These verses use a pretty common form of poetry from that time which was used to communicate awe. The author of Proverbs says there are “three things, no (check that!) four,” in order to emphasize his awe for those things, and especially the fourth thing in the list. In this case, he’s talking about things that are just too wonderful for him to grasp. The verse builds itself up to the ultimate awe-inspiring mystery: a man with a woman.
Now, for context, this is a wedding night. It’s talking about two people completely offering themselves to one another. It’s a pure, innocent, unadulterated act that is completely awesome and mystifying to the author.
And then, after he’s taken this beautiful and poetic message, where he is just overwhelmed by the beauty and intimacy of marriage, he shatters it with verse 20.
Sex is meant to be intimate… to be filled with awe and wonder. We should be saying, “It’s too wonderful to me, I can’t even wrap my mind around it!”But in stark contrast, adultery isn’t about intimacy, awe, or wonder- it’s about reckless appetite.
The contrast is being made here between people who are filled with wonder and appreciation, and an adulteress who thinks of sex like sloppy eating. The author isn’t saying, “Follow the rules, even if you don’t want to, or else God will make you pay.” He’s urging us to follow the rules because if we don’t, we’ll miss out on the most wonderful thing that he can imagine.
20 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?”
:19 “Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight.” Some commandments are easier to keep than others. Unfortunately, I think the second part of the verse gets missed because we’re so focused on the fact that the Bible just said “breasts.” The Bible tells us to be “intoxicated” with love.
“You need to be crazy, head over heels drunk with love for your wife.”
By placing these two things next to each other (intoxication and love), Proverbs is telling us that the enjoyment of her body goes hand in hand with the intoxication of love. They are not mutually exclusive, they must go together.
Then he gets sneaky. The author of Proverbs intentionally uses the exact same word “intoxication,” in the next verse… but there’s no talk of love.
A stark contrast is being drawn between the two senses of the term intoxication. The first is innocent love and the second idea is reckless infatuation.
It’s pretty romantic to be drunk with love…not so much to be a foolish, drunken idiot. Proverbs is telling us to stay at home and be drunk with love, instead of going out and being emptily intoxicated with lust.
Proverbs is teaching that being faithful to your spouse is more than an important rule to follow, it’s a way of life- and anything outside of it is missing out on the best stuff.