24 Now then, my sons, listen to me;
pay attention to what I say.
25 Do not let your heart turn to her ways
or stray into her paths.
After recounting the fate of the senseless youth, there is a renewed urgency in the father’s advice. How can we avoid the snares of temptation, into which he so easily strayed? Certainly not by relying on instinct, or any other internal guidance. We must listen to the father, and pay attention to his words, or we will have no choice but to learn things the hard way.
“Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths.” If your heart is drawn towards temptation, “do not let [it] turn to her ways.” This is a challenge but it is also an insight – we may not choose our inner desires, but we have authority over them. “Guard your heart,” and do not follow it, because it is the first thing temptation appeals to. Let neither your heart wander nor your feet, and temptation will be reduced from a major influence to a minor irritation.