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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

Proverbs 5

Verse 3


(3) Her mouth is smoother than oil.—The experience of David also with Ahitophel (Psalms 55:21).

Verse 4

(4) Bitter as wormwood.—The absinthium of Revelation 8:11, where, apparently, it is considered as a poison. So God’s message to St. John (Revelation 10:10) was in his mouth sweet as honey (comp. Psalms 19:10), but made his belly bitter: that is, he met with much sorrow and trouble in making it known to men, but through this “much tribulation” (Acts 14:22) he “entered into the kingdom of heaven.”

Verse 5

(5) Take hold on hell.—They lead straight to it.

Verse 6

(6) Lest thou shouldest ponder . . .—The meaning of the English version appears to be, “To prevent thy choosing the path of life, she leads thee by devious paths that thou knowest not where thou art.” It may also be rendered, “Far from smoothing for herself the path of life, her steps wander without her observing it.” By these words is described the reckless career of a vicious woman, who at last dares not think whither her steps are leading her, but as it were with eyes shut, totters on till she falls to rise no more.

Verse 7

(h). Eighth Discourse:Against Adultery, and in Praise of Marriage (Proverbs 5:7-23).

(7) Hear me now therefore, O ye children.—In this verse Solomon apparently ceases to report the words of his father, and resumes his speech in his own person.

Verse 8

(8) Remove thy way . . .—The great safeguard in such temptations, as all moralists with one mouth advise, is flight.

Verse 9

(9) Thine honour.—Rather, freshness, vigour.

Thy years.—The best years of thy life.

Unto the cruel.—That is the temptress herself, or her hangers-on and associates, whose sole idea is plunder.

Verse 11

(11) When thy flesh and thy body are consumed.—Ruin of health has followed ruin of property.

Verse 12

(12) How have I hated instruction.—The last stage of misery is the remorse which comes too late. (Comp. Matthew 25:30.)

Verse 14

(14) I was almost in all evil . . .—Rather, I had almost fallen into every sin: I was so infatuated that I might have committed any sin, and that openly before all. Or, I might have been visited with extremest punishment at the hands of the congregation, death by stoning (Leviticus 20:10, John 8:5). The offender’s eyes are now opened, and he shudders at the thought of the still greater troubles into which he might, in his infatuation, have fallen.

Verses 15-20

(15-20) Drink waters out of thine own cistern . . .—In these verses Solomon urges his disciples to follow after purity in the married life; he pictures in vivid terms the delights which it affords as compared with the pleasures of sin.

Out of thine own cistern.—The “strange woman,” on the other hand, says, “Stolen waters are sweet” (Proverbs 9:17). The same figure is employed in Song of Solomon 4:15, where a wife is compared to “a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.” In Jeremiah 2:13 God compares Himself to a “fountain of living waters,” and complains that Israel had deserted Him, and hewed out for themselves “broken cisterns that can hold no water.” This passage in Proverbs has in like manner often been interpreted as an exhortation to drink deeply from the living waters of the Holy Spirit given in the Word and Sacraments (John 7:37).—For ref. see Bishop Wordsworth.

Verse 17

(17) Let them be only thine own.—The deepest joys and sorrows of each heart are sacred, and cannot be shared with others (Proverbs 14:10), and so it is with the various relations of family life also, strangers have no part in them.

Verse 18

(18) Let thy fountain . . .—As a reward for purity of life, the blessing of a numerous offspring is invoked. (Comp. Psalms 128:3, where the wife is a “fruitful vine,” and the children numerous and flourishing like olive-branches.)

Verse 19

(19) Loving hind and pleasant roe.—The deer and chamois, from their grace and speed and lustrous eyes, have always been chosen by the Oriental poets as figures of human strength and beauty. (Comp. Song of Solomon 2:9; Song of Solomon 2:17; Song of Solomon 7:3; Song of Solomon 8:14; Psalms 18:33.) Both these animals are said to be remarkable for their affection to their young.

Verse 21

(21) For the ways of man . . .—Another reason for avoiding sin is the certainty of detection by the Judge, whose “eyes run to and fro through the whole earth” (2 Chronicles 16:9), comp. Psalms 11:4.

Verses 22-23

(22, 23) His own iniquities . . .—The final scene in the life of the profligate is here described. He has sinned so long that he is “tied and bound,” hand and foot, with the “chain of his sins,” and cannot get free even had he the wish to do so.

Verse 23

(23) He shall die without instruction.—Rather, for want of discipline, because he would not control himself, “he shall die,” and “for the greatness of his folly (self-will) he shall go astray,” and “wander where there is no way” (Job 12:24).

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Proverbs 5". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.