C O U P L E S L I K E Y O U
A N D M E
Lessons from the Lives of Twelve Couples in the Bible
F. Wayne Mac Leod
Light To My Path Book Distribution
Copyright © 2019 F. Wayne Mac Leod
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CONTENTS
Title Page
Copyright
Preface
1 -Adam and Eve: The Effects of Sin in the Life of the Couple
2 - Abraham and Sarah: The Question of Submission
3 - Lot and his Wife: The Unequal Yoke
4 - Isaac and Rebecca:
The Couple and their Children
5 - Jacob and Leah: The Unloved Wife
6 - Moses and Zipporah: Distractions
7 - David and His Wives: The Temptation to Look Elsewhere
8 - Solomon and His Wives: More Valuable than Rubies
9 - Boaz and Ruth: The God who Cares for Widows
10 - Samson and the Woman of Timnah: Sovereignty and Responsibility
11- The Prophets and Their Wives: Symbols of God and His People
12 - Aquila and Priscilla: United in the Work of the Lord
About The Author
PREFACE
We are all influenced by what we see around us. Our conception of the ideal
couple is founded, in part, on what we see in other relationships. In this
study, we will look at the lives of twelve marriages in the Bible. They were
couples like you and me. They faced temptations like you and me. Some of
them succeeded in overcoming these temptations. Others fell prey to them.
The goal of these twelve simple reflections is to encourage you in your own
married life. You will see dangers to be avoided and examples to follow.
What is important is that you let the Lord guide you through these Biblical
illustrations. They are for your instruction and encouragement. May this
simple study encourage you in your life as a couple.
F. Wayne Mac Leod
T
1 -ADAM AND EVE: THE
EFFECTS OF SIN IN THE LIFE
OF THE COUPLE
Read Genesis 3.7-19
he Lord had just created the Garden of Eden. There He placed
Adam, the first man, and gave him the responsibility of cultivating
the soil. Adam lived in a perfect paradise. The beauty of God’s
creation surrounded him. Sickness, suffering and sadness were unknown.
He enjoyed complete peace and tranquillity. He had no enemy or worry. He
could have lived forever in communion with His Creator in that paradise.
One would have thought that in such a situation, the heart of Adam would
have overflowed with joy. Deep in his heart, however, he felt a void.
God knew this and said: it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make
a helper suitable for him (Genesis 2:18). Although Adam lived in the
presence of God in a perfect paradise, God had created him so that he
would find true happiness and joy in communion with others of his kind.
Adam was not made to live in isolation. Genesis 3 tells us that God created
animals from the ground and brought them to man to see what he would
name them. Among these animals, however, “no suitable helper was found
(Genesis 2.20b). There was no doubt that Adam enjoyed these animals.
They were company for him and a wonderful gift of God. The problem,
however, was that they did not fill the emptiness he felt in his heart. These
animals only served to make Adam even more aware of his loneliness.
To meet this profound need, God caused Adam to fall asleep. As he slept,
God took one of his ribs and from it created a woman. When Adam saw her,
he knew that this was the helper his heart desired. She was part of him. She
had been created from his own body. Adam recognised this connection. He
called her “woman” because he said, “this is now bone of my bones and
flesh of my flesh she shall be called ‘woman’ because she was taken out of
man” (Genesis 2:23). They were created for each other. They would
complete each other.
We can only imagine what those first few months would have been like as
Adam and Eve lived in paradise without sin and suffering. Nothing could
separate them. They enjoyed a perfect and harmonious relationship.
Nothing could have been more perfect.
This perfect relationship would not last, however. In Genesis 3, we read the
story of how Satan tempted Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of
good and evil. Succumbing to this temptation, she ate the forbidden fruit
and gave some to her husband. Together they disobeyed the direct
command of God not to eat the fruit of this tree. Through them, sin entered
the garden. This sin would have a profound impact on their relationship as a
couple.
In Genesis 3:7, we read that Adam and Eve became aware of their
nakedness and experienced shame. For the first time in their lives, they felt
as if they had something to hide from each other. No longer did they
experience the freedom and intimacy they had known. As a result of this
shame, Adam and Eve pull back into themselves, creating a barrier in their
relationship.
In Genesis 3:11-13 God came into the garden to see Adam and Eve.
Realising that God was in their midst, they hid from Him. When God asked
why they were hiding, Adam’s answer is very revealing. He told God that
Eve gave him fruit from the forbidden tree and he ate it. Eve, in turn, told
God how the serpent had deceived her into eating the fruit. Neither party is
willing to accept their part in the sin. They justify their action at the expense
of another.
Do you see what is happening here? Pride has entered their lives. They are
willing to make someone else look bad to excuse themselves. With the
entrance of sin in the world, Adam and Eve experienced a radical change in
their married lives. They began to think only of their own interests. They
are even willing to justify their actions at the expense of their partner.
These were not the only affects of sin in their married lives. As a couple,
they would experience pain and suffering for the first time. Adam would
have to work hard to feed his family. Eve would give birth to children
through great pain. They would experience not only physical pain but also
significant emotional pain. They would experience the agony of the first
murder as their son Cain killed his brother in a jealous rage. Their children
would grow up under the effects of sin in their lives. They would give their
parents much worry. Having experienced the joy of paradise, this would
have been a very bitter pill for Adam and Eve to swallow.
The perfect and harmonious relationship that God had created between
Adam and Eve was destroyed by sin. Every couple since Adam and Eve
must live with the effects of sin in their personal and married lives. Because
of sin, we struggle with pride and self-centredness. We have all had quarrels
that could have been easily avoided if only we thought less of self and more
of our partner. How many problems in marriage have their roots in sin? The
greatest enemy in marriage is sin.
Because of sin, men and women must now work hard in this sin cursed
earth to provide for the basic needs of their families. Our children are born
with evil natures. We must fight to keep them on the right track, even
though we find ourselves slipping into the same sin. How many sleepless
nights have we lost out of concern for our children and their tendency to
sin? How often have we alienated our partners because of our own battle
with sin?
Sin has had a dramatic effect on our lives as couples. If you want to have a
good relationship with your partner, you must deal with sin. Jesus alone can
give you victory over that sin. Problems began in the relationship between
Adam and Eve when they turned their backs on God. The best thing you
can do for your marriage is to be sure that you are walking with God and
seeking His forgiveness and enabling to deal with your sinful tendencies.
Only when your relationship with God is right can your relationship with
your partner be mended. Put yourself in a right relationship with God and
your relationship with your partner will soon follow.
Adam and Eve destroyed their relationship because they disobeyed God and
listened to the voice of sin. That sin damaged their marriage. The next time
you have a problem in your marriage, ask yourself: What sin is keeping us
from enjoying the communion God intends us to have? When you have
answered that question, confess that sin and be restored to a right
relationship with God and your partner.
To Consider:
Think about the last time you and your partner had a conflict. How could
this conflict have been avoided if you thought less of your own interests and
more of the interests of your partner? Were you guilty of sin in this
situation?
One of the results of sin was that man would have to work hard to earn his
living. Do the difficulties you experience in your work hinder you in your
marriage and family? What can you do practically to deal with this?
Adam and Eve experienced shame because of their sinfulness. They
attempted to hide that shame from each other. How can confessing sin to
one another be helpful in our marriage?
What practical things can you do to help your children overcome the effects
of sin in their lives?
For Prayer:
Ask the Lord to help you deal with the sin of pride in your marriage. Ask
Him to open your eyes to how you can minister to your partner and your
children.
T
2 - ABRAHAM AND SARAH:
THE QUESTION OF
SUBMISSION
Read Genesis 12:10-15; 1 Peter 3:1-6
he apostle Peter, writing to women, commanded them to be
submissive to their husbands so that some may be won by their
good conduct (1 Peter 3:1). He encouraged them to look to Sarah,
the wife of Abraham, as their example:
“For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope
in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to
their own husbands, like Sarah who obeyed Abraham and called
him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do
not give way to fear.” (2 Peter 3:5,6)
What do we know of the submission of Sarah to Abraham? Genesis 12 tells
the story of how Abraham and Sarah went to Egypt because of a severe
famine in the land of Canaan. As they travelled, Abraham became afraid
that the Egyptians, upon seeing his beautiful wife, would kill him to take
her for themselves. He knew, however, that they would very likely treat
both he and Sarah well if they thought she was his sister. He asked Sarah,
therefore, to say that she was his sister. This was not a complete lie for we
read in Genesis 20.12 that Abraham and Sarah had the same father but not
the same mother. It should be mentioned here that this marriage would, in
the days of Moses, be considered an illegitimate marriage:
“Do not have sexual relations with your sister, either your fathers
daughter or your mothers daughter, whether she was born in the
same home or elsewhere.” (Leviticus 18.9)
Abraham wanted to use the fact that Sarah was his sister to their advantage.
While he did not tell a lie in saying that Sarah was his sister, he was hiding
a crucial fact: She was also his wife. Because of this partial truth, Sarah was
taken into the household of Pharaoh and risked falling into the sin of
adultery to save her husband’s life.
This would not be the only time that Sarah took this stand for her husband.
Later in Genesis 20 and Sarah told king Abimelech the same lie. Abimelech
took Sarah into his home as well. Happily, the Lord preserves Sarah and her
integrity by not permitting the king to have a sexual relation with her (see
Genesis 20:6).
In these two situations, Sarah submitted to her husband, Abraham. On the
one hand, we can respect a wife who was willing to protect her husband.
She placed him above herself. His safety was her great concern. She risked
much for this. I can imagine, however, that this was not easy for Sarah. I do
not believe that she wanted to be sexually unfaithful to Abraham. I think
that when these kings took her, she prayed to her God for protection. She
did not want to lose her husband. She had no secret delight in keeping this
matter a secret. She submitted, however, out of respect for Abraham and his
safety because she was led to believe that he could lose his life if she did
not keep their marriage a secret. We will come back to this illustration a
little later.
In Genesis sixteen, we read that Abraham, as well, submitted to his wife,
Sarah. Sarah could not have a child. She decided, therefore, to give
Abraham her servant so that she could have a child through her. According
to the custom of the day, because this servant belonged to Sarah, the child
she bore would be Sarah’s child. Abraham accepted this proposition and
slept with Sarah’s servant Hagar. When Hagar realised that she had
conceived and was bearing Abraham’s child, she began to despise Sarah.
Intense jealousy developed between the two women. In time, Sarah blamed
Abraham for all her problems with Hagar:
“You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant
in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises
me. May the Lord judge between you and me.” (Genesis 16. 5)
Maybe to prove his love for Sarah, Abraham gave his wife permission to do
what she wanted with her servant. Sarah mistreated her to such an extent
that Hagar ran away.
These two incidents in the lives of Abraham and Sarah leave us a bit
perplexed. To what point am I to submit to a husband or wife? Did Sarah do
well in submitting to her husband when that submission could have very
easily lead her to fall into the sin of adultery? Did Abraham do well to
submit to his wife and allow her to do whatever she wanted when this led
her to mistreat a fellow human being? To answer these questions, we need
to look to the apostle Paul.
In Ephesians 5:22, we read:
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22)
The teaching of Paul at this point is clear. The wife is to submit to the
husband. In so doing, she is obedient to the Lord. The question, however,
remains: Should she submit to her husband if this implies disobedience to
the Lord?
What Paul told the Ephesians in Ephesians 5:22 does not mean that women
are to submit to every desire of their husbands. They are to submit to their
husbands as they would to the Lord. In other words, when their submission
to their husbands runs contrary to the purpose of the Lord, they are not to
submit. They are to submit to their husbands in such a way that in doing so,
they are also surrendering to the will and purpose of the Lord for their lives.
Peter, while speaking to the Sanhedrin in Acts 5, says:
“We must obey God rather than man.” (Acts 5.29)
This is a crucial verse in the context of marriage as well. The wife should
be submissive to her husband but also realise that she has a higher authority
to which she must submit. If by surrendering to her husband, the wife
disobeys the command of God, she makes herself guilty before God. The
wife ought, therefore, to submit to her husband in so far as this does not
cause her to turn her back on the greater will of God.
Did Sarah do well to submit to the will of Abraham when he asked her to
hide the fact that they were married? I fear that if in so doing, she disobeyed
the greater commandment of God, she was indeed guilty. I leave you to
decide for yourself. What we need to take from this example, however, is
the fact that Sarah was willing to put aside her own interests and desires for
the sake of her husband. She did not fear to suffer for Abraham. She
considered him to be more important than herself. She was willing to die to
self for the sake of her husband. It is this attitude that is commended in
Sarah. How many problems could be avoided in marriage if wives had this
same attitude? In reality, it is the attitude of Christ for us. He was willing to
die so that you and I could live. This sort of attitude requires that you put
your partners interest above your own. Paul put it this way:
“Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit
to their husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5.24)
How should the church submit to Christ? She needs to die to herself and
give Him first place in her life. She needs to be willing to serve Him and
even be ready to die for him. Does this characterise your relationship with
your husband?
We must not stop here. In Ephesians 5, Paul also has some words to say to
husband. Listen to what Paul tells them:
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and
gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the
washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself
as a radiant church without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish,
but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love
their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves
himself.” (Ephesians 5.25-28)
Paul made it clear that a husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the
church. How did Christ love the church? Though He is Lord, He did not
think of Himself. Everything He did was for her good. He humbled Himself
and died for her. Paul tells us that Christ did this to present His bride to God
as a bride without “stain or wrinkle.”
Let us return to the example of Abraham for an instant. Was Abraham
seeking to present his wife before God without stain or wrinkle when he
asked her to hide their marriage? Was he concerned about presenting his
wife to the Lord blameless and without blemish when he gave her
permission to mistreat her servant? It is quite possible that Abraham was
not thinking about spiritual matters here. His only concern seems to be to
protect himself and relieve himself from the constant fighting between his
wife and her servant.
If husbands are to be the family leaders Christ meant them to be, they must
humble themselves even as Christ humbled Himself for us. They must be
willing to die to their interests to seek the interests of their wives and
children. As household leaders, they must lead their family into a greater
awareness of Christ and His purposes for them. To do this, they must live
and lead as servants. Ultimately, the marriage that God intends for us to
have is one where both parties seek the good of the other. While God has
called the husband to be the head of the family, that role must be exercised
in a spirit of submission. Consider the following definition of submission
and authority:
Submission does not mean being treated as a slave
BUT
Submission does mean putting his interests above my own
Submission does not mean never having to be thanked
BUT
Submission does mean persevering even when there is no thanks
Submission does not mean never letting my opinion be known
BUT
Submission does mean allowing him to have his opinion
Submission does not mean always having to say “yes” even when it
goes against God’s higher authority
BUT
Submission does mean following the example of my Lord Jesus who,
forsaking Himself, went even to the point of death for me
Authority does not mean taking advantage of my wife
BUT
Authority does mean an added responsibility to care for and respect
her person
Authority does not mean having a wife to meet my every need
BUT
Authority does mean being accountable to God for her needs
Authority does not mean having to win every argument
BUT
Authority does mean having to actively seek a solution to our
disagreements by taking into account her interests
Authority does not mean putting her in her place
BUT
Authority does mean following the example of my Lord Jesus who
went as Lord and Master to the cross for his bride, the Church
To Consider:
Wives think of the example of the submission of Sarah to Abraham. How
does her example help you to understand better what God expects of you in
your relationship with your husband? Think of a practical example in your
marriage where you could put this principle into practice.
Husbands, what do you learn in this chapter about your spiritual
responsibility in the family? To what extent do the decisions you make in
your family have as their goal to present your wife and children before God
without “stain or wrinkle.” What should you do to improve?
Could it be said that the husband’s authority over the wife in Scripture is a
type of submission? Consider the example of Christ. What do you learn
from His example?
Take the time this week to consider how you can serve your partner. Ask
yourself the question: how can I die to self and help him or her this week?
For Prayer:
Husband:
Ask the Lord to help you to be the leader He intended you to be. Ask Him
to help you to lead by becoming a servant to your wife, even as Christ did
for the church.
Wife:
Ask the Lord to help you put the interests of your husband before your own
even as Christ did for His people.
L
3 - LOT AND HIS WIFE: THE
UNEQUAL YOKE
Read Genesis 19.12-26
ot was the son of Abraham’s brother Haran. Haran died when
Abraham was living in the land of Ur. When Haran died, Abraham
took Lot with him on his journey to the region of Canaan. We are
not told how old Lot was when his father died, but obviously, he was not
old enough to be on his own. Abraham raised Lot as his own son.
In Genesis 13, we read that Abraham travelled to the land of Egypt because
of a severe famine that ravaged the countryside. When he returned from
Egypt, his herdsmen and the herdsmen of Lot began to quarrel because
there was not enough room in the land for them to live together. We see
from this that Lot was a young man responsible for his herd. Abraham
decided that the time had come for Lot to be on his own. Abraham gave
him the choice of land to possess. Lot choose the plain of Jordan because of
its rich fertile soil and left Abraham to start his new life. To this point, we
have no mention of Lot having a wife.
When he arrived in the plain of Jordan, Lot decided to live in the city of
Sodom. This city was a wicked city, and its inhabitants were sinners before
the Lord (Genesis 13:13). The decision to live in this city would prove to be
a bad one. The next time we read about Lot, he is a married man with a
family. Where did Lot find his wife? Is it possible that he married one of the
pagan women of the city of Sodom?
Even though Lot knew about the God of Abraham and had grown up for a
time in the family of this great saint of God, he turned his back on
Abraham’s faith. He married an unbelieving wife and chose to live in a
wicked city.
One day some angels from God arrived in the city of Sodom. They came
with a word from the Lord for Lot. God was going to destroy the Sodom
and its inhabitants because of their sin. Even though Lot was no longer
walking with the Lord, he was sensitive enough to His voice that he took
this message seriously. Maybe he knew deep down in his heart that the God
of Abraham was the true God. Believing what the angels had told him, he
warned his family of the impending danger. He also spoke to his future
sons-in-law concerning the announcement of the angels. His family refused
to listen. They believed he was joking. They would not take him seriously.
“So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to
marry his daughters. He said, ‘Hurry and get out of this place,
because the Lord is about to destroy the city!’ But his sons-in-law
thought he was joking.” (Ephesians 5.25-28)
Lot did not know what to do. The angels encouraged him to leave the city at
once, but he hesitated. He did not want to leave his family behind. Seeing
that he was not leaving, the angels seized him, his wife and their two
daughters by the hand and took them out of the city. Once outside the city,
the angels warned them to run and not look back. They were not to stop
even for an instant, because the judgement of God was about to fall on the
city (Genesis 19:17).
Despite the angel’s warning, the Bible tells us that Lot’s wife looked back. I
do not think that this was a simple act of curiosity. I believe that she was
wondering why she was leaving the city. She did not want to leave. Her life
was in Sodom. Her heart was there too. She loved the ways of Sodom. She
was not ready to sacrifice these things. Because of her unbelieving and
disobedient heart, the Lord struck her alone with the other inhabitants of
Sodom.
As for Lot’s two daughters, seeing that they had lost their mother and their
future husbands, they decided to get Lot drunk with wine and sleep with
their father to continue their family line. Under the influence of wine, Lot
slept with his daughters, who became pregnant and gave birth to two sons.
Peter tells us something interesting about Lot:
“And if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the
filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among
them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the
lawless deeds he saw and heard). (2 Peter 2.7,8)
According to Peter, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented
continuously in his life because of sin. He was tormented day after day
because of the evil he saw around him in Sodom. Though he loved God, he
was caught in a trap. He had married a wife who did not love the Lord. He
lived in a city of perversion. He was losing his children to the influences of
this sinful city in which he had chosen to live. All these things weighed
heavily on Lot. They tormented him daily. He was not at peace with himself
or with his God.
Because his wife did not love the Lord, Lot could not say much when his
daughters wanted to marry men who did not know the Lord. For some
reason, he gave his approval to these marriages. As a spiritual leader of his
family, Lot had failed to lead his family into the knowledge and love of
God. Where did this all begin? Everything began when he chose to live in
the evil city of Sodom and marry a wife who did not love the Lord. Lot,
who was weak in his faith, by choosing to marry an unbelieving wife,
wandered from the Lord. His wife did not encourage him to walk in the
ways of Jehovah. If anything, she hurt his spiritual walk. Even his children
were drawn into the evil influences of their surroundings. When Lot did
decide to speak to them about the things of God, they refused to listen. He
had lost all credibility as a spiritual leader in his family.
What would have happened if Lot had chosen a wife who truly loved the
Lord? What difference would that have made in his life and the lives of his
children? While this may be pure speculation, I have the impression that his
life would have been very different. Instead, he now lived a tormented life
because he knew he had failed in his walk with the Lord. He knew he was
also responsible for the loss of his wife and daughters to the sin of Sodom?
The Bible warns us of the dangers of marrying an unbeliever. Exodus
34:15,16 tells us:
“Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for
when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them,
they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. And when you
choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those
daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your
sons to do the same.” (Exodus 34.15,16)
In Deuteronomy 7:3,4, we read:
“Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their
sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your
sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s
anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.”
(Deuteronomy 7.3,4)
This is precisely what happened in the life of Lot. His life was saved only
because of his uncle Abraham’s prayer to God on his behalf.
The New Testament is also quite clear:
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do
righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship
can light have with darkness? What harmony is they between Christ
and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an
unbeliever? (2 Corinthians 6.14,15)
The man or woman who is thinking of marrying an unbeliever needs to
consider the warning of the word of God. They risk wandering from God.
They risk losing their children to sin and the world due to their bad
example. They risk dividing their family. They risk losing all influence for
good in the life of their family because of their compromise. The Bible
gives us a tragic example in the story of Lot of a husband and wife who
were unequally yoked. If you are not presently married, commit today to
marry only a partner who truly loves the Lord and is walking with him.
Don’t follow the bad example of Lot.
To Consider:
What kind of spiritual influence do you have in the life of your partner? Has
this influence been for good? What could be done to improve this?
What sort of spiritual example are you giving your children? What could be
done to improve this
If you are not married, what does this lesson teach you about the
importance of marrying a believer who is committed to walking with the
Lord? If you are presently married to an unbeliever, what problems do you
encounter? What advice would you give to a young person contemplating
marriage to an unbeliever?
For Prayer:
Pray for someone you know who has married an unbeliever. Pray as well
for the salvation of this unbelieving spouse.
A
4 - ISAAC AND REBECCA:
THE COUPLE AND THEIR
CHILDREN
Read Genesis 27.1-10
braham was now an old man. He was concerned that his son
Isaac find a wife. It was important that he find a wife so that the
promises of God to make of him a great nation be fulfilled.
Because he was advanced in years, Abraham called his servant and gave
him the task of finding a wife for his son.
It was not just any woman that would do for his son Isaac. According to
Genesis 24, Abraham had two requirements. First, it was necessary that this
woman be from his own family. She was not to be chosen from the
unbelieving pagan nations. God was going to accomplish His purposes
through this couple. It was important that their family be founded on God
and His Law.
Second, it was necessary that this woman be willing to leave her country
and become the wife of Isaac. She was not to be forced into this
commitment. She needed to sense in her own heart that the Lord was
moving her to marry Isaac.
Abraham’s servant accepted the responsibility to go on this mission.
According to Genesis 24:10, he left for Mesopotamia where the family of
Abraham lived. When he arrived in Mesopotamia, he found a well where he
knew the women of the town would come out to draw water. There at the
well, he prayed for the guidance of the Lord. This was an important
decision. He needed the leading and wisdom of the Lord.
Notice how Abraham’s prayed. He asked God for a sign. It was not just any
sign. This sign would show the servant the real character of the woman he
was seeking for Isaac. He asked the Lord that the woman who should
become the wife of Isaac would offer him and his camels something to
drink. While I have never had the opportunity to give a thirsty camel a drink
of water, I can imagine that it would not have been a simple matter. These
animals are designed to store water for several days of journeying through
the hot desert. The woman who volunteered to give the servant and his
camels a drink was a woman who did not think only of herself. She was
interested in the needs of others. She was also a woman of compassion. She
was not afraid to spend her effort on a total stranger and his animals. She
was a hard worker. She was generous. Was it for these qualities that the
servant was looking? When Rebecca came to the well, she proved to be all
the above.
Abraham’s servant knew the will of God not only by the sign He had asked
from the Lord, but he also put this sign to the test. There are at least three
other confirmations of the will of God in this passage. The first of these
confirmations is the confirmation of her family. When the servant asked
Rebecca about her family, he discovers that she was a relative of Abraham.
This was one of his masters requirements. The second confirmation came
in the form of the parent’s approval of the marriage. Abraham’s servant told
them how Abraham had sent him and how he had prayed at the well. He
explained how Rebecca had offered him and his camels something to drink,
even as he had prayed. This testimony convinced Rebecca’s family that the
matter was from the Lord. They consent to the marriage.
The third confirmation came in the form of Rebecca’s consent. Abraham
had told his servant that the woman must willingly become Isaac’s wife.
When the family asked Rebecca if she was willing to leave her country and
her family to marry Isaac, Rebecca consented. She, too, sensed that this was
the will of God for her life. With all these confirmations, there could be no
doubt that Rebecca was indeed the woman God had chosen to become the
wife of Isaac.
The Bible tells us that Isaac loved Rebecca (Genesis 24:67). They had two
sons by the name of Jacob and Esau. They were concerned as a couple for
the spiritual welfare of their family. The Bible tells us of their
disappointment when their son Esau decided to marry an unbelieving wife
(see Genesis 26:34, 35).
Their marriage was not perfect. It was their children who would place a
barrier between them. It all started in Genesis 25:27, 28:
“The boys grew up, and Esau became a skilful hunter, a man of the
open country, while Jacob was a quiet man, staying among the
tents. Isaac who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebecca
loved Jacob.” (Genesis 25:27,28)
Isaac and Rebecca soon began to play favourites with their children.
Rebecca always seemed to protect and promote Jacob above Esau. On one
occasion, she heard the aging Isaac ask his son Esau to go out into the
forests and catch him some wild game. He intended to give his blessing to
Esau as the eldest son. Seeking to promote Jacob above Esau, Rebecca
decided to deceive her husband into giving him the blessing instead. She
told her son Jacob to bring her two young goats. She prepared them and
asked him to go to her father pretending to be Esau so he could receive
Esau’s blessing. While Jacob was initially unwilling to engage in this sort of
deceit, his mother pushed him, and he finally accepted. Together they
succeed in deceiving Isaac.
When Esau discovered that his blessing was stolen from him, he swore that
he would kill his brother Jacob. Upon hearing this, Rebecca told Jacob to
flee to her family in Mesopotamia until Esau’s anger subsided. To justify
what she did, she went to her husband Isaac and told him that she was
worried that Jacob would marry one of the Canaanite women of the area.
She wanted him to go to Mesopotamia to find a wife among her people. She
was not honest with Isaac. She did this to protect her preferred son. Rebecca
is willing to deceive her husband. In so doing, she shows her lack of respect
for him in his old age. What drove her to this point? Was it not her jealousy
for the well-being of her favourite son Jacob?
What do we learn from the story of Isaac and Rebecca? We discover how
the couple who truly loved and respected each other in the beginning were
separated because of their children. While children are a real blessing from
the Lord, they can also come between husband and wife.
Is it possible that you are guilty, like Isaac and Rebecca, of giving
preference to one child over another? Do you discipline one child more
severely than another? Do you expect more of one than another? Do you
grant special favours to one over the other? This can cause problems in your
family life. It could even create division between you and your partner.
How many heated discussions have you had with your partner over how to
raise your children? Child rearing can cause a significant division in your
marriage. We can become so focused on our children that we no longer
cultivate our relationship as a couple. When these children leave our home,
we find ourselves living with a partner we hardly know any more.
Any couple realises that when you have children, you no longer have as
much time for your partner. Priorities shift. Our children now monopolise
the time we used to spend in communication with our partners. Once again,
this can cause the couple to drift apart.
Someone once said that the best thing a husband could do for his children is
to love their mother. There is truth to this statement. You can have a very
good relationship with your children and be lacking in your life as a couple.
This can only harm your children. In our day, children need to see a real
example of a mother and father who love each other. It is not always easy to
find the balance between our obligations to our partner and our children.
What this meditation teaches us, however, is that we need to be careful that
our children do not place a barrier between husband and wife. May God
help us to maintain a proper balance.
To Consider:
Think about your relationship with your partner. Is this relationship a source
of blessing for your children? Do your children see how much you and your
partner love each other? Do they have in you an example to follow in their
marriage?
Is there any way in which your children have taken you from your partner?
What can you do to change this for the good of both your children and your
partner?
For Prayer:
If you have children, ask the Lord for wisdom in finding a balance between
your relationship with them and your spouse. Ask Hm to help you as a
husband and wife to be one in this matter of raising your children. If you do
not presently have any children at home, pray for another couple you know.
Ask the Lord for wisdom and balance in their lives.
B
5 - JACOB AND LEAH: THE
UNLOVED WIFE
Read Genesis 29.31-35
ecause of his deceitfulness, Jacob was forced to leave his country
to go to Mesopotamia, where his mothers family lived. He had
tricked his brother out of his birth right and blessing. Now Esau
swore that he would kill Jacob. Jacob fled his country to save his life.
Arriving in Mesopotamia, Jacob stopped near a well. It was here that the
shepherds gathered to water their sheep. He asked them if they knew Laban,
his mothers brother. They informed him that one of Laban’s daughters was
coming to the well to water her fathers sheep. It was by this means that
Jacob was introduced to Rachel.
The Bible tells us that Jacob loved Rachel (Genesis 29:18). He spoke to her
father about taking her to be his wife. Laban agreed on the basis that Jacob
would work seven years for her. Jacob was more than willing to do this, and
so the agreement was made between the two men. On the day of his
wedding, however, Laban gave his older daughter Leah to Jacob instead.
The wedding was consummated, and the deceit was not discovered until the
next morning. Jacob was not happy. In his anger, Jacob went to see Laban.
His father-in-law told him that it was not the custom to marry the younger
daughter before the older. He promised him his younger daughter Rachel if
he would work another seven years for her. Jacob was forced to agree.
We discover from Genesis 29:30 that Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah.
This created tension in the family as both sisters battled for the attention of
their husband. Leah would suffer greatly over the years in this battle. God
saw her pain, however, and came to her rescue. Leah bore Jacob many sons.
Rachel, however, could not have children.
What is interesting in this story are the names of Leah’s children. These
names indicate the intense struggle she had in her battle for her husband’s
affection. The first child of Leah and Jacob was named Ruben. Leah gave
him this name because she said, “it is because the Lord has seen my misery.
Surely my husband will love me now.” (Genesis 29.32b). She was hoping
that because she had given Jacob this son, he would love her.
When she gave birth to her second son, Leah called him Simeon. Genesis
29.33 tells us that she named him Simeon because “the Lord heard that I
am not loved, he gave me this one too” (Genesis 29.33). Her pain is
obvious. She is looking for anything that would make Jacob love her. She
wants to be loved.
Leah called here thirds son, Levi because she said, “now, at last, my
husband will become attached to me because I have born him three sons
(Genesis 29.34). After three sons and at least three years of marriage, Leah
still has not won the heart of her husband. She still longs to be loved but is
being starved of her husband’s attention.
When her fourth son was born, Leah called him Juda, which simply means
“praise.” She has a sense that the Lord is blessing her. While her husband
did not love her, God had not abandoned her. For this, she would praise His
name. After this, Leah stopped having children.
Rachel, who had been the object of Jacob’s attention, could not help but feel
jealousy in her heart when she could not give her husband a son. She
decided to give Jacob her servant so that he could have a son through her.
This son would become Rachel’s son by law. Bilhad gave to Jacob a son
whom Rachel named Dan because she said, “God has vindicated me; he has
listened to my plea and given me a son (Genesis 30.6). Her vindication was
against her sister Leah who was giving Jacob many sons.
Rachel’s servant, Bilhah, gave Jacob a second son. Rachel named him
Naphtali because she said, I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I
have won (Genesis 30.8). She now had a certain confidence in her heart that
Jacob’s attention was sufficiently turned away from Leah again.
The struggle between these two sisters continued for many years. Seeing
what Rachel had done, Leah also gave Jacob her servant and had two sons
through her servant Zilpah. Eventually God opened Leah’s womb again,
and she bore her husband two more sons. The name of her sixth son is of
importance to this study. She calls him Zebulon because she said, God has
presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with
honour because I have borne him six sons (Genesis 30:20).
After six sons and well over six years of marriage, Leah is still fighting to
gain the support and love of her husband. She wants her husband to love
and honour her. What a sad story this is. For years Leah was married to this
great saint of God and never had the assurance of his love. Could it be that
throughout her entire married life, she never knew if Jacob loved her. The
sad thing about this story is that it is so true even in our day. How many
husbands and wives do not have the assurance of their spouses love and
acceptance?
What do you do in this situation? How do you deal with a marriage that has
gone sour? We see two things in the life of Leah that ought to help us
answer this question. First, Leah never stopped trying to win the love and
approval of her husband. This struggle went on for years. To complicate
issues, Leah had to compete against another woman. This was not easy for
her. The temptation would have been to give up trying and become bitter
and hard. She would have been tempted to push him aside and make his life
miserable. She could have given up and got on with life without her
husband’s love. She refused to do this, however. She had promised herself
to Jaco, and she would persevere in her relationship with him. She was
committed to doing what she could to make her marriage work. More than
this, however, she was committed to fighting for his love. She didn’t want a
marriage without love. Her love for Jacob never died. While she was not
fulfilled in her own life, she was committed to doing everything she could
for her husband. What an example of patience and genuine love we have in
the story of Leah. She gives us a beautiful example to follow.
The second thing we need to see in the life of Leah is that while she did not
always have the love and support of her husband, she was encouraged in
her God. In Genesis 29:32, she said: the Lord has seen my misery (Genesis
29.32). In the following verse, she says: “the Lord heard that I am not loved
(Genesis 29.33). She praised the Lord for her child in Genesis 29:35. In
Genesis 30:20, she recognised that her child was a special gift from the
Lord God. In all these things, Leah was aware of the hand of God at work
in her life. She knew that while her husband did not love her as she would
have liked, God’s love and compassion for her did not change. She found
great comfort and assurance in this. It could very well be that this is what
kept her going against all the odds.
It is true that Leah’s relationship with God did not take away the pain of her
husband’s rejection, but it did give her the strength to face this rejection.
Even if her husband was not there, God would never leave her. Are you in
Leah’s situation today? Maybe you need to be reassured of God’s care and
compassion. Never will He leave you or forsake you. In Him, there is
strength and love to continue. Leah’s strength came from her relationship
with God.
Leah gives us here a very powerful example to follow. If you suffer like
Leah in your marriage, may God become as real to you as He was for her.
To Consider:
Can you identify with Leah’s struggle? What do you learn from her
example?
What does the example of Christ teach us about how to deal with similar
situations?
Where does the strength come from to persevere in a situation like Leah?
What blocks the receiving of this strength?
Maybe you are guilty of Jacob’s sin. What do you need to do to make things
right with your partner? What holds you back?
For Prayer:
Ask the Lord to help you show more love to your partner. Are you presently
in Leah’s situation? Ask God to become more real to you. Do you know
someone else in Leah’s position? Commit them and their partner to the
Lord.
H
6 - MOSES AND ZIPPORAH:
DISTRACTIONS
Read Exodus 2.16-22
aving been forced to leave Egypt, Moses fled to the land of
Midian. He stopped by a well to rest from his journey. As he
rested, seven young ladies came to the well with a flock of sheep.
While they were watering their flocks, some bad shepherds came by and
drove their sheep away. This incensed Moses, who took the defence of the
ladies, drove these evil shepherds away and helped the women recover their
sheep. Little did he know that among these ladies was one who would
become his wife.
Moses returned with these women to their home where he met their father, a
man named Jethro. It was not long before Jethro discovered that Moses had
no place to go. A man in his household would be a help for Jethro. He
asked Moses to consider staying with him and working with his sheep. We
understand that, to the Egyptian, raising sheep was a detestable job (see
Genesis 46.34). While Moses had grown up in the house of the daughter of
Pharaoh, he was forced to put his background aside and make a new life for
himself. He accepted Jethro’s offer and stayed with him.
Zipporah was one of Jethro’ s seven daughters. He gave her to Moses to be
his wife. Zipporah gave Moses a son named Gershom. Moses chose this
name because he said, “I have become an alien in a foreign land” (Exodus
2.22). They had a second son called Eliezer in remembrance of how the
Lord had delivered Moses from the hand of Pharaoh (Exodus 18.4). Moses
realised that Midian was not his home. He had grown up in Egypt, but he
was an Israelite separated from his people. He had a tremendous burden for
his people and their oppression in the land of Egypt. At this point, Zipporah
did not understand just how great a weight this was for Moses.
Forty years passed. God appeared to Moses in a burning bush. He told him
that He wanted him to return to Egypt to deliver His people from their
bondage. Initially, Moses found it hard to believe that God would be calling
him to this task. After a deep struggle with God, however, he accepted the
job. Genesis chapter four tells us that Moses packed his bags, took his wife
and sons and began the long journey back to Egypt.
On their way to Egypt, the Lord God attacked Moses and was going to kill
him (see Genesis 4.24). What was the problem? We find the answer in the
response of Zipporah. She took Gershom, their son and, with a flint knife,
she circumcised him. It was only then that the anger of the Lord turned
from Moses. The problem seems to be that Moses had not taken the time to
circumcise his son. Zipporah was not Jewish. She had not been brought up
with the people of God. Yet as a foreigner, she was the one to circumcise
Gershom according to the tradition of Israel. Zipporah was not pleased with
Moses. She took Gershom’s foreskin and threw it at Moses’ feet and said,
you are a bridegroom of blood to me (Exodus 4.25).
While we are not told what the response of Moses was to Zipporah in this
situation, the next time we read about her is in Exodus 18. Here were read
that after Moses had delivered the people of Israel from bondage, Jethro
came to visit him bringing Zipporah and Moses’ two sons Gershom and
Eliezer to him. Exodus 18:2 tells us that Moses had sent his wife back to
her father. We are not told the circumstances of Zipporah’s return to her
father. What we do know is that she set out with Moses on her way to Egypt
but was not there when he delivered his people from bondage. Is it possible
that Zipporah’s response to Moses in this matter of the circumcision of their
son resulted in Moses sending her home? We are not told.
While there is no doubt that Moses was one a great man of God, his family
life may not have been everything the Lord meant it to be. The question I
ask myself is this: Did Moses’ family suffer because of his intense devotion
to the work of God? Why was it that Moses never made the time to
circumcise son Gershom and speak to him about his covenant relationship
with God? Why did he send his wife home to live with her father instead of
bringing her to Egypt with him as he had initially planned? Was his wife
even a believer? Obviously, the Lord had a very important ministry for
Moses in Egypt. It does seem to be a paradox, however, that while he is
making great strides in his spiritual calling, his family is not with him. Who
was instructing them in the ways of the God of Israel while Moses was
away? Jethro, Zipporah’s father and father-in-law to Moses’ children, was a
priest of Midian. His faith was not the same as the faith of God’s people.
Was he instructing his grandchildren in his pagan religious ways in the
absence of Moses? While Moses was successful in delivering the people of
Israel from their bondage, was Moses as successful in his family life?
What does all of this tell us about marriage and family? It tells us that we
can be faithful and successful in the work of the Lord and be a failure in our
family life. It tells me that it is possible to be involved full time in helping
people grow in their walk with the Lord and neglect the spiritual health of
our own family. We can become so involved in church, religious activities
or our work that we forsake our responsibilities to our partners and children.
The apostle Paul recognised this tension in the life of the married couple:
“I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is
concerned about the Lord’s affairs –- how he can please the Lord.
But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world –-
how he can please his wife –- his interests are divided. (1
Corinthians 7.32-34)
In saying this, Paul is not telling us that it is wrong to be married. What he
is telling us is that if we are married, we need to recognise that we will have
to concern ourselves with the cares of our family. He told Timothy in 1
Timothy 5.8:
“If anyone does not provide for these relatives, and especially for
his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an
unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5.8)
This is a stern warning from the apostle Paul. The Bible exhorts us who are
married to watch over and provide for our families. How easy it is to
neglect this matter. Will your relationship with your husband and wife
suffer because you have become too busy (maybe even in spiritual
matters)? May God help us not to fall into the error of letting other things
take us away from our spiritual responsibility to our children and partners.
To Consider:
Have you been able to find a balance in your work and family life? What
things are you doing to assure that you have ample time with your husband
or wife or with your children?
What are you doing or what more could you be doing to encourage your
children in their walk with the Lord?
Are you a source of spiritual encouragement for your husband or wife?
What kind of things can you be doing to bless them?
For Prayer:
Ask the Lord to reveal to you how you can have a greater spiritual influence
on your children and spouse. Confess your shortcomings in this matter and
ask for his enabling to make things right.
I
7 - DAVID AND HIS WIVES:
THE TEMPTATION TO LOOK
ELSEWHERE
Read 2 Samuel 3.14-16; 11.1-4
am not sure why it is, but people never seem to be content with what
they have. The proverb “the grass is always greener on the other side”
seems to ring true in so many lives today. People always seem to want
what someone else has. Unfortunately, even their husbands and wives are
not sheltered from this temptation. David had this problem.
From 2 Samuel 3.1-5, we understand that David had at least six wives
(Ahinoah, Abigail, Maacah, Haggith, Abital, and Eglah). We also know of
two other wives (Michal: 1 Samuel 18.27; Bethsheba: 2 Samuel 11.26,27).
We know, therefore, that he had at least eight wives. Let’s take a look at
three of these wives.
Mical
Michal was the first of David’s wives. She was the daughter of King Saul.
Saul had given her to David so she could be a stumbling block for him.
Listen to the words of 1 Samuel 18.21:
“Now Saul’s daughter Michal was in love with David, and when
they told Saul about it, he was pleased. ‘I will give her to him,’ he
thought, ‘so that she may be a snare to him and so that the hand of
the Philistines may be against him.’” (1 Samuel 18.20,21)
Even though David did not see himself worthy of being in the king’s family,
when his servants falsely assured him of Saul’s love for him, he accepts to
marry Michal. Michal truly loved David. Her father Saul, however, hated
him. One day, King Saul sent his men to the home of this young couple to
kill David. Michal, knowing what they intended to do, informed David and
helped him escape through a window (2 Samuel 19.9-12). It was by this
means that David and Michal were separated one from another. In the
meantime, Saul gave Michal to another man (2 Samuel 25.44). During his
time of flight from Saul and separation from Michal, David took two other
wives (1 Samuel 25:43).
When Saul died, David took the throne. Being king was not without its
difficulties. As a sign of allegiance to David, Abner, his former enemy, asks
the king to make a covenant with him. David agreed only on one condition.
Abner was to get his wife Michal back for him. Agreeing to this condition,
Abner went to the home of Michal who was now married to a man by the
name of Paltiel. He took her from her husband and brought her to David.
Listen to how the Bible describes this event:
“Her husband, however, went with her weeping behind her all the
way to Bahurim.” (NIV 2 Samuel 3.16)
What a horrible picture is painted for us in this story. Here was David who
had several wives at this point. He was not happy with this, however, and
felt compelled to take Michal from her new husband. While at one time she
was his wife, she now belonged to another.
What makes this picture even more horrible is that fact that this relationship
with Michal would become very bitter. One day, as David returned from
battle, he was celebrating and dancing before his army. When Michal saw
his behaviour, she “despised him in her heart.” She spoke to David about
this when he returned to the house. The result of this conversation can be
seen in 2 Samuel 6:23:
“And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her
death.” (2 Samuel 6.23)
Is it possible that David had no more sexual relations with her? We are not
sure. What is sure, however, is that things did not go well between David
and Michal. Would she have been better off with her other husband? What
is striking about this story is how easily David took Michal from her
husband for himself.
Abigail
The second wife of David that we are going to look at is Abigail. At this
point in his life, David had left Michal and was being chased by Saul. He
and his men come to the region of Carmel. They needed supplies. In this
region, they meet a couple by the name of Nabal and Abigail. David asked
Nabal if he could give him and his men something to eat because they were
weary and tired from their journey. Nabal refused saying:
“Who is David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are
breaking away from their masters these days. Why should I take my
bread and water, and meat I have slaughtered for my shearers, and
give it to men coming from who knows where?” (1 Samuel 25.10,11)
When David heard the response of Nabal, he decided to attack him. In the
meantime, Abigail discovered what her husband had said to David and his
men. She decided to appease the anger of David before it was too late. She
prepared two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep, five
seahs of grain, and a hundred cakes. Loading this food on donkeys she
brought them to David and his men. When David saw her, he said:
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to
meet me. May you be blessed for your good judgement and for
keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with
my own hands.” (1 Samuel 25. 32,33)
Thanks to the intervention of Abigail, Nabal was saved from the hand of
David. Ten days later, however, the Lord took Nabal’s life (1 Samuel
25.38). What is vital for us to notice here is the response of David to the
death of Nabal. He wasted no time in sending his men to Abigail to ask her
to become his wife. Something does not seem right in this picture. While
we do not have any idea here as to how much time has passed between the
death of Nabal and David’s proposal, the passage would almost leave us to
believe this happened rather quickly. David had become attracted to her
when she came with the supplies for his men. It is interesting to note that
the writer of 1 Samuel describes Abigail as being a very intelligent and
beautiful woman (1 Samuel 25.3). This was a hard combination for David
to resist.
Bathsheba
The next wife we will look at is a woman by the name of Bathsheba. She
was the wife of one of David’s soldiers. While David was out on his roof
one evening, he saw Bathsheba bathing. He could have turned his head and
walked away. David, however, allowed himself to be tempted. The passage
tells us that this woman was very beautiful. As in the case of Abigail, David
found this very hard to resist. He inquired as to the identity of this woman.
He discovered that she was married to Uriah, one of his soldiers. Despite
her marriage to Uriah, David sent his messengers to get her and bring her to
his palace. She became pregnant through David.
This left David in a complicated situation. He decided to hide his sin. He
sent for Bathsheba’s husband on the pretext of asking for information on the
battle. He was hoping that Uriah would go to see his wife. This way, the
whole matter could be hidden. Uriah did not go to his wife, however. David,
therefore, sent word to the Joab, the military commander, to set Uriah in the
heat of the battle so he would be killed. When Uriah was killed, David
quickly married Bathsheba. To hide his adultery, David resorted to deceit
and murder.
David is described in the Bible as a man after God’s heart. He walked close
to God. A quick look at the Psalms will show us that he had a certain
spiritual maturity. Even though he loved the Lord, David wrestled with his
sexuality. He was often tempted to look elsewhere and not be content with
the wives the Lord gave him. This problem is not unique to David alone.
Many men and women wrestle with this issue.
What lessons do we need to draw from this brief meditation? First, we need
to realise that no-one is sheltered from the temptations David felt in his life.
Even David, the man of God, fell flat on his face. How many times have we
seen this sin repeated in our day? How many respected men and women of
God have fallen prey to the pull of Satan and the flesh? Pastors, evangelists,
and ordinary men and women have all fallen. If it could happen to David, it
could happen to you and me. Sometimes the people who are the most
surprised are the people who have fallen. They never imagined it would
ever have happened to them. How we need the grace of God to keep us
from falling like David.
The second lesson we need to draw from the life of David is just how
important it is for us to learn to be content with the partner the Lord has
given. God intends that we find our fulfilment in our partners. Listen to
what Solomon tells us:
“May your fountain be blessed and may you rejoice in the wife of
your youth. A loving doe, a gracious deer may her breasts satisfy
you always, may you ever be captivated by her love.” (Proverbs
5.18,19)
Our partners are not meant to be enjoyed for a time and then thrown away.
While David had many wives, he still was not happy. He still looked
elsewhere. He had never learned to be content with what God had given
him. Because of this, he was tormented by this insatiable desire for
someone more beautiful, more intelligent, more exciting. That appetite was
never satisfied. Only by looking to his own wife and learning to love her as
God intended could that unending craving be stopped. Sure, it meant
putting up with a few faults. It may have meant dying to his ideas and
preferences and giving in to his wife in certain areas. Maybe it meant taking
more time or spending more effort to make things work. The result,
however, would have been worth it. He would have discovered that the
woman his heart was always looking for was his very own wife. Yes,
hidden beneath all those perceived differences and conflicts, is the partner
God has chosen for you. What a sad thing it is would be to go through life
without ever discovering that God really did know what He was doing
when He gave you your partner.
To Consider:
Look at your relationship with your spouse. Can you say that you are
genuinely content with the partner God has given you? Make a list of things
for which you thank the Lord concerning your husband or wife.
Take the time this week to speak openly with your partner about your
relationship. Is there something you need to change in your relationship?
What do you need to do when you are tempted to look elsewhere? What
makes you want to look elsewhere? How can you deal practically with this
in the coming days?
For Prayer:
Take time to thank the Lord for your spouse. Thank Him for things He has
given you in your husband or wife. Ask the Lord to help you be truly
content with His provision. Confess your sin of not being as thankful as you
ought to be.
I
8 - SOLOMON AND HIS
WIVES: MORE VALUABLE
THAN RUBIES
Read Proverbs 27.15; 31.10
do not know of anyone in the Bible who had as many wives as
Solomon. According to 1 Kings 11:3, he had seven hundred wives and
three hundred concubines. With so many wives, there must be
something he can teach us about marriage. As one of the wisest men who
ever lived, his counsel is very important.
What was the experience of Solomon about marriage? The Bible tells us
that Solomon loved foreign women. These foreign wives, however, were a
snare for him in his walk with the Lord:
“As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods,
and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart
of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of
the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites.” (1
Kings 11.4)
It was not that Solomon did not know any better, he had grown up in a
godly home. He loved the Lord and had a personal relationship with him.
He knew what he was doing. He loved his wives and wanted to please
them. It is interesting to note Solomon’s actions in 2 Chronicles 8.11:
“Solomon brought Pharaoh’s daughter up from the City of David to
the palace he had built for her, for he said, ‘My wife must not live in
the palace of David the king of Israel, because the places the ark of
the Lord has entered are holy.” (2 Chronicles 8.11)
Does this not reveal something significant about Solomon and his
relationship with this wife? Solomon knew that his Egyptian wife did not
love the Lord. He knew that her ways were contrary to the purpose of God.
He also had enough understanding and respect for the things of God that he
refused to allow her to live in the city of David, where the ark of the
covenant was housed. He knew that God would not be pleased if he chose
to let her stay in Jerusalem. As king of Israel, Solomon lived with a divided
heart. Because of his wife, he is forced to compromise his faith.
Many years later, the prophet Nehemiah, speaking to the people of Israel,
who had just fallen into the sin of intermarriage with foreign wives, said:
“Was it not because of marriages like these that Solomon king of
Israel sinned? Among the many nations there was no king like him.
He was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel,
but even he was led into sin by foreign women.” (Nehemiah 13.26)
The choice of one’s partner will have a profound impact on your
relationship with God. There is no other individual who will have as much
impact on your life as your husband or wife. Solomon felt the full effect of
the evil influences of his wives. What would he want to say to a young
person seeking a husband or wife today? Let’s let him speak.
Don’t Get Yourself Caught Into A Trap You Will
Regret For The Rest Of Your Life.
Listen first to his words in Ecclesiastes 7:
“I find more bitter than death the woman who is a snare, whose
heart is a trap and whose hands are chains. The man who pleases
God will escape her, but the sinner she will ensnare. (Ecclesiastes
7.26)
Notice what Solomon tells us here. He tells us that there is something more
bitter than death. Something that could make you want to cry out for death.
That is, a partner who has become a snare and a trap. Solomon knew what
he was talking about. We have already seen how his wives had been a snare
for him. They led him to turn his back on God. His life became miserable.
He described this as a pain more bitter than death. How many times has this
happened in our day? Things start so well for you as a couple. You love
each other. You are happy together. I do not doubt that this is how Solomon
felt initially. What he didn’t consider, however, was the spiritual condition
of his wives who would, over time, began to drag him down. This is also
the case of wives whose husbands don’t know the Lord.
It is impossible to read Ecclesiastes 7.28 without experiencing a certain
sadness. Here is a man who appears to be disappointed in marriage. Listen
to what he says:
“While I was still searching but not finding I found one upright
man among a thousand, but not one upright woman among them
all.” (Ecclesiastes 7.28)
Here is a man whose heart cried out for some positive spiritual input in his
life. He had male friends with whom he could talk about the things of the
Lord, but among all his wives, he could not find one with whom he could
share in spiritual matters. This was an obvious grief for him. How many
husbands and wives since Solomon have shared the same pain.
Solomon had much to say about bad relationships.
“. . . a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.” (Proverbs 12.4b)
“Better to live on a corner of a roof than to share a house with a
quarrelsome wife.” (Proverbs 21.9)
“Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered
woman.” (Proverbs 21.19)
These passages are not meant to downplay women. They can be applied to
men as equally as women. What they are saying is that there is a pain worse
than death. That pain is to be found in a marriage relationship gone sour.
Solomon challenges us to choose our partners wisely realising that the
person you choose will have more influence on you and your walk with
God than any other person on this earth. A wrong choice can be disastrous.
A Good Partner Is One Of God’s Greatest Gifts
We have seen the negative side of this matter. Solomon turns us now to the
positive side. Solomon tells us that one of God’s riches blessings is a good
partner. There is nothing in life that can be compared to a good partner.
Listen to what he says:
“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more
than rubies” (Proverbs 31.10)
“A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown” (Proverbs 12.4)
“He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the
Lord” (Proverbs 18.22)
“. . . a prudent wife is from the Lord” (Proverbs 19.14b)
Have you ever taken the time to consider what God has given you in your
partner? Solomon would have given his kingdom for a good wife. Solomon
knew the value of the right partner. How about you? Do you appreciate
what God has given you in your partner? How many couples will go
through life taking each other for granted, not realising what God has given
them in each other? What would it take for us to understand the truth of
what Solomon is telling us here?
The marriage relationship is one of the most beautiful relationships that
exist. It can also be the most painful. A big part of how it will turn out
depends on the partners involved. It may not be too late. You may yet be
able to turn your marriage around. Start by recognising what God has given
you in your partner. Commit yourself to make the most of your marriage.
May God help you to realise the great gift He has given you in your partner.
To Consider:
Make a list of all the positive influences your partner has had on your life.
Thank the Lord for these things. Take time this week to speak to your
husband or wife about this.
How would things be different if you truly understood the value of God’s
gift to you of your partner?
What do you contribute to the