Most commentaries associate this section of Proverbs 5 with the most common and widely held definition of adultery, which is specifically sexual sin, but the Latin root word adulterare (a-dul-ter-air) simply means to adulterate or to corrupt something. In ancient times, it was applied to sex outside the marriage bed between any man (married or not) and a married or betrothed woman, thus “corrupting” the issue (baby) from said woman. In other words, since they didn’t have paternity testing, and since fatherhood had legal and moral ramifications, they had a less cavalier attitude about the “Baby-daddy!”
Here again, Solomon uses the image of a woman to illustrate his point, and it’s interesting to me that he can so masterfully enliven the personification of the seductress. He describes her as having lips that drip with honey and a voice as smooth as oil, evoking the portrait of a beautiful woman who entices with sweet words and smooth promises of ecstasies untold. It’s a powerful, provocative image, one that is meant to convey how dangerous seduction can be, because while she appears to be smooth and polished as sweet as honey, she is, in reality, bitter and distasteful, as dangerous as a double-edged sword, and highly unstable, enticing us down a wayward path that leads to death and destruction.
While I understand the strong legal and moral associations linking adultery to sex, adultery is so much more than just sex. In fact, idolatry, covetousness, and apostasy are spoken of as spiritual adultery in many places in the Old Testament (Jer. 3:6, 8-9; Ezek. 16:31-32; Hos. 1:2; Isa. 1:21), and we can be seduced into all sorts of corruption. We can be enticed into compromising relationships, into nefarious activities, into revering anything and everything but God. Corruption abounds in this world in many forms, and it’s through listening to the voice of God through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, and steadfastly striving to live the life He would have us live that we may avoid following in the wayward footsteps of the seductress; a road that leads to bitterness, regret, loss of respect and ruin.