The first half of Proverbs chapter 5 contains warnings against adultery — what will happen if you succumb to temptation. The second half of the chapter, verses 5:15-23 are an exhortation to delight in the joy and sexuality of your marriage. The imagery is beautiful and erotic, which shouldn’t be surprising since it was written by King Solomon.
Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.
Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets?
Let them be for yourself alone,
and not for strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated always in her love.
Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman
and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?
The encouragement here is directed at husbands, and the first metaphor is the wife as a fountain overflowing with fresh water. Why would a man drink from another person’s well, when his own is overflowing? Likewise, why would he share refreshment that is meant for him with another? Water sustains, refreshes, and purifies. A husband’s desire for his wife is like a man trudging through a desert who comes home to an oasis.
Then the husband is reminded of the love he had for his wife in their youth, when the first blush of romance was fresh on their hearts. Both husband and wife have matured over the years and experienced all the ups and downs of life, successes and disappointments, children, illnesses, separation, reunion, hopes and fears. They’ve fought and made up, surprised each other, lifted each other up, and let each other down.
The relationship is far more complex now than it was when you first met, but remember the joy you felt when you first kissed! Remember the excitement of your first all-night conversation, when you shared your hopes and dreams with each other. Remember when you proposed, got married, and first made love. Don’t let the passage of time steal your joy.
Instead of fantasizing about some forbidden fruit, be intoxicated by your spouse’s body! And on the flip-side, intoxicate your spouse with your body. The responsibility goes both ways! Husbands, if you don’t put in the work to learn your wife and give her orgasms, how can she be intoxicated? Wives, if your husband rarely gets to see or touch your breasts, how can he be filled with delight?
You are each other’s fountains! Be a flood, not a trickle.
(Side note: what young Christian man hasn’t been filled with longing by verse 19? “Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight.” Yes, please.)
And the final three verses of the chapter are again words of warning. Which would you prefer? Joy and delight, or aimless wandering and ultimately death?
For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord,
and he ponders all his paths.
The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him,
and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
He dies for lack of discipline,
and because of his great folly he is led astray.
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