Proverbs 5

This chapter continues the wise sayings Solomon addresses to his children and / or students. Solomon warns about the temptation to succumb to adultery. He points out the calamities of yielding to sexual sin, and of violating one's marriage. This warning is similar the one given in Proverbs 1:8–10. After cautioning about the risks of adultery, he cites the joys and advantages of monogamous marriage.
Advice in Proverbs often comes in the form of warnings. Those are especially aimed at what happens when a person gives in to sin in general: listing the risks associated with ignoring godly wisdom. This section of Proverbs focuses narrowly on the sin of adultery. While the language here evokes a woman tempting a married man, the principles are not meant to be applied to males alone. The concepts of sexual purity apply equally to both sexes and to all persons.

This chapter begins with the typical plea for the reader or listener to pay close attention. This book uses the term wisdom to mean an ability to apply godly knowledge. Discretion is closely related to that idea. This implies someone who can discern between different things. We see the same idea in related English terms such as discrete, discriminate, and discernment. The advice given here is vital, and Solomon is eager to see it followed (Proverbs 5:1–2).

Earlier verses personified wisdom as a woman crying out in the streets (Proverbs 1:20–21). Here, in a contrasting mood, temptation to adultery is symbolized by the idea of a temptress. It's noteworthy that Solomon does not use physical descriptions here; the temptations are all verbal or emotional. That speaks to how this concept applies to both men and women, though history has demonstrated that men are more susceptible to sexual temptations. This "forbidden woman" promises something smooth and sweet, but the end results are sour and harmful (Proverbs 5:3–6).

A key aspect of avoiding sin is to avoid temptation. This is why Solomon strongly suggests staying far away from those who tempt us towards adultery. Avoiding situations where we're liable to be overcome is sound advice. As part of that warning, this passage also describes the consequences of adultery. Those include a loss of reputation, shortened life, possible legal trouble, and reduced prosperity. Worse, adultery leads to deep regret, looking back with sorrow on sinful choices. There is a reason why, even in a modern culture drenched in promiscuity, there is still a deep stigma against those labelled as marital "cheaters" (Proverbs 5:7–14).

Beyond the consequences of adultery are the joys of a faithful marriage. One of the great pleasures of monogamy is the ability to enjoy sexual intimacy without guilt, shame, or fear. Solomon compares this to drinking water from one's own well—a safe, legitimate, worthy source. The alternative would be seeking water in places like unguarded springs or puddles in the road. There is nothing an adulterous relationship can offer which God has not provided for, in a legitimate way, within a properly functioning marriage (Proverbs 5:15–20).

Summarizing this section is a reminder that God knows and sees all things. A common thread in adultery is secrecy, but that's not possible in the eyes of an omniscient Creator. Another common thread is regret over consequences. Once adultery has been committed, it cannot be undone. God can—and will—forgive those who seek Him. But that forgiveness does not change the past. The damage to relationships, reputations, and bodily health are real, and those who ignore godly advice are liable to find this out the hard way (Proverbs 5:21–23).

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