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The DEEP

Arise, My Love

The wisdom of godly marriage

Proverbs 5:15-17

18 Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice with the wife of your youth.

19 As a loving deer and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
And always be enraptured with her love.

20 For why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral woman,
And be embraced in the arms of a seductress?

 

What parent does not want the best spouse for their child? My wife and I regularly pray for the women that our young sons will one day marry. We do not yet know the names of these young ladies, but know that somewhere out there they are growing and experiencing life–and hopefully have already come to know Jesus as their Lord and savior.

There is a beautiful classic song by Christian artist Wayne Watson that recalls a father’s love for his as-yet unmet daughter-in-law. He sings of a little girl somewhere, saying her nightly prayer before turning out the light :


And I don't even know her name
But I'm prayin' for her just the same
That the Lord will write His name upon her heart

 
'Cause somewhere in the course of this life
A little boy will need a godly wife
So hold on to Jesus, baby wherever you are

Solomon is no less burdened in his heart for his son, and for the children of Israel. Now, the “wisest man in history” continues his teaching of the wisdom of God’s moral law in Proverbs chapter 5. He moves from a warning against the folly of adultery to the wisdom of marriage to a good and godly spouse:

18 Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice with the wife of your youth.–Proverbs 5:18

This is a beautiful verse that poetically captures emotions. Solomon returns to the image of the fountain as a symbol of the marriage bed–a pure fountain of sweet conjugal love.  

You can almost sense the joy of newlyweds or a couple remembering back to blessed, sunny days of old. Like the Alan Jackson song, “Remember When,” recounting an older couple thinking on the journey of life they have shared together:


Remember when thirty seemed so old
Now lookin' back, it's just a steppin' stone
To where we are, where we've been
Said we'd do it all again
Remember when

Can you remember back to the love of your youth? Even if you are not married to your high school or college sweetheart, you can surely recall the hair-trigger passion you could feel. Those golden days before mortgage payments, health concerns, or trying to read the ingredients on the back of a box in the grocery store, you can still recall the joy of the newness of life.

Solomon is telling you that marriage is long term, it is a commitment–a covenant–between a husband and a wife. It is meant to provide lifelong satisfaction for both partners, building new generations on the strength of a foundation of two hearts joined as one. 

This is, of course, contradictory to the spirit of the present age. Western culture is filled with images of the conflict between men and women and the corruption of traditional relationship roles. From the modern gender confusion to the Hollywood staple of the dumb husband and the savvy wife.  

In the midst of this, strong, committed marriage has more than fallen out of vogue, it is assailed as old-fashioned or even an oppressive symbol of “The Patriarchy.” Husbands poke fun at wives, wives mock and roll eyes at their husbands. You can even look as far back as an 1887 vaudeville routine by Joseph Weber and Lew Fields, who famously bantered: "Who was that lady I saw you with last night?" "She ain't no lady; she's my wife.”

Kirk Durston, a multi-disciplined Canadian clergyman, recently tied together sexual morality and the decline of the west:

God’s moral laws pertaining to our sexuality, although they may restrain us from some immediate pleasure, protect us from enormous long-term suffering while maximizing our long term flourishing.–Kirk Durston

In other words, when a culture abandons a morality of sexual restraint, the effect will be felt in succeeding generations as moral collapse–even the abandonment of truth–will follow. This is not how God has designed marriage or the relationships of men and women, and here Solomon is laying down the wisdom of the Heavenly Father’s plan.  

But how can this be so? Do not marriages grow flat and stale over time? They can, but they do not have to be that way. In joining together in covenanted faithfulness in Christ,  a husband and wife can grow more in love with each other over the years. Commentator Bruce Waltke reveals this deep richness:

Sensual man can find a satisfaction from his wife that no other woman can give him. Marriage is here thought of as strongly monogamous.–Waltke

Solomon is stressing the life commitment for his son, one that not simply avoids the adulteress, but relishes the wife he has been given. 

Do you do this in your marriage? Do you find it easy to criticize your spouse or hold back  affection, attention or forgiveness because you are “not getting what you need” from the relationship? Tim Keller points out that when you have sex outside of marriage, demand it of your spouse, or use it as a bargaining chip for power, you turn intimacy into a commodity instead of a gift of your union together. Instead, it can be a source of mutual strength:

Because you cannot just walk away when things get difficult, it brings increased self-knowledge, emotional and spiritual growth, deep mutual affirmation and support, and the distinct joy you can have only in the presence of someone with whom you have been through thick and thin.–Tim Keller, “God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life”

Marriage, Keller says, is dependent on commitment, not chemistry. The next verse, however, seems to spark with chemistry as Solomon describes the affection of the honorable husband for his godly wife:

19 As a loving deer and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
And always be enraptured with her love.–Proverbs 5:19

If you are a Presbyterian you may be blushing and tugging at your collar right now. These words are a reminder of a distant, desert culture that frequently used animal metaphors for beauty and even erotic love. 

Solomon is the author of another book on love: Song of Solomon. Some of its passages paint a beautiful and sensual picture of the marriage bed. It is perhaps one of the least-preached or sung books of the Bible, but artist Michael Card took it up in his beautiful song, “Arise my Love:”


Arise, my love, and come with me
Before the dawn breaks and the shadows flee
You ravished my heart with just one glance
My beautiful one, arise and come with me.–Michael Card, “Arise my Love”

What a beautiful picture of devotion. A husband should be enraptured by his wife’s love in a way that grows each year and not simply in the halcyon years of youthful dating. The Hebrew תִּשְׁגֶּ֥ה (tis-geh), means “intoxicated” or “to go astray unconsciously.” As Waltke explains:

The wife’s [love] should be always available to drench and intoxicate the thirsty husband.–Bruce Waltke

After twenty, thirty, or even five years of marriage this kind of affection may seem far-fetched to you, but it is not impossible. It is in fact part of the created order of God, as commentator Matthew Henry writes on Genesis: 

Eve was not taken out of Adam's head to top him, neither out of his feet to be trampled on by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him.–Matthew Henry

When marriage is seen as an honorable, godly thing instead of an earthly burden, prison or simply convenience, then its full potential is seen. Alistair Begg writes in his book “Lasting Love:”

Marriage, we learn, is supposed to be a model of Christ’s love for the church. It is to be based not upon lust, but upon honor and holiness (Ephesians 5).–Alistair Begg, “Lasting Love”

Think on Christ’s love for the church and His ultimate sacrifice for her. This is how a husband is to love and treat his wife, as Peter–the rock on which Christ built His church–writes:

Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.–I Peter 3:7

This honor and holiness is seen and shared by the author of Hebrews:

Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.–Hebrews 13:4

In verse 20, Solomon brings you back to the present and the warning of the nuclear bomb of adultery and its danger to the marriage:

20 For why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral woman,
And be embraced in the arms of a seductress?–Proverbs 5:20

Have you ever cheated on your spouse? Have you come close, only to narrowly avoid it? Have you entertained thoughts of infidelity as a form of revenge, fantasy, or out of boredom? As husbands can stray to pornography and ogling other women, so wives can become enamored by romantic novels and movie plots that offer a similar escape.

It does not have to be this way–but it can require continual diligence to avoid. You tell yourself “my circumstances are unique,” or “look at what I have had to put up with from him or her all of these years.” But Christ looks upon you and is eternally steadfast in His love for you. If Jesus has sacrificed Himself for you, how much is it for you to sacrifice much smaller things for your bride or your husband? As Alistair Begg beautifully puts it: 

If the most important thing a man can do for his children is to love their mother sacrificially, then the most important thing a mother can do for her children is to respect their father.-Alistair Begg, “Lasting Love”

The richness of the reward of this, of two believers who daily die to self and each other (I Corinthians 15:31), will be a chord of three strands not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

So what do do if you have failed? Perhaps you have cheated physically or in your heart. Maybe your marriage has grown cold-or is a constant battleground of tempers and hurt feelings. In his forty years of seeking to encourage and strengthen Christian marriages, Alistair Begg urges humility and repentance, and a force of will to do what is right: 

You’re going to pray, you’re going to ask for forgiveness of all your neglect, ask for the ability to forgive one another.  You’re going to ask God for the help to do what you must do. And then, slowly and surely, you’re going to begin doing what you must do, and stop doing what we mustn’t do.–Alistair Begg, “Lasting Love” 

The love of your youth may seem impossible to recover, but through Christ all things are possible. If you love with His love, you are loving with the light of eternity and that will never fail.

 

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The Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay and this Saturday Deep is written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

 

 

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