What does Proverbs 5:22 mean?
ESV: The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
NIV: The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast.
NASB: His own wrongdoings will trap the wicked, And he will be held by the ropes of his sin.
CSB: A wicked man's iniquities will trap him; he will become tangled in the ropes of his own sin.
NLT: An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him.
KJV: His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.
NKJV: His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, And he is caught in the cords of his sin.
Verse Commentary:
Sin springs a trap on those who disobey God. The idea that ungodly actions bring surprising consequences is a common theme in the book of Proverbs. Part of the purpose behind this metaphor is the idea of suddenness and surprise; another is that of being trapped or entangled.

Sin enslaves (John 8:34), like a jailer who convinces a prisoner to forge the very chains that bind him. The habitual wrongdoer may think he can extricate himself from his sin, but he is wrong. Once consequences come, they're permanent and bring regret (Proverbs 5:11–14).

Samson constantly toyed with sin, in his relationship with Delilah, and thought he would always be able to shake off the consequences (Judges 16:6–14). But when judgment came, it was brutal and inescapable (Judges 16:15–21). When the Philistines pounced on Samson to capture him, Samson mistakenly thought he could get up from Delilah's lap and shake them off, but he was wrong. He had violated his Nazarite vows, and fell helplessly into the hands of his enemies, who imprisoned him and gouged out his eyes.

In much the same way, sin tricks people into thinking they can go on forever without consequences. Those trapped in that attitude are slaves of sin (Romans 6:20–21). Jesus said, "Everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin" (John 8:34). However, whoever believes on Jesus as Savior finds freedom to serve God. Jesus also said, "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 5:15–23 follows sections warning about the temptations and consequences of adultery. In this closing section of Proverbs 5, Solomon advises each of his sons to stay faithful to his wife in a monogamous relationship and to enjoy the blessings of marriage. He points out that the Lord knows all about each person's conduct.
Chapter Summary:
Solomon approaches the subject of adultery by describing a prototype seducer: a smooth talker who leads the victim down a dangerous road. Sin promises pleasure, but it is ultimately brief and destructive consequences are long lasting. The destructive consequences include a loss of strength, respect, money, and longevity. The person who disregards godly counsel about adultery experiences ruin and disgrace. Faithfulness in marriage brings a person exuberance and joy. No sin, including adultery, is hidden from God. Sin ensnares the adulterer and shows that he is foolish, undisciplined, and far from the Lord.
Chapter Context:
This chapter continues the wise sayings Solomon addresses to his children and / or students. Solomon warns about the temptation to succumb to adultery. He points out the calamities of yielding to sexual sin, and of violating one's marriage. This warning is similar the one given in Proverbs 1:8–10. After cautioning about the risks of adultery, he cites the joys and advantages of monogamous marriage.
Book Summary:
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
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