Smoother Than Oil, Bitter As Wormwood

Photo by  Alfonso Ninguno  on  Unsplash

The lips of an adulterous woman drip with honey.

Her kiss is smoother than oil, but in the end she is as bitter as wormwood, as sharp as a two-edged sword.

Her feet descend to death.

Her steps lead straight to hell. She doesn’t even think about the path of life. Her steps wander, and she doesn’t realize it. (Proverbs 5:3-6 GW)

(Context—Proverbs 5:1-14 GW)

Some advice in Proverbs is pointed. Figurative language is used but the point made is hard to ignore, especially considering the author. King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. He knew a thing or two about women (1 Kings 11:3).

Though he was a great king and wise man, his heart was turned away from God to the idolatry of all his wives. He allowed their influence and their desire to rule in his life. So he turned away from the God whom he knew to be true and from the wise truth he spoke and wrote.

It's easy to reduce this counsel to an admonition about good morals. But there's more to it than staying away from an adulterous woman—although this is good advice.

Why does anyone commit adultery? It may stem from discontent but what's at the core of the discontent? Often, we become discontent when we want more of something or a different something—some perceived need that isn't being met as we desire.

King Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes out of the realization that as much as he had in wealth, power, wisdom, and women—it still wasn't enough. And so, life was pointless (Eccl 2:11).

This is the conclusion drawn from the verses that follow our text above—

“Oh, how I hated discipline! How my heart despised correction! I didn’t listen to what my teachers said to me, nor did I keep my ear open to my instructors. I almost reached total ruin in the assembly and in the congregation.” (Prov 5:12-14 GW)

The counsel of the first 6 verses of Chapter 5 centers around the danger of pursuing a desire or perceived need that can never be fulfilled except by God's goodness and to avoid people who are driven by such desires and needs.

This was Solomon's eventual realization (Eccl 12:9-14) but after years of emptiness. We don't have to travel the same path to the same conclusion—we can learn from his counsel and his mistakes.


When your heart is driven to pursue some desire or need out of dissatisfaction or discontent it will end in pointlessness. Heeding wise counsel can keep you from pointless pursuits and bring blessing along the way.

Prayer Focus—

Ask God to help you see where you might be heading when you go against the wise counsel of God's truth and how you can change direction.


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