Our reading today begins with Proverbs 4. Here we have a father instructing his sons to receive knowledge from him (4:1-2) as he did with his father (vv. 3-4). In verses 5-6, we see that this is about more than knowledge or wisdom – it is applying them. Wisdom is to be desired above all (vv. 7-9). Wisdom preserves your life (v. 10, 13, 22-23), leads to an upright life (v. 11) and to success (v. 12). This wisdom is contrasted with the path of the wicked (v. 14) – again showing that wisdom is not just about what we know, but what we do (vv. 24-25). This wickedness is to be avoided (v. 15). Doing wickedness makes you want to do wickedness (vv. 16-17). Walking the path of wisdom (obeying God) shines your light (v. 18). The path of wickedness (foolishness – sin!) is darkness (v. 19). Wisdom is walking the straight and narrow – and well lit! – path (vv. 26-27).
Chapter 5 warns against adultery. Remember that sin is equated with adultery in 2:16-17. It is likely that sin in general is in view here, not only the sin of physical adultery. One of the biggest problems with sin is that it is enticing (v. 3). It looks good and pleasant. But it is deadly (vv. 4-5). Giving into sin is the path of the wicked from the previous chapter (v. 6). In verse 8, Solomon encourages avoiding not just the sin, but the enticements to sin – things that may lead us to sin (see Rom 13:14). Because the end of the wicked is sure (v. 11). Solomon says such people will regret not seeking wisdom and heeding his words (vv. 12-14).
Verses 15-16 speaks of being satisfied with what you have. Remember, much sin is bred from greed and covetousness (1:19). This is likely also about physical adultery and being satisfied with your spouse, especially considering verses 18-19. Starting in verse 20, I think all sin is in view again. The references to the forbidden woman and the adulteress (again, adultery is included here, but this is not exclusive to adultery) echo 2:16, which speaks of sin in general. Solomon warns that nothing happens in secret (v. 21), and that God will execute justice on the fool who chases wickedness (vv. 22-23).
Chapter 6 offers practical advice for the wise. In 6:1-5, Solomon suggests avoiding going into debt for the sake of another. In verses 6-11, Solomon says that we should rather work to earn a living and be good stewards of what we have. Verses 12-15 warn against deceitful dealings with others. The crooked speech, eye winking, and foot scraping (vv. 12-13) talk about saying one thing but meaning another. This deceit flows from the wicked heart (v. 14), and such a one will be judged (v. 15).
In verse 16, we see a Hebraism with the “six things…seven” (see Job 5:19, Amos 1:3). It is meant to emphasize the importance of what is being discussed. Usually, the things listed after such phrasing are logically connected in the author’s mind. Here, pride, deceit, violence, and strife are the results of the wicked heart and the fool’s willingness to run to the enticements of sin. Verses 20-21 is another plea for the learner to take seriously Solomon’s words of wisdom. This wisdom will keep you on the right path, will keep you secure, and will instruct you (v. 22).
Verses 24-25 again speak of the adulteress. Playing with enticements to sin (like adultery) are like playing with fire and expecting not to be burned (vv. 27-28). Some sins may seem to be rational, like a thief stealing to feed his family (v. 30), but even he will pay for his wrongdoing when caught (v. 31). What about an indefensible sin like adultery (vv. 32-33)? We can expect a just retribution (vv. 34-35).