These are the last two verses of an extended poetic wise saying (:6-23). It reminds us how easily we can be drawn into making bad decisions.
The story’ about a young man who allowed himself to be persuaded by an immoral woman and the end result of his choices. Solomon illustrates these consequences with three examples from the world they knew – catching and killing animals for food.
The end of his choices came on him like “an ox going to slaughter.” Presumably this ox had seen better days and was now more valuable dead than alive. Unanticipated, the ox probably went quietly to its end – at least quietly until it was too late to do anything more about it.
Or the young man’s consequences might come on his as surprising as “a deer stepping into a noose” trap on the ground. Designed to catch him, he was afterwards killed as “an arrow pierces his liver.”
His experience might also be described “like a bird darting into a snare.” Another totally unexpected trap and “it will cost him his life.”
Each animal was unaware of what was happening until it was too late and it led to their deaths. In recovery, we call traps like these “relapse triggers.” They are the things that so easily ensnare us and lead us back into addiction.
The writer of Hebrews calls it “the sin that so easily entangles us” (Hebrews 12:1). We all have them – many we already aware of, but some we aren’t.
Either way, we are supposed to be smarter than these animals. We should understand what’s at stake. And we can make better choices!