Proverbs 5:23

He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.
– Proverbs 5:23

Instruction points to restraint, or self-discipline as we would say. The way of folly, and here great folly, is the way of death (Proverbs 10:21; 14:32). To go astray means to err or even to reel. It picks up the notion of being ravished from the previous verses. This sort of folly is completely senseless and ultimately ruinous. This is the grim consequence and what lies at the end of the road that wisdom will consider.

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Proverbs 5:22

His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.
– Proverbs 5:22

The man who falls after the strange woman will be caught and bound with his own sin. Such women are “snares and nets” (Ecclesiastes 7:29). The summary teaching of Proverbs is that folly brings its own judgment (Proverbs 1:18, 31; 11:3, 5). The evil imaginations and schemes of the wicked are their own undoing. It is also so with the man who will not delight in his wife, but rather seek out another.

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Proverbs 5:21

For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings.
– Proverbs 5:21

The arguments against adultery are not only the life consequences on earth. The Lord sees all our ways. Ways refers to a road and is a common figure for one’s course of life. The strange woman says her husband is not at home and so entices with the thought that all will be secret (Proverbs 7:18-20). Solomon reminds that regardless of what man may see or know, the Lord knows all. He ponders or weighs all of man’s goings. The word here means a track, or well-worn path. Kidner observed it is a figure for habits. The point is to remember both the knowledge and the judgment of the Lord.

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Proverbs 5:20

And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?
– Proverbs 5:20

Verses 20-23 end this chapter with a renewed warning of the consequences of adultery. Solomon has juxtaposed it with the blessing of lifelong faithful marriage and then asks why one would choose the strange woman. He uses the word ravished again from the previous verse, but here it is the negative connotation of being delirious. It’s like trading gold for a bag of dirt. No sane person does that. It calls to mind the parable of Nathan to David (2 Samuel 12:1-6). Nathan’s rebuke was along these lines that David had great blessing, but despised it and took another man’s treasure from him (2 Samuel 12:7-12).

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Proverbs 5:19

Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.
– Proverbs 5:19

This verse is both poetic and plain. It has the plainest statement in this section and informs the context that the intimate, physical relationship between husband and wife is emphasized throughout. A perusal of commentaries yields a number of fanciful interpretations that are purely allegorical. This is unnecessary and obscures the plain, literal, contextual sense of the passage.

The first phrase compares the wife to two animals that were symbolic of grace and beauty. The loving hind is an affectionate doe, or female deer. The pleasant roe is a graceful female mountain goat. Both creatures are surefooted and even on steep and difficult terrain they bound about gracefully. They were considered beautiful of form and symbolized the beauty of a woman. Solomon instructs his son to be smitten with the beauty of his own wife.

Breasts, or bosom, has obvious, plain meaning but also is spoken of in terms of the closeness of husband and wife (Song of Solomon 1:13). The word for satisfy means to drink one’s fill, to be saturated. At all times means the satisfaction is to be both continual and frequent. Solomon once again highlights the blessing and delight of faithful marriage, of which adultery is both a corruption and a poor substitute.

Ravished means to reel or stagger as in from the effects of intoxicating drinks. A husband is affected in every aspect by his wife’s love. The wife’s love encompasses all aspects of affection and action. Loving and being loved deeply is a blessing of faithful marriage and is unique to that union.

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Proverbs 5:18

Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.
– Proverbs 5:18

Solomon admonishes to be delighted in your wife. The verses in this section emphasize the physical relation of a husband and a wife, but the physical relation is never entirely physical. This is one of the reasons Paul warned the Corinthians against fornication (1 Corinthians 6:15-16). The physical in marriage is one of the aspects of the bonding of husband and wife together. All these work together over time to deepen the bond in marriage physically, emotionally, mentally, etc.

The second phrase is laden with meaning. To rejoice is to be glad, it speaks of more than a resigned contentment. It is a happiness that is shared and enjoyed. The wife of your youth refers to the design of marriage to be one man and one woman for life (Ecclesiastes 9:9). God has designed for husband and wife to live together from youth and share all the experiences of life together. To grow old together and to stand by one another through all that comes. Neither a wife nor a husband should ever be worried about the love and loyalty of their spouse (Malachi 2:14). This is the path of wisdom and the path of a blessed and satisfying life on earth.

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Proverbs 5:17

Let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee.
– Proverbs 5:17

A husband and wife in a faithful marriage have a just claim to one another and their children. This is the blessed condition and highly esteemed in Scripture (Psalm 128:1-6). Lifelong faithful marriage builds a posterity for the blessing of seeing your children’s children. Finding a faithful wife is choosing the path of blessing and building. Pursuing the strange woman is choosing the path of destitution and destruction.

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Proverbs 5:16

Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets.
– Proverbs 5:16

Expositors are divided over whether this verse should be taken negatively as a warning against promiscuity, or positively as extolling the blessing of faithful marriage. I take the latter view because of the immediate context. Verses 15-19 are extolling the blessings of faithful marriage, while verses 20-23 close the chapter with warnings and consequences against the strange woman.

Fountains and rivers in this verse are both the result, or product of a source. A fountain is a spring, or the stream issuing from a spring. The river or channel of water is also the result of flow from a source. The contrast remains between the commonality of the strange woman and her affairs and the privacy and committedness of the faithful wife. A faithful marriage results in the offspring of children and the building of a stable family that is a proper focus of time and energy. Liaison with the strange woman will dissipate and waste a man.

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Proverbs 5:15

Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.
– Proverbs 5:15

Verses 15-19 give a beautiful picture of delight in marriage. The Bible employs some delicacy in euphemism when addressing such matters. Though the physical occupies a prime place in these instructions, it is never dealt with crassly. For example, the Song of Solomon speaks of marital intimacy by painting beautiful and poetic word pictures like a banquet in a garden. We shouldn’t shrink back from anything in the Bible, but we should let the Bible also guide us and give indication as to how certain topics should be publicly discussed and taught.

The first images used are that of a cistern and a well. The picture is of a man finding lasting satisfaction from water in his own well or cistern. The well is continual source and also a private source. God has designed marriage for a man and a woman to find a deepening relationship that exists only between them and satisfies them both mentally, emotionally, and physically (1 Corinthians 7:2-5). It’s not that a husband or wife take ownership of the other, but that each is to give themselves to the other.

Faithful marriage promises and provides lasting satisfaction, which the strange woman, fornication, and adultery do not (Proverbs 5:3-5). Faithful marriage provides a constancy between a husband and a wife and a growing relationship on an intellectual as well as emotional and physical level. The strange woman is unstable and unknowable and whatever momentary thrill she excites is nothing in comparison (Proverbs 5:6). Drinking water from your own well is also a picture of delight at home. The strange woman is not building a home but gadding about (Proverbs 7:10-11) and giving herself to many (Proverbs 6:26).

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