Proverbs 5:15-17

Drink Waters Out of Thine Own Cistern

15 Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.

1. In figurative language, Solomon tells his son to be faithful to his wife.

2. Solomon uses these two figures (a cistern and a well) to illustrate a man’s relationship to his wife.

a. Cistern: a shallow well…a pit… often a large container to store water in.
• In Bible lands, each man had to keep his own supply of water.
• There was no running water… and sometimes even the wells would run dry. A cistern was necessary.

b. Running waters = speaks of a spring of water… sometimes called “living” water—because it moves…

3. To a man living in a dry, hot, arid region, a cistern or running well water would symbolize perfect physical refreshment.

a. When the man is hot, he runs to the well for a drink. That’s what it’s for!

b. When a man or woman has a physical need—that is what your spouse is for!

c. The cistern or well is itself bubbling up and is for his refreshment; to satisfy him;

d. A well is always there—always a source of satisfaction.

e. I Cor. 7:4 – this is a two way street—for both husband and wife.
• If Solomon was speaking to his daughter, he might say the same kind of things. In fact, he did in Song of Solomon.

c. A spring shut up; a fountain sealed: (Song of Sol. 4:12)—Here Solomon uses a similar illustration.
• His bride was like a garden enclosed in walls—keeping all others out. Gardens were walled off to keep out intruders… people who don’t belong there…
» Isa. 5:1-4 – God spoke of Israel, his wife, as an enclosed garden.
» God wanted Israel all to Himself. He did not want her to chase after other lovers…after other gods.
» Thus, she was enclosed… hedged about…
• She is like a spring that is shut up—closed to all but her husband.
• He likens his wife to a sealed fountain of refreshment and satisfaction, but only for him.
• She had kept herself “sealed” up for only her husband, preserving her purity for her husband.

f. Your marriage partner is for your refreshment and satisfaction—physically, emotionally, and in every other way.

4. The command here is to “drink water out of your own cistern” or to seek refreshment and satisfaction from your OWN cistern… and from your OWN well.

a. The sexual desire is likened to a desire for water—an intense thirst that needs to be satiated. A cistern or a bubbling well will satisfy that thirst.

b. In other words, his command is—don’t seek satisfaction or gratification outside of your marriage partner! Drink from your own well.

c. If you don’t have your own well (if you are not married) then wait until you have your own well! (It is better to marry than to burn—if you’re really thirsty, you need a well)

d. If you DO have your own well (if you are married) then don’t go seeking to drink from some other man’s well! That’s adultery.

e. The husband is not to drink from another man’s well. And the wife is to be a fountain sealed off—a spring shut up to all but her husband.

f. These passages speak clearly about God’s design for marriage.
• And note that the man is to have ONE cistern (singular).
• Interestingly, these words of wisdom were spoken by Solomon—who later came to have 700 wives!
• He recorded this wisdom for us, but he didn’t follow it himself. This was his downfall. (I Kings 11:1-4)

5. Jeremiah 2:11-13 – illustrated unfaithfulness using the figure of a cistern.

a. vs. 11 – Israel was unfaithful to God—her Husband. She went after other gods.

b. Vs. 12 – this is a fearful thing… this kind of sin should cause men to shudder.

c. Vs. 13 – God’s people committed two evils:
• First, they forsook God. He was to them a fountain of living water! Unending refreshment and satisfaction spiritually.
• Secondly, they hewed out cisterns. They made their own replacement for God! (Idols) A cistern is a pretty poor substitute for a spring of living water… but they made the exchange. Later they discovered that the cistern they made was cracked and unable to hold water—their false gods provided no real satisfaction.

d. Thus, seeking another cistern was used to illustration unfaithfulness. Here to God—in Proverbs, to one’s wife.

6. Taking these two passages together makes it clear that God demands faithfulness.

a. Not everyone is always happy in their marriage. I have counseled quite a few folks who were not.

b. But regardless of the level of happiness or fulfillment—the command still stands: Drink waters out of thine own cistern! Physical needs are to be met only within the confines of marriage.

c. And those emotional and spiritual needs that are not being met by your earthly cistern can be met in God—He is better than a cistern. He is a ever-springing fountain of living water—unending Source of satisfaction and refreshment for the soul.

d. We have no guarantee that our spouse will walk with the Lord, be kind to us, or even be faithful to us.

e. But we DO have a guarantee that the Lord will be faithful—and that He can supply all the inner needs of our soul, which may not be met by an unfaithful spouse.

f. Our God is a fountain of living water…

16 Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets.

1. The same motif is used in this passage—of fountains and waters.

a. Only this time, he speaks of the fountain as the husband—the male. His inner physical drive is likened to a fountain or a river of water… constantly flowing or bubbling up and needs an outlet.

b. The wording in the KJV seems to be encouraging the male to disperse his fountain all over town.

2. This sentence seems to contradict what Solomon just said in vs. 15.

a. For that reason, most translations have chosen to translate this sentence as a question.

b. NAS: Should your springs be dispersed abroad, Streams of water in the streets?

c. NIV: Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares?

d. NKJV: “Should your fountains be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets?”

e. The obvious answer to the rhetorical question is NO! Of course he should not let his water flow out into the public squares!

f. His point is that Solomon did not want his son to be promiscuous and father children all over town!

g. The passage speaks of the utter waste of reproductive power when involved with a prostitute or adulterous situation.

h.) He likens it to a man who would take water from his cistern and throw it away on the streets of the town! What a waste! This would be seen as an especially foolish thing to do by those who lived in a dry, desert region.

i. The physical relationship between husband and wife is a precious commodity—not something to be thrown around foolishly.

3. Thus, the wife is like a bubbling fountain—an inner drive that is to satisfy the husband. The husband, too, is like a bubbling fountain, and that fountain is not to be thrown all over town, but is for the satisfaction of the wife.

a. I Cor. 7:1-5 – this union was created by God.

b. Marriage was designed by God to satisfy needs.

c. It is designed to meet those needs in order to prevent immorality. (vs. 2)

d. Paul warns the marriage partners to render due benevolence to their spouse—in other words—both partners are to satisfy! So that your spouse doesn’t seek to drink from another cistern!

17 Let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee.

1. Now he tells his son not to allow his fountains (reproductive powers) to flow all over town.

a. Some understand the “them” to refer to the children produced illegitimately…

b. Others see the “them” as a reference to fountain of sexual desire mentioned in the previous passages.

c. The two ideas are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

d. He may be speaking of the drive and the product of that drive (children)

e. If he dispenses this drive all over town, then the product of that (the children) will not be your own, but will belong to a stranger!

f. The Bible speaks highly of the value of children. Our society doesn’t value them as God does (or we wouldn’t have all the abortions we do).

g. The result of the man who is dispersing his fountain all over town is such a waste!
• Precious children who could be such a blessing to him will instead be brought up in miserable environment of a prostitute.
• It is a tragedy when illegitimate children are brought into the world. The circumstances are tragic…

h.) If the “them” refers only to his fountain—his drive—then Solomon is saying that it should be satisfied not with strangers, but with his own wife.