Solomon takes on a tougher subject today – warning his sons against adultery. Solomon was not afraid to have the uncomfortable conversations with his kids, to protect them from harm and help them to see the future consequences of their actions, should they ignore his teaching.
Chapter 5 is grouped as follows:
- Introduction and benefits of listening and obeying (vv. 1-2)
- How to avoid seduction (vv. 3-6)
- Warning against adultery (vv. 7-10)
- Ruin and regret by not listening and obeying (vv. 11-14)
- Keep intimacy at home (vv. 15-20)
- The Lord sees everything (vv. 21-23)
After his introduction, Solomon warns against adulterous relationships. Solomon contrasts what looks good on the outside (v. 3) vs. the reality of the inside (v. 4). As Shakespeare said, “All that glisters [glitters] is not gold.” The phrase “… in the end… ” (v. 4) can also be translated “… in her end…”, reminding his sons that there is an after, contrary to the adulteress’ words (v. 3).
Solomon points out that the best way to handle this is to avoid the situation and temptation altogether (vv. 7-10).
Solomon goes on to explain the ruin and regret that his sons would experience if they did not heed his advice (vv. 11-14). Not only would they lose their honor, dignity, and wealth (vv. 9-10), but they would also lose their health (v. 11).
Solomon now switches gears and speaks to his sons (and us) about finding intimacy at home, and keeping it there. Solomon uses the analogy of a source of water (cistern or well) to make his point. Solomon’s point in using this metaphor is to distinguish between public property and private property. If a family has a well or cistern on its private property, it will use that as its water source, rather than a public well.
Similarly, Solomon says that intimacy is a private matter, not a public one. Solomon instructs his sons to be happy and satisfied with the intimacy with their wives, and to keep their intimacy between them (no one else is allowed to share in any way). Notice that Solomon does not condemn sex; in fact, he gets rather graphic to make his point that sex was God’s idea, and that it’s good.
Wouldn’t you love to be a “fly on the wall” when Solomon was having this conversation with his son? Depending on his son’s age, the reaction would be anywhere from “oh, gross, Dad…”, or, “Daaaad, you’re embarrassing me!”, to, “is it me, or is it getting really hot in here? I need to take a break and get some fresh air, Dad…”.
If you’re a parent reading this, you’re laughing; if you’re a kid reading this, you’re rolling your eyes right now…
Solomon’s point is that God designed sex to be inside the confines of marriage, not for our constraint, but for our protection and our enjoyment. In fact, Solomon goes beyond a clinical view of love and intimacy, to an emotional view, as he tells his son, “….may you ever be intoxicated with her love.” (v. 19). Solomon is not describing a short-term condition, but a life-long affection that leaves no room or permission for intimacy wants or needs to be fulfilled outside the marriage.
Solomon closes by reminding his son that the Lord sees the actions of everyone, even in private sin (v. 21). He also reminds his son that sin is addictive, particularly sexual sin (v. 22). The result of following down this path of sin and addiction is death (v. 23).
A tough subject for Solomon to speak about; a tough subject to write about… But so refreshing to see God’s perspective on this subject, vs. the sin, hurt, and ruined lives that adultery causes.