The Rare Jewel of Marriage

 

Last Sunday afternoon, our church’s study in Proverbs was especially significant, at least for me. The reason is because we tackled a most difficult passage of Proverbs and in plowing that soil we found gold. That is not to say that there is not gold anywhere else. The entirety of Scripture is gold in its purest form. However, for what this passage, Proverbs 5:15-23, taught us, it was priceless. I would like to summarize it hear because of its usefulness in our lives, and marriages, as Christians and I believe more people can benefit from this.

Marriage is a rare jewel. Why? Because there is one man and one woman joining themselves in marriage and there is no other man or woman like them. That makes that bond a literal one-of-a-kind. If you only have one of anything in this world, it is priceless. Its value is beyond estimation and you will want to hold on to it, protect it, as long as you have it. It has greater value than gold, silver, or precious stones. Marriage is inestimable in worth and value to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of marriage. The product of that union creates a most valuable gem, a child. There is nothing about marriage, as God designed and intended it, that is profane or worthless. Although this world wants to destroy the Christian marriage, it cannot take away these facts.

The world wants your marriage to fail. The world, which belongs to Satan for a time (1 John 5:19), wants to destroy this jewel. It wants to rob you of the uniqueness and value of your marriage, or one that God will grant you in the future, and reduce it to nothingness. That is its intent and desire. Everything from the perversion of homosexual marriage, polyamorous relationships, adultery, pornography, and fornication to simply never marrying for the right reasons to begin with, is meant to destroy and devalue the gift of marriage. The world wants to destroy it from without and within; by explosion and implosion. An implosion is the act of destroying something from the inside such that it caves in upon itself. The devastation is greatest inside the structure. On-lookers on see half of the calamity that exists. But, they can easily see that the structure is gone.

Proverbs 5:15-23 gives us four ways to cause your marriage to implode. Solomon, the author of the majority of Proverbs (1 Kings 4, esp. v 32), is writing to his son, probably a 15-year old Rehoboam. As Rehoboam must prepare for rulership in the kingdom, he must know what God expects from him, and how to attain to that expectation (see Deuteronomy 17:14-20). When he should marry, Rehoboam is expected to maintain a unique and holy marriage. He is expected to be a “one-woman-man.” Although he failed, as did his father and grandfather, David (2 Sam 5:13; 1 Kin 11:3, 4; 2 Chronicles 11:21-23), it was not because Solomon did not instruct him.

The four ways to implode your marriage are:

  • Sinful Discontentment With the Possession of Your Wife (vv. 15-16).
  • Sinful Distraction From the Provision of Your Wife (vv. 17-18).
  • Sinful Dissatisfaction With the Beauty of Your Wife (vv. 19-20).
  • Sinful Diversion From the Judgment of YHWH (vv. 21-23).

 

Sinful Discontentment – vv. 15-16

 

15 Drink water from your own cistern

And fresh water from your own well.

16  Should your springs be dispersed abroad,

Streams of water in the streets?

 

The main verb here is “Drink” and it is an exhortation from Solomon to Rehoboam. As with the rest of Proverbs, it is written in poetic fashion in order to protect the private nature of the subject matter. The beauty and dignity of marriage cannot, and should not, be derogated to the level of street talk or a locker room discourse. The poetry and metaphoric language in this section, although full of meaning, is wise and meant to protect the value of marriage. Base locker room discussion about marriage takes the value of a precious jewel and makes it common.

The point of these verses is that a man should not look beyond his own cistern (a large contraption meant to hold water for use) for a drink. He must train himself to be content with his wife, the wife of God’s choice for him (1 Corinthians 7:20, 24). The use of the cistern is available to its owner when necessary and with a clean conscience. Why take your source of water, springs, and scatter them everywhere such that you lose the use of your cistern and make it available to many others? The obvious allusion here is that of adultery. When a man (and this section is written to a man from that perspective) is married, why in the world would he leave his  relationship with his own wife and go “abroad” and establish other relationships with other women? That does not make sense. Exodus 20:17 forbids the coveting of your neighbor’s wife, as well as his property. Marriage was created between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:18-25; 1:28). Adam was not given multiple wives and Eve was not given multiple husbands. Once a marriage is consummated, that married couple is one new man (Genesis 2:23-25). For a man to commit adultery is likened to a man who has dismembered himself and given pieces of his body to other women. Grotesque as that may sound, adultery is just as disgusting. That is why a married couple is told to exercise their rights within marriage freely and often. Paul taught that in 1 Corinthians 7:1-5. The conjugal privilege in marriage is a duty. It is a privilege. It is a benefit to life. As the writer of Ecclesiastes (Solomon again) wrote,

Enjoy 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 (Ecclesiastes 9:9).

The love of a man for his wife, and of a wife for her husband, is a rare jewel. It is rare because of the design of God, and not the inherent worth of the couple. Thus, to take that relationship, unique as it is, and scatter it to the winds is to devalue and demean it. It actually becomes worthless.

Sinful Distraction – vv. 17-18

 

17  Let them be yours alone

And not for strangers with you.

18  Let your fountain be blessed,

And rejoice in the wife of your youth.

The springs of life are not something to disperse abroad. They must remain at home. That is to say, procreative power must remain within the confines of marriage and not given away. A spring is a source of water. That is the way that it is used here. The source of life is within marriage. And just like a spring, you draw from it and enjoy the product of it. You realize that you can come back again and again as often as your thirst is there. That spring of water is yours by law and there is not guiltiness in drinking from it.

The allusion is the same for marriage. The joy and uniqueness of marriage is the source of life. Enjoyment within that marriage is to be imbibed and partaken of as often as one wants without guilt. However, if you share that privilege with strangers, you have become distracted from what is lawful and stolen from your neighbor.

Proverbs 9:17–18

17  “Stolen water is sweet;

And bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”

18  But he does not know that the dead are there,

That her guests are in the depths of Sheol.

 

The “forbidden one” is the adulteress. She is a woman who is a stranger to the relationship of a man with his wife. Your springs of life must not be given to her. She has made no covenant of marriage with you (Proverbs 2:16-17). She does not have your best interest in mind (Proverbs 7:21-23). The adulteress is accursed of God (Proverbs 5:3-6). Any woman who is willing to, wants to, or does, leave her marriage in order to commit a sexual act, or resemblance thereof, with another man, married or not, is this adulteress. She is accursed of God. It does not matter if the courts sanction it, your friends encourage it, your own heart demands it, she is  an adulteress in God’s eyes. Ladies, do not give your heart to any other man. Men, train yourself to remain at home in your heart. Distraction from your marriage is a sure way to destroy it from the inside.

A further exhortation from Solomon is that of the source of joy in marriage. Marrying while young is a good idea biblically because of long child-bearing years. The blessing of children is the product of the marriage union and is a special, unique, and invaluable find. If God grants a couple children, He has actively and personally taken that union and created a new flesh from it (Psalm 139:-16). His creative act is staggering. The skill, wisdom, and care as evidenced in the formation of a child in the womb, is one of the most fantastic acts of God’s power in creation. It is to be taken with the utmost of fear and care.

Paul taught that the joys of marriage are appropriate to married couples. God has given us good things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). False teachers teach that the joys of marriage must be deferred if you want to be holy (1 Timothy 4:1ff.), as well as other physical pleasures (like a good meal). However, God has given a married couple the privileges that come with that covenant of marriage to be enjoyed as long as it is with gratitude. The wife of a man’s youth is his prize. She is his joy and friend. He is to her as her friend and leader. She sees him with the eyes of singularity as does he towards her. This lack of distraction from one another will protect your marriage from implosion. 

 

Sinful Dissatisfaction – vv. 19-20

 

19  As a loving hind and a graceful doe,

Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;

Be exhilarated always with her love.

20  For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress

And embrace the bosom of a foreigner?

 

The physical beauty of a woman must be upheld (See Song of Solomon 2). The honor and value that it contains is immeasurable. Sure it can be, and is, demeaned and scarred from worthless men. However, the reality is that few things compare, at least in the eyes of her husband, to the personal beauty of a man’s wife. Her beauty, coupled with dignity and wisdom, is his delight and the source of his softened heart for her. A dignified woman of God will maintain her beauty. She will not be motivated by her own vanity and self-promotion, comparison with the other women at church, or for the allurement of other men’s glances. She will keep her own beauty for the good of her husband (Proverbs 31:12). And surely, since true beauty accompanies the fear of the LORD, she will not be extravagant, gaudy, or boisterous in her apparel (1 Timothy 2:9-10). She will most beautify herself with her works, which always accompany Spirit-produced righteousness. But, nonetheless, she is attractive for the sake of her husband.

It is sad to see a woman let herself go. She, in her laziness and self-indulgence, is unwittingly tempting her husband to be dissatisfied with her. She arrogantly thinks that the man is caught and must simply endure her selfishness, like it or not. Granted, there is never any excuse for lust, adultery, or immorality in general. But, why tempt him? Why push him away? Why not draw him close? Ladies, take measures in your diet, wardrobe, and behavior that tell your husband that you love him (1 Peter 3:1-6). Exercise self-control, wisdom, and self-denial in these things. Men, do the same (compare yourself with Solomon in Song of Solomon 5:10-15!). What woman wants to look at an unshaven, messy-haired man everyday? The world portrays the enviable man as a buffoon who barely has enough ambition to dress himself in the morning. It is certain that he should not be asked to shave and comb his hair. And, heaven forbid, wear a tie or nice jacket when going to dinner with his wife?! There is a grotesque self-indulgence that men believe they have a right to take part in. It is nothing less than laziness and is condemnable toward God, who Himself is beautiful (Ezekiel 1:22-28).

The writer instructs his son to enjoy the physical beauty of his wife, and do not look beyond her to another. She will be to him, as she maintains her beauty of heart and body, as a “loving hind and a graceful doe.” These are creatures of that day of great value and had their own kind of softness. She is to be his satisfaction at all times, and he is actually to be “intoxicated” with her love. Her love of him must be the source of his satisfaction. Ladies, demonstrate that you love your husband. He likes to know that. Men, be enraptured with her. She wants to know that you love her as well.

Why would you take this unique, priceless, and special relationship and scatter it to the foreigner? It is not hers! Why embrace the bosom of a stranger? Why lust after her in your heart? Tell your heart to be satisfied with the wife God has entrusted to you. As Peter says, “Dwell with your wife according to knowledge” (1 Peter 3:7). Get to know her and be satisfied with her. It is a life-long lesson to be sure.

A quick word to younger women who are not married. Patiently wait for God’s timing on marriage. Dreaming about marriage will not make it appear quicker. Take the time to learn the lessons of godliness before marriage so that when the Lord does bring your husband to you, you are that much more valuable to him (Proverbs 31:10). He will appreciate it. Young men, same for you. Take the time to learn to be strong, godly, and wise in leadership. Develop sound doctrine and sound thinking (Titus 2:6-8). Panicking about missing out does not lead to marriage. It is covetousness. God did not intend for you, men, to covet marriage or a wife. He intended you to prepare for one (Memorize Proverbs 24:27!).

Sinful Diversion – vv. 21-23

 

21  For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord,

And He watches all his paths.

22  His own iniquities will capture the wicked,

And he will be held with the cords of his sin.

23  He will die for lack of instruction,

And in the greatness of his folly he will go astray.

 

Solomon would go on to write:

Ecclesiastes 11:9–10

9 Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things.

10  So, remove grief and anger from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting.

 

Youth is a wonderful time. There are so many untested ideas, hopes, and ambitions. That is to be understood and encouraged by wise parents. However, it must be tempered by one thing: judgment. The reality is, you must spend eternity with the decisions you make today. God will evaluate every man based upon his works. A man’s works are performed after making decisions. Decisions are based upon righteousness or the lack of it. Righteousness is based upon the Word of God, not emotion. Young man, if you want to marry, praise God. Do it. However, remember, YHWH sees the motives and intentions of the heart (Genesis 6:5) and oftentimes those things will fool you (Proverbs 28:26 “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool”). Don’t believe what your heart is telling you. Rather, believe what God has told you via His Word. Listen to your father. Listen to wise men. Listen to your pastor and elders (1 Peter 5:5). Heed their instruction and value their ways (Proverbs 23:26).

It is easier to refuse an adulteress the first time than to attempt to do it a second time. Your lust, which may have started as a preoccupation with marriage, will ensnare you and hold you with its cords. The Apostle Peter wrote, “…for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved” (2 Peter 2:19). You are enslaved by what overcomes you. The fear of never marrying; impatience while waiting for God to bring the right one along; trying to find a job sufficient enough to support a home and not being able to find one; all of these are indications that you are being overcome. As Paul might say at this juncture, “Do not be drunk with wine (or the preoccupation with marriage), which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18) Do not go astray from instruction because you are overcome with the fantasy, and hopes, of marriage. Keeps your eyes straight ahead and “prepare your work in the field.” Do what it takes to learn a trade, go to school, start a business based upon your skills or talents. Market your skills and see if there is profit in it. Solomon also wrote

Proverbs 14:23

23  In all labor there is profit,

But mere talk leads only to poverty.

 

Stop talking and dreaming. Start working. But work smart. Remember, YHWH will hold you accountable for the course your decisions take you. Do not be diverted from this fact.