Parents want the best for their children, especially when it comes choosing a spouse. I know this from personal experience. My mom and dad liked the women I dated over the years, but they never loved any of them, until they met Tiffany. After meeting her for the first time, my mom took one look at me and said, “Don’t mess this one up!” I didn’t, and I’ve been happily married ever since.
In Proverbs 5:1-23, a father offers his newly married son some sage words of advice about fostering a happy marriage. If I had to outline the passage, I’d do it this way:
- Avoid the adulteress’s seductive words! (verses 1-6)
- Avoid the adulteress’s seductive ways! (verses 7-14)
- Embrace your wife! (verses 15-23)
Notice that nearly two-thirds of this chapter concerns what not to do, while only one-third concerns what to do. The don’ts are like a fence around your marriage that keeps out trespassers on your vows. According to verses 1-14, the biggest trespasser is the adulteress, and her first step over the boundary line involves seductive words (verses 1-6).
Since parents are concerned about their child’s marriage, they want their child to pay attention to their advice.
My son, pay attention to my wisdom,
listen well to my words of insight,
that you may maintain discretion
and your lips may preserve knowledge.
Parental advice, while wise, isn’t sexy, but the words of the adulteress are.
For the lips of an adulteress drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil…
In his commentary on this verse, Tremper Longman suggests that the adulteress’s honey lips are meant for more than speech. They are meant for kissing. And that got me to thinking about the progressive nature of infidelity. First, there are seductive words: men and women flirting with people who are not their spouses. Then there are small infidelities: romantic hugs and kisses between people who aren’t married to one another. Then, one thing leading to another, full-blown infidelity. The road to adultery is slippery, “smoother than oil.”
And just like a slippery, downward slope, adultery ends in disaster.
In the end she is bitter as gall,
sharp as a double-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death;
her steps lead straight to the grave.
She gives no thought to the way of life;
her paths are crooked, but she knows it not.
Honey lips become wormwood-bitter. Smooth words cut like a knife. The romantic dreams of forbidden love become an all-too-real nightmare. Breaking one’s marriage vows leads to death.
When a person begins an affair, he (or she) rarely thinks of the consequences. They are too thrilled by the flattering words, stolen kisses, and prohibited intercourse. And that’s the problem: their emotions are guiding them, not their minds. The key to a healthy marriage, and to the avoidance of a disastrous affair, is to think right and act accordingly.
Smart people, people who are governed by wisdom, don’t let themselves be tempted by adultery’s seductive words.