Proverbs chapter 5 is commonly taught as a warning for men to resist seductive women. But the verses as metaphor serve also as a warning for all believers to resist (seductive) false religion. Consider:
THE BAD NEWS
The chapter opens with Solomon’s advice to his son to attend to wisdom, understanding, discretion, and knowledge (1-2). Why? “For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil” (3, KJV). Dad knows what Son is up against: temptation is pretty, and it sounds good, too! The young man needs to stand guard with truth.
Although temptation lures via all five senses, false religion usually baits the spiritually unaware through words. Indeed, the very first temptation away from God’s wisdom, understanding, and knowledge was on the end of a line cast by a salesman wrapped in snake skin: “Did God really say…?” (Genesis 3:1). Later, the lush sweetness of that apple…
Once hooked, the susceptible are in for a wild ride. “Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life,” notes Solomon, “her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them” (6, KJV).
If you have ever been drawn into a false religion or doctrine, as many of us have been, or mesmerized by some mystic selling a new way to nirvana, you know that such belief systems are constantly evolving. New revelations replace “old-fashioned” old ones; charismatic leaders fresh on the scene seem more hip to what’s happening now. There’s no time to think critically in the emotionally-charged quest for bliss. Gotta rock that new book, video, trinket—experience—now!
The end result of all the false glitz, glory, and feel-good, however, is loss of honor, years, and wealth to cruel strangers (7-10) and in the end, mourning (11).
So how did (does) it get that bad? Somebody ensnared by the enchantments of the enchantress—false religion, in this case—despises reproof, disobeys his teachers, and discards instruction (12-13). Some guru, or for the sake of the metaphor, gu-ress, has spread her glittery wares in the path of the hapless fellow and he allows himself to be led “down to death” (5) as the oxygen eventually bleeds out from what discernment he might have had.
THE GOOD NEWS
Comparing a wayward woman with false religion is pretty potent, its effectiveness more powerful, no doubt, as presented by father to hormone-driven adolescent son. But Solomon also takes the time and verses to explain to the boy the benefits of remaining with one’s “first love.” In the metaphorical sense, we can glean benefits by staying with the genesis of Genesis: God’s Word. Consider the comparisons:
Whereas false religion may entice with its strange (foreign-Strong’s) pleasures, he who follows her shall “die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray” (23). Remaining faithful to God’s Word, His instruction, on the other hand, preserves seekers from not only losing honor, longevity, and wealth, as noted above, but also keeps them from regret (11-12) and shame in the assembly (14). As another Bible writer puts it (Solomon’s own father, David), “How can a young man keep his way pure (clean, justified-Strong’s)? By living according to (God’s) word” (Psalm 119: 9).
Although “she,” false religion, may promote some magical mystical tour, “her steps take hold on hell,” continues Solomon. On the other hand, staying the course with the “wife of (thy) youth,” God’s Word, so to speak, instilled in the young by faithful mothers and fathers, promises joy (Proverbs 5:18), satisfaction (19), love, and pleasantness (19).
But that’s not all.
Those who “walk according to the law of the Lord” and “keep his statutes” can look forward to hope, comfort, freedom, delight, understanding, and blessing (back to Psalm 119). The entirety of that Psalm details, in fact, literally, from “A to Z” in the Hebrew alphabet, the benefits of attending to God’s precepts, commands, decrees, and words. Believers young and old, male and female, callow and worldly wise all, are invited to hide God’s word in our hearts “that (we) might not sin against (Him)” (11).
And when we do stray after some seductress/seducer of thought, word, or deed, not only can we return by the “light of God’s word” (105), we can ask God to seek us, David writes, because we “have not forgotten (His) commands” (176).
From David to son Solomon, from Solomon to his son, and from them to you and me today: remain faithful to God’s bliss! Stay in His Word.