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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 5

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 1-6

The danger of seduction 5:1-6

The lips of the youth (Proverbs 5:2) contrast with those of the seductress (Proverbs 5:3). Knowing what is right and being able to articulate that with one’s lips is really a protection against the power of the seductress’s speech (Proverbs 5:1-6). The temptress comes with words that are sweet (flattering) and smooth (delightful, Proverbs 5:3). [Note: M. Dahood, "Honey That Drips. Notes on Proverbs 5:2-3," Biblica 54 (1973):65-66.] Nevertheless if swallowed, they make the person tempted by them feel bitter (ashamed) and wounded (hurt, Proverbs 5:4). Even flirting produces this effect sometimes.

"There is an old saying, ’Honey is sweet, but the bee stings’; and this lady has a sting in her tail." [Note: Kenneth T. Aitken, Proverbs, p. 63.]

Typically the seductress will lead a person down a path that takes him or her to death and the grave (Proverbs 5:5), though one can experience a living death as a result of following her, too. She has no concern with living a truly worthwhile life but only with gaining some immediate physical and emotional thrill (Proverbs 5:6).

"God created sex not only for reproduction but also for enjoyment, and he didn’t put the ’marriage wall’ around sex to rob us of pleasure but to increase pleasure and protect it." [Note: Wiersbe, p. 48.]

Verses 1-23

9. Warnings against unfaithfulness in marriage ch. 5

Chapters 5-7 all deal with the consequences of sexual sins: eventual disappointment (ch. 5), gradual destruction (ch. 6), and ultimate death (ch. 7). [Note: Wiersbe, p. 48.] Chapter 5 first reveals the ugliness under the surface of the attractive seductress (Proverbs 5:1-6). Then it clarifies the price of unfaithfulness (Proverbs 5:7-14). Finally it extols the wisdom of marital fidelity (Proverbs 5:15-23).

Verses 7-14

The price of unfaithfulness 5:7-14

The price of unfaithfulness is so high that it is unreasonable. Therefore one is wise to avoid tempting himself or herself by continuing to admire the "merchandise." Most marital infidelity occurs because the parties involved continue to spend time together. Here Solomon advised avoiding the company of a temptress (cf. Genesis 39:10; 2 Timothy 2:22; Matthew 5:28-29).

The price of unfaithfulness is not just physical disease (Proverbs 5:11 b)-though that may be part of it in many cases-but total personal ruin. Infidelity dissipates all of one’s powers (Proverbs 5:9 a). Others will exploit him (Proverbs 5:9-10), he will hate himself (Proverbs 5:11-13), and he will quite possibly suffer ruin in his community (Proverbs 5:14). Proverbs 5:9 b would fit a situation involving blackmail, a not uncommon accompaniment to marital unfaithfulness.

"Although sexual immorality today may not lead to slavery, it still leads to alimony, child support, broken homes, hurt, jealousy, lonely people, and venereal disease." [Note: Waltke, The Book . . ., p. 313.]

"The use of both ’flesh’ and ’body’ [Proverbs 5:11] underscores the fact that the whole body is exhausted." [Note: Ross, p. 928.]

Verses 15-23

The importance of fidelity 5:15-23

Proverbs 5:15-23 point out a better way, namely: fidelity to one’s marriage partner. Strict faithfulness need not result in unhappiness or failure to experience what is best in life, as the world likes to try to make us think. Rather, it guards us from the heartbreak and tragedy that accompany promiscuity. The figures of a cistern and a well (Proverbs 5:15) refer to one’s wife (cf. Song of Solomon 4:15), who satisfies desire.

The Hebrew text favors taking Proverbs 5:16 as a positive statement ("Let your streams . . .") rather than as a question, as in the NASB. The meaning of Proverbs 5:17-18 then becomes, "The influence of the faithful man (His ’springs’) become a blessing to others." [Note: Kidner, p. 70.] Another view is that the springs and streams in view belong to the man being warned who might share them with a woman of the street. [Note: Ross, 929.]

". . . the wife is viewed not as child-bearer but as pleasure-giver." [Note: Toy, p. 114.]

The erotic language of Proverbs 5:19-20 may be surprising, but it shows that God approves sexual joy in marriage and it is a prophylactic against unfaithfulness (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:5; 1 Corinthians 7:9). A man can either find his exhilaration (Proverbs 5:19, i.e., sexual stimulation, also translated intoxication in Proverbs 20:1 and Isaiah 28:7) in his wife or in another woman. The same Hebrew word reads "go astray" in Proverbs 5:23 b. The issue is self-discipline empowered by God’s Spirit.

"We don’t really understand the meaning of the phrase ’God is love’ (1 John 4:8) until we understand that life is fundamentally relationships. And plenitude of relationship is fullness of life. Paucity of relationship is impoverishment of life." [Note: Larsen, p. 39.]

"Lack of discipline" (RSV, Proverbs 5:23 a) is better than "lack of instruction." People usually do not become unfaithful to their spouses because they do not know better but because they do not choose better. [Note: See Zuck, pp. 239-43, for a summary of the revelation concerning man in Proverbs.]

". . . if the young man is not captivated [Heb. sagah] by his wife but becomes captivated with a stranger in sinful acts, then his own iniquities will captivate him; and he will be led to ruin." [Note: Ross, p. 931.]

"There is no ’free love’-only free exploitation." [Note: Larsen, p. 45.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Proverbs 5". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/proverbs-5.html. 2012.
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