“go to her.” Besides having the literal meaning of going to the woman in the sense of entering a physical place, this phrase and similar phrases are also used idiomatically for a man going to a woman and having sexual intercourse (cp. Gen. 6:4; 16:2; Prov. 6:29). It is important to note that the phrase “go to her” implies a “harmless” start; the naïve person begins a downhill path by simply “going” to the wicked person, Folly. The way the phrase “go to her” is used, becoming intimately involved in illicit and destructive relationships starts with “going to” the person or place. The wise person senses danger and stays away from destructive relationships. It is important to keep in mind at this point that the “woman” in the proverb is Folly, and she is not a literal woman but represents foolish and destructive people and relationships, and destructive relationships come in all shapes and sizes, in all sexes and genders.
The Hebrew text uses the participle form, perhaps more literally, “is going to her,” indicating that this is not a one-time event. The man has made a habit of visiting prostitutes. The proverb, in typical hyperbolic fashion, states that people who get caught up in sexual sin “do not return” and do “not reach the paths of life,” meaning that people who make a habit of sexual sin generally do not escape it and do not turn to God for salvation. There are a couple of points we must understand about that. The first is that Proverbs states the general and most common thing, not an absolute truth. There are people, like David, who escaped sexual sin, but even wise people like Solomon got completely caught up in it and never escaped. Also, after the Day of Pentecost when the New Birth became available, salvation was permanent by birth so a person could not lose salvation by becoming caught up in sexual sin. Nevertheless, a person can lose all his rewards and enter the Kingdom with nothing, so sin in general, and sexual sin, are very serious.
[For more on salvation and the guarantee of everlasting life, see Appendix 10: “God’s Promise of Salvation.” For the difference between salvation and rewards, and rewards in the Kingdom, see commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:10, “good or evil.”]
“life.” The Hebrew word is plural, which is most likely a plural of emphasis for the abundance of life; the wonderful life. There are many paths of life, but only one everlasting “life,” but it will be wonderful indeed!