The King Who Rejoices in His Wife
April 15, 2018
In the opening chapters of the book of Proverbs, we see a father speak to his son about how to be a good and wise king for Israel. And a big part of being a good and wise king is having a good and wise marriage.
The son is given two commands. First, he is to stay away from the forbidden woman. Second, he is to rejoice in his wife.
In the last two sermons on this chapter, we looked at the first command. And it makes a whole lot of sense. Stay away from the forbidden woman. She is not who you think she is. She does not fear the Lord. She will be the end of you. So stay away from her. There is a lot of wisdom in this first command.
But it is not enough. It is true that the son must pay careful attention to the forbidden woman. But the father now puts her aside. For there is another woman worth talking about. There is another woman that is far more important than the forbidden woman. Here in 5:15-23, the son must give more attention to his beloved wife. It is not enough for the son to just stay away from the forbidden woman. The son must also rejoice in his wife. There is a lot of wisdom in this second command.
What does it mean for the son to rejoice in his wife? It means that the son is to have physical joy and emotional fulfillment with his wife. It means that the son’s body belongs to his wife and to no one else, and that his wife’s body belongs to him and to no one else (1 Corinthians 7:3-4). It means that the son’s heart is to be intoxicated or swept away by her lovely love. It means that the son is to be satisfied in his wife and is not to quench his thirst for sexual intimacy outside of his marriage. It means that the son must love his wife and no other woman. This is the wisdom of the father.
But the son must love his wife because of a greater love. The son must love his wife because he loves the Lord. In verse 21, the father reminds the son that his motivation must be the fear of the Lord. The son’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord. God sees everything. The father’s wisdom is based on God’s laws. And at the end of the day, the son must answer to the King of all kings. So the son stays far away from the forbidden woman. Why? Because he fears the Lord. And the son rejoices in his wife. Why? Because he fears the Lord.
And so the stage is set and the drama of the book of Proverbs is put before us. Will the son have the light of dawn that shines brighter and brighter until full day? Or will his iniquities ensnare him? Will a graceful garland be bestowed on the son’s head? Or will he be held fast in the cords of his sin? Will the son be wise and fear the Lord? Or will he die for lack of discipline? Will the son rejoice in his wife? Or will he fall for the forbidden woman?
The cool part about the book of Proverbs is that we know how this drama ends. We know how the drama ends because we know how the book ends. The son of Proverbs listens to his father in the opening of chapters 1-9. He travels down the long path of righteousness in chapters 10-31. And then at the end of chapter 31, at the end of the entire book, the son of Proverbs says this:
An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates (Proverbs 31:10-31).
If that is not a rejoicing in one’s wife, then I don’t know what is.
The ending of the book of Proverbs puts forward a glorious hope. A hope that the ultimate son and the ultimate king of the ultimate Israel would indeed have perfect wisdom and righteousness. This hope is the drama and the meaning of the book of Proverbs. And this hope has come true in Jesus Christ!
Jesus has perfect wisdom. He has perfect righteousness. I keep saying this over and over again because it is the core of the gospel of our justification. The only reason why we are forgiven of our sins and accepted by God and accounted as righteous in his sight is because the perfect obedience and the full satisfaction of Christ has been imputed to us. Jesus lived for us. Jesus died for us. Jesus resurrected for us. And now we are not going to heaven because we are good. We are going to heaven because Jesus is good. This is why Jesus’ perfect wisdom and righteousness is so important to us. Without it there is no hope of salvation for us.
But a very heartwarming thing happens to us when we have faith in the person and work of Christ. When we are blown away by Jesus’ perfect righteousness, we want to be righteous as well. We want to be wise as well. Not because we are trying to going to heaven. But because we are already going to heaven. I keep saying this over and over again as well because it is the core of the gospel of our sanctification. We as the church and the bride of Christ are united with him. And so there is a great desire in our hearts to fear the Lord and be wise and live righteously as we wait for the return of our King.
Praise be to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! He is the king! And he rejoices in his bride - that is, the church!
Here are some things, based on today’s Scripture text, that we can work on.
First, if you are married, then have physical joy and emotional fulfillment with your spouse. Be swept away by your spouse’s lovely love. Be satisfied in your spouse and quench your thirst for sexual intimacy within your marriage.
Second, I have a few words to say to our husbands here at Highland.
Husbands, love your wives. Love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. You know the wonderful gospel of salvation. Therefore you have a wonderful example of how to love your wife. Love your wives as Christ loved the church.
Also, husbands, love your wives as your own bodies. Jesus presents the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In other words, Jesus nourishes and cherishes his church. In the same way, you should love your wife as your own body. Remember that you are one flesh with your wife. It is written in Genesis: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Husbands, this mystery is profound. But his mystery, which is about Christ and the church, is the very reason why you are to love your wife as yourself. Love your wives as your own bodies.
Finally, husbands, love your wives and rejoice in them. Praise them with the same emotion and warmth that is found in Proverbs 31. This means that you have to open your mouth and talk to your wife. For example, you could say little things to her, things such as, “Honey, you look lovely today!” Or, you could say big things to her, things such as, “Honey, you look lovely today!” That was not a typo. Love your wives and rejoice in them.
Third, if you are single brother or sister and if you do not believe that you have the gift of celibacy or singleness, then be holy and do not commit sexual sin while you wait to become married. Pray for self-control. Be good at waiting. And if you cannot wait any longer, then find someone and get married. The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7:8-9, “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
Fourth, for the church overall, let us remember that our view of sex and marriage is very different from the view of this unbelieving world. So watch out. Keep discretion. Be attentive. Guard knowledge.
Fifth, let us fear the Lord. Adulterers or sexual immoral people wrongly believe that they can do their thing unnoticed in the dark. But they are wrong. The Lord sees all things. In the beginning, sexual sin seems harmless. But at the end, it will all catch up with you and you will reap what you sow. May we fear the Lord. Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a church who fears the Lord is to be praised.
I would like to close now with God’s encouraging words from the book of Revelation. In John’s beautiful vision of the end, he heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready….” And John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. This is how the book of Revelation describes the end. It will be the best wedding ever. And it will be so, because we have the best king ever.
Summary of Sermon
In the opening chapters of the book of Proverbs, a father speak to his son about how to be a good and wise king for Israel. And a big part of being a good and wise king is having a good and wise marriage.
The son is to rejoice in his wife. This means that the son is to have physical joy and emotional fulfillment with his wife. His body is to belong to his wife and his wife alone and his heart is to be swept away and satisfied by her love. Simply put, the son is commanded to love his wife.
And the grand motivation for this is the fear of the Lord.
This is the drama of the book of Proverbs. Will the son choose righteousness? Or will he go the way of the wicked? At the very end of the book of Proverbs (31:10-31), the son rejoices in his wife. This ending puts forward a glorious hope - a hope that the ultimate son and the ultimate king of the ultimate Israel would indeed have perfect wisdom and righteousness.
And this hope has come true in Jesus Christ. He is the king who rejoices in his church.
Jesus’ perfect righteousness is the core gospel of our justification. We are forgiven and accepted and counted as righteous because of the righteousness of Christ imputed to us.
Jesus’ perfect wisdom is the core gospel of our sanctification. We have a great desire to be wise and righteous because we are already going to heaven and because we are united with Christ our King.
To those who are married: rejoice in your spouse. To those who are single: be holy and do not commit sexual sin. And to all of us: let us fear the Lord and remember that our view of sex and marriage is very different from the views of this unbelieving world.
We have the best king ever. Let us look forward to what will be the best wedding ever.
Questions for Discussion & Sharing
How might the ending of the book of Proverbs (31:10-31) shape or change the way that you read and understand the book as a whole?
In what ways is the wisdom of the father contrary to the wisdom of an unbelieving world? What differences are there between the Biblical view and the worldly view of sex and marriage?
What are some challenges that both married and unmarried believers face as we all strive to follow the example of Christ’s love?