1 My son, to my wisdom be attentive, to my knowledge incline your ear,
That discretion may watch over you, and understanding may guard you.
The lips of an adulteress drip with honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil;
But in the end she is as bitter as wormwood, as sharp as a two-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death, to the nether world her steps attain;
Lest you see before you the road to life, her paths will ramble, you know not where.
So now, O children, listen to me, go not astray from the words of my mouth.
Keep your way far from her, approach not the door of her house,
2 Lest you give your honor to others, and your years to a merciless one;
Lest strangers have their fill of your wealth, your hard-won earnings go to an alien’s house;
And you groan in the end, when your flesh and your body are consumed;
And you say, “Oh, why did I hate instruction, and my heart spurn reproof!
Why did I not listen to the voice of my teachers, nor to my instructors incline my ear!
I have all but come to utter ruin, condemned by the public assembly!”
Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well.
How may your water sources be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets?
Let your fountain be yours alone, not one shared with strangers;
And have joy of the wife of your youth,
3 your lovely hind, your graceful doe. Her love will invigorate you always, through her love you will flourish continually,
When you lie down she will watch over you, and when you wake, she will share your concerns; wherever you turn, she will guide you.
Why then, my son, should you go astray for another’s wife and accept the embraces of an adulteress?
4 For each man’s ways are plain to the LORD’S sight; all their paths he surveys;
By his own iniquities the wicked man will be caught, in the meshes of his own sin he will be held fast;
He will die from lack of discipline, through the greatness of his folly he will be lost.
1 [1-20] Understanding and discretion guard a man against the wiles of an adulteress, which lead astray and beget bitterness, bloodshed and death (⇒ Proverb 5:1-6). They destroy honor, waste the years of life, despoil hard-earned wealth, consume the flesh, and bring remorse in the end (⇒ Proverb 5:7-14). Conjugal fidelity and love for one wife only bring happiness and security (⇒ Proverb 5:15-20). Cf ⇒ Proverb 6:20-⇒ 7:27.
2  Honor: the words “life” and “wealth” have also been read in this place. A merciless one: the offended husband; cf ⇒ Proverb 6:34-35.
3  Lovely hind . . . graceful doe: oriental symbols of feminine beauty and charm; cf ⇒ Song 2:7, 9, ⇒ 17.
4 [21-23] These verses are best read after Proverb 5:27.