The alternative to escape from the temptation of the adulteress or the strange woman is not a compulsory abstention or celibacy (1Tim 4:33[men] who forbid marriage [and advocate] abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.). The father points his son to his own wife. The desire for forbidden delight comes forth from dissatisfaction with the blessings that a person has. He tells him that his own wife should be enough for him (verse 1515Drink water from your own cistern
And fresh water from your own well.
). In his own house he has a source that can quench his thirst. He means his wife by that. In that way by him “marriage can be held in honor and the marriage bed undefiled, for fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb 13:44Marriage [is to be held] in honor among all, and the [marriage] bed [is to be] undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.).
She satisfies his sexual desires, just like water satisfies a person who is thirsty. He does not need to look for someone else for the satisfaction of those desires (1Cor 7:2-52But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband.3The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband.4The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband [does]; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife [does].5Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.). The comparison with a water cistern and a well indicates the refreshment that sexuality gives. Having water in the dry Israel is a valuable provision, which gives great joy.
That is a different presentation of sexuality from what is sometimes given, that all sexual experience should be restrained and that it should only happen with a view to reproduction. Sexual desires, it is argued, are much too dangerous, those flowing waters are much too powerful. But that is not the language of the Bible. God has put in man the desire for sexuality as something good. Sexual intercourse can and is allowed to be enjoyed to His honor in the bond of marriage.
God has given the enjoyment of it in marriage as a source of deep joy (Deu 24:55“When a man takes a new wife, he shall not go out with the army nor be charged with any duty; he shall be free at home one year and shall give happiness to his wife whom he has taken.; Ecc 9:99Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun.; Gen 24:6767Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and he took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her; thus Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.). We see that in these verses. Thereby we are allowed to see in the light of the New Testament, that it is about a mystery that speaks of Christ and the church (Eph 5:25-3325Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,26so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,27that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.28So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;29for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also [does] the church,30because we are members of His body.31For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.32This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.33Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must [see to it] that she respects her husband.). Therefore it is clearly an experience which is sanctified by God’s Word.
The sexual desires are allowed to be developed, but indeed for and together with one’s own wife. Is it necessary to point this out? Yes, it is necessary, also in case we have been married already for a while or for a long time. We should avoid every desire to another than one’s own wife and ‘channel’ as it were all desires to our own wife. It is about one direction only, that of one’s own wife. That goes also for the wife towards her husband.
The authority or entitlement to the body of one another (1Cor 7:44The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband [does]; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife [does].) is not to be misused. That will not happen when the husband bears in mind that he needs to love his wife just as Christ has loved the church and still does (Eph 5:2525Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,). It is important that the husband lives with his wife in an understanding way (1Pet 3:77You husbands in the same way, live with [your wives] in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.). Therefore husband and wife should learn to know each other by communicating with each other. It is also important that they can touch one another without sexual excitement, a touch that can happen in the company of other people. Then also the sexual touch will be an expression of love and not an abuse of the other person’s body.
Verse 1616Should your springs be dispersed abroad,
Streams of water in the streets?
is a verse which is hard to translate wherefore the explanation is also not easy. “Should your springs be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets?” An explanation that fits within the framework of the verse before and the verse after it, is as follows. When the husband leaves his house and his wife to go to a strange woman, he goes “abroad”, to “the streams of water in the streets”. The sources that are outside, the woman that seduces him, are available to everyone, however much the woman wants to convince him that she is for him alone (Pro 7:1515“Therefore I have come out to meet you,
To seek your presence earnestly, and I have found you.
In verse 1717Let them be yours alone
And not for strangers with you.
the answer comes to the question of verse 1616Should your springs be dispersed abroad,
Streams of water in the streets?
. The source of refreshment must be his own wife only. It is no option that his love goes also to a strange woman.
A spiritual application is that the Lord and He alone is enough for us. He loves us unconditionally and exclusively and also counts on our unconditional, exclusive love (2Cor 11:22For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you [as] a pure virgin.). The true satisfaction of every desire that we have, is only to be found in Christ’s love. When we grow older, our love for our wife will not grow less, but will increase, just as our love for Christ.
The father wishes his son to have a blessed relationship with his wife in their marriage (verse 1818Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice in the wife of your youth.
). This shows that the sexual joy in the marriage is given by God and that he may enjoy it. The young man is appealed to “rejoice in the wife of his youth”. It is a joy that should continue until the old age (Ecc 9:9a9Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun.). It is a complete folly when a husband and his wife say that they have gotten ‘bored with’ each other and because of that the husband starts a relationship with ‘a strange woman’. It is a lie and a disobedience, for God calls upon the husband to rejoice in his wife, just as He appeals upon the husband that he should love his wife.
In the confidential relationship of the father with his son, he says to him that he will find the satisfaction of his desires with his own wife (verse 1919[As] a loving hind and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
Be exhilarated always with her love.
). He points his son at the behavior of the beloved wife, which he compares with “a loving hind and a graceful doe”. These animals move elegantly and gracefully. That’s the way he may look at his wife. Her breasts may delight him, they may exhilarate him and intoxicate him.
He is allowed to wander ceaselessly in her love, which means that he is allowed to let himself to ‘be caught’ by it and be fascinated. He is allowed to be delighted in her continually, to be very fond of her. It is an appeal and also an instruction to focus on one’s own wife for the satisfaction of sexual desires.
In verse 2020For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress
And embrace the bosom of a foreigner?
the father asks some rhetorical questions. When the son has a good sense, he will not “be exhilarated with an adulteress (lit strange woman)” for a brief relationship with a passing pleasure of sin. Here the same word ‘exhilarated’ is used like in the previous verse, but there it is a continuous and permitted exhilaration. With a strange woman there is no room nor time for intimacy. Intimacy demands a lifetime relationship with the wife of one’s youth.
The sin of adultery always takes place in secret, it is a work of the darkness (Job 24:15-1615“The eye of the adulterer waits for the twilight,
Saying, ‘No eye will see me.’
And he disguises his face.
16“In the dark they dig into houses,
They shut themselves up by day;
They do not know the light.
). But nothing is hidden for God (verse 2121For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD,
And He watches all his paths.
; 2Chr 16:99For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.”; Job 31:44“Does He not see my ways
And number all my steps?
; 34:2121“For His eyes are upon the ways of a man,
And He sees all his steps.
; Pro 15:33The eyes of the LORD are in every place,
Watching the evil and the good. Jer 16:1717For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity concealed from My eyes.; 32:1919great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, giving to everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds;). He is not a human inspector who at times comes along to check something or somebody. He sees and weighs all the traces that an adulterous husband leaves. The behavior of such a man becomes a worn-out habit. The path to the strange woman has become a well-trodden path. We can also think of the traces of misery that are being left as the consequences that such a conduct may cause to the children and other family members.
Apart from the fact that God sees everything, He also is righteous. He knows the weight, the seriousness, of adultery and will therefore judge the adulterer (Heb 13:44Marriage [is to be held] in honor among all, and the [marriage] bed [is to be] undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.). ‘To weigh’ means to test, what He will do according to His measure, the law, especially with reference to the seventh commandment. “You shall not commit adultery” (Exo 20:1414“You shall not commit adultery.).
The awareness that there are no secrets for God will help us not to do anything that daylight cannot stand. An open and intimate relationship with God is an important means to keep our human relationships clean and pure. The key to self-control is the awareness that we are never alone, but that God sees us everywhere.
Due to a lack of self-control in the area of sexual satisfaction, the wicked one becomes a captive of his iniquities (verse 2222His own iniquities will capture the wicked,
And he will be held with the cords of his sin.
). Many people think that they will be able to stop with a certain sin after a course of time. They, however, are not aware that a sin which is repeated frequently, has an addictive effect and takes away every resistance to break it.
We see an example with Samson (although he was not wicked) who is being kept captive by Delilah (Jdg 16:19-2119She made him sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his hair. Then she began to afflict him, and his strength left him.20She said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him.21Then the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze chains, and he was a grinder in the prison.). He is entangled in sin and is kept there and cannot liberate himself from it. This is how he is led to destruction. When the young man is not ‘chained’ by his own wife, but comes under the power of a strange woman, his own iniquities will chain him and he will be led to destruction.
The path of the adulterer ends up in death (verse 2323He will die for lack of instruction,
And in the greatness of his folly he will go astray.). He dies “because of the lack of instruction”, which means that he listened to no instruction he was given. It can also mean that he had a lack of self-chastisement and self-discipline. He who does not listen to instruction to stay far away from an adulteress, will go astray in the “greatness of his folly”. This folly is indeed great.
For the believer, fornication or adultery is not just a sin, but a particular sin: “Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1Cor 6:18-1918Flee immorality. Every [other] sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.19Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?). Whoever commits “the greatness” of the folly of fornication or adultery, departs from the right path and will hopelessly go astray and die.