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Most conservative Christians know the basics of what husbands, wives, parents, and children are supposed to do and what they are not supposed to do. And they generally know that they are supposed to be Christians in it all: forgiving one another and staying in fellowship and the joy of the Lord. And we really must not underes- timate the blessing all of that really is. The value of peace and joy and fellowship is inestimable. But what grows in that soil is a powerhouse of influence, generosity, and blessing.
“… Drink waters out of thin own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. Let thy fountains be dis- persed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets… Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth…” (Prov. 5:1-19)
OVERVIEW OF THE TEXT
Solomon the King and father continues to exhort his son to listen to his instruction (5:1-2). He specifically warns his son about the immoral woman who promises to be sweet but always ends up being bitter and deadly (5:3-6). The father repeats his plea to be heard to stay far away f rom her, explaining that he is not speaking in metaphors: the bitterness and death means losing honor, years of labor, wealth, sadness, sickness, and regret (5:7-14). In place of a reckless and bankrupt sexuality, the father exhorts his son to a joyful and fruitful mo- nogamy, picturing fruitfulness and productivity in terms of wells of water and gushing fountains of life, flowing from a continual delight in his own wife (5:15-19).
DO NOT GIVE THY STRENGTH TO WOMEN
Proverbs 31 was written by a woman, the mother of King Lemuel, and the queen mother exhorts her son not to give his strength to women, nor his ways to that which destroy kings (Prov. 31:3). Given what follows, what she is warning him about is drinking too much and loose women (31:4-10ff ). Gluttony and immorality are a couple of the chief ways men give their strength away to women. Rather than using their strength to build houses and families, businesses and cities, legacies and inheritances, men give everything they work for away (5:9-14). Ironically, Solomon himself is one of the great examples of this contrast: remember how he built the temple and his palace and other cities with the wisdom that God gave him (1 Kings 5-10). But then chapter 11 opens with the ominous words: “But King Solomon loved many strange women…” Instead of being faithful to God and building houses and cities of blessing, his many women turned his heart away from God and he built high places for all of them (1 Kgs. 11:7-8). What a draining, painful, and worthless waste.
In place of draining power and strength, Solomon describes the fruitfulness and power of a faithful marriage and family as fountains and springs (5:15-18). In an arid climate or when it’s baking hot outside, you under- stand the glory of cool, flowing water. A fresh mountain spring or river not only keeps you alive, it allows you to keep working, to keep producing and with joy. And think of all the uses of water: watering crops, keeping animals alive and working, cooking, cleaning, cooling, making paper, building, water wheels, hydroelectric dams, steam power, shipping, travel, not to mention recreation and fun. What Solomon sought to urge his son to understand was not merely the joy of faithfulness to one woman and the children she bears, but the political and economic powerhouse a faithful marriage and family can be. Cities have always been built close to water
for all of the above reasons. A thriving faithful marriage and family are little cities, proto-economies, micro nations. Just think: a thriving faithful marriage and family are a team of people who practice commu- nicating and working together regularly. As they learn to communicate, they learn to anticipate one another. They know the standards; they know what is expected; and they learn to problem solve quickly. Where there is joy and love and loyalty to one another and the mission, there is safety in sacrificing for one another. These bonds are tightened and strengthened through particular experiences, trials, and accomplishments. Under the blessing of Christ, this is where the water of family life flows from, begin- ning as a trickle and growing into a gushing fountain over generations.
Sexual Fidelity: the center of this fruitfulness and power is sexual faithfulness and delight. As with all repentance, there is a turning from and a turning to. Fundamentally, this is turning from self and the old man and turning to Christ and the new man (Eph. 4:22-24). And by God’s design, this is how sin is conquered. It is not merely a matter of will-power. You need to replace one way of thinking and liv- ing with a new way.The self-centeredness of lust and immorality needs to be replaced with the selfless- ness of faithfulness to one spouse. And because God made the world heterosexual, this means that a man needs to pursue and continually delight in his wife, and she needs to welcome him. When a man gives his strength this way, it is blessed.
Do you want your fountains blessed? Rejoice with the wife of your youth (Prov. 5:18). The center of this joy is the forgiveness of sins, and therefore, you cannot have this joy if your heart and home are full of the gunk and bitterness of unconfessed sin (1 Jn. 1:4-9). Many professing Christian homes are sad and stressful places because there is so much unconfessed sin, which is like a bunch of debris clogging the fountain. But when you confess your sins, the dam breaks, and the drought is over (Ps. 32). A Christian home should be a happy place, a joyous, raucous place of welcome, delight, and peace. It’s not a sinless place, but it’s a place that is continually applying the blood of Jesus and so it really is clean and full of joy.
WISDOM IS WEALTH
We are not materialists and so we need to think of wealth biblically. Wealth is not just cash or pos- sessions, and some forms of cash and possessions are not nearly as valuable as they may look at first glance (Prov. 23:5). But wisdom really is more valuable than gold or silver or rubies, and durable riches and honor really are with wisdom (Prov. 8:18). By wisdom kings reign and princes rule (Prov. 8:15-16). Wisdom has great strength, and by wisdom, God built the universe (Prov. 8:14, 22-29). And God has this strength by daily delighting and rejoicing in wisdom (Prov. 8:30). Delighting in stupid sitcoms, braindead music, and mindless movies is a great way to not get wisdom. And while the Bible should be the center of our wisdom, knowledge of creation (biology, technology, art, music, etc.) is wealth. And in a healthy marriage and family, that wealth builds houses, businesses, and legacies for generations that influence cities and nations and provide life to the world.