Proverbs 6:27

Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?
– Proverbs 6:27

Solomon uses a metaphor of cause and effect to warn of the consequences of adultery. Of course, he poses an impossibility—a man cannot embrace fire without his clothes being burned. One implication would be that a man can never come out unscathed. He will feel some effect and likely a total ruin.

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Proverbs 6:26

For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life.
– Proverbs 6:26

There are various takes on the first phrase of this verse. From the context, it is obvious the intention is to focus on the high price of this sin. The first devastation is to a man’s substance. This is a consistent warning in Scripture (Proverbs 5:10; 29:3; Luke 15:30). The second is to a man’s life or soul. The way of wisdom is the way of life and the way of folly is the way of death. The way of the adulteress is the way of extreme folly. She is compared to a hunter here who stealthily traps his prey. One might find here an underlying, ulterior motive that differs from her enticing speech and promises (Proverbs 7:13-21).

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Proverbs 6:25

Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.
– Proverbs 6:25

The word for lust means desire or to covet. The law forbade coveting your neighbor’s wife (Exodus 20:17). He means not to desire her nor think on her in the mind. Jesus taught that such thought is sin (Matthew 5:28) and can lead to further sin and consequences (James 1:14-15). Solomon proceeds from here to enumerate further consequences as well. He warns to not be taken or carried away by her eyes, her adornment and gestures. The presentation suggests the need to be on guard and avoid such a folly and trap.

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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 5:14

I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly.
– Proverbs 5:14

Verse 14 concludes this section on the consequences of adultery. It is fitting as a last step for congregation and assembly refer to being brought to public judgment. The law condemned such a one to death (Deuteronomy 22:22-24), but historically it seems that was little practiced. Rather the adulterer was reduced to public disgrace (Proverbs 6:33). The opinions of society are fluid on the question of adultery, but regardless of man’s inability to judge this sin faithfully, God will judge all adultery (Hebrews 13:4; Revelation 21:8).

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Proverbs 5:10

Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labours be in the house of a stranger;
– Proverbs 5:10

Loss of wealth and wealth-getting ability are common to adulterous men (Proverbs 6:26). A very few seem to carry on famously in that way, but they will come to destruction eventually. The law counted adultery as a capital crime (Deuteronomy 22:21). It doesn’t seem that was carried out consistently. A lesser sort of punishment could have been slavery. It could also refer to the fact that a disgraced man was more vulnerable to extortion and oppression rather than a legal recourse. Either way, an adulterous man loses dominion of his own life.

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Proverbs 5:9

Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel:
– Proverbs 5:9

This verse provides the alternative to keeping far away from the strange woman and her door. Honor means beauty and majesty. It could mean vigor, but the context seems to point to a loss of integrity and good reputation. The giving of years refers to losing them in some way. The cruel could refer to slave masters that a man is subjected to through loss of wealth and respect. As Solomon continues to count the losses, it is clear a man has much more to lose than could ever be gained this way.

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Proverbs 2:19

None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life.
– Proverbs 2:19

Solomon still speaks of the strange woman and gives a sober warning. Solomon elsewhere described the strange woman as “snares and nets, and her hands as bands” (Ecclesiastes 7:26). She is entrapping and enslaving. Those who give themselves over to her are not recovered in one way and rarely recovered in another. They are not recovered in the sense of the damage they do to themselves and their families (1 Corinthians 6:18; Proverbs 6:26-33). They are not recovered if they continue in sin without repenting and forsaking their fornication and adulteries.

They are rarely recovered in the sense that some through repentance and faith are changed and pursue holiness. Remember the warning in the context is that wisdom will keep us from entering into those sins. The warning is designed to keep us from going that way. The difficulty of being recovered should keep us from going there. Whoredom is a trap (Proverbs 23:27). Those who pursue it are devoid of understanding (Proverbs 6:32) and even good sense (Romans 1:28). Their minds are darkened and their consciences hardened (Ephesians 4:18-19).

Solomon will go on to give further instruction but much of it has to do with avoiding the strange woman altogether (Proverbs 4:14-15; 5:8; 6:5, 25; 7:25). Paul would say, “Flee” (1 Corinthians 6:18; 2 Timothy 2:22). Likewise, Jesus warned of the sin by the eyes (Matthew 5:28)—lingering looks, second and third glances, staring at flickering screens, carrying images in our minds of those we frequently see. Jesus immediately after said it would be better to be blind and go to heaven than to have 20/20 vision we used to fuel lusts and go to hell. War presses daily on the eye-gate and we have to give our life defending it.

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