1 My son, pay attention to my wisdom,
turn your ear to my words of insight,
2 that you may maintain discretion
and your lips may preserve knowledge.
3 For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil;
4 but in the end she is bitter as gall,
sharp as a double-edged sword.
We are reminded again to pay attention and listen. These reminders may seem repetitive, but they give us insight into ourselves. The wise father knows how easily his son can be distracted – that he must be diligent in fighting this tendency. And here, for many sons, we have the greatest distraction of all. The provocative woman.
There is much wisdom in the father’s advice. His goal is not merely obedience, it is foresight and understanding. “Because I said so” cannot be found here, or anywhere else in Proverbs. What do we find instead? Visions of benefits to be had, and warnings of pain to be avoided. “Heed my advice,” says the father, “and you will become the kind of man who is not easily fooled.” The opposite is implied. If you allow yourself to be taken in by temptation, you betray your own future.
This is also a warning to daughters, who may be tempted to manipulate with their beauty. Such women put themselves on the path to bitterness, and will get there sooner or later. One needn’t look far to find an example of this. Such women may be beautiful and wealthy, but they are tragically unhappy.
The virtue taught here is prudence, which is a very valuable thing to have. The prudent person does not let present benefits outweigh future costs. How does he achieve this? By weighing his future into present decisions. The prudent person knows the value of sacrificing now to benefit later. It is foolish to sacrifice your future to your present temptations.