Our collection of Proverbs ends with one attributed to “King Lemuel, an oracle that his mother taught him” (Proverbs 31:1 NET). Sadly, this is all we know about him. Although Jewish legend identified him as Solomon, with the advice being from his mother Bathsheba, there is no evidence for this. Although we don’t know who he was, the advice is good and wise.
The first part of Proverbs 31 is addressed to the king and is good advice for anyone in authority. “Open your mouth on behalf of those unable to speak, for the legal rights of all the dying” (Proverbs 31:8) is as apt today as it was 3,000 years ago. But the last part of this chapter is what most people remember. Continue reading “The ideal spouse”
When a couple gets married, they form a new person that enters the world fresh and vulnerable. It must be cared for, if it will survive. From the wobbly first steps to the sturdy paths of the mature, it must be nurtured and protected from predators.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, NKJV).
They unite to form a being that has never before existed. The cruel world will be determined to destroy it, as soon as possible. The couple must develop strategies to fortify the walls, so the attacks can be repelled.
“So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:6).
Divorce is an act of violence that destroys the lives of everyone involved. The shrapnel of the bomb creates permanent scars (Malachi 2:16). The new creation can thrive and persevere. It will just require hard work and an indefatigable eye on the big picture of commitment.
How will they remain married for life?
First, be stubborn. Refusing to break up is a great start. When we resolve to stand firm, we find it easier to withstand attacks. We build our fortifications and man the walls together, not allowing anyone to come between us.
Second, be separate. Entering a place of their own design, they retreat there for safety and sanity. United as one, they protect and cultivate their special place, so it will always be their haven of peace.
Third, be a student. We must learn as much as we can about one another, so we can strive to bring fulfillment and happiness into our lives. We cannot do this for our spouse, but we can sow the seed. We learn all we can because knowledge is power.
Fourth, be substantive. Spend quality time together in play, pleasure, communication and in service to God. Don’t waste days. We must ensure that intimacy and affection are pervasive in our marriage.
Marriage is an extraordinary blessing if we will do the work and make the proper choices. If we do, we will have joy all of our days. If not, we will either break apart or live the remainder of our days stuck in a nightmare.
“Her children rise and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praises her. ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all'”(Proverbs 31:28, ESV).
The note was on the table when Bob found it. He should have known better. He maintained his car constantly, adjusting the timing like a symphony hall conductor, changing the oil regularly, doing all the work with his own hands. His car purred more softly than their Persian cat.
But a man who understood cars so well should have understood his wife better. He was a good man, provided well for his family, and would have given his shirt off his back to a stranger. He loved Stacy, in his strong, quiet way. But he never praised her, rarely thanked her. Continue reading “Relationship tune up”