Matthew Poole's Commentary
My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding:An exhortation to the study of wisdom, Proverbs 5:1,2. To shun the company of strange women, Proverbs 5:3-5. The mischief of whoredom and riots, Proverbs 5:14. In a married estate exhorted to chastity in that state, and to rejoice with the wife of his youth, Proverbs 5:15-19. God’s pondering our ways an argument to close with the exhortation, Proverbs 5:20,21. The miserable end of the wicked, Proverbs 5:22,23.
No text from Poole on this verse.
That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge.Regard, or, keep, i.e. hold fast, as it is in the next clause. Discretion; spiritual wisdom for the conduct of thy life, as this word is used Proverbs 1:4, and elsewhere in this book.
That thy lips may keep knowledge; that by wise and pious discourses thou mayst preserve and improve thy wisdom for thine own and others’ good.
For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil:It concerns thee to get and to use discretion, that thou mayst be able to resist and repel those manifold temptations to which thou art exposed.
Drop as an honeycomb; her words and discourses are sweet, and charming, and prevalent.
But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword.Her design, and the effect of that lewdness to which she enticeth men, is the sinner’s destruction.
Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.Her feet; her course or manner of life.
Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them.Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, to prevent thy serious consideration of the way and manner of rescuing thyself from this deadly course of life.
Movable; various and changeable. She transforms herself into several shapes, to accommodate herself to the humours of her lovers, and hath a thousand arts and deceits to ensnare them, and hold them fast.
Thou canst not know them; thou canst not discover all her subtle practices, and much less deliver thyself from them.
Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth.No text from Poole on this verse.
Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house:Lest thine eyes affect thine heart, and her allurements prevail over thee.
Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel:Thine honour; thy dignity and reputation, the strength and rigour of thy body and mind, which is an honour to a man, and which are commonly wasted by adulterous practices.
Unto others; unto whores, and their husbands, and children, and friends.
Thy years; the flower of thine age, thy youthful years.
Unto the cruel; to the harlot, who though she pretends ardent love and kindness to thee, yet in truth is one of the most cruel creatures in the world, wasting thy estate and, body without the least pity, and then casting thee off with scorn. and contempt; and when her interest requires it, taking away thy very life, of which there are innumerable examples, and damning thy soul for ever.
Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labours be in the house of a stranger;Strangers; not only the strange women themselves, but bawds, panders, and other adulterers, who are in league with them.
Thy labours; wealth gotten by thy labours.
And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed,Thou mourn at the last; bitterly bewail thy own madness and misery when it is too late.
Thy flesh and thy body; thy flesh, even thy body; the particle and being put expositively.
Consumed by those manifold diseases which filthy and inordinate lusts bring upon the body, of which physicians give a very large and sad catalogue, and the bodies of many adulterers give full proof.
And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof;How have I hated instruction! oh what a mad beast have I been, to hate and slight the fair warnings which were given me, and against mine own knowledge, to run headlong into this pit of destruction! which are not the words of a true penitent mourning for and turning from his sin, but only of a man who is grieved for the sad effects of his delightful lusts, and tormented with the horror of his own guilty conscience.
My heart despised reproof; I did with my whole heart abhor all admonitions.
And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me!Of my teachers; of my parents, and friends, and ministers, who faithfully and seasonably informed me of those mischiefs and miseries which now I feel.
I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly.I was almost in all evil. Oh what a miserable man am I! There is scarce any misery, in respect of estate, or body, or soul, into which I am not already plunged. The words also are and may well be rendered thus, In a moment I am come into all evil. In how little a time, and for what short and momentary pleasures, am I now come into extreme and remediless misery!
In the midst of the congregation and assembly: I, who designed and expected to enjoy my lusts with secrecy and impunity, am now made a public example and shameful spectacle to all men, and that in the congregation of Israel, where I was taught better things, and where such actions are most infamous and hateful.
Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.This metaphor contained here, and Proverbs 5:16-18, is to be understood either,
1. Of the free and lawful use of a man’s estate, both for his own comfort, and for the good of others. Or rather,
2. Of the honest use of matrimony, as the proper remedy against these filthy practices. This best suits with the whole context, both foregoing and following; and thus it is explained in the end of Proverbs 5:18. So the sense is, Content thyself with those delights which God alloweth thee, with the sober use of the marriage bed. Why shouldst thou ramble hither and thither, trespassing against God and men, to steal their waters, which thou mightest freely take out of thine own cistern or well. The ground of the metaphor is this, that waters were scarce and precious in those countries, and therefore men used to make cisterns and wells for their own private use. And the same metaphor of
waters, and of a pit, or well, is applied to things of this nature elsewhere, as Proverbs 23:27 Isaiah 48:1 51:1.
Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets.Thy fountains; thy children proceeding from thy wife, called thy fountain, Proverbs 5:18, and from thyself, as the Israelites are said to come from the fountain of Israel, Deu 33:28 Psalm 68:26. Compare Isaiah 51:1. And fountains are here put for rivers flowing from them, as it is explained in the next clause, and as it is Psalm 104:10, by a metonymy of the cause for the effect. And this title may be the more fitly given to children, because as they are rivers in respect of their parents, so when they grow up, they also become fountains to their children.
Be dispersed abroad; they shall be multiplied, and in due time appear abroad in the world to thy comfort and honour, and for the good of others; whereas whores are commonly barren, and men are ashamed to own the children of whoredom.
Let them be only thine own, and not strangers' with thee.Hereby thou mayst be secured, that thou dost not father and leave thine estate to other men’s children; whereas the parents of harlots’ children are common or uncertain.
Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.Thy fountain; thy wife, as the next clause explains it.
Be blessed; she shall be blessed with children; for barrenness was esteemed a curse and reproach, especially among the Israelites. Or rather, she shall be a blessing and a comfort to thee, as it follows, and not a curse and a snare, as a harlot will be.
Rejoice with the wife; seek not to harlots for that delight which God alloweth thee to take with thy wife. So here he explains the foregoing metaphor, and applies it to his present design.
Of thy youth; which thou didst marry in her and thine own youthful days, with whom therefore in all reason and justice thou art still to satisfy thyself, even when she is old. Or he mentions youth, because that is the season in which men are most prone to unclean practices, against which men are commonly fortified by the infirmities of old age.
Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.As the loving hind, or, as the beloved hind, Heb. the hind of loves; as amiable and delightful as the hinds are, either,
1. To their males, the harts; or,
2. To princes and great men, who used to make them tame and familiar, and to take great delight in them, as hath been noted by many writers; of which see my Latin Synopsis.
Her breasts, i.e. her loves and embraces, expressed by lying between the breasts, Song of Solomon 1:13; Compare Ezekiel 23:3,8,21.
At all times; at all convenient times; for that there may be excess in the use of the marriage bed is manifest, not only from many scriptures, but from the light of nature, and the consent of wise and sober heathens, who have laid restraints upon men in this particular. A man may be drunk with his own wine, and intemperate with his own wife. Or, in all ages and conditions. Do not only love her when she is young and beautiful, but also when she is old and deformed.
Be thou ravished; love her fervently. It is an hyperbolical expression.
And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?Why wilt thou destroy and damn thyself for those delights which thou mayst enjoy without sin or danger?
For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings.Before the eyes of the Lord; God sees all thy filthy actions, though done with all possible cunning and secrecy. He taketh an exact account of all their doings, that he may recompense them according to the kinds, degrees, numbers, and aggravations of all their unchaste actions.
His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.In vain doth he think to disentangle himself from his lusts by repenting when he grows in years, and to escape punishments; for he is in perfect bondage to his lusts, and is neither able nor willing to set himself at liberty; and if he do escape the rage of a jealous husband, and the sentence of the magistrate, yet he shall be infallibly overtaken by the righteous judgment of God.
He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.Without instruction; because he neglected instruction. Or, without correction or amendment. He shall die in his sins, and not repent of them, as he designed and hoped to do before his death.
In the greatness of his folly; through his stupendous folly, whereby he cheated himself with hopes of repentance or impunity, and exposed himself to endless torments for the momentary pleasures of sinful lusts.
Go astray from God, and from the way of life, and from eternal salvation.