“Drink Water from Your Own Cistern”: A Literary Study of Proverbs 5:15-23 -- By: Robert B. Chisholm Jr.

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 157:628 (Oct 2000)
Article: “Drink Water from Your Own Cistern”: A Literary Study of Proverbs 5:15-23
Author: Robert B. Chisholm Jr.


“Drink Water from Your Own Cistern”: A Literary Study of Proverbs 5:15-23

Robert B. Chisholm Jr.a

In Proverbs 1–9 the father-teacher repeatedly addresses the subject of sexual behavior as he instructs his son-pupil about how to live skillfully (see 2:16–19; 5:1–23; 6:20–35; 7:1–27). This article focuses on Proverbs 5:15–23, a passage in which the father seeks to convince his son that genuine sexual satisfaction comes only within the context of marriage. The father’s pedagogical technique, which balances realism and rhetoric, is instructive for modern teachers who seek to give young men moral guidance in this area.

Proverbs 5:15-23 in Its Immediate Literary Context

Verses 15–23 are the climax to a speech that begins in verse 1. The entire chapter displays the pattern of the instruction genre, which combines exhortation with persuasive motivating arguments.1 Its structure may be outlined as follows:

Cycle One (vv. 1–6)

General exhortation to pay attention (v. 1)

Motivating argument (vv. 2–6)

Cycle Two (vv. 7–14)

Expanded general exhortation to pay attention2 and specific

exhortation concerning improper behavior (vv. 7–8)

Motivating argument (vv. 9–14)

Cycle Three (vv. 15–23)

Specific exhortation concerning proper behavior (v. 15)

Motivating argument (vv. 16–17)3

Blessing and anticipated consequence of its realization (vv. 18–19a)4

Specific e...

You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
Click here to subscribe
visitor : : uid: ()