18 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.
19 Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.
20 And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?
A Sweet Spring
It’s the sweetest spring in the world, that spring seeping from the foot of Wolf Creek Mountain in the South Gap region of Bland County, Virginia. The water of that spring is so delightful that my ancestors built their two-story log home next to that spring some 200 years ago. At that time or shortly thereafter, they dug down around five feet, and encased the pool in stone. Later still, they built a log “spring house” to enclose and protect the spring itself, and to create a safe haven for the jugs of milk and tubs of butter which they kept chilled in the pool. My father grew up fetching buckets of water from that spring every morning, and when he became a man and built a house of his own nearby, he tapped into that same ever-flowing source of sweet spring water to supply his new home.
Once you’ve tasted the best, no other water in the world is going to satisfy!
A Blessed Fountain
I think that’s what Solomon has in mind in Proverbs 5:18. The precious union between a husband the wife of his youth is a satisfying, life-strengthening fountain to be enjoyed deeply and guarded faithfully. As I type these words, my mind goes back to the many summer mornings I spent doing farm work in the environs of the spring house, and I recall the immense joy of plunging my sun-burned, sweat-streaked face deep into the pool and gulping down that sweet water. Twenty-one years into marriage with the wife of my youth, I can affirm that the fountain of union with my precious wife is just as blessed and precious today, as it was on June 15, 1991, when we exchanged our vows of marriage.
Drinking to Intoxication
Did that heading get your attention? Perhaps a closer examination of the verses above will make you think about the marriage relationship in an exciting and intriguing way. In verse 18, the sexual union of husband and wife is described as a delightful fountain from which the couple is urged to drink deeply. In verse 19, that union is depicted in even more intimate terms, with the metaphorical image of drinking from her breasts. In verse 20, the “drinking” image is re-visited by a rhetorical question which the father asks the son, “Why would you want to be intoxicated in the embrace of a woman who is a stranger?” (The ESV and the “new” NIV both pick up on the translation of the Hebrew “tis-geh” as “intoxication”, which I believe is preferable to the KJV “ravished”, in light of the author’s chosen metaphor of ‘drinking’.)
What’s the overall message?
What’s the overall message? Within the context of marriage, to drink and get drunk on love! Of course, Solomon develops this theme much more deeply in the Song of Solomon, in which the husband describes his union with his wife in similarly poetic language,
I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk…
And the community urges the couple to indulge in the joy of marital union,
Eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved. (Song of Solomon 5:1)
Can Marriage Really Be that Great?
Can marriage really be that great? Absolutely! But first, re-visit the implicit warning. If you’re not happy at home, then you’re most certainly not going to become happy through an affair. An affair is a sure path to personal destruction. (Many entries in this blog teach as much.) If you and your spouse find yourselves struggling to make your marriage work, please know that there is hope and healing in Jesus Christ. Locate a solid Christian marriage counselor. If your spouse won’t go with you, then go alone. You can work on “your stuff” even if he or she refuses to work on “his or her stuff”. Attend a marriage conference together. Family Life Today’s “Weekend to Remember” marriage conferences are phenomenal places to re-connect and start over. http://www.familylife.com/weekend
Father God, I pray for those readers who have taken the time to read this entry. I ask that by your Spirit, that their marriages would be strong, and that they would drink deeply from the spring of marital love. Bless them I pray through Christ our Lord, Amen.