Drink waters out of your own cistern, and running waters out of your own well.
The counterpart of the foregoing warning against vice, placing connubial joys in the brightest light, of poetic fancy.
I. IMAGES OF WIFEHOOD. The wife is described:
1. As a spring, and as a cistern. Property in a spring or well was highly, even sacredly, esteemed. Hence a peculiar force in the comparison. The wife is the husband's peculiar delight and property; the source of pleasures of every kind and degree; the fruitful origin of the family (comp. Isaiah 51:1; Song of Solomon 4:12).
2. As "wife of one's youth. (Cf. Deuteronomy 24:5; Ecclesiastes 9:9.) One to whom the flower of youth and manhood has been devoted. The parallel description is companion of youth" (Proverbs 2:17). Her image, in this case, is associated with the sunniest scenes of experience.
3. As a "lovely hind, or charming gazelle. A favourite Oriental comparison, and embodied in the names Tabitha and Dorcas, which denote gazelle." There are numberless uses of the figure in Arabian and Persian poets. The beautiful liquid eye, delicate head, graceful carriage of the creature, all point the simile. Nothing can surpass, as a husband's description of a true wife, Wordsworth's exquisite stanza beginning -
"She was a phantom of delight,
When first she gleam'd upon my sight
A creature not too bright or good
For human nature's daily food
For transient sorrows, simple wiles,
Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears, and smiles."
II. IMAGES OF THE HUSBAND'S BLISS.
1. It is like taking draughts from a fresh and ever-running stream. There is "continual comfort in a face, the lineaments of gospel books."
2. It is a peculiar, a private possession. Ver. 16 should be rendered interrogatively; it conveys the contrast of the profaned treasures of the unchaste woman's love, and thus fits with ver. 17. The language of lovers finds a true zest in the word, "My own!" Life becomes brutish where this feeling does not exist.
3. Yet it attracts sympathy, admiration, and good will. Ver. 18 is the blessing wished by the speaker or by any looker on. Wedding feasts bring out these feelings; and the happiness and prosperity of married pairs are as little exposed to the tooth of envy as any earthly good.
4. It is satisfying; for what repose can be more sweet and secure than that on the bosom of the faithful spouse? It is enrapturing, without being enfeebling, unlike those false pleasures, "violent delights with violent endings, that in their triumph die" (ver. 19).
III. CONCLUDING EXHORTATION (ver. 20), founded on the contrast just given.
1. The true rapture (the Hebrew word shagah, "reel" as in intoxication, repeated) should deter from the false and vicious.
2. To prefer the bosom of the adulteress to that of the true wife is a mark of the most vitiated taste, the most perverted understanding. - J.
Parallel VersesKJV: Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.