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Sexual Satisfaction Is not to Be Sought Outside Marriage
Proverbs 5:16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
16 Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets?
Should your springs be scattered abroad: Springs (Heb. mǎʿ·yān) refers to a natural flow of groundwater that comes to the surface, which flows from beneath the ground, and should be distinguished from water that is stored in a well or a cistern. Scattered abroad means to be thrown or moved, spread far from the place from which it originated.
Streams of water in the streets: Streams translates a word (pě·lěḡ), which refers to a natural body of water that flows on or underground within the bed and banks of a channel.
Both springs, as well as streams, are regularly used in the Old Testament as a means of enjoyment or pleasure. However, the cisterns and wells spoken of in verse 15 are located on the property of the owner, while the streams and springs of verse 16 are often at a distance.
Just as the “cistern” of verse 15 stood for the wife’s sexual affections for her husband, the “springs” and “streams of water” of verse 16 is a reference to the husband’s sexual affections for his wife.
In other words, verse 16a would read something like, ‘shall your [the husband’s] springs [sexual affections] be scattered outward [someone other than his wife]? Verse 16b would read, ‘in the streets [where prostitutes are], shall there be streams of water [the husband’s sexual affections]?’ Verse 15-16 gives the reader an analogy that the “cistern” [the wife] satisfies the sexual desires of the husband, and the “springs” and “streams of water” [the husband] satisfies the desires of the wife.
Using figurative language, the Scriptures employ the terms cistern and well of verse 15 and springs and streams of verse 16 as expressions of “water sources” to denote a source of the wife’s sexual affections for her husband in verse 15 and to denote a source of the husband’s sexual affections for his wife in verse 16, with the point being made that sexual satisfaction is not to be sought outside of the marriage. Of course, the love between husband and wife properly involves the marital relationship. However, all those outside the marriage must be excluded from its intimacies.