Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. (Proverbs 5:15)
At first reading, the meaning of this verse seems clear enough. Using images of a cistern and a well to describe your wife, the point is that you are to draw pleasure (water) only from her.
Frankly, this interpretation is flawed. It does not sound like something a wise man would say:
- Only a fool would compare his wife to a cistern.
- Your wife is not merely there to give you what you want.
- Marriage is about much more than gaining sexual pleasure.
A Better Interpretation
See if you can track with the following better way of understanding Proverbs 5:15-19:
Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well.
The water stands for blessings and benefits such as companionship, children, security and sexual pleasure.
The well and cistern represent the marriage that you have entered into—“that which God has joined together” (Matthew 19:6). It is the source from which both spouses draw water and are blessed.
Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets?
This next verse proves that this is all more complex than we might initially guess, since it introduces different water—water that comes neither from the cistern nor from your wife.
These “streams of water” are coming from you only. They represent your energy—sexual and otherwise. Will you waste this, running it down the streets? It is meant to be combined with the water from the well and with the water from your spouse. Where is your water going?
Let them be your own only and not for strangers with you.
If you are obtaining sexual pleasure outside of your marriage you are diverting precious water, pouring it into the ground. It needs to be funneled into that which is yours alone.
Lust causes you to waste your limited water. It starves your marriage. The cistern goes dry.
Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth.
Blessing comes when we are only drawing from our own marriage and investing all our energy back into it. It becomes a fountain. More than just a well or a cistern, it constantly bubbles up. Originally, fountains did not recirculate water. Fountains were powered by new water directed into them. (Consider the many implications of that if you have time.)
As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times and always be enraptured with her love.
God designed sexual pleasure to grow as it is focused and cradled in trust. It is nourished and reaches its highest expression only in a nurtured lifetime union between a husband and a wife. Even secular experts agree on this. The rush of the honeymoon gives way to a mutually satisfying, continually evolving living fountain.
By overcoming lust you are no longer pulled far from God or your marriage. It allows you to be enraptured by deeply satisfying sexual pleasures and other blessings found only in a fountain that is blessed.