What does Proverbs 7:23 mean?
ESV: till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life.
NIV: till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life.
NASB: Until an arrow pierces through his liver; As a bird hurries to the snare, So he does not know that it will cost him his life.
CSB: until an arrow pierces its liver, like a bird darting into a snare — he doesn’t know it will cost him his life.
NLT: awaiting the arrow that would pierce its heart. He was like a bird flying into a snare, little knowing it would cost him his life.
KJV: Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.
NKJV: Till an arrow struck his liver. As a bird hastens to the snare, He did not know it would cost his life.
Verse Commentary:
Even those who believe in God are not immune from the earthly consequences of their sinful choices. Falling to temptation is like an animal who fails to recognize a trap until it is too late. Once caught, both the stag and the bird will die. An arrow will pierce the stag's liver and bring about a quick death.

In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul writes that some of that congregation had died because of their sin. He writes: "Anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died" (1 Corinthians 11:29–30). The apostle John warns that a believer who purposely lives in sin may meet an untimely death (1 John 5:16).

When faced with temptation, a believer can choose to obey the promptings of his sinful nature or the promptings of the Holy Spirit. He should follow the counsel the apostle Paul gives in Romans 6:12–13: "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness."
Verse Context:
Proverbs 7:10–23 describes an adulteress as aggressive and seductive. Though speaking to his son, Solomon's lessons here are meant for all people. This passage is part of Solomon's teaching about the dangers of sin and temptation. The prior passage spoke of a reckless youth (Proverbs 7:6–9), who now suffers the consequences of his own choices. The woman in this story takes advantage of the young man's lust and carelessness. Solomon compares the trap she springs to those used to capture ox, a deer, and a bird.
Chapter Summary:
Repeating a theme common to the early chapters of Proverbs, Solomon once again presents a dire warning about the dangers of adultery. This comes in the form of a story about a foolish young man being seduced by a predatory woman. Solomon says this is something he has seen—meaning this is likely a summary of many such examples he has witnessed in his life. The result of these reckless sins is misery and death, for both men and women alike.
Chapter Context:
In Proverbs 5 and 6 Solomon warns his son against adultery. He describes the evil woman, the adulteress, as deceptive and dangerous. While this is valid in a literal sense, it also serves as a general warning about the seductive nature of sin. In this chapter he continues his counsel about adultery, stressing the tactics used in temptation and how falling to them leads to death. The following chapter will return to the personification of wisdom as a woman, begging to be honored.
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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