Pastor Dan Borgelt
Opening video: Marriage Promise
“Here at Kirkmont, we’re walking through an Old Testament book of the Bible known as The Book of Proverbs. The Book of Proverbs addresses a whole array of various topics and subjects that are really pertinent and relevant to our life.
We looked at the concept of friendship. We looked at the concept of forgiveness. We’ve looked at the words we use and all kinds of different things. But today’s topic brings us to the subject of marriage.
It’s hard to deny when you walk through the Book of Proverbs that God has a whole lot to say to us, a lot of his wisdom that he wants to pass on to us about our marriage. And in fact, so much we’re going to look at it for a couple of weeks together. Next week we’re going to look at more of the PG-13 version of marriage, and so we will have our second through fifth-grade children’s church back up and running. But today we will be looking at other aspects of marriage.
Our big idea for you this morning as we look at various Proverbs is,
The wise person understands the many ways a married couple can glorify God.
The many ways… we’re going to look at several aspects of the marriage relationship as they’re presented to us in the Book of Proverbs. And we ultimately want to see from the outset that this is pointing towards glorifying God.
I love what the video said,
“Hey, the purpose of marriage is not to make us happy, but it is to make us holy.” And in doing so we honor and glorify God.
It’s a kind of little twist on what many people have taught us about the concept of marriage and it made be the very thing that moves you and pushes you through the spot that you’re in as you gather here this morning.
The purpose is not to make us happy but to make us more holy.
Today in Proverbs we’re going to be looking at:
- Marriage as a Covenant;
- Marriage as Friendship;
- Marriage as Intellectual Partners;
- Marriage as Managing Partners;
- Marriage as Economic Partners; and finally
- Marriage as Ministry Partners.
To understand what the Book of Proverbs has to say to us about marriage we have to understand two very key points.
FIRST, we need to understand is that the Book of Proverbs was addressed initially to young men. That’s why it repeatedly says things like, “son” or “young man heed your mother’s wisdom … and your father’s wisdom”.It’s addressing young men.
It warns against the adulterous woman, but it doesn’t warn against the adulterous man. Why? Not because there aren’t adulterous men out there, but because it’s instructed towards young men. And so we’re going to have to realize that as we look at what the Bible has to say to us about the subject of marriage.
Because I think the main takeaway for me on that is that when we see what a young man should be looking for in a wife, which is how Proverbs mostly addresses the subject, for the most part, we could reverse those and say, “Young ladies, here’s what you ought to be looking for in a husband as well.” So we can’t let the language leave us in the dark and not realize the application that Proverbs has for all of us.
SECOND. The other thing we need to understand about the Book of Proverbs is, it was being written at a time when marriage was something drastically different from what we think of it today.
Marriage was so incredibly transactional, as we used that expression a couple of weeks ago under friendship.
Nowhere in marriage at this time were they really pursuing not only emotional intimacy, but they really honestly weren’t even pursuing physical intimacy.
It was widely accepted that that happened outside of the marriage relationship.I mean the marriage back then was so drastically different, when you read Proverbs then, it’s really powerful that God spoke right through that culture and said, “No, this is what I have in store for a husband and wife as they come together.”
1. Marriage as a Covenant;
All right, let’s first look at this idea of marriage as a covenant as we dive Into the Book of Proverbs. Proverbs 2:16-17 tell us these words,
“Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman,
from the wayward woman with her seductive words,
(more on that next week)
17 who has left the partner of her youth
and ignored the covenant she made before God.”
Now a covenant is like a contract or an agreement between two parties. Today, we shake hands, we write-up legal documents or something like that to say, “here’s a covenant between us”.
Many people think of marriage as a covenant–they’re not completely a loss when it comes to this… they just think of a covenant between two people. And they’re missing that what the Scripture says is that she has left and ignored the Covenant she made before God“.
That’s one reason why, whenever I’m doing a wedding ceremony I’ll say something like, “Hey Dan, today you are not just saying to Amanda. “I will love you”, but you’re saying,, “God, I will love Amanda”.
“And Amanda you’re not just saying to Dan that you will love Dan, but you’re making a covenant saying, “God. I will love Dan.” You’re making this commitment before God, not just a commitment before one another.
And so the Bible uses this language of a covenant that we’re making with God,
Well, how can we possibly use the word covenant without thinking about The Great Covenant that God has invited us into in relationship with him–this wonderful precious Covenant where God comes before us and says, “Alright, I’ll be your God and you will be my people. You can become my children if all you do is place your faith and trust in my son Jesus Christ.”
It’s a Covenant that Jesus’s body has been broken for our sins that his blood has been shed for our sins. And the Covenant is that those who place their faith and trust in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for the Forgiveness of their sins are forgiven of their sins.
That’s the precious Gospel.
So people who come together and understand that they’re making a covenant before God, understand and walk in this New Testament Covenant of Grace, that we’re going to celebrate in a little bit together around the communion table, and therefore they walk and they live in the Gospel with one another.
They walk and they live in relationship with Jesus Christ whom God promises us to be in relationship with.
And so an incredibly powerful thing begins to happen when two married people start to walk in relationship with Jesus Christ…. they realized first and foremost that He’s the best spouse that they could ever have.
If your marriage is struggling, it’s probably a pretty good indicator that one of you doesn’t realize that Jesus is the best spouse that you could possibly have.
Not only do we not realize that he’s the best spouse that we could have, but we fail at times to recognize then all that he has to offer us.
But when we walk in Covenant relationship with him and in relationship with Jesus Christ, we begin to realize he’s the best spouse that we could have; we seek from him all that he has to offer and it changes something dramatically about our marriage relationship. Because don’t marriage most marriages fail ultimately because we enter into them expecting too much from our husband or a wife and not enough from Jesus Christ.
Don’t most marriages ultimately fail because we go into them expecting too much from our husband or our wife and not enough from Jesus Christ.
And so immediately we see God is establishing marriage not just as between two people that we get all we can out of each other, but he’s part of the equation and our relationship with him is key and pivotable as we come into that relationship with him and seek what he has to offer.
The other thing is that this new covenant, the Gospel teaches us how incredibly flawed we are from the very beginning. And incredibly how incredibly flawed our husband or wife is from the very beginning and it changes our expectations dramatically about what we ought to be looking for in a marriage.
Now some of you say, “Yeah but Pastor you don’t know… I mean you do not know my husband or my wife or my ex-husband or my ex-wife. I_married_the_wrong_person… No, I mean really I married the wrong person.”
Let me be clear pastorally, some of you did just that… I mean some of you did. And the Bible says that there’s such a time where a husband or wife crosses a line or a boundary. where not only does it give you permission to possibly break that Covenant, but there are times where even pastorally I would tell someone it’s probably time you should break that Covenant relationship.
That does exist out there. But let’s be honest… the overwhelming majority of the time that someone says, “I married the wrong person…” we all did all right?
Didn’t we all marry the wrong person? There’s no such thing as 100% compatibility. There’s no such thing as 100% compatibility… to a degree, we all married the wrong person. No one’s a perfect person for us.
As soon as we think that maybe we’re going into the marriage relationship with someone who’s just a great perfect fit for us, they change. That’s the incredible thing about marriage is people change within the context of marriage repeatedly over and over and over again. So if we go into the marriage relationship entering into that Covenant with them alone based on their character and personality alone, we’re ultimately going to feel disappointed and burdened by the fact that they’ve changed.
There’s one guy who’s famous for saying, “My wife and I have been married for 20 years. And in our 20 years of marriage, she has lived with four different guys. And all four of them have been me.”
As he acknowledges the fact that he’s been a totally different person over the years in his marriage relationship and he’s thankful that his wife had a commitment to God and to his unchanging character, and not towards just him and him alone.
Some of you might want to break the Covenant by saying, “Love shouldn’t be this hard. We have to work so incredibly hard at it, surely love shouldn’t be this hard.” Whoever came up with the idea that something that one has to work hard at must not have any value? That doesn’t make any sense. Right? If someone says, you know, “Hey, you’re an incredible pianist, but you had to work really hard at it”.
So we do we devalue that? No, we honor that and recognize that. Or,
“We’re so proud of you for running a marathon, but, oh, you had to practice and train?”
No, all great feats are accomplished through hard work, and marriages one of those. Saying love shouldn’t be this hard comes from Hollywood. The Scriptures never speak of the marriage relationship in any way shape or form like that.
Love… true Covenant marriage is indeed going to be at times incredibly hard work.
Marriage as a Covenant.
Proverbs also tells us about…
2. Marriage as Friendship
We can actually look at the same passage of Scripture in Proverbs Chapter 2 verses 16 and 17. We’ve just highlighted a different word for you. Let’s look at this again
“Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman,
from the wayward woman with her seductive words,
(more on that next week)
17 who has left the partner of her youth
and ignored the covenant she made before God.”
This word partner a powerful word. In the original language, the word partner means something much more profound than just the concept of partner. It’s more like what we saw a couple weeks ago in Proverbs 16:28, and this is actually the exact same Hebrew word…
A perverse person stirs up conflict,
and a gossip separates close friends.
Okay, same exact keyword. Now, let’s go back to Proverbs Chapter 2 verses 16 and 17
who has left the partner of her youth
… this close friend of her youth. The Book of Proverbs is moving us in a marriage relationship beyond just a covenant where we’re just committed to God, we got to put up with each other, to a place where we truly_are_best_friends.
Well, let me tell you something… a marriage that has a sense of the Covenant, but not a sense of the Friendship can be a difficult place to be in… can’t it?
Pearl Jam, a music group from my teens, wrote a song that I think kind of depicts how difficult and how taxing it can be to be in a marriage relationship where there’s this Covenant thing going, where we’re staying together, but there’s not any real friendship or enjoyment that comes from being in that relationship. This is just a little clip from that song.
Pearl Jam – Can’t Find a Better Man
I think you get a sense from that passage in Proverbs 2 about the difficulty perhaps of being in a marriage relationship where there’s no real friendship that’s going on. In fact, the Book of Proverbs speaks of the opposite of friendship when it comes to marriage with regards to the words quarrelsome.
In Proverbs chapter 21 verse 9, the Scriptures tells us this,
Better to live on a corner of the roof
I don’t know who does that or what that’s like, but I guess it’s like sleeping on a couch only like worse. Maybe.
than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
Again, this goes both ways men and women.
Proverbs chapter 21 verse 19
Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.
Proverbs Chapter 19, Verse 13 tells us,
A foolish child is a father’s ruin, and a quarrelsome wife is like the constant dripping of a leaky roof.
“Quarrelsome“.. this word quarrelsome is like used for all three of these Proverbs that speak into this idea that there are other options besides having good friendship in a marriage, you could be in one of these types of relationships.
Most quarrelsome based marriages are marriages that have lost site— at least one partner has lost sight of the Gospel, of their own failures and their own shortcomings, and therefore they’re quick to point out their partner’s shortcomings and failures. They’re not willing to show the grace to their husband or wife that they have received from Jesus Christ.
No, I mean, marriages that are marked by friendship are marriages that have words like grace, and tolerance, and picking your battles, infused into them.
Some of us need a pause and stop and ask ourselves., “Am I really being wise in the battles that I’m picking? Am I going down the path of a friendship based marriage or a quarrelsome husband or wife?”
Let’s pick our battles in the areas of what restaurants we go to, and things like dishes and laundry, and football, and money, and sex, and Saturday afternoon hobbies, and you name it… on and on and on. And that goes both ways, for both sides.
Romans chapter 15 verses 1 through 3 tells us this,
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors…
If you don’t mind, I’m going to take the liberty to insert husband or wife. Each of us should please our husbands or our wives for their good to build them up, right?
This is a mentality that followers of Christ embrace about their husband or about their wife in that relationship that is the opposite of being a quarrelsome wife or quarrelsome husband.
It’s like, “Hey, like I’m going to choose not to bring this up and mention it because I’m here to serve you, I want to lift you up. I want to build you up. My goal is to please you in this relationship.” right?
And so the Scripture speaks of not only marriage as a covenant but also marriage as a friendship —a radically different component than the time of the Book of Proverbs. And maybe radically different than what some of us have today.
3. Marriage as Intellectual Partners
In the Book of Proverbs chapter 1 verse 8 and 9 the Scripture tells us this…
Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
For they are a garland to grace your head
and a chain to adorn your neck.
Another radical concept in an age where most women were not being educated.
The Book of Proverbs speaks into this idea that these young men ought to pay attention not only to what their fathers but also what their mothers say.
So these husbands and wives, these fathers and mothers have something worth saying. Here’s a wise saying, “Your father and your mother have something important to teach you for they are intellectual partners in their marriage relationship with one another and they’re rearing you and raising you as such.”
In Proverbs chapter 6 verse 20 the Scripture tells us something along the same lines,
My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
Again, the father has something to teach the child, mother has something to teach a child… because Proverbs views this marriage relationship, as they come together, as one of intellectual partners.
And if we’re honest with ourselves, some of our marriages don’t really recognize the intellectual value of each other.
Some of you wives view yourself as being a smart person in the marriage. Or some of your husband’s view yourself as being a smart person in the marriage, and we fail to value each other intellectually the way that we should.
Let me just ask you. Are you unintentionally, if you’re rearing your kids right now especially, are you unintentionally giving your kids the wrong impression about either of the parents based on the way in which you are raising them?
I think this applies to discipline as well. I mean if we’re going to expect our moms and our dads to provide equal instruction into the lives of kids, they should also be providing the boundary and the consequences for those things as well.
As a child, in my home, we didn’t operate that way. At my house if you didn’t listen to my mom, then what did my mom say? You know it.
“Wait till your father gets home”
Right? Which only made me think, “Actually it’s really not that big of a deal to not listen to you. Because you’re not someone who has a big enough place in this home that you can really do anything to me. Is that helping me respect you?”
So my advice and counsel, and I don’t say that to make people feel bad about the way you’re raising kids, but we should consider the fact that that expression may not have a lot of biblical wisdom behind it.
The Book of Proverbs, the Bible as a whole, views these two coming together and being intellectual partners and I think that flows all the way through… the teaching, the instruction, the boundaries, the discipline, the whole process.
Proverbs chapter 31 verse 10 tells us this,
A wife of noble character, who can find?
For she is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
“Her husband has full confidence“… some translations say trust. Some of the commentators say this is one of the only places in the whole Bible where the Bible gives us permission to trust anyone or anything other than God, within this marriage relationship.
He gets to TRUST her. He has full confidence in her because he recognizes the value in which she brings to the marriage. Again, that goes both ways. I ask you, husbands and wives, are we valuing each other as intellectual Partners?
Proverbs 31:26 tells us this,
She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
The Bible is saying, “Hey, go find an intellectual partner as a husband or as a wife—a wise spouse is a spouse who recognizes the intellectual strength of their husband or wife and lets them lead in that area.”
A wise husband says, “Hey, wife… you’re smarter than me about… you know, what.” A wise wife says, “Hey husband, you’re smarter than me about.. you know what.” and lets them take a lead in guidance and direction in their areas of strength.
This intellectual component was one of the things that attracted me most to my wife Amanda. We were in college and we were doing the college thing together. I can’t remember if we were still just friends or just dating, but at one point in time I was a youth ministry major at and I wanted to be in the ministry.
She was the one who told me,
“Hey, you know, what they’re teaching you in these classes are basically a bunch of stuff you could learn six months on the job.” She said, “You didn’t grow up in the church, so what you really need is a Bible theology degree.” And you know what? She was dead right.
I switched Majors and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
She was the one who came along at another time and said,
“Hey, maybe you should consider this reformed view of viewing the Bible.” …which is another subject, but it’s one that I came to embrace and realize was the correct way of viewing the Scripture.
So it was those are the types of things that I was able to see from her that made me value her as an intellectual partner, and someone who I wanted to be married to.
I hope that if you’re out here today, you have a husband or a wife who values you as an intellectual partner and vice versa.
The other component we see in Proverbs is a managing partner.
4. Marriage as Managing Partners
In the Book of Proverbs Chapter 14 verse 1
The wise woman builds her house,
but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
Now this is kind of one of those peculiar Proverbs where one might ask, “To be a wise woman, does that mean I need to be able to hammer nails and cut boards and that kind of stuff? Surely building a house has some bigger meaning than actually constructing a physical house”
And it turns out (surprise, surprise), it does.
Tim Keller who’s a well-known pastor and author writes this about Proverbs 14 verse 1. He says,
“Proverbs assumes, as does the rest of the Bible, that the husband is the head of the home. This headship will take different forms in different marriages.
If that’s a new expression to you we’ll deal with that another time, but it’s a Biblical expression that needs to be dealt with in the life of the church and is given to us from the wisdom of God.
But he says this,
“However one conceives it, it cannot be taken to mean that the husband alone makes all the management decisions. The wise woman builds her house, and here the word house means not to merely construct the physical dwelling, but to lay the foundations for a family’s life: socially, economically, materially, emotionally, and spiritually.”
And so these are instructions to a young man to find a wife who can not only be an intellectual partner but a managing partner. And young ladies, we want the same for you as well as you’re looking for a husband… to seek someone who will not only be an intellectual partner but a managing partner as well—someone who will do their part in caring for the house both domestically inside the home and outside of the home as well.
The Scripture tells us in Proverbs Chapter 31 verses 21 and 22 these words….
When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
It goes on to say in verse 27 these words…
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Some pastors view this whole managing relationship of husband and wife, and when they teach about this, quite frankly, I think many go past the scope of biblical authority, into saying, “This is the role the husband should play. This is the role of the wife should play.”
We don’t really have a lot of biblical authority to go too far down the road into details. What we do have the biblical authority to say is that these folks should be managing partners of the household, that both the husband and wife should be productive members in caring for and providing for the house.
We’re going to see that the Proverbs 31 Woman not only managed domestically, but she also made money and brought in an income as well. Isn’t that a little stressful to think about ladies? Like we often think about women as being either stay at home moms or working moms. And of course, our working moms may more naturally know this, that there’s no such thing as a working mom who doesn’t also have to do work at home. And here we see the Proverbs 31 Woman was someone who had both worlds going on.
And we want that for our husbands as well… who are providing for the family but also are not above doing domestic things around the house. There’s a dynamic where wise people come together in marriage and realize that they’re managing partners together.
The Bible also presents these married couples as economic partners as well.
5. Marriage as Economic Partners
The Scripture tells us this in Proverbs 31 verse 13 through 18:
She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
It’s sad, of course, when we run into people who are in an economic situation when either a husband or wife is refusing to be a part of the economic partnership.
Here we see that in a Proverbs 31 Woman, a man is seeking not only a woman who has the ability to provide for her family that way, but also we desire, as with all these Proverbs of course, the reverse as well—women looking for men who are willing to go out and work, even if it means that the lamp doesn’t go out at night, to care for and provide for their family.
God has given us this beautiful marriage relationship that we might not suffer some of the economic consequences of not being in that relationship.
It’s so ironic because so many people say, “One of the reasons I’m not getting married is I think marriage is going to suck all my money away.” You’ve heard that one before.
Here’s the thing… there are lots of different factors involved in this, but statistically speaking married people earn far more money than single people over the course of their lifetime, and they retire with far more wealth than single people do as well.
And again, there’s all kinds of different variables and circumstances for why that’s true. But I think one of the reasons why is because God provides within that economic partnership.
And then finally, church, just one verse on the reality that marriage is also a Ministry partnership as well.
6. Marriage as Ministry Partners
Proverbs 31:20 tells us this,
She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
There’s something beautiful about when you’re seeking a husband or a wife, finding one who is about the business of doing the work of God, and has a heart for the things that God has a heart for.
And that’s one of the wonderful ways that God wants to make us holy, is to bring us into a marriage partnership where it’s also a Ministry partnership, and both people have a heart for the things that God has a heart for and they’re pushing each other and that direction and encouraging and challenging each other and stretching each other’s Faith along those lines.
Let me just ask you, “When is the last time that you had your husband or your wife challenge you, push you, engage you in the direction of having a Ministry heart, or you did that for your spouse?”
This is one of the beautiful things about this Proverbs 31 women and I would say, men as well… they’re people who care for the things that God ultimately cares for.
Marriage is all these different dynamics, but by no means is it an exhaustive teaching on the subject of marriage. The Bible has so many other things to say, but Proverbs alone tells us a lot and as we go through and we evaluate the type of husbands and wives we are, or might be someday, or were… we are reminded as we walk through that list of the great shortcomings in our life. I mean, perhaps no relationship better than the relationship we’ve had with our husband or wife is faithful to remind us of how broken we are… and how sinful we are… and how much we need the blood of Jesus Christ for our forgiveness.”
Link to Kirkmont Presbyterian Church Website
Listen to recent sermons