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Perils of Foolishness – Proverbs 5

Read the Passage: Proverbs 5

Present Temptation (5:1–6)

Back in Prov. 2:16 Solomon had noted that wisdom will “deliver you from the immoral woman, from the seductress who flatters with her words.” Then, in Prov. 2:17–22, Solomon described the temptation that the immoral woman represents for the man of God, as Solomon concludes that embracing her will result in death. Of course, there is great truth in the teaching that unrepentant adultery, like all sin, leads to death. Yet, in Prov. 2:16–22, as is the case with the present passage, Solomon’s ultimate aim is not necessarily to warn about the perils of adultery—although what he writes is both important and true. Rather, in these passages Solomon is personifying foolishness as an immoral woman and wisdom as a moral woman. Therefore, while Solomon’s warnings about an immoral woman are true regarding actual adultery, the application of these passages is much wider, as it relates to all mankind’s sins.

As he has repeatedly done in the opening chapters of this book, so here Solomon begins his teaching by addressing his “son” (Prov. 5:1). In Prov. 5:1–23 the reader is exhorted to pay attention and to listen. As he personifies foolishness Solomon describes the immoral woman as appearing to be as sweet as honey and as smooth as oil. Yet, in a very similar manner to his earlier conclusions in Prov. 2:16–22, so here in Prov. 5:4–7 Solomon describes the immoral woman as being bitter as wormwood, sharp as a sword, causing death, leading men to hell, and unstable in all her ways. Remember, Solomon is not just describing the results of adultery here; rather, he is depicting the general results of all man’s sin. For Christians who do sin, be it adultery or otherwise, remember that 1 John 1:9 always applies to us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.”

Future Regret (5:7–14)

In Prov. 5:7–14 Solomon describes the high price of infidelity, be it physical, mental, or spiritual in nature. Indeed, this sin results in guilt, regret, and all manner of heartache. By way of warning, in Prov. 5:8, Solomon exhorts his readers, “Remove your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house.” This is quite similar to Paul’s later exhortation, “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22). Next, in Prov. 5:9–11 Solomon notes that sin will result in unproductive labor, which is contrary to man’s design as a creative worker (cf. Gen. 1:28; 2:15). The Old Testament frequently refers to work without production, or without enjoyment, as being a divine curse on account of sin (cf. Lev. 26:16; Deut. 28:30, 33, 38–42; Job 31:8; Ps. 109:11; Jer. 5:17; Mic. 6:15). In Prov. 5:12–14 Solomon notes in the end, even fools will admit the goodness of wisdom.

Divine Provision (5:15–23)

In Prov. 5:15–20, again appealing to the personification of foolishness and wisdom, Solomon notes that God has made divine provision for his children to avoid sin. In this passage Solomon writes of the sexual fulfillment that comes within the divinely designed institution of marriage. The idea here is that the man who is sexually satisfied in marriage will not be promiscuous. Recall Paul’s teaching in his letter to the Corinthian church, “Because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. . . . Come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Cor. 7:2–3, 7). Indeed, embracing God’s moral law and His wise design for human beings is a great remedy for all sins.

Prov. 5:21–23 describes the omniscience of God. At Prov. 5:21 Solomon writes, “For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths.” Later in the book of Proverbs, in a similar manner to this passage, Solomon teaches, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good” (Prov. 15:3). The idea here is that nothing escapes the knowledge and attention of God. Oftentimes, because there is not immediate judgement when a sin occurs, sinners assume that they have gotten away with their sin. Yet, as Prov. 5:21–23 teaches, sometimes it is divine allowance of a given sin that is itself the very judgment of God upon the sinner, for “his own iniquities entrap the wicked man” (Prov. 5:22). At Gal. 6:7 Paul wrote, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (cf. Prov. 1:31; 22:8).

Application Questions:

  1. Why is sin and the embrace of foolishness so attractive to mankind? What percentage of Christians stay true to Jesus for their entire lives?
  2. Why do some believers find it difficult to accept divine forgiveness? Is there any sin for which God will not forgive a Christian?
  3. Which of your past sins do you regret the most? How can we best warn children and new believers about the perils of sin?
  4. While Prov. 5:15–20 describes how a married person may avoid sexual sins, how can those who are single avoid sexual sins?
  5. If the pattern of sin is always to produce misery and death, both in ourselves and in the lives of others, why do we continue to sin?
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