Wisdom in Action

Proverbs 5:1-23


This is an interesting chapter. Rather than advancing with new information, the writer recapitulates his appeal and then uses a young man’s most intriguing dimension of life to call for applying the information already given by implementing it in this challenging arena of self-management of one’s sexuality to illustrate it in the broad spectrum of life.

There is little doubt that Solomon produced this work to the very end of his life, though he likely kept a journal along the way of life and recorded his observations in this Hebrew proverbial form. However, some of the lessons, like that of this chapter, seem to come at the end of his life’s reflection.

Appeal to equip oneself to face life challenges (5:1-6)

He begins by reiterating his appeal to give attention to his wisdom. Earlier, his appeal had been to seek and search for wisdom (2:4) after having stated his purpose for writing this book (1:1-6) and assuring his recipients that this wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord (1:7).  Now, appeals twice more in this chapter (1, 7) for the reader to “give attention” and “listen to me.”

Oh, how gracious is our God! How many times does He illustrate His patient appeal as illustrated in the journey of Israel? He gives revelation. He appeals for a positive response. He gives promises to the obedient. He disciplines, calls for repentance, and forgives repeatedly. This book is filled with appeals. They are all built of “the fear of the Lord,” the awesome God who knows the beginning, the end, and all between. It promises positive results for obedience and multiple illustrations of the results of disobedience (refusal to listen and act accordingly).

Here are these two appeals. First, give attention to my wisdom and incline yourself to hear my understanding since I am speaking from wisdom and experience. The second, adds a measure of urgency, “Now then.” It might be understood as an urgent appeal to a son on the precipice of not listening and instead listening to his emotions in response to a sexy woman (7).

There are two life characteristics you need to live successfully in this life. You need discernment that my wisdom will give to you (2a), and you need the ability to exercise restraint (2b).

The writer now points to the implementation of wisdom in this challenging reality of sexuality (3-6). He describes how the appeal of the world is packaged. Enticing language makes it look good (3). But discernment will see that what looks good quickly turns to bitterness (4) and leads to destruction (5). The reason is she (whatever the temptation) has not listened to wisdom and, therefore, does not even know she is unstable (6).

It would appear that the writer thought something like this. This instruction is so vital that I must develop this illustration and appeal for its implementation even more strongly. Hence, very specific implementing instructions follow the second appeal (7).

Do not put yourself in the position to be tempted. He continues with sexual temptation. To put this in a contemporary setting, avoid activities that provide sensual appeal. Don’t engage with women who dress provocatively. Also, remember the subtle aspect of his instruction. Remember that he is also using this arena of sexuality to illustrate all types of tempting situations that call for the use of wisdom and discretion. 

Warnings Are the Other Side of the Appeal (9-11)

We can look at this as an “if-then” argumentative instruction. You can expect these outcomes if you do not listen to my instructions.

Less you give your vigor to others. For example, a pregnancy outside of marriage brings a life-long drain on one’s resources, emotionally, physically, economically, and mentally (9).

Another illustration is the man whom a sweet-talking, alluring woman entices into an affair with her. The wife is discussed and divorces him. He is left with his flossy, who is uninterested in marriage, and a family to support whom he cannot enjoy (10). He will live in Regretsville, mourning his miserable estate and finding himself almost unacceptable in the congregation of the Lord (11-14).

The Instruction of the Appeal (15-19)

By wisdom, find a godly wife, and don’t go flitting after sexual experiences (15-16). Let a godly wife and keep yourself wholly unto her (17). Enjoy her fully (18-19). Again, we should remember that he is addressing all of life with sexuality. Living by His wisdom engenders discernment in all life choices, bringing the greatest level of life satisfaction. Why? Because on both fronts, we live in the fear of the Lord and, therefore, glorify Him, resulting in the enjoyment of life.

The Ultimate Question of the Appeal (20-23)

Why should you, my son, be fooling around with the way of the world? Why should you embrace the world when you have the wisdom of God? He then gives several reasons why doing so is foolishness.

  • God keeps the books (21)
  • The world’s foolishness takes over his life, and he becomes its prisoner (22)
  • He will die never having listened to wisdom and live life in emptiness (23)

Conclusion and Implementation

The reality is that life is a continual opportunity to listen to Wisdom and to choose life. It is also an opportunity not to listen and choose death. The first thing that Wisdom tells us is that we are sinners in need of a Savior. Wisdom also tells us that God has provided the Savior, Jesus Christ, who died to pay our penalty. Wisdom’s third thing is to appeal to sinners to receive the Savior. The fourth thing that Wisdom does is appeal to saved sinners to listen to instruction and choose wisely to act on the instruction. 

Hence, the implementation is this. Choose to trust God (Wisdom) and choose to act on His instruction. Sexuality is a great reminder since, in daily living, daily viewing, and daily news, we see illustration after illustration of unwise choices and devastating consequences. God repeatedly appeals to us; let us act obediently at every juncture today and each day thereafter.

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