Flowing Water From Your Own Well

The Catechism teaches us that, “study of the sacred page should be the very soul of sacred theology” (CCC  132).  This year, I completed a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies. My thesis was on the Book of Proverbs and, as I wrote, I decided to gather into a preface section a list of ”selected favorites”; those proverbs that spoke to me directly plus those I thought  would be familiar to readers and create interest sufficient to intrigue them. I concluded this list of favorites by setting apart two Bible verses I kept as a personal challenge of my own that I may understand them better.

  • “Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well.” (Proverbs 5:15)
  • “but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)

waterThese two verses present the theme of water from a well. The latter is the discourse of Jesus and the Samaritan woman by the well. Its message is clear and commonly known: the water welling up to eternal life is the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, the message of the proverb was not clear to me. But I held to the precept of divine inspiration and that all words in the Bible are placed there for a purpose and a meaning. I knew there must be a parallel between the two and a connection point that would serve to strengthen my faith.

It was through the sharing of my personal prayer for insight that a friend and co-worker helped me toward better understanding. A reference was offered: the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible’s Book of Proverbs.

The notes for Proverbs 5:15-18 explain this proverb is about the dangers of adultery and that a well is a poetic image for one’s bride: that “she is to be cherished as a source of life, love and refreshment.”[1]  Our discussions lead us to identify parallels between Jesus Christ, the Church as the Bride of Christ, living water and God’s love poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5).  The connection was made – these two verses are about love relationships.  A simple-sounding proverb points to the truth that a man should love his wife as Jesus loves the Church and, in this, there is eternal joy.

In my experience, when I’m immersed in the word, deeper meanings and parallel messages present themselves as I read. In his beautiful gift to us titled “Jesus of Nazareth”, Pope Benedict XVI wrote about the Parable of the Prodigal Son and the need to convert one’s own relationship with the Father, “This will not mean giving up their obedience, but rather that their obedience will flow from deeper wellsprings and will therefore be bigger, more open, and purer, but above all more humble.” [2]

These words, “from deeper wellsprings” and “flowing water from your own well”, now call me to develop deeper obedience in love that is more secure.  Pope Benedict has helped me see that God’s love requires our action; action in the freedom to choose a relationship and to develop that relationship through faith and “to convert truly and to find joy in our faith.”[3]

[1] Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon,Ignatius Catholic Study Bible (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2013), 22.

[2] Joseph Ratzinger Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth (New York: Random House, 2007), 211.

[3] Ratzinger, 211.


This article was originally published at Verbum Domini.

image credit: shutterstock.com


Tom Rentz is a contributing writer to Verbum Domini.

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