1 My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding:
2 That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge.
3 For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil:
“lips…drop as a honeycomb” – probably a reference to the pleasant-sounding talk (cf 16:24) of the adulteress, though some explain it as kisses (cf Sol 4:11;5:13; 7:9).
“smoother than oil” – see 2:16. Her words are soothing (see Ps 55:21) but full of flattery (Prov 29:5) and hypocrisy (Ps 5:9).
4 But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.
“wormwood” – a bitter herb (see Deut 29:18; Lam 3:15, 1 9; Amos 6:12).
“two-edged sword” – a lethal weapon (see Jdg 3:16; see also Ps 55:21; 149:6; Heb 4:12; Rev 1:16).
5 Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.
“down to death” – her immorality hastens her end.
6 Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them.
“moveable” – that is shaky and unstable, see 2:15; 10:9.
“thou canst not know them” – the young man refuses to acknowledge her instability.
7 Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth.
vv 7-14 – the father (teacher) warns the son (student) about the price of immorality.
8 Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house:
9 Lest thou give thine honor unto others, and thy years unto the cruel:
“the cruel” – possibly the vengeful husband (see 6:34-35).
10 Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labors be in the house of a stranger;
“strangers be filled with thy wealth” – contrast the riches and honor that come to the man who embraces wisdom (3:16-18). Immorality eventually reduces one “to a piece of bread” (6:26).
11 And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed,
“flesh and…body are consumed” – possibly because of the debilitating effects of immorality (see 1 Cor 6:18; cf Prov 3:8; 4:22), but more likely referring to the loss of vigor that accompanies old age.
12 And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised repro of;
“hated instruction…despised reproof” – in old age he will look back and sadly acknowledge that he has played the fool (see 1:7, 22, 29-30).
13 And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me!
“have not obeyed” – in spite of the repeated urging to “hear” or “attend unto” their instruction (1:8; 3:1; 4:1; 5:1).
14 I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly.
“all evil” – total calamity, physical, financial, and social.
“In the midst of the congregation” – the offende r was subject to “a wound and dishonor” (6:33) or even death (see Deut 22:22).
15 Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.
“thine own cistern…thine own well” – your own wife (see Sol 4:12, 15),. Let your own wife be your source of pleasure, as water refreshes a thirsty man. Wells and cisterns were privately owned and of great value (2 Kgs 18:31; Jer 38:6).
16 Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets.
“fountains…rivers of water” – like “cistern” and “well” in v 15 and “fountain” in v 18, these also refer to the wife.
The wife may become promiscuous if the husband is unfaithful.
17 Let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee.
18 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.
“wife of thy youth” – chosen by you when you were young.
19 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.
“hind…roe” – descriptive of the wife, perhaps because of the delicate beauty of the roe’s limbs (see Sol 2:9).
“Satisfy thee” – or be “intoxicated with,” “be captivated by.” Marital love is portrayed as better than wine in Sol 4:10 (cf Sol 7:9).
20 And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?
“Why…?” – in light of the sheer joy found within the bonds of marriage and the calamity (v 14) outside it, why commit adultery?
21 For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings.
22 His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.
“shall take the wicked” – see 1:18; Deut 7:25;12:30. In Ecc 7:26 the sinner is captured by a woman “whose heart is snares and nets.”
23 He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.
The death of the fool is described in similar terms in 1:29-32; 7:21-25; cf Job 36:12.