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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Proverbs 5

 

 

Verse 1

My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding:

Proverbs 5:1-23.-Prefatory exhortation to the study of wisdom. Warning again the love of strange women, whose words are smooth, but who at last bring ruin on their followers (Proverbs 5:1-14). Exhortation to the love of one's own wife alone, because the Lord ponders men's ways, and the wicked shall be holden with the cards of his own sins (Proverbs 5:15-23).

My son, attend unto my wisdom ... my understanding - i:e., unto the words of wisdom and understanding which I address to thee.} He demands the youth's attention a to subject little thought of by the lovers of pleasure.


Verse 2

That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge.

That thou mayest regard discretion, and (that) thy lips may keep knowledge - that they lips may have a discreet and intelligent reply to give to the allurements of pleasure; as, for instance, to those of the "strange woman" (Proverbs 5:3; Proverbs 1:4; Psalms 119:100-101).


Verse 3

For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil:

For the lips of a strange woman (note, Proverbs 2:16) drop (as) as an honey-comb. "Thy lips," by "keeping knowledge" (Proverbs 5:2) of "the fear of the Lord," and "the judgments of the Lord," which are, in reality as well as appearance, "sweater than honey and the honey- comb" (Psalms 19:10), will counteract her "lips," which only in appearance "drop as an honey-comb." Her mouth is smoother than oil - (Psalms 55:21,) which the oil of grace alone can counteract.


Verse 4

But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword.

But her end is bitter as wormwood - (Ecclesiastes 7:26). The flesh promises every delight, but it leaves bitter dregs (Mercer). The strange woman's own end is bitter, and such must be also that of her follower. When she falls, so must he also.

Sharp as a two-edged sword - therefore only to be foiled with "the Word of God," which is "quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword" (Hebrews 4:12).


Verse 5

Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.

Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell - in awful contrast to "taking hold of the paths of life" (Proverbs 2:19). Death of the body: spiritual death here; eternal death hereafter.


Verse 6

Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them.

Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, (that) thou canst not know (them).

"Lest" expresses this-Her aim and tendency are toward death (Proverbs 5:6), so that thou canst not ponder the path of life (as I advised thee to do, Proverbs 4:26): do not, therefore, flatter thyself thou canst escape being dragged down with her "to death," if thou dost keep company with her. 'Her ways are so moveable' - i:e., so versatile, varied (Proverbs 30:18-19), and lubricous, and baffling all thy power of 'knowing them' (cf. Psalms 35:8, "at unawares;" Hebrew, 'which he knoweth not of'), that thou canst not escape destruction with her, unless thou standest quite aloof from her. Thou canst not touch pitch without being soiled by it.


Verse 7

Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth.

Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth. For it will not be enough to hear, unless thou shall express words by deeds (T. Cartwright).


Verse 8

Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house:

Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house. Not only do not enter in, but do not oven come nigh her door. The nearer we approach temptation, the more alluring it becomes, and the weaker becomes our spiritual strength. Our safety is in flight. "FLEE fornication" - "idolatry" - "youthful lusts" - "these things" (the love of money), etc. (1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Corinthians 10:14; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22). As to the danger and penalty of sins against the Seventh Commandment; cf. Proverbs 2:18; Proverbs 7:17; Proverbs 9:18; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Revelation 21:8.


Verse 9

Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel:

Lest thou give thine honour unto others. "Thine honour" - i:e., thy chastity and purity. Maurer takes the Hebrew as it means in Daniel 10:8, "comeliness;" margin, 'vigour' (cf. Proverbs 5:10-11; Proverbs 31:3). By the general term (masculine) "others" is meant chiefly the adulteress and the harlot, including all who are connected with her (Gejer); and the idols, the worship of which is spiritual adultery (1 Kings 11:3-4).

And thy years unto the cruel - the adulteress, who ruins both body and soul (Proverbs 6:32; Proverbs 7:22-23; Proverbs 7:26-27), and all the cruel retinue who follow in her train, and the incensed relatives (Proverbs 6:33-35; Genesis 34:25; Genesis 49:5, "instruments of cruelty are in their habitations:" Simeon and Levi, the destroyers of Shechem and his people, for his having ravished Dinah); and worst of all, Satan, the deadly enemy of man.


Verse 10

Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labours be in the house of a stranger;

Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth, and thy labours (be) in the house of a stranger. "Strangers" mean the adulteress, her husband, and children, or else her favourites. For it is not thee that she wants, but "thy wealth" and "thy labours" - i:e., thy hard earnings (Psalms 127:2 ; Isaiah 58:3). Maurer translates, 'And lest strangers (be filled) with (the fruits of) thy labours in the house.' Thus the ellipsis of "be" is avoided. But the Chaldaic, Septuagint, Vulgate, Arabic, Syriac, and Ethiopic, all support the English version.


Verse 11

And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed,

And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed. "At the last" - namely, when the final consequences of thy sin overtake thee: when all the powers of thy body are consumed.


Verse 12

And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof;

And say, How have I hated instruction, my heart despised reproof - reverting to Proverbs 1:29. The sinner shall at last marvel at his own amazing folly in the times past; but his remorse shall then be too late (Proverbs 1:28). Hatred of having the truth told him, and a heart and will despising reproof, he now sees were his ruin. Oh that men would discern their truest interest while the day of grace lasts! Deferred wisdom will only add to the bitterness of perdition.


Verse 13

And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me!

And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me!

"Teachers" - religious instructors, parents, ministers of the Word.


Verse 14

I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly.

I was almost in all evil-in the midst of the congregation and assembly. There was scarcely any sin that I did not engage in; and this, in the midst of the congregation and assembly - i:e., openly, shamelessly, in the assembly for worship, where of all places I should have abstained from evil: like the Israelite committing fornication with the Midianite woman in the sight of all the congregation (Numbers 25:6-7; Ezekiel 8:5-16); and like Eli's sons "at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation (1 Samuel 2:22). Too "congregation" - Hebrew, qaahaal (Hebrew #6951) - means the whole body of worshippers, the Church [ ekkleesia (Greek #1577)], without reference to a fixed place or appointed time of meeting. The "assembly" - [Hebrew, `eedaah (Hebrew #5712)] - means, on the contrary, an appointed meeting of the congregation at a fixed place and time. Every assembly of persons meeting together is 'eedaah. But a great consenting assembly or body, consisting of the citizens of one state as distinct from others, is qaahaal. The church and the congregation is the best translation. Lust makes men shameless and reckless as to all sin.


Verse 15

Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.

Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. As all desire resembles thirst, to drink water means to gratify desire, and the woman is compared to a well. Embrace thine own wife, and enjoy her love alone. Enjoy only lawful pleasures. So the hcavenly spouse is called "a foundation sealed" (Song of Solomon 4:12; contrast Proverbs 23:27, "A whore is a deep ditch; and a strange woman is a narrow pit"). To allay thirst at poisonous and filthy waters would be suicidal folly. In Easters countries the two sources of supply of water are wells of living water and cisterns of rain water, covered over. The appropriateness of the image appears from the fact, that each house had its own cistern (2 Kings 18:31; cf. the same image. Proverbs 9:17; Isaiah 48:1; Isaiah 51:1). As heretofore he had warned the youth against the strange woman, so now he exhorts to faithfulness to the lawful wife.


Verse 16

Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets.

Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, (and) rivers of waters in the streets - i:e., by being faithful to thine own wife thou shalt have an overflowing offspring from thee going forth into the streets to the various honourable duties of life (Numbers 24:7). As the wife is the well, so the children are the waters from it. An abundant progeny is a special gift from God (Psalms 127:3; Psalms 128:3 ). The promise here follows the precept in Proverbs 5:15. The reward is the result of obedience. The negative reading rests on insufficient authority, "Let not thy fountains be dispersed." As to children "in the streets" cf. Zechariah 8:5. The union of one husband to one wife tends to a numerous offspring; concubinage generally causes barrenness.


Verse 17

Let them be only thine own, and not strangers' with thee.

Let them be only thine own, and not strangers' with thee. Let thy children know thee alone as their parent, and do thou know them as the children of thyself, and not of strangers. The child of an adulteress or harlot, on the contrary, is the child of many fathers. Maurer, etc., understands "thy fountains" (Proverbs 5:16) of the wife, not of the children. Let thy wife be fruitful in giving birth to children. So here, Let thy wife be for thyself alone, and not common to thee with others. But the plural "fountains" seems to refer rather to the children, as the singular, "thy fountain" (Proverbs 5:18), to the wife.


Verse 18

Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.

Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. The first clause refers to Proverbs 5:16, the second to Proverbs 5:17. "Thy fountain" is the womb of thy wife (Leviticus 20:18). Be so faithful to thy wife that God shall bless thee with a numerous offspring (Psalms 128:3-4, "Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine, etc. Behold thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord." "Rejoice with," or "in the wife of thy youth," stands in beautiful, contrast to Proverbs 5:11, "And thou mourn at the last." Thou shalt have cause, when old and toward the end of life, to rejoice on account of thy long union with the wife whom thou didst wed in youth, the season of ardent love, and by whom thou hast a numerous offspring (contrast Proverbs 2:17, where cf. note, Malachi 2:14).


Verse 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.

(Let her be as) the loving hind and pleasant roe - or antelope; chamois: from a Hebrew root to ascend or climb rocks. Emblems of beauty, love, and faithfulness (Song of Solomon 2:9; Song of Solomon 4:5; Song of Solomon 7:3). Let her be the husband's chief delight.

Let her breasts satisfy thee at all times. "Satisfy" - literally, 'copiously water;' i:e., satisfy thy (conjugal) thirst. Let her breasts satisfy thee at all times. "Satisfy" - literally, 'copiously water;' i:e., satisfy thy (conjugal) thirst. Bayne translates, 'inebriate' [ y


Verse 20

And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?

And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?

When there are so many advantages in conjugal love, and losses in adulterous love, what madness, baseness, and danger it is to seek the embraces of a harlot or adulteress!


Verse 21

For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings.

For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings - (2 Chronicles 16:9; Jeremiah 32:19; Zechariah 4:10.) This answers by anticipation the objection of the whoremonger-I will act with such caution and secrecy as to evade all the penalties of fornication and adultery. But this is impossible, "For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord," etc. As the argument in the first clause is from the omniscience of God, so that in the second is from His justice - "He pondereth" - i:e., He weighs in an even balance, and will reward accordingly "all man's goings."


Verse 22

His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.

His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins - (Psalms 9:15.) The adulterer and fornicator flatters himself he easily extricate himself from the penalty, as well as from the sin, to which he now gives way. But it is not merely the cords of the punishment, but the cords of his own sins, that hold him enchained against the judgment of the last day: he shall then be self-condemned. Since sin is its own punishment, escape from sin's punishment is impossible to the unchanged sinner (Revelation 22:11). The licentious flatter themselves that in old age, when the passions are less fiery, they will easily extricate themselves from the dominion of their lusts, and repent and seek salvation. But Job 20:11 declares that the old sinner's "bones are full of the sins of his youth, which shall lie down with him in the dust." Augustine, after experience ('Confession,' B. 6:), says, 'While lust is being served, the habit is formed; and while the habit is not being resisted, necessity is formed.'


Verse 23

He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.

He shall die without instruction - without the disciplinary instruction (so the Hebrew) which is the privilege of the children of God (Proverbs 3:11-12), and therefore without the saving "wisdom" and "knowledge" which are its blessed fruits (Job 4:21; Job 36:12). This is the just retribution in kind for having "hated instruction" (Proverbs 5:12). God punishes sinner by giving them their own way.

And in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray. The same Hebrew verb as in Proverbs 5:19-20, was translated "be ravished," margin, err. His erratic love, which ravished him, shall be judicially made his punishment by becoming everlasting error (Proverbs 1:31).

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 5:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/proverbs-5.html. 1871-8.

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Friday, December 6th, 2019
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