Thoughts on Proverbs 5

PROVERBS 5 KING JAMES VERSION (KJV)

5 My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding: 2 That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge. 3 For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: 4 But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. 5 Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell. 6 Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them.

This is a beautiful transference of metaphor: lips keeping knowledge compared to the lips of a strange woman.  First the obvious, as is a common theme words are powerful.  Now of course actions speak louder than words, but the Wisdom of Solomon does not advise one to run their mouth.  One must talk as well as one acts.  “The lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb…”  Clearly Solomon is wise to the temptations of women.  “But her end is bitter as wormwood…Her feet go down to death…”  The temptation of the “strange woman” is clearly dangerous.  This follows the theme of the path and walking into life or death.  The temptations of strange women take one away from the words of the father.  Because they are a woman’s words they are a meandering path that can never be known.  Because they are strange they lead not to life.

7 Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth. 8 Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house: 9 Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel: 10 Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labours be in the house of a stranger; 11 And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, 12 And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; 13 And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me!

The verses further warn that if one follows the strange woman that you will give away your honour, wealth, labour and time for cruel strangers.  Both as a literal temptress and the temptations of the damned the strange woman is separate and siloed from the world of the father.  The life lived for a stranger (or away from the path of life) is cruel and fruitless for the family.  This rings incredibly tribal to our ear.  Whether it be literal in the blood and soil sense or spiritual in the sense that the labour should be done in the house of the Father, the message is the same.  Come home and live your life in the tried and true way.  Invest in the old ways and your house.

14 I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly. 15 Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. 16 Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets. 17 Let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee. 18 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. 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.

The verses give the first 13 new meaning, drawing reference to adultery and ruin.  Though I would not limit them as such.  It would be equally ruinous to spend thy money and labour on a temptress as a single man.  The water and wife metaphor pair nicely.  Take what is thine own and flourish, whether property or wife.  Be happy with your wife. Wife of thy youth again draws attention to blood and soil.  You don’t meet a strange woman living in your home town (at least not usually in these times).

20 And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger? 21 For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings. 22 His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. 23 He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.

This is again a foreboding passage.  To live with a strange woman is to be tied to a cruel fate.  If a man does not invest wisely in his future it will be a wasted life.  Certainly a strange sentiment in the modern parlance to waste a life on “love.”

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Thoughts on Proverbs 5

4 thoughts on “Thoughts on Proverbs 5

  1. Fantastic analysis of these verses. Ties back into the age old lessons about women close to politics vis-a-vis high time-preference. A woman involved in politics is by definition a ‘strange woman’ and the danger is eminent.

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    1. Yes the strange woman is an interesting concept. Proverbs seems to imply that the meanings are diverse. I suspect that many men could use a bit of Solomon’s Wisdom when it comes to women. How would you define one?

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      1. Strange women can be defined in many ways depending on the context, but generally I would say women who stray from organic purpose for one reason or another, in the case of Solomon, most certainly women who try to manipulate powerful figures to their own ends. He is echoed in many great writers I believe, warning of the influence of seducers, and their ability to bring kingdom to ruin.

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