Proverbs 2

Chapter two moves from general principles about wisdom and instruction to the specific example of the adulterous woman. The chapter opens with a classic if-then statement with a peculiar structure: if-if-if-then-explanation-then-explanation.

If the son received his father’s commands and accepted them (Proverbs 2:1-2)

If he asked for discernment (Proverbs 2:3)

If he sought wisdom like a secret treasure (Proverbs 2:4)

Then he would “understand how to fear the LORD” and learn about God (Proverbs 2:5)

For wisdom is given by God to those who intentionally follows him (Proverbs 2:6-8)

Then he would also “understand righteousness and justice and equity” (Proverbs 2:9)

For he would gain the wisdom he sought, which would protect him from making foolish choices and following sinful people and their wicked ways (Proverbs 2:10-17) 1

One concrete example of a wicked person from whom the son would be delivered if he sought wisdom and learned the things of God was the adulterous woman (Proverbs 2:16-19). She would be a common foil in Solomon’s instructions to his son. He described her as “sexually loose” and having “flattering words” to seduce the young man, but whose destination is death. The one who stays on the right path will be spared from her and others, gaining God’s blessing, while she will receive his judgment (Proverbs 2:20-22).


  1. One wonders if James had this passage in mind when he wrote James 1:5-8.