Proverbs 5:15-23

Proverbs 5:15‑23  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Listen from:
In contrast with the fleshly lusts which war against the soul, and even here have no result but shame, Jehovah set up the holy relations of marriage in the sinless Paradise of Eden. What a safeguard for man when an outcast through his own sin! What folly and ungodliness the dream of a Plato, which would dispense with the reality of one's own wife, one's own husband, one's own children in his ideal republic! Certainly there was no wisdom, nor understanding, in such a scheme. It is vagrancy of the most debasing kind. How gracious of Him to warn and guard weak passionate man from his own ruinous will!
“Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. Should thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of water in the broadways? Let them be only thine own, and not for strangers with thee. Let thy fountain be blessed; rejoice in the wife of thy youth. A lovely hind and a, graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; with her love be ravished continually. And why shouldest thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger? For the ways of man are before Jehovah's eyes, and he pondereth all his paths. His own iniquities shall take the wicked, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sin. He shall die for lack of discipline; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray” (vers. 15-23).
Two things become man that fears God. There is the outgoing of heart that loves his neighbor, or, as we Christians add, that loves our enemies in the spirit of the gospel. There is also the centering of the affections within the family. This last the father here would impress on his son. Here therefore the due place of the wife comes before us. It is the human relationship that survives from the beginning when sin was not; it is quite as essential now that the offense abounds. Wandering affections are selfish, carry their own shame, and have a permanent sting. As Jehovah instituted the sacred enclosure of the family round the parents, so He sanctions and enjoins warm affections in the head towards his counterpart. It is the most intimate bond of society at large as of the home circle.
Heathenism, as we know, conceived its deities jealous of human happiness: it is easily understood; for as the apostle tells us, they were but demons, fallen spiritual creatures that sought to drag the human race into their sin and misery, and to keep their victims from the love that delights in reconciling and saving them. There is but one that is good, even God; and He has now fully shown His best good, His grace, in His Only-begotten Son for eternity as well as the life that now is. But even before divine love thus shone out, the unmistakable goodness of Jehovah appears in these home precepts. “Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well;” and all that follows is in keeping. If ver. 16 be rendered rightly in the Vat. Septuagint, it means “Let not waters out of thy fountain be spilled by thee, but let thy waters go into the broadways.” The Alexandrian text goes with the Vulgate and the Authorized English Bible in omitting the negatives, yielding the sense that the children will reflect the parents according to the atmosphere they all breathed. The R.V. prefers the form of query, rather confirming the concentration of the verse preceding, and not adding the dispersion abroad intimated in the ordinary versions. It may not be easy to decide; but the R.V. has the effect of greater homogeneity, and more naturally falls in with ver. 17, “Let them be only thine own, and not for strangers with thee.” Then the passage becomes more narrowed to the partners of life. And very impressive it is that he who erred publicly in adding so many wives and concubines should be the one inspired to commend a single object of wedded love. “Let thy fountain be blessed; and rejoice in the wife of thy youth.” The words supplied by translators to introduce ver. 19 are not only uncalled for, but enfeebling to the sense. To be cheerful abroad and morose at home, is to be thankless and unholy. “Let marriage,” exhorts the apostle, “be honorable in all things.” As the A.V. stands, the words read as a stamp of warrant. It is really a call to hold the tie in honor, and this in every respect; and the warning follows there in accordance with ver. 20 here. Nor are the verses that succeed (21-23) to be disconnected. It is wholesome to remember that Jehovah not only honors His own institution for man, but watches over every transgression against it. Very grave is the admonition on His part in ver. 21; too surely descriptive is the sketch in 22, 23 of the sinful folly that goes astray in this. It has been pointed out that the word “shall go astray” is the same word translated “ravished” in a good sense in ver. 19 and in a bad sense in ver. 20. This last prepares for what ver. 23 requires; especially when we compare with it chap. 26:11, “a fool repeateth his folly.” It is a departure, ever going on from bad to worse.