Proverbs 5:4

ESV but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.
NIV but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword.
NASB But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, Sharp as a two-edged sword.
CSB in the end she's as bitter as wormwood and as sharp as a double-edged sword.
NLT But in the end she is as bitter as poison, as dangerous as a double-edged sword.
KJV But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword.

What does Proverbs 5:4 mean?

Part of the warning about adultery in the passage is that the end results are never as positive as what is promised. Although the seductress—or any seducer, male or female—speaks honey-dripping, smooth words when she tempts, in the end what she offers is going to be both disappointing and painful. Whoever falls for the temptation to commit adultery will ultimately feel poisoned and experience the sharp pain of guilt.

Wormwood is a plant found in wastelands desert areas. Although it was used for some medicines, it was known for its extremely bitter taste. That property is meant as a direct counter to the seductress' honey-like promises. Using the metaphor of a bitter taste, wormwood often symbolizes calamity or judgment. Revelation 8:10–11 foretells a star named Wormwood that falls like a blazing torch onto a third of earth's rivers and springs of water, turning the water supply so poisonous that many people die.

Hebrews 4:12 describes God's Word as sharper than a two-edged sword. That same verse explains how the truth of Scripture separates all things into their proper understanding. This verse relies on a similar imagery: the deep, severing nature of adultery's consequences. The guilt which strikes the conscience of an adulterer is extremely painful. Other consequences, to one's health, family, and reputation, are also brutal. Certainly, the act of adultery is not worth the agony it causes.
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