Proverbs – News From The Source
“Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets. Let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee. Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Proverbs 5:15-18
The Amplified translation gives a very practical interpretation of the metaphors in this passage.
“Drink waters out of your own cistern [of a pure marriage relationship], and fresh running waters out of your own well. Should your offspring be dispersed abroad as water brooks in the streets? [Confine yourself to your own wife] let your children be for you alone, and not the children of strangers with you. Let your fountain [of human life] be blessed [with the rewards of fidelity], and rejoice in the wife of your youth.” Proverbs 5:15-18 AMP
In the days of Solomon’s writings people did not have the type of water systems we enjoy today, with treatment plants to purify our water from its source and bring it directly into our homes to be accessed from a faucet with additional filtering systems that we can turn on and off at our pleasure and convenience. Some older folks will remember the days when water in the house came from drawing it from a well or cistern, (an artificial reservoir (such as an underground tank) for storing liquids and especially water (such as rainwater)
But all water in Solomon’s day would have come from a well or a cistern. Those whom he addresses here are those who possessed their own properties whose sources of water were wells and cisterns. They were created for the exclusive use of the owner and his family, not for public consumption.
Now the metaphors here can be applied to any number of interpretations, but the last phrase in the passage “…and rejoice in the wife of your youth…” gives us a clue as to the one most likely intended to be the message.
This is a passage about maintaining fidelity and exclusivity in marriage.
The cistern and the well refer to the intimate pleasures to be enjoyed by the husband and wife in the “forsaking all others” relationship they have with one another. It is particularly addressed to the husband because he as head of his household and culturally at the time could have had as many wives or concubines as he could afford. But even Solomon who had over 1000 wives learned through wisdom that one exclusive, loved-based, God ordained relationship as the husband of one wife was the most worthy, rewarding, fulfilling, and beneficial state of a man and likewise of a woman, as we shall see later in Proverbs 31.
The fountainsbeing dispersed abroad refer to the offspring of a man who has scattered his seed among several women and none of them is his wife, but their offspring are his children living without the benefit of a stable and steady home environment in which to be nurtured and brought up in the knowledge of God. Such has been the sad and tragic state of our world today. Too many children are born to absentee fathers and many are abandoned at a very early age by their fathers and left to be raised alone by their mothers.
Further, the man was not to make his wife an object to be used and abused for other men’s pleasure. And such was oftentimes the common practice among men of ancient times. Today, I believe everyone who bears the mark of Christ would find it abhorrent to even consider such a thing. Yet human trafficking is going on in staggering numbers in our world today.
So then, every young man and every older many who is married to one wife is admonished to preserve the purity and exclusivity of that relationship for all their life together and not to run the risk of losing the blessings of fidelity given to the those who maintain their holiness before God and men.
To every believer this passage speaks to the purity of our relationship with God the Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord. The intimacy of our relationship is not to be stained by the sin of going after other gods, mingling our faith with one part worldly lusts, one part failed human traditions, and one part doubt and unbelief. No, we are to be purely and exclusively joined to Christ and His Word, as our only all-consuming passion and life pursuit.
“I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live. And may love the Lord your God, obey His voice, and cling to Him. ForHe is your life and the length of your days, that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20