10 [a] A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
Biblical Sisters: Leah, Rachel, Bilhah, Zilpah
Verses: Genesis 29-31
As we began our second week together, we tackle the theme of “Being the Wife.” Even though we started our study with Bathsheba and the notion of Motherhood, the Proverbs 31 Woman actually begins its testament with the subject of being a wife. I think that is curious.
When you think of you, especially if you are a married woman, is the first definition of the personal you, wife?
For many, I am going to presume that, yes, you think of wife. For many of us, our life as a significant other is defining. If you are not a wife, it may be a source of sadness and longing. For those who are wives, I am going to suppose you wish that your marriage allowed you a different perspective of yourself as wife. Maybe you wish you were more loving, or you were move loved. Maybe you love being a wife, and so yes, you are happy to be called by Mrs. So-And-So. Regardless of your actual marital status, the subject of being a wife is near and dear to our hearts.
I am going to venture a guess—we were created to be in intimate relationship with another human being. We were created in such a way and for such a purpose that to be “Not a Wife” seems, well, a temporary stop off point on our way home to be the wife. The number one prayer, from my experience, from single women is to have someone to whom they belong to love. The number one prayer, from my personal experience, from married women is a better, stronger marriage, and to be a better wife…and mother (but we’ve already been through the ins and outs of motherhood).
20.b …But for Adam [h] no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs [i] and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib [j] he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said,
"This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called 'woman, [k] '
for she was taken out of man."
24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
I’d love to jump off here and go into the creation story, and introduce the character Lilith. I’d love to go into Adam as the definition of Humanity and Woman as the definition of Life. All of that is right on the tips of my fingers as I type.
However, I am going to stay on task. We are not so much discussing marriage and the creation of that relationship and all its nuances. We are more concerned, today, with simply being the wife in a sacred union. What I read in Genesis 2:20-25 is that God determined that his people are not meant to be alone. We are meant, it is built into our DNA structure, that we would be mated for life. I believe that is why we long for it so. I’ve heard it said countless times that girls long for a wedding, but are ambivalent or unsure about marriage.
No. Again, I strongly say, No.
I understand why we would have that little colloquial saying, though. As girls, and as women, we long for and plan the wedding—because it celebrates that which we hold dear. The wedding signifies our desires that a relationship with our mate is full of romance and love and vows and charity. What happens unfortunately, is that in many cases, apparently up to 48% of the cases, the marriage did not live up to the celebration. So, we become disillusioned. The reason I feel so strongly about this is that I do not want us to belittle in anyway this very sacred longing we have to be cleaved to by a man. We desire that unity, we long for that unity. The wedding is symbolic of our celebration that we have received that sacred relationship.
It says repeatedly in the Word that God intended for men to find us, leave home, cleave to us…and so, as it is said, “HE has found a good thing…a wife.” I think one of the ways the institution of marriage has become endangered, is that we have begun to believe the opposite is true. We believe that we, us girls, must go out and find a “good man.” We must make ourselves available to them. It seems our modern day social ailments have colored our way of seeing our selves and our collective worth as women. Even, in the days of arranged marriage, the man would provide a handsome brideprice for the bride he found. (And that was during a time when women were thought of as little more than collective chattel.) How much more expensive should we be now when we have the freedom of choice? (Read about the Daughters of Zelophehad they fought for their own inheritance, and began to set the stage for financial independence, and, therefore, decision making.)
We should ready ourselves, and wait to be found. I love these verses in Genesis(2:20-25) because, God fashioned the wife Himself. He took her from Adam's rib, and the essences that were already him he put in her, BUT GOD with his very hands, began to sculpt her as wife. He created a woman. He created a wife. But, he also created a soulmate. That, is why we are found by the husband. He is attracted by the essences of himself in her. He desires the specialness that God placed inside her that makes her unique.
Now, read these verse carefully. Do you think right from the beginning she was beautiful and comely. No. She was a clump of dirt and a rib. But, God sculpted out all the curves. (I’m sure after taking a chisel to the man, he was ready to try a new technique. Curves can only be sculpted with hands.) God loves to create new and exciting creations. That’s why no two of us are quite the same. Each mold is broken every time He uses it. He likes to start from the base elements and sculpt us into who he desires us to be. He smoothes us into our curvaceous bodies. Then, he begins to sculpt our details.
What I am getting at is this: We are not ready to become wives the minute we get our period and decide we are WOMAN. If God had to take some time to make Eve "perfect" before Adam laid eyes on us, what can we expect he needs to do with us? Remember, he put Adam to sleep so that He could create his masterpiece of a woman in private. Adam could not even lay eyes on her until she was ready. Do not read perfect here. We are not waiting for perfection. We are waiting for readiness. Why would we want our life long lovers to see us before we are ready?
In Song of Songs, the Friends asked the Beloved for advice on how to instruct their young sisters…
8 We have a young sister,
and her breasts are not yet grown.
What shall we do for our sister
for the day she is spoken for?
9 If she is a wall,
we will build towers of silver on her.
If she is a door,
we will enclose her with panels of cedar.
This is significant, because being ready will allow us to be the better wife. Ladies, I am soo not talking about what men need to do before they get married. Because just before those verses regarding Eve’s creation, Adam had to do some work as well. God had to ready him--in a different way. I am only talking about becoming and being a wife. Waiting can be a beautiful…and heart-wrenching thing.
Song of Songs 2:7
7 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you
by the gazelles and by the does of the field:
Do not arouse or awaken love
until it so desires.
That brings us to our sisters, Leah and Rachel.