The opening line of Proverbs 5:1 says “My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding”.
It’s unclear whether the person is a Mother, Father or elder, but they’re a parental figure nonetheless. The common thread of this proverb weaves the gains of a life which listens and heeds this wisdom and the losses of those who reject it. Its premise is focused on warning against adultery. The contextual focus is a young man being schooled on the ways of a ‘forbidden’ woman’s words that are smoother than oil and sweet like honey but is temptation. There’s no sugar coating of the trap that is seduction. It makes note that this woman doesn’t think much about the path of life, as she wanders possibly driven by the passion of one-night stands, hookups and intimacy, but is lost in her own lifes purpose but doesn’t seem to know it. We can summarize her as a thrill seeker!
Let’s customize it to our own lives or the things we catch ourselves being driven by and likewise miss the warning signs of our own idols. We can be driven by work, popularity, importance, status, wealth, autonomy, addiction, the list goes on. Later in the chapter it goes on to say:
“How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof! I did not listen to the voice of my teachers…”
I want to focus on the two “I” statements here, which are “I hated discipline” and “I did not listen”. Let’s be honest, how many times for ourselves or others have we been warned about a relationship, an investment, the inability to forgive a wrong or take the steps to right a wrong, and seen the end result go up in flames, figuratively speaking? We strike out, things take a turn for the worse and in most situations it could’ve been avoided if we humbled ourselves and listened.
I don’t want to stray far from the text or make it a blanket statement, but I personally had to reflect on my own life and my own wisdom to bring into account that there are times we think we are stronger than we actually are. Like David and Bathsheba, a great King or leader can be overtaken by their own weakness, especially in the context of this chapter’s advice on temptation of a married man’s potential lust for a woman.
Near the end of the text, the son is advised to rejoice in the wife of his youth and to be intoxicated with her love. This line is followed by a question:
“Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?”
With that line in mind, I want to end with a question and call whether you’re single or married. If you knew the next decision you made would lead you astray spiritually or end a relationship, do you think you would even know the difference or make the wisest decision? It’s an ambiguous question on purpose, and though this text exposes an adulterous woman and possibly a foolish son who may dismiss his wife for a moment of pleasure which would lead to ruin, it’s also a reflection of the world’s culture at large with statements like “Do you!” “Do what makes you happy” “Be the real you, don’t compromise for anyone.”
As hallmark cute as those phrases seem, it’s fairly empty and has left a gaping whole in the hearts of many in our world because there’s a lack of both discipline, self-control and humility to acknowledge correction and wisdom. The last two verses complete this proverb by saying:
“The iniquities (sin or wrongdoing) of the wicked ensnare (trap) him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.”
The imagery poetically expresses being tied up in cords to our sin! It’s ends in verse 23 with this:
“He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.”
So brothers and sisters, read and take time to think about the instruction of this proverb, not only in context to our sexual desires or urges, but in relation to a life submitted to Jesus with faith, discipline, an ear to listen and a spirit of humility in a world in need of genuine people, who look to the King of Kings for salvation who makes the crooked straight and offers grace to the humble.
Thanks for taking the time to delve into this scripture with me and I pray this enriches your own studies and journey of faith and trust in Christ.