by his fleshly desires. His wife no longer captivates this foolish young man, as he is spellbound by his own sinful desires, which lead him to ruination.

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BIBLE DIFFICULTIES Proverbs Chapters 5

PROVERBS 5:3 Why is a prostitute called “a strange woman”?

The (zār) strange woman (2:16) is referring to those who set aside what was in harmony with the Mosaic Law and thus distanced and estrange themselves from God. Therefore, the immoral sensual woman (prostitute) was not necessarily a foreigner. “The strange woman,” the prostitute, is described as one “who forsakes the companion of her youth” (2:17), which is referring to the husband of her young womanhood. She has ignored and disregarded the prohibition on adultery that was a part of the covenant of her God, the Mosaic Law covenant. – Ex. 20:14; Jeremiah 2:25; 3:13.

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Review Questions/Assignments:

  • (5:1) Why should you pay attention to the Father and how do so?
  • (5:2) What is thinking ability and how does it protect you?
  • (5:3) Who is the strange woman and how is it that she has smooth lips that you are to beware of?
  • (5:4-5) Explain these verses as you talk about how you can remain chaste in an immoral world?
  • (5:6) How does the strange woman lure her pray off of the path of life?
  • (5:7-8) Why should you listen to the Father and not let his words depart from you? Where is the believer’s path?
  • (5:9-10) How do these verses help you to keep your way far from the wayward person?
  • (5:11) What happens to the immorally erring believer?
  • (5:12-13) What has the wayward one rejected, explain, and to what detriment?
  • (5:14) How is the verse in relation to a dishonorable marriage?
  • (5:15) Explain the metaphors that are used here.
  • (5:16) How do the metaphors help you to appreciate that sexual satisfaction is not to be found outside of marriage?
  • (5:17) Explain how the metaphors of 15-16 carry over here in verse 17 forbidding any kind of unfaithfulness in marriage.
  • (5:18) What does it mean to take sexual satisfaction (pleasure) in the wife of your youth?
  • (5:19-20) What is the Bible background of these verses and what does it convey?
  • (5:21) How are your ways before Jehovah and to what extent does he examine you?
  • (5:22-23) Using these verses, explain the importance of self-discipline and self-control.

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[1] Or thinking ability; the ability to give wise and careful attention (study) of a matter, based on accurate or full knowledge

[2] Wormwood is also compared to the bitter experience that came upon Judah and Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians. (Jer. 9:15; 23:15; Lam. 3:15, 19) It also represents the suffering as the result of injustice and unrighteousness (Am 5:7; 6:12) and is used with reference to apostates. (Deut. 29:18) At Revelation 8:11, wormwood indicates a bitter and poisonous substance, also called absinthe.

[3] Human Papilloma Virus

[4] Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

[5] Longman III., Tremper; Garland, David E.; Ross, Alan P., vol. 6, Proverbs – Isaiah, The Expositors Bible Commentary, Rev. Ed., 78 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008).

[6] John H Walton, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (Old Testament): The Minor Prophets, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 5 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 476.

[7] TANAKH (New Jewish Publication Society Version)

[8] John H Walton, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (Old Testament): The Minor Prophets, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 5 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 476.

[9] Victor P. Hamilton, “2325 שָׁגָה”, in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr. and Bruce K. Waltke, electronic ed., 904 (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999).

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