Let them be only your own, And not for strangers with you. Proverbs 5:17
Warning Against Sexual Sin
Adultery. Adultery, according to Hebrew law, is intercourse with or by a married or betrothed woman and violates the 6th of the Ten Commandments. The Law commanded Israel to put adulterers and adulteresses to death, although this severe penalty was seldom executed. Prostitution, mentioned in Prov. 6:26, is any intercourse between a man and woman which does not violate the marriage vow. It too is forbidden (Lev. 19:29), but only religious prostitutes, who engaged in sex as part of pagan religious ceremonies, were to be put to death. The NT also condemns sexual immorality and calls for discipline by the church of those who practice it. However, Jesus’ compassionate response to the adulterous woman makes it clear that God’s way of dealing with sexual sins, as with other sins, is the way of forgiveness – followed by the repudiation of the sinful way of life. The NT also makes it clear that sexual immorality is characteristic of a godless lifestyle and that those who practice it will be judged.
But here in Proverbs the writer is primarily concerned with the consequences of adultery. The foolish person who succumbs finds that in the end adultery brings ruin. He warns that no one can “walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched”; that the adulterer will arouse jealousy, earn blows and disgrace, and so destroy himself. While the prostitute “reduces you to a loaf of bread” by treating you as an object rather than a person, the adulteress “preys on your very life.”
These proverbs also make it clear that, while desire may spring up uninvited, committing adultery involves a choice. The wise man will turn away from opportunities for sexual adventures, to find joy and satisfaction in the love of his own wife. And, a wise man will remember that his “ways are in full view of the Lord.”
5:8-10 The Bible teaches elsewhere that temptation in general is unavoidable, but some temptations should be avoided at all costs. A wise son knows this and will not go near an immoral woman. The apostle Paul’s instruction to Timothy to flee youthful lusts (2 Tim. 2:22) teaches the same theme. Involvement with such sin dishonors and consumes all who fall into it.
8 Remove your way far from her, And do not go near the door of her house, 9 Lest you give your honor to others, And your years to the cruel one; 10 Lest aliens be filled with your wealth, And your labors go to the house of a stranger;
5:15 In an arid country like Israel, a well was a prized possession and a privilege to be cared for. So was (and is) a spouse. Drink water is an oblique reference to sexual union, and from your own cistern is a clear call to marital infidelity – one man one woman, together in marriage. The writers of the Bible sometimes speak of salvation as a spring (Is. 12:3); to call one’s spouse a pring of water was a term of endearment (see Song 4:15).
15 Drink water from your own cistern, And running water from your own well. 16 Should your fountains be dispersed abroad, Streams of water in the streets? 17 Let them be only your own, And not for strangers with you.
Therefore with joy you will draw water From the wells of salvation. Isaiah 12:3
5:18-20 The words rejoice with the wife of your youth comprise a command and an encouragement to find pleasure in the mutual joy of married love. Indeed, pleasure in the marriage bed is blessed by God (see Song; Heb. 13:4).
18 Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice with the wife of your youth. 19 As a loving deer and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; And always be enraptured with her love. 20 For why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral woman, And be embraced in the arms of a seductress?
** This chapter’s warning applies to women as well. Now we see that traps are laid everywhere around us to catch not only men and women, but even children! We should remember the conclusion of this chapter and watch our steps to avoid stepping into a trap, sexual or otherwise.
Having a spouse as a friend, not a stranger, in Christ is a wonderful thing. Family and friends as well — my own people gathered around the wellspring of life. Then, we wouldn’t feel lonely even if we walk in the valley of darkness.
5 1 My son, pay attention to my wisdom; Lend your ear to my understanding, 2 That you may preserve discretion, And your lips may keep knowledge. 3 For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey, And her mouth is smoother than oil; 4 But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, Sharp as a two-edged sword. 5 Her feet go down to death, Her steps lay hold of hell. 6 Lest you ponder her path of life– Her ways are unstable; You do not know them. 7 Therefore hear me now, my children, And do not depart from the words of my mouth. 8 Remove your way far from her, And do not go near the door of her house, 9 Lest you give your honor to others, And your years to the cruel one; 10 Lest aliens be filled with your wealth, And your labors go to the house of a foreigner; 11 And you mourn at last, When your flesh and your body are consumed, 12 And say: “How I have hated instruction, And my heart despised correction! 13 I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, Nor inclined my ear to those who instructed me! 14 I was on the verge of total ruin, In the midst of the assembly and congregation.” 15 Drink water from your own cistern, And running water from your own well. 16 Should your fountains be dispersed abroad, Streams of water in the streets? 17 Let them be only your own, And not for strangers with you. 18 Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice with the wife of your youth. 19 As a loving deer and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; And always be enraptured with her love. 20 For why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral woman, And be embraced in the arms of a seductress? 21 For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, And He ponders all his paths. 22 His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, And he is caught in the cords of his sin. 23 He shall die for lack of instruction, And in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.