Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. 16 Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? 17 Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. 18 May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. 19 A loving doe, a graceful deer– may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love. 20 Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man’s wife? Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman? 21 For your ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all your paths. 22 The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast. 23 For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly. (Prov. 5:15-23 NIV)
The Teacher has warned about the temptation of adultery, but he now turns his attention to faithful sexual relationships within marriage. The metaphors of ‘your own cistern’ and ‘your own well’ introduce the privacy of the marital relationship. The wisdom of this passage teaches that the sexual relationship is between a man and his wife. Sexual activity outside of marriage between one man and one woman is folly and wickedness. Making provision in law for folly and wickedness does not commend a nation and is not a wise way to live. This biblical wisdom is rejected by much of the population today. That doesn’t make the wisdom obsolete, it is still the wise way for any person to live.
Sex is a gift from God to be enjoyed privately between a husband and wife. A wife or husband is not to be shared with strangers. When a couple leave their family home, they join together to form a new family unit. That pattern has been under attack for decades. A husband or wife is a gift from God, and they are to enjoy each other’s bodies, as well as the mind and each other’s company.
The Teacher desires that the sexual relationship is blessed by having children. The Teacher describes the relationship between husband and wife as one that satisfies physically, and the context of the physical relationship is the intoxication of love.
The Teacher asks why he would want to be intoxicated by another man’s wife. The Teacher is clear on what this cheating sinful behaviour will do to a person. These are evil deeds, and they will ensnare the person. He will be trapped by his own deeds. The cords of sin embrace them and hold them. We should recall how King David was entrapped by his sin of adultery. That led on to deceit and then murder. Thankfully, there is a way back to God and David describes the difficult way of the transgressor in Psalm 51.
For those who remain unrepentant their chosen path leads to death. This kind of folly leads them astray.
God’s watchful eye is upon His people. God sees and examines all our ways. We should follow the example of Joseph when he was faced with increasing temptation said:
No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:9 NIV)
Lord God we thank You for the gift of the companionship of a married partner. We pray for all who are seeking to find a husband or wife, that You will guide them. Lord help our young people to guard their lives and be faithful to Your word. We pray for those who have lost their partners through death or other ways, Lord may Your presence be their comfort because we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.