Verses 15–23

Solomon, having shown the great evil that there is in adultery and fornication, and all such lewd and filthy courses, here prescribes remedies against them.

I. Enjoy with satisfaction the comforts of lawful marriage, which was ordained for the prevention of uncleanness, and therefore ought to be made use of in time, lest it should not prove effectual for the cure of that which it might have prevented. Let none complain that God has dealt unkindly with them in forbidding them those pleasures which they have a natural desire of, for he has graciously provided for the regular gratification of them. “Thou mayest not indeed eat of every tree of the garden, but choose thee out one, which thou pleasest, and of that thou mayest freely eat; nature will be content with that, but lust with nothing.” God, in thus confining men to one, has been so far from putting any hardship upon them that he has really consulted their true interest; for, as Mr. Herbert observes, “If God had laid all common, certainly man would have been the encloser.”—Church-porch. Solomon here enlarges much upon this, not only prescribing it as an antidote, but urging it as an argument against fornication, that the allowed pleasures of marriage (however wicked wits may ridicule them, who are factors for the unclean spirit) far transcend all the false forbidden pleasures of whoredom.

1. Let young men marry, marry and not burn. Have a cistern, a well of thy own (Prov. 5:15), even the wife of thy youth, Prov. 5:18. Wholly abstain, or wed.—Herbert. “The world is wide, and there are varieties of accomplishments, among which thou mayest please thyself.”

2. Let him that is married take delight in his wife, and let him be very fond of her, not only because she is the wife that he himself has chosen and he ought to be pleased with his own choice, but because she is the wife that God in his providence appointed for him and he ought much more to be pleased with the divine appointment, pleased with her because she is his own. Let thy fountain be blessed (Prov. 5:18); think thyself very happy in her, look upon her as a blessed wife, let her have thy blessing, pray daily for her, and then rejoice with her. Those comforts we are likely to have joy of that are sanctified to us by prayer and the blessing of God. It is not only allowed us, but commanded us, to be pleasant with our relations; and it particularly becomes yoke-fellows to rejoice together and in each other. Mutual delight is the bond of mutual fidelity. It is not only taken for granted that the bridegroom rejoices over his bride (Isa. 62:5), but given for law. Eccl. 9:9; Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of thy life. Those take not their comforts where God has appointed who are jovial and merry with their companions abroad, but sour and morose with their families at home.

3. Let him be fond of his wife and love her dearly (Prov. 5:19): Let her be as the loving hind and the pleasant roe, such as great men sometimes kept tame in their houses and played with. Desire no better diversion from severe study and business than the innocent and pleasant conversation of thy own wife; let her lie in thy bosom, as the poor man’s ewe-lamb did in his (2 Sam. 12:3), and do thou repose thy head in hers, and let that satisfy thee at all times; and seek not for pleasure in any other. “Err thou always in her love. If thou wilt suffer thy love to run into an excess, and wilt be dotingly fond of any body, let it be only of thy own wife, where there is least danger of exceeding.” This is drinking waters, to quench the thirst of thy appetite, out of thy own cistern, and running waters, which are clear, and sweet, and wholesome, out of thy own well, Prov. 5:15; 1 Cor. 7:2, 3.

4. Let him take delight in his children and look upon them with pleasure (Prov. 5:16, 17): “Look upon them as streams from thy own pure fountains” (the Jews are said to come forth out of the waters of Judah, Isa. 48:1), “so that they are parts of thyself, as the streams are of the fountain. Keep to thy own wife, and thou shalt have,” (1.) “A numerous offspring, like rivers of water, which run in abundance, and they shall be dispersed abroad, matched into other families, whereas those that commit whoredom shall not increase,” Hos. 4:10. (2.) “A peculiar offspring, which shall be only thy own, whereas the children of whoredom, that are fathered upon thee, are, probably, not so, but, for aught thou knowest, are the offspring of strangers, and yet thou must keep them.” (3.) “A creditable offspring, which are an honour to thee, and which thou mayest send abroad, and appear with, in the streets, whereas a spurious brood is thy disgrace, and that which thou art ashamed to own.” In this matter, virtue has all the pleasure and honour in it; justly therefore it is called wisdom.

5. Let him then scorn the offer of forbidden pleasures when he is always ravished with the love of a faithful virtuous wife; let him consider what an absurdity it will be for him to be ravished with a strange woman (Prov. 5:20), to be in love with a filthy harlot, and embrace the bosom of a stranger, which, if he had any sense of honour or virtue, he would loathe the thoughts of. “Why wilt thou be so sottish, such an enemy to thyself, as to prefer puddle-water, and that poisoned too and stolen, before pure living waters out of thy own well?” Note, If the dictates of reason may be heard, the laws of virtue will be obeyed.

II. “See the eye of God always upon thee and let his fear rule in thy heart,” Prov. 5:21. Those that live in this sin promise themselves secresy (the eye of the adulterer waits for the twilight, Job 24:15); but to what purpose, when it cannot be hidden from God? For, 1. He sees it. The ways of man, all his motions, all his actions, are before the eyes of the Lord, all the workings of the heart and all the outgoings of the life, that which is done ever so secretly and disguised ever so artfully. God sees it in a true light, and knows it with all its causes, circumstances, and consequences. He does not cast an eye upon men’s ways now and then, but they are always actually in his view and under his inspection; and darest thou sin against God in his sight, and do that wickedness under his eye which thou durst not do in the presence of a man like thyself? 2. He will call the sinner to an account for it; for he not only sees, but ponders all his goings, judges concerning them, as one that will shortly judge the sinner for them. Every action is weighed, and shall be brought into judgment (Eccl. 12:14), which is a good reason why we should ponder the path of our feet (Prov. 4:26), and so judge ourselves that we may not be judged.

III. “Foresee the certain ruin of those that go on still in their trespasses.” Those that live in this sin promise themselves impunity, but they deceive themselves; their sin will find them out, Prov. 5:22, 23. The apostle gives the sense of these verses in a few words. Heb. 13:4; Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. 1. It is a sin which men with great difficulty shake off the power of. When the sinner is old and weak his lusts are strong and active, in calling to remembrance the days of his youth, Ezek. 23:19. Thus his own iniquities having seized the wicked himself by his own consent, and he having voluntarily surrendered himself a captive to them, he is held in the cords of his own sins, and such full possession they have gained of him that he cannot extricate himself, but in the greatness of his folly (and what greater folly could there be than to yield himself a servant to such cruel task-masters?) he shall go astray, and wander endlessly. Uncleanness is a sin from which, when once men have plunged themselves into it, they very hardly and very rarely recover themselves. 2. It is a sin which, if it be not forsaken, men cannot possibly escape the punishment of; it will unavoidably be their ruin. As their own iniquities do arrest them in the reproaches of conscience and present rebukes (Jer. 7:19), so their own iniquities shall arrest them and bind them over to the judgments of God. There needs no prison, no chains; they shall be holden in the cords of their own sins, as the fallen angels, being incurably wicked, are thereby reserved in chains of darkness. The sinner, who, having been often reproved, hardens his neck, shall die at length without instruction. Having had general warnings sufficient given him already, he shall have no particular warnings, but he shall die without seeing his danger beforehan 67c d, shall die because he would not receive instruction, but in the greatness of his folly would go astray; and so shall his doom be, he shall never find the way home again. Those that are so foolish as to choose the way of sin are justly left of God to themselves to go in it till they come to that destruction which it leads to, which is a good reason why we should guard with watchfulness and resolution against the allurements of the sensual appetite.