Proverbs 5:1-2-Solomon advises his son to pay close attention to what he is teaching him so that he will have “discretion”. The basic meaning of this word means to know the plan, intent, and thought that is behind something…what it’s real purpose is, as opposed to it’s appearance. It is interesting that generally this word is used in a context that suggests something that is wicked, evil, or mischievous (for example see: Job 21:27; Psalm 10:2). When he pays close attention to what his father has taught him, then the things that he says will reveal that he has true insight.
Proverbs 5:3-4-Solomon warns his son of the adulteress...her words are sweet, appealing, and persuasive. They are as slick as oil…even though you know there is something wrong with what she is saying you just cannot get a grip on it (:3). While initially the adulteress may seem sweet…in the end she brings bitterness. This result is as certain as being stabbed through with a sword (:4)
Wormwood (Artemisia judaica, A. herba-alba). Wormwood is a general name given to a group of woody plants with a strong aromatic odor. Wormwood plants have a strong bitter taste, and their young shoots and branch tips furnish the “wormwood” of commerce. Its bitter taste accounts for its being spoken of with gall as being symbolic of bitter calamity and sorrow (Prv 5:4; Jer 9:15; 23:15; Lam 3:15, 19). Artemisia herba-alba is the common species of wormwood in the Holy Land today. It is strongly aromatic, smelling like camphor, and bitter. A. judaica occurs only in the Sinai.
Absinthe is made from species of this group. It first leads to greater activity and pleasant sensations and fills the mind with grandiose ideas (Lam 3:15). The habitual use of it, however, brings on a stupor and gradual diminution of intellectual faculties, ending in delirium and even death. Perhaps the hemlock of Amos 6:12 was wormwood.
Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (pp. 1728–1729). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, Logos Bible Software
Wormwood is used in some alcoholic beverages. Vermouth, for example, is a wine beverage flavored with extracts of wormwood. Absinthe is another well-known alcoholic beverage made with wormwood. It is an emerald-green alcoholic drink that is prepared from wormwood oil, often along with other dried herbs such as anise and fennel. Absinthe was popularized by famous artists and writers such as Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas, Manet, van Gogh, Picasso, Hemingway, and Oscar Wilde. It is now banned in many countries, including the U.S. But it is still allowed in European Union countries as long as the thujone content is less than 35 mg/kg. Thujone is a potentially poisonous chemical found in wormwood. Distilling wormwood in alcohol increases the thujone concentration.
How does it work?
Wormwood oil contains the chemical thujone, which excites the central nervous system. However, it can also cause seizures and other adverse effects.
Proverbs 5:5-6-The adulteress has not given consideration to the consequences of her behavior.
Proverbs 5:7-14-Solomon tells his sons to not even go near to the home of an adulteress (:8)...because if you do, you might give in to her temptations. And if she has a child…
- you will have to support her and the child (:10)
- you will have to work harder than you might otherwise (:11)
- you will be emotionally distraught over your bad decision (:12-13)
- and you will be terribly embarrassed in front of others (:14).
Proverbs 5:15-20-He tells him to be satisfied with his wife (:15-“cistern”, “well”)...and not another woman. The words “springs” (:16) and “fountain” (:18) are references to the male semen, his seed. Solomon tells his son to not spread his seed recklessly by having sex with women other than his wife. His seed should be for his family, and his alone (:17). He encourages him to enjoy the sexual relationship that he shares with the woman that he took to be his bride while he was a young man. He tells him to be “exhilarated” with her love. The word “exhilarated” generally has a negative connotation. But here it is used to suggest that the same exhilaration, or intoxication that a man may experience when he has an affair…can be found in passionate love for his own wife.
שָׁגָה shâgâh, shaw-gaw'; a primitive root; to stray (causatively, mislead), usually (figuratively) to mistake, especially (morally) to transgress; by extension (through the idea of intoxication) to reel, (figuratively) be enraptured:—(cause to) go astray, deceive, err, be ravished, sin through ignorance, (let, make to) wander.
It is almost as if Solomon is telling his son, “Why would you ever become infatuated with another woman and suffer the consequences…when you can be intoxicated with the love of your own wife and benefit from the blessings!”
Proverbs 5:21-23-The LORD knows our every action (:21). There is no sin that we will escape from punishment. A man’s own sin will be the evidence against him when he stands in judgment (:22). He will suffer the consequences because he did not listen to what he had been instructed…and instead, chose to do whatever he pleased (:23).
Proverbs 6:1-5- The term “surety” speaks of a cosigner, someone who agrees to pay a debt for someone else who has taken out a loan and then failed to pay it back. “Snared with the words of your mouth” means that you have verbally agreed to something and now you are legally responsible. If you have cosigned something for a neighbor and you now think that you have made a mistake...go to him and see what would be necessary for you to get out of the agreement. The word “importune” means to “urge severely, do whatever is necessary” (:3). Don’t stop, keep trying (:4). Do it quickly before something happens and it is too late (:5)
Proverbs 6:6-11-Don't be lazy. Observe how the ant works...working without having to be told to do so (:7), and planning for the future (:8). How long will you continue to be lazy (:9-10)? Eventually it will catch up with you. You will become as poor as a “vagabond” (someone who wanders aimless without direction, or purpose). And your “need” (also means poverty) will be harder to fight off than a man who has armor to fight with.
Proverbs 6:12-15-A worthless person cannot be trusted in what he says...his word is always changing. Solomon describes by several different terms:
- “walks with a false mouth” (:12)…he lies
- “winks with his eyes” (:13a)…he is letting someone else in on his scheme
- “points with his fingers” (:13b)…he is giving signals to his partner in crime
- “with perversity in his heart devises evil continually” (:14a)…”perversity” means “fraud, deceit”…he is constantly looking for an opportunity to scam someone
- “spreads strife” (:14b)…he causes trouble for other people
While he may appear to get away with his actions…there is no doubt that he will be caught…and the consequences will happen quickly and with decisively (:15)
Proverbs 6:16-19-The words “six” and “seven” in the phrase, “There are six things which the LORD hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him” means that the list is incomplete…this is just a partial list. They include:
- “haughty eyes” (:17)
- “a lying tongue” (:17)
- “hands that shed innocent blood” (:17)
- “a heart that devises wicked plans” (:18)
- “feet that run rapidly to evil” (:18)
- “a false witness who utters lies (:19)
- “one who spreads strife among brothers” (:19)
- Haughtiness, conceitedness of ourselves, and contempt of others-a proud look. There are seven things that God hates, and pride is the first, because it is at the bottom of much sin and gives rise to it. God sees the pride in the heart and hates it there; but, when it prevails to that degree that the show of men's countenance witnesses against them that they overvalue themselves and undervalue all about them, this is in a special manner hateful to him, for then pride is proud of itself and sets shame at defiance.
- Falsehood, and fraud, and dissimulation. Next to a proud look nothing is more an abomination to God than a lying tongue; nothing more sacred than truth, nor more necessary to conversation than speaking truth. God and all good men hate and abhor lying.
- Cruelty and blood-thirstiness. The devil was, from the beginning, a liar and a murderer (Jn. 8:44), and therefore, as a lying tongue, so hands that shed innocent blood are hateful to God, because they have in them the devil's image and do him service.
- Subtlety in the contrivance of sin, wisdom to do evil, a heart that designs and a head that devises wicked imaginations, that is acquainted with the depths of Satan and knows how to carry on a covetous, envious, revengeful plot, most effectually. The more there is of craft and management in sin the more it is an abomination to God.
- Vigour and diligence in the prosecution of sin-feet that are swift in running to mischief, as if they were afraid of losing time or were impatient of delay in a thing they are so greedy of. The policy and vigilance, the eagerness and industry, of sinners, in their sinful pursuits, may shame us who go about that which is good so awkwardly and so coldly.
- False-witness bearing, which is one of the greatest mischiefs that the wicked imagination can devise, and against which there is least fence. There cannot be a greater affront to God (to whom in an oath appeal is made) nor a greater injury to our neighbour (all whose interests in this world, even the dearest, lie open to an attack of this kind) than knowingly to give in a false testimony. There are seven things which God hates, and lying involves two of them; he hates it, and doubly hates it.
- Making mischief between relations and neighbours, and using all wicked means possible, not only to alienate their affections one from another, but to irritate their passions one against another. The God of love and peace hates him that sows discord among brethren, for he delights in concord. Those that by tale-bearing and slandering, by carrying ill-natured stories, aggravating every thing that is said and done, and suggesting jealousies and evil surmises, blow the coals of contention, are but preparing for themselves a fire of the same nature.
Matthew Henry :: Commentary of Proverbs 6,
Proverbs 6:20-23-Solomon advises his son to practice the things that he and his son’s mother taught him. He should constantly be mindful of them (:21). Those teachings will guide him both night and day. If he is constantly aware of them it will be like he had his parents walking with him side-by-side (:21-22). They will give light to his feet so that he will not trip up (:23).
Proverbs 6:24-35-The teachings of your parents will help keep you from evil...in particular, the "evil woman...adulteress" (:24). Her words, appearance and actions will reduce you "to a loaf of bread" (:26). There are two general interpretations of this verse. First, if you become involved with a harlot (a prostitute), your life will go into a downward spiral of sin that will leave you with nothing left but money to buy bread to live on. This kind of woman has no reservations taking money from a man for sex…even though she knows what will happen to him. The second interpretation is, you think that to commit adultery with a prostitute only costs about as much as a loaf of bread, but eventually it will take you for everything that you’ve got. Solomon asks, “Do you think that you can be involved in this kind of sin and not suffer the consequences?” (:27-28). He says that if you have an affair with another man’s wife you will certainly suffer the consequences (:29). There are some things that, given the circumstances (like a man and his family starving to death), might almost be understood. But even then, there are dire consequences (:30-31). And if that be so…how much more severe will the punishment be if a man is caught having an affair with another man’s wife? That’s just plain stupid. He’s ruining his own life. (:32). He will be publicly disgraced (:33). And there is a good chance that the woman’s husband will not be forgiving, but instead will seek vengeance…no matter how much money you offer him to buy him off (:34-35).
Prayer: Father, I pray that you would keep me pure and holy. Not just in body…but in mind and thoughts. Solomon wrote these words to his son…but they are for all of us. In a world where sex is constantly paraded in public and thrown in our face…it can be difficult to be pure in thought. I remember seeing a Hasidic Jew walking downhill on a narrow, crowded street in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem. He was pushing a handcart in front of him. It was bouncing precariously back and forth over the cobblestone…and almost hit several people. But the really strange thing was that he had his eyes tightly shut. I asked our guide about it and he said that was his way of avoiding seeing anything unholy, anything that would tempt him. Lord, I can’t go through life with my eyes shut! So, I pray, help me to be more focused on you in my heart intentionally…than on anything that my eyes might see inadvertently.