Throughout Chapter Five of The Book of Proverbs, Solomon continues to establish the realities of the two paths available to us in life—the path of wisdom or the path of wickedness. There is no third alternative. In a variety of techniques and allegories, Solomon explains the reasons we get into each path, the realities of committing to each and the consequences they bear.

First is the practical ramification for each path. If we choose the path of wisdom, we keep to the purpose of the created order. We align with reality. We grow in our ability to learn the truth and discern how to act in a world full of complicated and diverse circumstances. Wickedness tempts us by promising an easier way, one in which we can be in control and not have to deal with the mystery and the challenge of life. These are sweet-sounding promises, but are lies. Wickedness promises everything but produces nothing. It ends in destruction and death.

Solomon then moves to the quality of life we can expect, depending on which path we choose. Utilizing the juxtaposition of the wife of one’s youth and the tempting stranger, he shows that wisdom is the way to enjoy life for all it is worth. On the other hand, wickedness is a sort of forfeiture of life. We hand over our existence to the evil one, shackling ourselves to flesh and sin. By trusting the stranger we become a stranger to ourselves.

Solomon uses another allegory to talk about the way our decisions affect our actions. Water is an essential element to human existence. Likewise, wisdom is essential to the thriving vibrancy of the human soul. Without it, we choke and suffer, forgetting what it is like to truly be alive.

We reap what we sow. The wicked become apathetic toward good. They will regret and make excuses, but it will be too late. They will have entered the house of evil. To avoid this, Solomon warns us not to go near these deceptions. To keep a healthy distance and commit our focus otherwise—to the wisdom, instruction, and understanding that line the path of eternal life.

And God, the Lord of all, is watching over the decisions of mankind.

Proverbs 5:1-6

By giving our attention to wisdom, we participate in truth and life. The alternative is a sweet-sounding temptation but leads quickly to bitterness and death.

Proverbs 5:7-14

When we entertain the temptation of evil, we find it is a slippery slope that can steal us away before we know what has happened. We quickly forfeit vibrant living and drift into the path of death.

Proverbs 5:15-20

Focusing on two metaphors, water and marriage, Solomon encourages the reader to tap into the true source of meaning and joy in one’s life.

Proverbs 5:21-23

The Lord watches over the choices of mankind. When we choose wickedness, it becomes our own personal prison.