My son, pay attention to my wisdom,
turn your ear to my words of insight,
that you may maintain discretion
and your lips may preserve knowledge.
For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil;
but in the end she is bitter as gall,
sharp as a double-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death;
her steps lead straight to the grave.
She gives no thought to the way of life;
her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.
Now then, my sons, listen to me;
do not turn aside from what I say.
Keep to a path far from her,
do not go near the door of her house,
lest you lose your honor to others
and your dignity to one who is cruel,
lest strangers feast on your wealth
and your toil enrich the house of another.
At the end of your life you will groan,
when your flesh and body are spent.
You will say, “How I hated discipline!
How my heart spurned correction!
I would not obey my teachers
or turn my ear to my instructors.
And I was soon in serious trouble
in the assembly of God’s people.”
The Holy Bible : Today’s New International Version. 2005 (Pr 5:1–14). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
There are several politicians and other celebrities who probably now wish they had heeded this ancient advice. The unfortunate reality is that we human beings are very poor at recognizing what is truly in our best self-interest. The pleasures of the moment can overwhelm us to the point that we fail to reckon with the consequences. We can’t always understand what will maximize our happiness. Too often, what we think is good for us turns out to not be good for us at all–and vice versa. And so we learn wisdom, not from heeding the advice of those who have suffered before us, but from suffering ourselves.