Monday, October 14, 2013

The Wife from Proverbs 5

When the wife from Proverbs is discussed, the one from Proverbs 31 jumps to everyone's mind. But, I want to talk about another wife—the wife from Proverbs 5.
My son, pay attention to my wisdom. Turn your ear to my understanding: that you may maintain discretion, that your lips may preserve knowledge. For the lips of an adulteress drip honey. Her mouth is smoother than oil, But in the end she is as bitter as wormwood, and as sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death. Her steps lead straight to Sheol. She gives no thought to the way of life. Her ways are crooked, and she doesn’t know it. Now therefore, my sons, listen to me. Don’t depart from the words of my mouth. Remove your way far from her. Don’t come near the door of her house, lest you give your honour to others, and your years to the cruel one; lest strangers feast on your wealth, and your labours enrich another man’s house. You will groan at your latter end, when your flesh and your body are consumed, and say, "How I have hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; neither have I obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor turned my ear to those who instructed me! I have come to the brink of utter ruin, in the midst of the gathered assembly."

Drink water out of your own cistern, running water out of your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, streams of water in the public squares? Let them be for yourself alone, not for strangers with you. Let your spring be blessed. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe and a graceful deer—let her breasts satisfy you at all times. Be captivated always with her love. For why should you, my son, be captivated with an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another? For the ways of man are before the eyes of Yahweh. He examines all his paths. The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare him. The cords of his sin hold him firmly. He will die for lack of instruction. In the greatness of his folly, he will go astray. (Pr 5:1-23 WEB)
In the middle of a proverb on why a husband should not go chasing after strange women, God tells us exactly who we should be chasing.
Rejoice in the wife of your youth.
God is talking about marriage, and how a husband and wife should relate to each other. The word translated as rejoice here (samach) doesn't mean just be happy. It means to celebrate, make merry, and leap for joy. That's the attitude you should bring to your marriage.
A loving doe and a graceful deer...
This seems like an odd description to modern ears, but in ancient times this was the language of love. The man in Song of Solomon is described as “...a gazelle or young stag on the mountains of spices!8:14” And of the woman it is said: “Your two breasts are like two fawns, that are twins of a roe7:3” (a roe is a type of deer). Just as the Song of Solomon has an explicitly sexual message, the inclusion of the deer references here tip us off to the fact that we should have a sexual mindset about the following verses.
...let her breasts satisfy you at all times.
Satisfied means to be content with what you have, but it also means to be satiated. What does it take for a husband to be satisfied with his wife's breasts? Given the context, I don't think God is saying to discreetly admire them from afar. He is saying enjoy them. Look at them; fondle them; roll your face around in them; kiss, nibble, and suck them to your heart's content. Be satisfied.
Be captivated always with her love.
The word love here doesn't simply mean affection. We're talking sex, and not just any kind of sex. Captivating hardly conveys the full meaning of the original Hebrew word (shagah). It is translated in various Bible versions as:

ravished
enraptured
exhilarated
captivated
infatuated
intoxicated

At what level does sex have to be that a man feels exhilarated to the point of intoxication by it? That's the type of sex that the Bible says should occur between a husband and wife. Mad, crazy, oh my God I didn't know it could be like that sex.

Notice what's missing in these verses about sex between a husband and wife? Condemnation. The verses that discuss chasing after an adulteress are full of rebukes and warnings, but when it comes to focusing those same sexual desires on your wife...not a word of rebuke. In fact, it's promoted; it's a good thing to sexually lust after your own wife. This is consistent with the rest of scripture.

The next time your wife accuses you of having a “one track mind” just look at her and proudly say: “yes I do.” The Bible never condemns sexual relations between husband and wife, nor does it condemn a man for lusting after his wife sexually. That is in fact the one proper place for the expression of sexual lust.

There is also an implied message for the wife in these verses. How can a husband be satisfied with his wife's breasts if they are not available to him? How can a husband be captivated by his wife's love if she is not captivating? Only a woman who is an active participant in sex is captivating; exhilarating; intoxicating. Only a woman who is an active participant in sex is the wife of Proverbs 5.

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