Marriage Can Be Awesome or Awful!

Proverbs 12:4 (NASB95)

An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,
but she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones.

Proverbs 11:17 (NASB95)

The merciful man does himself good, but the cruel man does himself harm.

Marriage is a gift from the LORD and an incredible opportunity to put His love and grace on display. But as we battle the world, the flesh, and the devil, we need God’s wisdom to overcome those temptations, walk in victory, and give Him the glory He deserves. Proverbs is filled with wise principles that help us do just that. The last two weeks we saw the first two of three principles from Proverbs on marriage:

  1. Marriage is a Covenant, not a contract. It requires a sacrificial, permanent, sanctifying, and grace-filled commitment. Which leads to principle #2:
  2. Marriage is the Most Intimate of Friendships. Friends love at all times, and marriage provides the opportunity to experience the most intimate friendship ever. Marriage was designed by God for your spouse to be your bosom companion, your most intimate friend.

But a lot of people don’t experience God’s glorious plan for their marriage. This week I want to point out some specific warnings from Proverbs, because our third principle is that:

  1. Marriage can be AWESOME or AWFUL! God intended it to be awesome, but if we choose not to walk in the Spirit our marriages can be awful. Let’s look together at the two kinds of wives and two kinds of husbands that are described in Proverbs. One kind contributes to an awesome marriage, the other kind can make marriage truly awful. As we look at these passages, ask the Lord to change any areas of your life that aren’t helping your marriage be an awesome testimony of His amazing grace. 

Proverbs 12:4 (NASB95) – “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones.” An excellent wife is a visible, public treasure. Her husband is honored to be with her and sees her as a blessing and source of great joy. But some wives are shameful and bring rottenness to their husband’s bones (they destroy a man). You can sometimes see this in a man’s demeanor, body language, etc. Some are like crowns and others like cancers.

  • The shameful wife:

21:9 – “It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”

A contentious wife (argumentative; always disagreeing, negative, mean-spirited; resistant to what he wants to do; always at war). Better to live on the roof (get away from her). These women will say they are NOT quarrelsome. They say that they are opinionated, but not quarrelsome.

“Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out” (Prov. 17:14). “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down” (Prov. 26:20). The New Life Application Bible says the following about this verse: “Talking about every little irritation or piece of gossip only keeps the fires of anger going. Refusing to discuss them cuts the fuel line and makes the fires die out. Does someone (like your spouse) continually irritate you? Decide not to complain about the person and see if your irritation dies from lack of fuel.” That advice won’t work for every irritation, but it will for many. “He who loves a quarrel loves sin; he who builds a high gate invites destruction” (Prov. 17:19). Know when to “speak the truth in love” as the Bible tells us because sometimes silence builds a “high gate,” but also know when to stop the drama by letting a matter alone. Choose your battles wisely.

9:13 – “The woman of folly is boisterous, she is naive and knows nothing.” The woman of folly = loud, seductive & stupid. Strong opinion on everything. Always has to speak her mind & have the last word. Domineering. Loud, flirtatious & uninformed. Men will put up with this for a while & then just check out (mentally & emotionally). Then he will withdraw physically as well. He’s tired of her & her abuse!

2:16-17 – speaks of the adulterous woman that forsakes the covenant of her God. The adulterous woman forgets her covenant & goes after other men.  There are a growing number of women in our culture that are adulterous. This is one of the reasons the Bible gives for divorce (Mt. 5:32). Adultery is treason & betrayal. It is devastating! Adultery is one of the most selfish things you can possibly do! It hurts God, the spouse, the kids, the Church. Covenant love is to be reserved solely for the spouse!  

  • The excellent wife is described in 14:1; Prov. 31:10ff – an excellent wife is one who fears the LORD and builds her house! She worships, fears, loves, and serves Christ! She is trusted and honored by her husband. Charm & beauty can be fun for a while but the woman of character that fears the LORD is a lifelong crown to her husband! She builds her house. Words of wisdom and kindness are on her tongue. She has a homeward orientation (Titus 2). She values being a wife, mother, homebuilder, making a legacy for her family.

Proverbs also describes two kinds of husbands: kind (merciful) or cruel. Proverbs 11:17 – The merciful (kind) man does himself good, but the cruel man does himself harm.

  • The cruel husband:

27:8 – “Like a bird that wanders from her nest, so is a man who wanders from his home.” Cruel husbands stray from home. Life is all about them. They neglect their wife & children; act like they are single. They are frequently out pursuing selfishness & sin. To be a husband & dad requires a lot of work and a lot of time!

12:17-19 – “He who speaks truth tells what is right, but a false witness, deceit. 18 There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. 19 Truthful lips will be established forever, but a lying tongue is only for a moment.” Rash words and a lying tongue destroy a wife & kids. This is the opposite of 1 Pet. 3:7! Words are like sword thrusts. A cruel man will justify the negative way he talks to his wife rather than repent of it. Some men lie to their wives about things & break their trust. This is cruel! The tongue can do as much damage as the fist even though it doesn’t leave marks for the police.

  • The merciful (kind) husband

5:18-20 – “18 Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth. 19 As a loving hind and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; be exhilarated always with her love. 20 For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress and embrace the bosom of a foreigner?” This is one aspect of the kind husband. He is a one-woman man. His desires are for his wife. His heart & affection is for his wife. His sexual passion is for his wife. Like Job, he makes a covenant with his eyes not to look upon a woman lustfully (Job 31:1). He doesn’t compare his wife to other women but sees her as his standard of beauty. She is the ONE for him. If a man didn’t have this example when he was growing up, he can follow the example of leaders in the church who are singly devoted to their spouse (Heb. 13:4; 1 Tim. 3; Titus 1).

14:26 – “In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and his children will have refuge.” The fear of the LORDS makes a KIND husband! He loves Jesus, hates sin, reads the Bible, prays with and for the family, etc. This is such a KIND gift to the wife. Her husband submits to Jesus, follows Jesus, and wants to be like Jesus. She sleeps better than other women do! She is secure. She respects him! His children have a refuge.

The kind husband controls his tongue. He doesn’t start or perpetuate fights. Prov. 20:3 – “It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” Keep in mind, “If a man pays back evil for good, evil will never leave his house” (Prov. 17:13). Even when his spouse doesn’t do what is right, he doesn’t stoop down to the same level. He stays calm and kind and avoids strife.

17:9 – “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” The New Life Bible commentary says: “This proverb is saying that we should be willing to forgive other’s sins against us. Covering over offenses is necessary to any relationship. It is tempting, especially in an argument, to bring up all the mistakes the other person has ever made. Love, however, keeps its mouth shut — difficult though that may be. Try never to bring anything into an argument that is unrelated to the topic being discussed. As we grow to be like Christ, we will acquire God’s ability to forget the confessed sins of the past.”

Be careful of “right fighting.” Right fighting is fighting to such a degree that you would much rather prove you are right, than to save the relationship. And sometimes your being so adamant about proving to your spouse that your way is the “right” way, can cause a death in your relationship.

13:3 – “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.”

17:27 – “A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered.” The kind husband will pray and think before he speaks. This will help him not only with the words he chooses to speak but also with the tone of voice and body language he exhibits when he speaks.

10:19 – “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.”

16:23-24 – “A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction. Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” That doesn’t mean that you can’t say anything at all. There are times when you need to speak and bring God’s truth to bear on a situation. But think of words as gifts that we give to each other. Ask the Lord to help you to keep wise in the balance of all that you share (and don’t share).

We all need God’s wisdom in our marriages! Three wise principles from Proverbs:

  1. Marriage is a Covenant, not a Contract
  2. Marriage is the Most Intimate of Friendships
  3. Marriage can be Awesome or Awful

If you need help with this, please ask your LIFE Group leader, an elder, a pastor, or a biblical counselor for help. And let’s pray for one another so that our church might be filled with committed, loving, intimate, awesome marriages that proclaim God’s amazing grace to a watching world.

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