24 And now, O sons, listen to me,
and be attentive to the words of my mouth.
25 Let not your heart turn aside to her ways;
do not stray into her paths,
26 for many a victim has she laid low,
and all her slain are a mighty throng.
27 Her house is the way to Sheol,
going down to the chambers of death.
The last verses of the chapter give a solemn epilogue to the tragedy that has been unfolded, and the father, reminding his son that it is something he has actually seen happening, and no figment of the imagination (6,7), gives him final counsel. He must resist beginnings by setting a watch on his mind ('heart' in AV has the force of 'mind' and includes the thoughts). There is danger as soon as the thoughts go in this direction, and this is where battle must be joined. When we fail here, it is only a matter of time before thought becomes action. 'Sow a thought, reap an act' proves very true in this realm. Furthermore, he must keep away literally, as well as in thought, giving the place of danger a wide berth. Sometimes people simply ask for trouble. There is no point in praying 'Lead us not into temptation' when we deliberately walk into the midst of it. The father's last word is to urge upon his son (26, 27) the inevitable outcome of such a path, showing the statistics of casualties. This should surely be a powerful deterrent. There is nothing in the world so desolating for a Christian minister to have to say to someone, 'I know where this road ends: it ends in shipwreck; it is going to do untold harm; please believe me, for I have seen it happening', recounting instances of it to unheeding ears, and seeing such a one going their way to a predictable end. Some people seem determined to learn only the hard way, but is it not infinitely better to heed the testimony of Scripture? We often make things much more difficult for ourselves than they need be.