Proverbs 5 Study Notes


5:1 See note at 4:1-2.

5:2 To maintain and safeguard wisdom includes the responsibility to pass it along (Mal 2:7).

5:3-6 The forbidden woman with her smooth words (see note at 2:16-17) seems attractive, but she is in fact deadly. On in the end, see note at v. 11. Wormwood was a shrub that produced a bitter flavor (Lm 3:15,19). In Hebrew double-edged is literally “with mouths,” a pun on the way she devours people (Is 1:20). She is headed for eternal death (see note at 1:12-13), along with anyone she can entice to join her, because she does not focus her eyes on the path of life (4:25). She is unstable—wandering (Gn 4:12; Nm 32:13; 2Sm 15:20; Ps 59:11; 109:10; Lm 4:15), staggering (Ps 107:27; Is 24:20; Am 4:8)—and she does not even know it (see note at Pr 4:10-19).

5:7-8 The Hebrew for from in v. 8 is literally “from alongside,” implying companionship or attachment with the forbidden woman.

5:9-10 The unwise son gives up his vitality; he is not overpowered and robbed (1:11). The others to whom he gives his resources may be the family of the adulteress (6:29-35). Vitality could also be translated “authority” (Nm 27:20) or “splendor” (Hs 14:6); it describes a man in his prime. A cruel person shows no mercy (Jr 6:23).

5:11 At the end describes the outcome of a course of action—what happens later, the ultimate result (v. 4; 14:12; 19:20; 20:21; 23:32; 29:21).

5:12-14 How introduces an expression of grief (Gn 44:34). To hate discipline, despise correction, and not obey or listen are characteristics of a fool (see notes at 1:7,22), which the son was on the verge of becoming, despite his father’s warnings (1:30-31; 3:11; cp. 12:1; 15:10). These are not school teachers but parents (1:8) or sages (1:6; 30:1; 31:1; Ec 12:9). The destiny of a fool is ruin (see “evil” in note at 1:16) before the . . . community, convened as if for a trial (26:26; cp. Jr 26:7-11).

5:15-19 The many figurative references to water—cistern, flowing, well, springs, streams, fountain—are interpreted as one’s wife. The allusion is to quenching one’s sexual thirst (9:17; Sg 5:1). Many houses had their own private cisterns to store rain water. Wells, springs, and streams supplied sweet, refreshing water. The father prayed that God would bless his son’s wife, with the result that the son would always take pleasure in her since something that is blessed is by definition able to satisfy (3:33; 22:9). The wife of your youth is the first wife (2:17; Is 54:6; Mal 2:14-15); a man should not seek another wife or a different woman. Loving implies sexual love (7:18; Hs 8:9). Satisfy (Jr 31:25) also means “drench” or “water” (Is 16:9; 58:11; cp. Pr 7:18). In this context, to be lost is to drift unconsciously in pleasure. In other contexts it is used of intoxication (20:1; Sg 5:1) or straying from righteousness (Pr 19:27; cp. 5:23).

5:20 Why suggests the action is inexcusable. To lose yourself is literally to “stray” (19:27; Ps 119:118; Ezk 34:6) or to “err, sin” (Lv 4:13; Jb 19:4); it is translated “be lost” in Pr 5:19,23. On forbidden woman and wayward woman, see note at 2:16-17. Embrace implies the intimacy of holding on one’s lap or taking into one’s arms (6:27; cp. 2Sm 12:8; Mc 7:5).

5:21-22 See Jb 34:21 for a parallel to v. 21. Verse 22 expresses a common theme. See 1:18; 28:10; Jb 18:7; Ps 7:16.

5:23 The wicked man (v. 22) will be lost (vv. 19-20) to eternal death because he did not let discipline replace his stupidity with wisdom (6:23; 15:10). Stupidity comes from Hb ʾewiyl (see note at 1:7; cp. 12:23; 13:16; 14:8).