Drink waters out of your own cistern, And running waters out of your own well. Should your springs be dispersed abroad, And 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. As a loving hind and a pleasant doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; And be ravished always with her love. Proverbs 5:15-19
In many ladies’ Bible class books on marriage, especially those written by women, any reference to the sexual relationship is either absent or barely skimmed over. Obviously, no one is comfortable with this topic, and maybe that is why more and more marriages are falling apart due to adultery. God had a plan for marriage, and when we neglect any part of that plan, it will not be the perfect plan He created.
The passage above from Proverbs is not only beautiful, but plainly written and instructive if we do more than read through it quickly with our eyes cast down in embarrassment.
“Drink waters from your own cistern, and running water out of your own well.” Yes, there is a possessiveness that is right in a marriage, just as God, who depicted his relationship with his people as a marriage, said, “I am a jealous God.” I have every right to expect my husband to be mine and mine alone, and he has every right to expect the same from me. In fact, we each have the right to expect that we were the only ones ever. “For this is the will of God…that you should abstain from fornication…that no man defraud his brother…” 1 Thes 4:3-6. When I give myself to another man before marriage, I have defrauded my future husband of what is rightfully his and his alone, and the same holds true for men. God is an equal opportunity God.
“Should your springs be dispersed abroad, and streams of water in the streets? Let them be for yourself alone and not for strangers with you.” The physical relationship between a husband and wife is not only intimate, it is private, not for general consumption, and sacred in that privacy. “Let marriage be held in honor and the marriage bed undefiled,” the Hebrew writer adds in 13:4. This part of the relationship is too precious to be thrown into the street for just anyone to see or hear about.
“Let your fountain be blessed…” The fountain here is a parallelism for the cistern, a deep well hewn out of rock. In the scriptures “cistern” is symbolic of many things, including a necessity of life in a home (Deut 6:11), a peaceful and comfortable home (2 Kgs 18:31), and a source of life (Isa 51:1). Those are more than appropriate descriptions in this case where the cistern and fountain symbolize the woman’s body. If the fountain is “blessed,” a Hebrew word that is often translated “happy,” it becomes obvious that the woman is neither abused nor does she dislike the sexual aspect of marriage. That is emphasized further when the writer continues, “Rejoice in the wife of your youth.” This relationship is a joyful one. When Abimelech looked out his window and saw the “brother and sister” team of Isaac and Rebekah “sporting” (Gen 26:7-9), two things became apparent to him. First, they were married. Despite the culture we live in, there are things that a husband and wife do that unmarried couples do not do. Second, they were both enjoying what was going on. Ladies, not only does God expect you to enjoy this part of your marriage, it can ruin it for the man you say you love if you do not.
“…In the wife of your youth,” the writer says. I found a commentator who said that could correctly be translated, “whom you married in your youth.” In other words, they are no longer young, but they are still together. God designed marriage for one man and one woman for one lifetime. He designed this aspect of marriage the same way. This couple in Proverbs is no longer young but they are still enjoying the sexual relationship God designed. Frequency and intensity may change, but the need for intimacy in a marriage never goes away. If you find yourself married to a man you no longer know, maybe it’s because you amputated part of the relationship a long time ago.
“Let her breasts satisfy you at all times.” This husband, despite his wife’s advancing age, is content with what he has. We have already spoken about keeping yourself desirable to him as much as possible. But even as your outer beauty fades, you can keep him happy and content by giving him what he needs and wants, when he needs it and wants it.
But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Corinthians 7:2-5.
This passage does not say, “You are mine, I can do with you what I want.” What it does say is, “I am yours, I will do what you want.” The obligation is on the giver not the taker. Too many women do not understand the real need that God has placed in a man’s body. Testosterone makes him more aggressive, which enhances his desire to protect you. It also makes him more easily aroused sexually. When you fill that need, it helps to cement the relationship he has with you and his desire to protect and provide for his family. If you do not allow him to fulfill that need in this godly manner, not only can you damage the relationship, you may be responsible for causing him to stumble (sin), and God will hold you accountable. The Hebrew word for cistern (bor) is sometimes used of a dungeon or prison—a deep one. When a man is locked into a sexless marriage, he is in a very real prison, one where he is tempted almost beyond endurance every day of his life, but unable to get out of it and stay faithful to the God he also made that marriage covenant before. Yes, God allows for a time of abstinence to “devote yourself to prayer.” Most of the enforced abstinence I know of happens because she got mad and wanted to punish him, not so she could pray. Ladies, you are playing with fire when you do this, and you may just get burned—eternally.
“Be ravished always with her love.” Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the word translated “ravished” means to be deceived or to go astray. What? I thought confusedly. Then I got it. He is so enraptured, enamored, entranced, and captivated by her that he simply loses his good sense. Like a man who is intoxicated, he wants no one but her, and she is on his mind day and night. If you have a man who treats you like that, it can be the most erotic thing in the world. Most of us are not beautiful in the world’s eyes, nor glamorous, but a man who treats you like you are is all any woman really needs. Now you give him what he needs. Don’t make him beg. Don’t make him miserable.
Treat him like the love of your life, the man who provides and protects to the best of his ability and wants nothing more than to be with you and you alone forever.
As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. Sustain me with raisins; refresh me with apples, for I am sick with love. His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me!.. The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes, leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold, there he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, looking through the lattice. My beloved speaks and says to me: …Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away. O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crannies of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely…My beloved is mine, and I am his.. Song of Solomon 2:3-6, 8-9, 13-14,16.