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Wisdom for life-long love: "Rejoice in the wife of your youth"

May 30, 2022

Daily Scripture

Proverbs 5:3-19

3 The lips of a mysterious woman drip honey,
and her tongue is smoother than oil,
4 but in the end she is bitter as gall,
sharp as a double-edged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death;
her steps lead to the grave.
6 She doesn’t stay on the way of life.
Her paths wander, but she doesn’t know it.
7 Now sons, listen to me,
and don’t deviate from the words of my mouth.
8 Stay on a path that is far from her;
don’t approach the entrance to her house.
9 Otherwise, you will give your strength to others,
your years to a cruel person.
10 Otherwise, strangers will sap your strength,
and your hard work will end up in a foreigner’s house.
11 You will groan at the end
when your body and flesh are exhausted,
12 and you say, “How I hated instruction!
How my heart despised correction!
13 I didn’t listen to the voice of my instructor.
I didn’t obey my teacher.
14 I’m on the brink of utter ruin
in the assembled community.”
15 Drink water from your own cistern,
gushing water from your own well.
16 Should your fountains flood outside,
streams of water in the public squares?
17 They are yours alone,
not for you as well as strangers.
18 May your spring be blessed.
Rejoice in the wife of your youth.
19 She is a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts intoxicate you all the time;
always be drunk on her love.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

In this first section, Proverbs personified “wisdom” as a wise parent. Verse seven said “sons,” but this section spoke not so much to kids as to middle-age angst (mainly male—in Hebrew law women couldn’t initiate divorces). Pastor Hamilton noted Revelation 2:4-5’s call to “do the things you did at first” spiritually and wrote, “This is a straightforward method for dealing with the problems that beset so many marriages: look honestly at the things you’ve stopped doing, and start doing them again.” *

  • The first hearers or readers of Proverbs’ lived in a world with no sex-filled TV ads, no R-rated movies, no Internet porn or text messaging. Still Proverbs warned about the hazards of attraction to someone other than their committed partner. If this relationship angst could happen without any of the modern forces we often blame, what are the deeper root causes? What positive steps can spouses take to help them “rejoice in the wife (or partner) of your youth”?
  • Proverbs focused on the value of positive steps to maintain a commitment to life-long love. But it also addressed the importance of avoiding temptation. “Stay on a path that is far from her; don’t approach the entrance to her house” (verse 8). Have you ever had to avoid a difficult, tempting situation? What makes it crucial to life-long love to recognize and stay away from persons and conditions that draw you to betray your committed partner?

Loving Lord, thank you that, as Psalm 13:5 said, “I have trusted in your faithful love.” Shape my heart to offer to those I love most the same quality of faithfulness you offer to me. Amen.

GPS Insights

Etiam Lawson

Etiam Lawson

Etiam Lawson serves as a Connection and Care Minister at Resurrection Leawood. He also serves in the TechArt Team at modern worship services as a camera operator. He loves gardening, bird-watching and astronomy. Every day, in every way, Etiam is being transformed by the renewing of his mind.

I recently took the love language test and “gift receiving” was my primary language. Being a natural giver, I find myself receiving unexpected presents on many occasions. Therefore, when a “mysterious coworker” surprises me with presents–no matter how insignificant–I can sometimes misunderstand her motive. As generosity easily reciprocates, my innocent act of exchanging gifts can easily spiral up to a root cause of the “hazard of attraction.” It’s easy to find myself falling under the charm of someone else who speaks the same primary love language as mine, and assuming more than was intended. Yet Proverbs warned me that the “ ‘mysterious woman’ is sharp as a double-edged sword.”

Being from a French speaking country, I naturally speak one of the five romance languages and my body language can easily be misleading. In fact, during my first years in the United States, one of my close friends rebuked me on several occasions for flirting when talking to women when I thought I was just being courteous. That was never my intention, but it took some cultural reflection to understand why my being courteous could be perceived as courting someone. In this case I am the “mysterious man.” I can picture King Solomon advising young women that: “his tongue is smoother than oil, but in the end he is bitter as gall.”

One of the most valuable lessons Jesus taught me is to “stay alert and pray so that I won’t give in to temptation.” He also taught that “my spirit is eager, but my flesh is weak.” This implies that even though I vowed to love my partner all the days of my life, seasons of temptation lie ahead.

I think of Pastor Adam’s master keys to relationships that last as gifts to allow married men and women to rejoice in the partner of their youth. They are also invaluable when it comes to healing any relationship on the brink of utter ruin. A long lasting relationship requires daily commitments and perseverance. It requires time to spend getting to know each other well–not just an immediate attraction. And as one who would rather light a candle than curse the darkness, here is a note to my future self for a happy, long lasting and harmonious relationship:

Dear Me,
Remember the five keys to relationships that last and apply them well.
Remember seasons will come where you must “do love until you feel love.”
Remember all the things you did at first and seek ways to cherish your “lovely deer.”
Stay alert and pray that you won’t give in to temptation.
Above all, “may your love fountain always be blessed.
And may you rejoice in the partner of your youth.”

Daily Prayer: Lord, here I am. Use me to bless my partner today. In Christ’s name, Amen.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Hamilton, Adam. Love to Stay (p. 119). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.