MOTHERS and DAUGHTERS: The Shulamite and Her Mother

Legacy – “anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor”.

We first think of physical things when we think of a “legacy”, but the Bible often shows how one can leave a spiritual “legacy” as well. Consider Timothy. He was given the legacy of “sincere faith”, by the teachings of his mother and grandmother.

“For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well” (2 Tim. 1:5).

Personally, I love studying the people of the scriptures in the light of what legacy they reflect from the previous generation or are leaving to the next. It is the very basis for propagating the Word of God to each new generation.

“Now this is the commandment, the statutes, and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Deut. 6:1-3).

God points out these things on a regular basis: Judges 2:10 a generation arose that did not know the Lord; 2 Kings 22:8-13 King Josiah learns that there are aspects of the Law that the nation had not been following because the book of the law had been lost (implied because Hilkiah “found” it); Ezra 9 and 10 teach of a generation of the remnant that is allowed to return to Jerusalem who fails to follow the law in regard to marrying among the nations. A reading of the law, and a new commitment to obey it, is done to correct the sin. God is clear about the fact that you “reap what you sow” (2 Cor. 9:6) in all aspects of your life! The story that is told in Song of Solomon is one of a young woman who has enough strength of character and determination to choose between a life with King Solomon and one with her Beloved Shepherd, whom she has known most of her life. I believe that the teachings of her mother gave her this strength of character.

We only meet the Shulamite’s mother in three contexts, and none of them tells us much about the mother. Song of Solomon 1:6, where reference is made to “my mother’s sons”, shows that the Shulamite woman has brothers. We are told that the Shulamite is her mother’s only daughter in Song of Solomon 6:9. Then in Song of Solomon 8:1-5 we learn her mother was caring, that her mother instructed her, and that the mother was a woman of the countryside. That’s it. That is all we know, specifically, about the Shulamite’s mother.

Most of us have heard phrases like the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. And I’m sure that most women have been compared, at one point or another in their lives, to their own mothers, either in regard to looks or behavior. Therefore, it is not a stretch to learn of the Shulamite’s mother by looking at the Shulamite.

The Shulamite’s Healthy Self Image and Confidence

As we are introduced to this young woman, the first thing she says about herself is, “I am black but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon. Do not stare at me because I am swarthy, for the sun has burned me. My mother’s sons were angry with me; they made me caretaker of the vineyards, but I have not taken care of my own vineyard.” (Song of Solomon 1:5-6). She admits that she is dark-skinned, unlike the women of Solomon’s court whose skin would have been pampered and not darkened by the sun. She does not say this in shame though – it is simply a fact. She’s been busy working and did not have the freedom to take care of herself the same way those women did.

In Song of Solomon 2:1 the Shulamite refers to herself as “the rose of Sharon” and “the lily of the valley”. She identifies herself with the flower of the plains of Sharon and the simple flowers of the valleys. She is expressing her own uniqueness and recognition of her beauty and value. It is not bragging. She sees herself in comparison to those around her in Solomon’s court and recognizes that she is different. Again, she is not apologizing for being different from the women of the court; she simply owns, or acknowledges, her own beauty.

The Shulamite expresses her confidence in the love of her Beloved many times – see Song of Solomon 2:16; 6:3; 7:10. She expresses concern in Song of Solomon 3:1-4 and 5:1-7 through the telling of her dreams that she is afraid that she is going to lose him only because she is staying too long in Solomon’s court. She never doubts how the Beloved feels about her. Compare this to today and how young women vacillate between flirting and crying in an attempt to get reassurances from their young man about his affections! The Shulamite had no doubts about how the Beloved felt about her. And we see in Song of Solomon 4:16 and 7:10-13 that she had no doubts about her ability to fulfill his dreams and expectations of her when they marry. This young woman has confidence, and I believe that confidence comes from the teaching of her mother. Someone helped her to know her own value; someone helped her to appreciate what her womanliness is worth in a marriage relationship. It falls to logic that this was her mother’s doing, and I believe that it is also logical that her mother taught her this based upon teachings of Scripture.

  • God teaches in Genesis 2:18-25 that woman was created to fill the void in Adam’s life. He was missing something without her. This immediately shows her value and necessity.
  • Solomon teaches in Proverbs 5:15-22 that a loving relationship between one man and one woman, from their youth, is a beautiful thing that is fulfilling and exhilarating (ravishing in the KJV) when kept as such!
  • The mother of King Lemuel teaches, in Proverbs 31:10-31, the value of a woman who recognizes her strengths and knows how to use them to benefit others.
  • Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 that the husband and wife both need to realize that their physical relationship is an important part of their marriage and that they are equal partners in it.

The Shulamite, in my opinion, exudes the righteous confidence that is emulated in these scriptures, and others.

The Shulamite is Patient and Sensible

In Song of Solomon 2:7, 3:5, and 8:4 the Shulamite repeats one request to the women of the court, “Do not arouse or awaken my love until it pleases”, meaning: Don’t rush love! With all of the influences going on around her, she keeps her head. She doesn’t allow her emotions or her circumstances to push her into a decision she is going to regret. The women of the court try desperately to show her how life with Solomon will be wonderful (1:11; 6:13; 7:1-5) but she doesn’t allow their “peer pressure” to force her hand. This is a trait that God reiterates in other places: 2 Tim. 2:22; Prov. 1:8-19; Prov. 7:6-23; Prov. 3:7; Titus 2:5.

The Shulamite Appreciates Hard Work

She is not afraid of hard work, as we see by her labors in the vineyards in Song of Solomon 1:6. She appreciates the efforts her Beloved takes to tend to his sheep well (Song of Solomon 2:16-17; 6:2). The Lord teaches us, in Proverbs 6:6-11, 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12, and Psalms 90:17, to appreciate a strong work ethic.

The Shulamite is Pure

At the wedding of the Shulamite and her Beloved Shepherd, someone asks and answers a riddle,
“We have a sister, and she has no breasts;
What shall we do for our sister on the day when she is spoken for?
If she is a wall, we will build on her a battlement of silver;
But if she is a door, we will barricade her with planks of cedar.”
(Song of Solomon 8:8-9)

The Shulamite declares that she was a wall and that her breasts “were like towers” in verse 10. She is not bragging about her figure. She is saying that she was not a door, open to any man’s attention and in need of being boarded up and protected by her brothers. Instead, she was a wall and that she was protected against molestation by her own intention. She then says that, to her beloved, she became as “one who finds peace”. She was no longer in battle array to keep him away. This is something the Beloved loves about her (Song of Solomon 4:12-15). Throughout the story she expresses longing for the time when she will be his completely, but we know by chapter 7:10-13 that she has not yet given it to him – she has “saved up for you”. She exemplifies the qualities Paul encourages Titus to teach the older women, in Titus 2:2-5, to teach the younger women to have.

The Shulamite is Content with the Simplicity of Nature

From the very beginning of the Song of Solomon the story shows the Shulamite being showered with all the riches Solomon has at his disposal. In chapter one verse 9, Solomon begins to woo the Shulamite by telling her just how beautiful he thinks her to be. In the middle of this, while sitting at the king’s own table, her mind wanders to her Beloved and the simple things of their life in the country (Song of Solomon 1:12-14). Solomon continues, but her mind is comparing a simple home to the extravagant tents of the king (Song of Solomon 1:16-17)—trees versus lavish dinners in luxuriant tents!

In chapter 2:3-5 the Shulamite compares the foods on Solomon’s tables to the preferred fare of what the Beloved provides for her. Her Beloved’s banquet hall is, again, among the trees, and consists of simple things like cakes of raisins and apples. Consider Solomon’s daily provisions given in 1 Kings 4:22-23: 30 kors (a kor is about 10 bushels) of fine flour, 60 kors of meal, 10 fat oxen, 20 pasture-fed oxen, 100 sheep plus deer, gazelles, roebucks, and fattened fowl – that’s just his grain and meat! This country girl would much rather have the simpler foods of her simpler life.

In Song of Solomon 6:4-10 Solomon is wooing her for a third time. He compares her to his army, his flocks of goats, and his 60 queens and 80 concubines. He, of course, tells her that she is the ONLY one that is perfect and unique – among all his women. Her response? Boredom and a desire to go somewhere less dripping with flattery! She goes to the orchard of nut trees; she seeks solace among the trees to which she has access at the palace. Before she even realizes it, she is so enraptured with looking toward the life she knows back home that she takes off running as though to leave Solomon and all his trappings behind (Song of Solomon 6:11-12). She is NOT impressed.

This is fully culminated in the climax of the story found in Chapter 7. In verses 1-5 the women of the court tell her, in the most physical of terms, how beautiful she is; Solomon follows suit with a most lurid invitation in verses 6-9a. The Shulamite shows her decision, and her strength of character by the choice in verses 9b-13. She says, essentially, “My kisses are for my Beloved, I belong to him, and I am ready to go home to him where I can freely enjoy married life with him.” There is no more question of which life is for her.

”Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised” (Pro. 31:30).

To see the woman who was “instructed by her mother” we only have to go to Song of Solomon 4:8-15. The Beloved Shepherd describes her as being simple about her array (vs. 9 says “single strand of your necklace”), taking care of herself and her clothing (she smells good, vs. 10 and 11), she uses her mouth to speak kind words (compare vs. 11 to Ps. 19:10 and Prov. 31:26), she is pure (vs. 12), and she has cared for herself so that she is ever ready to be a benefit, in any way (vs. 13-15)! What a wonderful young woman! This young woman could be sure of her behavior so that she could bring her beloved to meet her mother with no shame (Song of Solomon 3:4 and 8:2).

My prayer is that every mother would train every daughter to have the confidence and strength of character that the Shulamite displays. God gives such a beautiful story of how to choose love. The keys to a happy, healthy marriage are two people who are mentally, physically, and spiritually aware of themselves and prepared to bring themselves completely to the relationship for the rest of their lives. I believe this is the knowledge the Shulamite’s mother handed down to her daughter – and I thank the Lord that we can all learn from her as well.

Enjoy!

Angela Legg
The Diligent Woman (www.thediligentwoman.com)

MAKING A WISE CHOICE

In Nehemiah 13:23-27, Nehemiah testified that “in those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab: and their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews’ language, but according to the language of each people. And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves. Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin. Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives?” There were specific commandments from the Law of Moses that pertained to this situation in Nehemiah. But there are also important principles to learn from in this passage that have important application for Christians today concerning whom they choose to marry.

God’s marriage law for Israel

In Deuteronomy 7:1-6, God had commanded this to Israel: “When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; and when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them: neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire. For thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.” Israel had frequently transgressed this commandment. But there was a spiritual principle behind this Old Testament law. God had forbidden Israel to marry the people from these other nations because He said they would “turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you” (Deut. 7:4). God reminded King Solomon of this when he too broke this commandment, and his foreign wives turned his heart to idols (1 Kings 11:2).

New Testament teachings

In the New Testament, we no longer have a law which forbids us as Christians from marrying people of other physical nations. But the spiritual principle behind that Old Testament law is still found in the New Testament. We are told not to be “unequally yoked together with unbelievers,” but to “come out from among them, and be ye separate” (2 Cor. 6:14-18). We must not be deceived, because bringing “evil communications” into the family by marrying an unbeliever will corrupt (1 Cor. 15:33). This little leaven will leaven the whole family (Gal. 5:9). A Christian widow should marry again “only in the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:39). If this instruction is good and wise for a second marriage, it also is appropriate to for a first marriage. And the prospective mate should already be faithful before the marriage. No one will be spending more time teaching our children then our mate. Therefore, it is essential for us to find someone who is a faithful Christian who will be teaching our children later (2 Tim. 2:2). In almost every case, when a Christian marries a non-Christian, the Christian is “converted” away from Christ rather than the non-Christian being converted to Christ. Christians today need to learn from the example in Nehemiah 10:30 and determine only to marry another faithful Christian. As we know, King Solomon with all the wisdom God had given him had his heart turned away from God because he had married unbelievers (1 Kings 11:1-13; Neh. 13:23-27). We do not have the wisdom of Solomon, and if we think we can stand where he fell, we should take heed before we fall (1 Cor. 10:12).

Jon Macon

PREPARATION FOR MARRIAGE

Fortunately for the church, many women have already been taught to support their husbands.  If we are Christians, we know we are to be help-meets to our husbands no matter what profession they have.

When it comes to being a preacher’s wife, what other things are expected of us?  Will preacher’s wives be held to higher standards than other Christians?  Will we hold ourselves to higher standards?  What about our children?  We might consider the “2-for-1 package deal” that congregations sometimes assume they get when they hire a man to preach.  Several areas could be addressed.  We might label these as “Things to consider before deciding to marry a preacher.”

  • Living in a “glass house”
  • Living in the shadow of the preacher
  • Dealing with criticism
  • Making time for family
  • Money matters
  • Making time for personal spiritual growth and encouragement

Exactly what is the “job” of the preacher’s wife?  How will she handle it if her husband is interviewing for a new position and the congregational leaders make it clear that they expect the preacher’s wife to hold a secular job to supplement the salary?  They may make it clear that she must provide part of the family support, as they are unable (or unwilling) to pay him enough to support the family.  Neither are they willing to allow him to have a second job.  Have you studied enough scripture to know how to answer such demands?  Are you committed to being able to live frugally?  What sacrifices are you willing to make?

One Christian young lady let it be known that her life’s goal was to marry a preacher.  What did she think she was getting?  What was her real goal?  Was her ambition rational?  Many a young girl has said she would like to marry someone who will be her spiritual leader, and preachers are usually perceived as such.  She probably imagines she will not have the normal troubles and temptations in life that other ladies her age have.  She imagines she will be protected from temptation and sin, but this concept of a preacher’s life is unrealistic.  Just because a husband is a strong spiritual leader does not mean there will be no temptations for him or his wife.  If anything, Satan will seek them out (1 Pet. 5:8).

Perhaps the young lady is unsure of her own faith, or she may have failed a few of life’s tests and know she needs a “guardian angel” to watch over her.  Whatever the underlying reasons, she needs to do some deep soul-searching before she takes the big step; otherwise, when the pressures of the life she has chosen come to her marriage, she may cause the family structure to crumble.  Not only will her family and friends be affected, but the whole church will suffer.

First of all, the reason for marrying a preacher should not be to shore up a woman’s own weaknesses.  She should think about what she herself can bring to the marriage.  Can she truly be a help meet for him and support him in his work?  Can she be depended upon to take up slack where he may be weak?  Can she endure when other ladies either approach her husband romantically or the whole group rejects him as their teacher?  Both kinds of people will be in every congregation.  How will she respond?

Other times such a young lady may have thought that being married to the preacher would bring her respect and honor.  Little does she know how few preachers are actually honored for their work, and even fewer wives are remembered at all.  In fact, if a preacher is teaching truth and standing for biblical principles, he may even be rejected by congregation after congregation.  Purportedly, the average preacher in the USA moves every two years.  When any congregation rejects the preacher it most definitely rejects the wife as well.  Can the wife endure such treatment?  Will she be willing to suffer for the sake of the Gospel of Christ (2 Tim 3:12-13)?  What about uprooting the children every time the husband must search for another job?

The life of the apostle Paul is a great example of what Christians and outsiders can do to a preacher.  “But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings” (2 Cor. 6:4-5).  Paul must have understood Christ’s statement in Matthew 19:12.  “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.  He that is able to receive it, let him receive it” (Matt. 19:12).  As the wife of a preacher, what hardships might a woman have to endure—the demanding schedule or even unfeeling treatment of those opposed to the gospel?  Why do you suppose Paul chose not to marry and carry a wife with him everywhere he went even though he has a right to?

On another occasion Paul says, “By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things” (2 Cor. 6:6-10).  Can every Christian young lady endure such extremes?  Is she willing to admit these situations may well come to her?

If the young lady’s goal is noble, if her repentance is genuine, if her desire to live godly is true, then she must acknowledge that having the extra burden of living in a glass house could cause her to falter in her resolve.  Is she prepared for the extra burdens that living in the limelight will bring?  “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (1 Tim. 3:12).  If that is true of every Christian, then how much more relevant is it to the preacher and his wife!

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF MARRIAGE?

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (1 Tim. 6:7).

HOW DOES MARRIAGE FIT INTO THIS GOOD FIGHT?

Genesis 2:18-24–And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him….24. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

  • When the Lord made man, He said it wasn’t good for him to be alone and made him an help meet, a woman.  He established the institution of marriage, of man leaving his parents to cleave to his wife.
  • The Lord considers it an honorable thing; it seems to be rather expected of most.  Regardless of what one’s thoughts about marriage might currently be, most people end up getting married.  “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4).
  • To find a wife is a good and favorable thing in the sight of the Lord.  “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord” (Pro. 18:22).
  • Does marriage play any part in the good fight of faith?  What role does marriage play regarding our fight; in what way or ways does it impact the running of our race or the fighting of our fight?
  • Why consider this now?  It’s probably years away for most of our young ladies getting married.  But knowing this may affect the way you plan concerning marriage.
  • Marriage is so romanticized in our society today; it’s all about “falling in love” and marrying the boy or girl of your dreams.  It usually starts with physical attraction or just the excitement of being liked, and if the chemistry seems right, the emotions seem appropriate, it’s a match; it doesn’t matter if the two are really worlds apart.  Is this a healthy way to plan and form a marriage?
  • We want to understand the purpose and the function of marriage as far as the Lord is concerned, see that it plays a part in our fighting the good fight of faith.  It definitely isn’t to deter us in any way from winning the victory, but instead is to help us win the victory.
  • If we know this ahead of time, it should impress upon us how important it is that we marry the right person; not based on chemistry and emotions, but on the character and spiritual qualities of the individual.  The wrong person can definitely deter us, even destroy us.
  • First let’s note that, in the end, our union with the Lord is described as a marriage.  The Lamb, Jesus, is the groom; and the church, the saints, is the bride.  The wife must be made ready for that day, arrayed in fine, clean and white linen, which is righteousness.
  • What is the significance of our relationship with Jesus being described as that of husband and wife, of being married (why use the analogy of a marriage to describe our relationship with Him)?  Could it be our marriages on earth have something to do with it; could the Lord describe our relationship with Him as that of husband and wife and of a marriage because there’s something about our earthly marriages that relate to our ultimate relationship with Christ?
  • Here the church’s relationship with Christ is compared to the relationship of a husband and wife.  How is the bride (the church) to be presented to the husband (Christ)?  She is to be sanctified, cleansed, glorious, without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish–clothed in righteousness.

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF MARRIAGE?

And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.  6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.  7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.  8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.  9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God (Rev.  19:5-9).

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.  24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.  25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.  29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:  30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.  31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband (Eph. 5:22-33).

  • So what do our earthly marriages have to do with all this?  Well, after describing the responsibilities of the wife to the husband and the husband to the wife; what does He say?  “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church (Eph. 5:32).
  • Isn’t He saying there’s a mystery [a secret] about the marriage relationship that concerns Christ and the church.  Earthly marriages must be accomplishing something, preparing us for that marriage with Christ; they somehow play a part in preparing us for the coming marriage to Christ.

HOW HUSBAND AND WIFE ACTUALLY HELP ONE ANOTHER

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church (Eph. 5:25-29).

  • Actually we can see that the husband and wife play a practical role in helping one another in their fight, in growing up as a Christian.
  • The husband is to love his wife just like Jesus loved the church.  How did Jesus love the church?  He gave Himself for it, to sanctify and cleanse it, to present it glorious without spot or wrinkle, to be holy and without blemish.
  • So how ought men to love their wives?  Men should give himself for his wife, love her as his own flesh, nourishing and cherishing her, that she might be glorious, without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish.  To nourish is [to rear up to maturity](bring up); his aim is to do whatever it takes to see her presented perfect in Christ.
  • What role does the woman play in helping her husband?  Here a husband who is not even obeying the word is helped by his wife’s conversation [behavior].  By seeing her chaste [clean] (pure) behavior in fear, her emphasis on the heart and spiritual things, on a meek and quiet spirit; he is won to obedience.

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.  3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price (1 Pet. 3:1-4).

  • So a husband’s disobedience can be helped by a wife submitting to him in fear.  And could it not help keep an obedient husband obedient, strengthened and encouraged?  A wife eager to follow after righteousness, to be nourished, is certainly going to motivate a reasonable husband to provide that nourishment.

SO WHO SHOULD WE WANT TO MARRY?

The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord (1 Cor. 7:39).

  • So who should we want to marry?  Someone strong and handsome, someone with breath-taking beauty; someone who’s witty and full of energy, fun to be around; someone with lots of money, who knows how to have a good old time?  Who should we marry?
  • For one, we should marry only in the Lord.  If my husband is to be my head, to nourish me to be like Christ; how in the world could a non-Christian or even uncaring, unserious Christian accomplish this?  If a wife is to submit to her husband in fear, motivate him to be the Christian he should be, help him walk in the right direction; how can anyone but a serious-minded Christian lady fit that description?
  • If the marriage of a Christian to a non-Christian isn’t an unequal yoke, what is?  What yoke is closer, stronger, more powerful than that of husband and wife becoming one flesh?  This is the person we’re going to live with day in and day out, week after week, year after year, decade after decade; that we’re going to eat with, sleep with, grow with, have a family with, someone with whom we’ll face the struggles and trials of life.

And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? (2 Cor. 6:14-15).

  • If our lives are centered around the aim of a Christian, to reach the mark, to be like Jesus; if we’re giving our all to fight the fight, to run the race, to win the victory; do we really think that having a husband who doesn’t share in this aim won’t deter us?  When two are yoked together, the two together can travel only in one direction.  “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).
  • Companionship is a very strong influence; it’s the rare individual who isn’t corrupted by a spouse who isn’t fighting the good fight of faith.  When the Christian marries the non-Christian, usually one of three things happen (probably in this order); the Christian is pulled away and becomes unfaithful (and just being faithful in attendance may not amount to much), the marriage ends in divorce, the non-Christian is converted (rare).  It’s probably even rarer that the Christian abounds in the work of the Lord and faithfully fights the good fight of faith, despite the spouse remaining a non-Christian and the marriage continuing.  In this case, even though the marriage continues on the surface, there couldn’t be much of a true yoking together of the two.  “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Cor. 15:33).
  • If we want to serve Christ, be like Him, grow up into Him, bring every thought captive; we need a spouse who is going to be fighting with us, not against us.
  • So we need a spouse who knows and understands what Christianity is all about, what the goal is, how to obtain it; that knows and understands the place of marriage, the responsibility of the husband and wife in marriage; and shows some potential of being able to be the kind of husband or wife God would have us to have.

HOW DOES ONE DETERMINE THIS?

Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.  34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.  35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things (Matt. 12:33-35).

  • By the fruit in a man’s life.  By observing the things he says and does.
  • By talking, discussing, asking questions, studying together, praying together.

Ruth 4 (part 2)

Ruth 4 (part2)

CALL ME MYRA

A BITTER TIME

The Book of Ruth begins with an introduction to Namoi and her family, a husband and two sons, and their journey to Moab to escape a famine in Israel (Ruth 1:1-2).  They spent 10 years in Moab, and during that time, Naomi’s husband died, her two sons married women of Moab, and then her sons also died (Ruth 1:3-5).  But being driven from her home by famine, spending a decade in a strange land full of idolatry, and then returning home as a poor and childless widow challenged Namoi’s faith and her understanding.  When she tried to send her two daughters-in-law away before journeying back to Israel, Naomi said, “It grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me” (Ruth 1:13).  Namoi then returned home, and her daughter-in-law Ruth insisted on returning with her.  Ruth 1:19-21 says, “And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi? And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?”  In Hebrew, the word “Mara” means bitter.  This was the name the Israelites gave to the place in the wilderness where the water was bitter (Heb. 15:23).  In his own great trial of affliction, Job said he was speaking in the bitterness of his soul (Job 7:11 and 10:1).

GOD’S GOOD PURPOSE

Naomi did not fully understand God’s purpose for her trials while she was in the midst of them.  But that should not be difficult for any of us to relate to.  She also did not have the plain words that we have in the New Testament about God working all things together for our good (Rom. 8:28).  Suffering for righteousness’ sake is the pathway by which we grow spiritually to be in the image of Christ (2 Cor. 1:3‑6; 2 Cor. 4:16-17; 12:9‑10; Gal. 3:3-4, Php. 3:10‑15; Heb. 2:10; 5:8‑9; James 1:2-4; 1 Pet. 1:6‑9).  That is why it is necessary for all Christians to suffer persecution for righteousness’ sake (Matt. 13:21; Php. 1:29; 1 Thess. 3:14; 2 Tim. 3:12; 1 Pet. 2:21; 3:9).  But God was forming His faithful children in the Old Testament too.  And they also grew spiritually by suffering affliction (Psa. 66:10-12; Prov. 17:3; 25:4).  In Psalm 119:67, the psalmist said, “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.”  The affliction taught him to keep God’s word and not go astray.  “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes” (Psa. 119:71).  He learned God’s statutes by what he suffered.  “I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me” (Psa. 119:75).  God was good and faithful to give him this affliction to help him grow.  Job was being tried that he might come forth as gold (Job 23:10).  The Old Testament prophets also foretold that suffering for righteousness’ sake would be the pathway of spiritual growth under the New Covenant (Zech. 13:8-9; Mal 3:1-4).  Suffering for righteousness’ sake is how Jesus grew to be perfect (Heb. 2:10; 5:8‑9).  Christ’s sufferings are our example to follow (2 Cor. 13‑7; 1 Pet. 2:19‑25) so that we can also grow to be spiritually complete like Christ (James 1:2-4; 1 Pet. 1:6‑9).  Therefore, we should rejoice when we suffer for doing well (Matt. 5:10-12; Luke 6:22-23; Rom. 5:3; 2 Cor. 12:9-10; James 1:2; 1 Pet. 1:6; 3:14; 4:12-16).  That is the way that Christ’s strength is made perfect in us (2 Cor. 12:9-10).  That is how our faith is purified, and how we grow in patience (1 Pet. 1:6-7; 5:10; Rom. 5:3-4; Jas 1:2‑3).

A HAPPY ENDING

Once again, that is why we have that great “cloud of witnesses” that we need to follow in running our race to perfection and overcoming sin (Heb. 12:1-4).  James 5:10‑11 says, “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.  Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”  Naomi is another example of enduring affliction.  Even when she thought God had dealt bitterly with her, she did not stop serving Him.  And, like Job, she too came to see the pity and tender mercy of God in the end.  God provided a husband for Ruth from among Naomi’s kinfolk, and Naomi then had a new family that God used to provide for her.  And this is the very family that God made to be the ancestors of David, the royal line of the tribe of Judah, and ultimately of Jesus Christ the Son of God.  What happened with Naomi reminds us of what our Lord says in Romans 8:18: “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”  And 2 Corinthians 4:17 says, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

Jon Macon

AND NOW FOR THE REST OF THE STORY…

“And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David” (Ruth 4:21-22).  We see by this passage that Jesus is descended through this union.

Did you notice what it said about Naomi having a son too? Not only was Ruth a beneficiary, but Naomi also received a blessing from this union.

“And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it. And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David” (Ruth 4:16-17).

FORGIVENESS

Hi Beth

I am trying to find something here and am not being very successful.  Mind is totally blank right now.  The scripture that says to go to a person if they are wrong… first alone and then with a witness. Where is it??

Also do you think that a letter would suffice?

Mary

BETH’S ANSWER:Forgiveness

Regarding the question you asked, there are two thoughts that you might need. The first is in Matthew 18.
“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican” (Matt.18:15-17).

Another parallel to this same idea is the passage is in Luke 17.
“Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. 4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4).

However one that many people miss is in Matthew 5 and Mark 11.
“Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift: (Matt 5:23-24).

You see, it is your obligation to go to the brother either way–whether he does something against you or whether you have done something against him.

Sometimes it is easier to put things in writing than it is to speak the words, but beware, a letter can be spread to others.  You have to take that into account.

Keep up the good work.

Beth

Ruth 4 (part 1)

Following the Law

Before Witnesses

Two different laws of Israel were involved in the events that took place in Ruth 4:1-10.

Boaz called the nearer kinsman and explained that their relative Naomi had returned from Moab and that she “sells a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech’s” (Ruth 4:3).

The other man, being a closer relative, was given the first opportunity to “redeem” the land, but if he refused, then Boaz was next in line (Ruth 4:4).

1). This action was based in Leviticus 25:25, which says, “If thy brother be waxen poor, and has sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold.”

Although they were using Leviticus 25:25 as the basis for their conduct (and there was nothing at all wrong or foolish for them to do so), that particular law did not completely fit the circumstances involved in Ruth 4, because in this case, Naomi had not yet sold the land, whereas Leviticus 25:25 technically applied only after the sale.

In truth, Naomi’s kinsman was not actually being given the opportunity to “redeem” the land, but to purchase it outright. It became the Jews’ custom to apply this law both before and after the actual sale of the land (see also Jer. 32:6-12). The nearer kinsman agreed to buy it (Ruth 4:4), but changed his mind when another law was added to the equation.

2). After the nearer kinsman expressed his intention of buying Naomi’s land, Boaz said to him, “What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance” (Ruth 4:5). The nearer kinsman declined to buy the field on the grounds that it would “mar” his own inheritance (Ruth 4:6).

Whatever money he invested in purchasing Naomi’s land would ultimately be lost to this man, because that land would eventually go to a son that would be born to Ruth by him. Thus, he would not gain any extra land in the long run, and he would be taking money out of his own inheritance to buy it.  Therefore, he forfeited his right to Boaz, saying, “Redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it” (Ruth 4:6).

“Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbor: and this was a testimony in Israel.  Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee.  So he drew off his shoe.  And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, of the hand of Naomi.  Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day” (Ruth 4:7-10).

All of these events were based in the law that is found in Deuteronomy 25:5-10: “If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her.  And it shall be, that the firstborn which she bears shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.  And if the man like not to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband’s brother refuses to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother.  Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if he stand to it, and say, I like not to take her; then shall his brother’s wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother’s house.  And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.”

The Sadducees wrongly extended this law to the afterlife in their mistaken belief that it disproved the resurrection (Matt. 22:23-33; Mark 12:18-27; Luke 20:27-40.)

As before, there was nothing wrong with the people using Deuteronomy 25:5-10 as the basis for their actions in this case, but that law did not actually apply to this situation.

First, unlike the property law in Leviticus 25:25 which applied to “any of his kin,” this “levirate marriage” law applied only to a brother of the childless deceased, and Boaz was definitely not the brother of Elimelech (or else the other man could not have been a nearer kinsman), and it appears that the nearer kinsman was not that near either.

Second, this law applied only when brothers dwelt together (Deut. 25:5), and Elimelech had dwelt in Moab until the time of his death (Ruth 1:1-3), not “together” with any of these relatives.

Third, the nearer kinsman gave up his shoe not to adhere to the law in Deuteronomy 25:9-10 (which was a great reproach upon the man who lost his shoe), but in accordance with the “manner” that was followed in Israel at that time (Ruth 4:7-8), and there is no indication that this custom was in any way a reproach upon whoever gave up his shoe. The text also implies that this custom was not even permanently followed in Israel, which could not be the case with a law of God.

Fourth, Ruth did not spit in the nearer kinsman’s face as the law required (Deut. 25:9) when a brother refused to take his deceased brother’s wife.

Finally, if Deuteronomy 25:5-10 indeed applied strictly to this case, and if Boaz was therefore obligated to marry Ruth on this basis, then Obed, the child of Boaz and Ruth, would have been counted as Mahlon’s son and heir (Ruth 4:10). In that case, Obed would not have been included in the genealogical records as the son of Boaz.

But the fact that Obed is counted as the son of Boaz (Ruth 4:21; 1 Chr. 2:12; Matt. 1:5; Luke 3:32), the grandfather of David (Ruth 4:17,22; 1 Chr. 2:12-15; Matt. 1:5-6; Luke 3:31-32), and forefather of Christ (Matt. 1:1-16; Luke 3:23-38), is further proof that Deuteronomy 25:5-10 did not obligate Boaz to marry Ruth.