In the midst of Solomon’s warning to his son about going after the forbidden woman, he turns from the negative to the positive. In ways that it seems only Solomon can do, he euphemizes the sexual intimacy between a husband and wife. So he says,
“Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well,” (Proverbs 5:15, ESV).
This is parallelism, but more than simply that. There is a difference between a well and a cistern. A well is a generally defined as a hole, deep in the ground that reaches an underground river. There is an ever-flowing fresh source of water. A cistern, on the other hand, is a deep hole in the ground that acts as a reservoir. It’s source is outside itself, whether it’s rainwater or perhaps the pouring of water into it from a different source. The thing with reservoirs is that they can crack and lose water, they dry up and offer no water, or the water has been inside so long that it stagnates and spoils.
What was Solomon’s command? It was that the husband drink water from his own cistern. That would imply that the husband must also keep the cistern filled. He cannot receive what he has not put in. It has been said that women are like Crockpots and men are like microwaves. Men are always ready to go while women take much longer, perhaps hours. Now, if you’ve ever had a piece of chicken from the microwave, you realize that it’s rubbery, bland, and hardly worth eating. A piece of chicken cooked in the Crockpot is juicy, succulent, and tasty. Women might have something going for them.
That being said, drinking from your own cistern isn’t just merely about not having an affair (or to use a biblical phrase: committing adultery), it is about filling up your wife with sweet, refreshing life-giving goodness. It is making sure that she is not cracked (overly stressed, worked, or manipulated). It is making sure she is not stagnated (festering over something that has happened between you, her mother, her sister, her friends, your children, etc.). It is making sure she is not dried up (tired, weary, exhausted). In order for your wife to give what men would call “water” (sexual intimacy) she needs to be filled with what women would consider “water” (a helping hand, a listening ear, some time alone, adult conversation, an encouraging word, etc.). As my wife said, basically the “five love languages.”
If this sounds like manipulation, it isn’t. Manipulation is one person doing something only to get what they want in return. I say it isn’t, and hopefully it isn’t. Some boys may manipulate, but men won’t. Don’t be those foolish boys in man bodies. Real men understand that this is what it means to cherish your wife. You take care of her, love her, and keep her. If sex is your only goal, then you need to grow up. If enjoying your wife completely and as fully as possible is your goal, then you will seek to drink from your own cistern by first filling her up. In fact, this goes more into the second part of the verse.
As I said, this is parallelism. Solomon also said to drink flowing water from your own well. The idea is similar (hence the parallelism), but it is step parallelism, thus one step beyond. Your wife is on the one hand a cistern that needs to be filled by your love and care. On the other hand she is a well flowing with riches to be enjoyed. Thus, we go back to the idea of sex not being the only goal. You’re wife is more than a sexual being. I think men know this, but those who haven’t grown up, either don’t know or have forgotten. What makes marriage so great are those little things deep within your wife. It’s different from every wife and different for every husband. Some wives make their husband’s lunch every day and leave a little note just for him. Some wives do their family’s laundry so that (in part) their husbands always smell nice and clean. Some wives work hard all day in their jobs only to come home to their even more difficult job without all the pay and fringe benefits. And through it all finds ways to show love and devotion and respect that refreshes her man. Drink from that.
It has been said that often an adulterous relationship begins because some woman at work or elsewhere starts to pay attention to a married man and “identifies” with him. The husband doesn’t feel appreciated by the wife and this other woman just “gets” him. She builds his confidence and showers him with praises. He “drinks it up.” Stop drinking from the wrong well, guys. Your wife may not say the same words as this woman you know, but holy cow! look at what she does for you. Doing your dirty underwear: that’s love. Saying, “Wow. You sure are strong,” is infatuation and in manipulative; it’s juvenile. Drink from the flowing water from your well.
Next week, I’m going to be dealing with another verse or two from this chapter. But for now, drink from your own cisterns by filling her daily with the love that she needs, and drink from her flowing waters of love to you.