Standing Firm Against Adultery

Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe” (vv. 18-19a).

- Proverbs 5:15-20

Ruin will follow those who commit adultery, which is why Proverbs 5:1–14 contains an extensive warning against unfaithfulness to one’s marriage vows. However, the answer to the temptation of adultery is not just to know that it is an evil act. God has provided a holy and honorable place for sexual desire to be satisfied—the marriage relation-ship. Taking great joy in one’s spouse and cultivating all aspects of the husband-wife bond are the means by which chastity, life, and reputation are preserved.

Proverbs 5:15–20 emphasizes the marital relationship, particularly the sexual intimacy between husband and wife, that will provide the lasting satisfaction that adultery promises but cannot deliver. Verse 15 likens the marital bond to drinking water from one’s own well. The image here is of thirst being quenched by cool, clean water that has not been contaminated and the source of which is known because the well has a designated owner. Such water is far different from the communal sources of water that anyone can find in the streets (vv. 16–17)—water with an unknown origin and that everyone has dipped their hands into, contaminating what would otherwise be a sound source of refreshment. The parallel is between one’s wife and a harlot. To enjoy one’s wife is to enjoy safety, health, and enduring satisfaction. To pursue the harlot and commit adultery is to put one’s health at risk and be “just another one of the guys” who has had his way with her, not her treasured partner in life. Though the image focuses on the husband enjoying his wife, it can be applied to wives as well. Just as husbands should rejoice in their wives, wives should rejoice in their husbands.

A man is to rejoice in the wife of his youth, and likewise a wife to rejoice in the husband of her youth (vv. 18–20). An enduring marriage is the only place where one can find what one is looking for in terms of love and companionship with the opposite sex. This truth is found throughout Scripture, from the establishment of marriage in Genesis 2:18–25, to the celebration of love between husband and wife in the Song of Solomon, to the ultimate fulfillment of the intimacy to which spousal relations point that we find in the marriage of Christ to His bride, the church, in Revelation 19:6–10. Christ, the perfectly faithful husband, never fails to take delight in His bride. He is satisfied in her because He has chosen her and is working to present her spotless and without wrinkle (Eph. 5:27–33). Our marriages can mirror this only imperfectly, but as Christ is faithful to His church, so are we to be faithful to our spouses.

Coram Deo

Matthew Henry comments, “Let him that is married take delight in his wife, and let him be very fond of her, not only because she is the wife that he himself has chosen and he ought to be pleased with his own choice, but because she is the wife that God in his providence appointed for him and he ought much more to be pleased with the divine appointment, pleased with her because she is his own.” God gave us our spouses; let us rejoice in them.

Passages for Further Study

Genesis 29:1–20
Song of Solomon 1:1–2:7
1 Corinthians 7:1–5
Hebrews 13:4

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