The Proverb of Solomon asks, “The good wife, who can find?” [Proverbs 31:10] It is only fair that the same question be asked of husbands, particularly Christian husbands. What counsel or direction do the Scriptures give to godly husbands within the union of marriage?
Some languages do not actually have a word for “husband” or “wife.” Instead they use just the words “man” or “woman” - as in Greek [ANER, male] - and the context determines the precise meaning. In English the word “husband” means literally: “householder.” The old English word “husbandry” was used of “management of domestic affairs” and so to “husband” was to care for a farm or a home and those within it.
In the Old Testament Hebrew Bible several words are used with regard to a man married to a woman. As in Greek, he is called ISH [man (Hosea 2:16)], ADHOHN [lord], and BAAL [owner/master]. [Genesis 18:12; 20:3; Jeremiah 3:20] In Malachi 2:14 husbands are also described as “partner” or “companion.” [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 2278, CHABERETH]
Even Yehowah in His relationship with Israel calls Himself a “husband” or “husbandly owner” at Isaiah 54:5. Here the word BAAL is used. [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 1166, to marry, rule over, possess, own to marry, rule over, possess, own] Thus, godly Jewish men had the greatest of examples before them of what a godly husband would be like. Yehowah or Yahweh is described to by His own angelic representative in this manner:
"Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, preserving loving-kindness for thousands.” [NWT]
In the New Testament Christian Scriptures Christ is compared to a husband of his Church, his Bride. In doing so Christian men who are married have in Jesus Christ a role model as a husband. [Ephesians 5:25-33]
What are a few key principles in the Holy Scriptures that help characterize the godly husband?
Though it is the godly wife who is described in Proverbs 31:10-31 there it also should be noted that her husband [BAAL] “[stands up] and praises her:
‘There are many good women but you are the best of them all!’” [Proverbs 31:28, 29 NCMM]
Everyone enjoys praise. Compliments and positive reinforcement go a long way, and the godly husband should make sure that he does this daily. Such praise calls for a positive outlook. So the godly husband is looking for every opportunity to compliment his wife. Not a day should go by without him making some endearing expression that shows he appreciates all that his wife does and is.
Some husbands have been accused of having “a wandering eye.” The godly husband is careful to keep his attention and focus on his wife. Proverbs 5:15-21 counsels that a godly husbands romantic interests should be exclusively devoted to only his wife.
Jesus the Nazarene also cautioned married men to be careful of this “wandering eye.” In Matthew 5:27-29 the Master warns of the dangers when married me turn their interests away from their wives:
“You heard it said: ‘Commit not adultery.’ But, I tell you [husbands]: Anyone looking at a woman, desiring her in his heart, has already [committed adultery]. But, if your right eye stumbles you, cut it out and throw it away. Better to lose one body-member than your whole body be thrown into Gehenna.” [NCMM]
When Yehowah describes a changed relationship with Israel He uses a particular expression that well describes the godly husband’s attitude toward his wife. The “husband” of Israel describes His new name as “Hephzibah” which means, “My Delight Is In Her.” [Isaiah 62:4] And just so, godly husbands will make sure to convey this same sentiment to their wives.
Some men in some cultures find it difficult to do this. Not to worry. Your wife will accept all your praise and interest will open arms. If you find it hard - with all the daily struggles of life - to make “expressions of endearment” [Song of Solomon 1:2], then make a determined effort to convince your wife that your “delight is in her” and no other. Obviously, this means in social matters you will not be one who flirts with the opposite sex. This is only a matter of good husbandly manners. Your wife WILL notice such brief lapses!
When Yehowah condemns the religious hierarchy of the Jews through the prophet Malachi, He not only finds fault with their worship but also with those priests who were husbands. Note the powerful words of the One who was the Husband of Israel:
“Now this is the second reason for you [men] to cover the altar of Yehowah in tears - weeping and screaming - for will He turn toward your gift offering with favor, or be pleased with anything from your hand? Now you say, ‘What is the reason?’ For this reason - because Yehowah testifies between you and the wife of your youth with whom you have treated her hurtfully even though she is your partner and the wife of your covenant-promise. Did He not create everyone? So that all the remaining breath of life is His? And what did that one search for? Godly people! Now you men must be on guard regarding your own attitude so that you never treat the wife of your youth hurtfully. ‘For He hates divorce, says Yehowah, the God of Israel, ‘as well as the man clothing himself with lawlessness like a garment,’ says Yehowah of Hosts. ‘So all of you men guard your attitude and never be hurtful.’” [Malachi 2:13-16 NCMM]
Some versions render the phrase “treated her hurtfully” as tyrannical, or treacherously, forsaken, broken faith [trust]. The Hebrew is BAGAD [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 898, to act or deal treacherously, faithlessly, deceitfully, offend] and suggest harmful and ill treatment of a wife. It is clear from the verses in Malachi above that God is aware of how some husbands treat their wives, particular those who clothe themselves in religious authority.
What could this hurt or treachery be? Well, as a husband you know what hurts you. Do not do the same to your wife? Do you like being deceived? Do you like someone to tyrannize over you? Do you like someone to berate or belittle you? Do you like someone to behave dishonestly with you? Well, then, do not do these things with your wife. Certainly there should never be a need to resort to physical violence. No matter how a wife behaves he cannot use his physical strength to control her. It is better, then, as the Proverb states to go and dwell in a desert than with a wife who arouses such reactions. And, indeed, in many parts of the world, a man who physical abuses his wife is only going to jail. And there he might find bigger men who would “tyrannize” him!
The apostle Paul is the one who writes the most concentrated material on the godly husband. This can and should be read many times by every godly husband. It is found in Ephesians 5:25-29,
“Now husbands, continue to show loving concern your wife just as Christ showed loving concern for the congregation. He sacrificed himself for the Congregation for the purpose of washing it with the bathing in the water of his message. Doing so he may make a glorious presentation to himself of an unspotted and perfectly smooth Congregation without any imperfections -- holy and unblemished. Just as Christ loves his Church you husbands ought to be loving your wives as much as his own body. The husband who has loving concern for his wife loves himself. Hardly does a man every hate his own flesh. Rather he feeds and takes care of it.” [NCMM Paraphrase]
In these verses several factors guide the godly husband. Paul says he “feeds and takes care of [her]” just as he would his own flesh. Thus, he protects and provides for her. Some versions render the phrase “takes care of” as cherish. The literal meaning of the word in Greek is to “keep warm.” Now this can be done materially as well as emotionally. Again it is not difficult to figure out what this means. How does a husband want to be treated? How does he take care of himself? Then, the godly husband will “go and do likewise.”
Paul writes that the godly husband will also “love” his wife. The Greek for “love” [loving concern] is AGAPE and has been defined as “positive action that seeks the highest good of another.” This means applying the Golden Rule within the marriage - “As you would have others do to you, you do to them.”
Indeed, the word “love” may be called the husband’s word in message. It defines his role. Never is this word used the other way where a wife should “love” her husband. This is the husband’s word that defines his place in marriage. [For the wife’s word see Nazarene Commentary 2000© and compare the Biblical Article: “The Biblical Woman”.] Certainly the point Paul makes at Philippians 2:3, 4 would especially apply in marriage:
e considerate of one another, not just looking after your own selfish things, but also those things of others.” [NCMM]
A godly husband’s love for his wife involves awareness, interest, concern - all followed by positive action. Peter express the same idea in these words: “The husbands dwelling with [their wives] should assign them honor in harmony with knowledge, as to a weaker, feminine vessel - resulting in unhindered prayers -- for you also are joint heirs of the unmerited favor of Life.” [1 Peter 3:7 NCMM] Any godly husband reading this should immediately note that his prayers - thus his worship and relationship with God - are affected by a failure to “honor” his wife.
As Peter states, this requires “knowledge.” Now most husbands will admit they sometimes have difficult understanding their wives - just as their wives do them. There must be moments - many of them - in a married life where the godly husband pauses to think about his role as a husband and how e treats his wife. He needs to ponder and meditate on how she thinks and reacts. What makes her feel good and positive about herself? What are her likes and dislikes? What irritates her? This is the process of acquiring “knowledge” of this “weaker, feminine vessel.” Thus, the godly husband must be knowing, aware, interested, concerned about his wife.
One Christian husband made it a practice to never leave the home without a hug, kiss, and good word. He never passed his wife without a loving touch. He never failed to express his love each day. He never failed to find good things to say about her appearance. Upon returning home he never failed to embrace and kiss his wife. He chose not to utter a negative word upon return home, but rather sought out positive things to say. A day never passed without him complimenting her appearance and telling her how beautiful she was. He remembered to prove to his wife that he thought of her when away. He brought her flowers and presents, and he did not always insist that their leisure activity center around him.
When he sensed his wife was just under too much stress he arranged for her to have a weekend to herself in a seaside hotel with some of the books she loved to read. Indeed, on two occasions he encouraged his wife to travel abroad with family and friends, while he remained at home to care for their three children. Most men thought him crazy, while most women thought him wonderful.
Above Paul also used the example of Christ as a role model for godly husbands. Paul writes that the Christ “bathes [his wife, the Church] with the bath of water according to the Word.” Christ loving taught his future wife, the Church. [2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 19:9] And just so, the godly husband must not only be the material provider, but also the spiritual one.
Patiently the godly husband applies the grand laws and principles in the Scriptures in his marriage. Most often this is done through an evening or two in the week when time is set aside for Bible reading and study. The godly husband looks for examples in the Scriptures than apply to him. Seeing this, the wife will do the same. Certainly there should be time for prayer. [1 Corinthians 7:5]
Like Christ, after such spiritual bathing in the waters of Truth, the godly husband will discover that his Christian wife is becoming more and more presentable to God. As Paul puts it, “Without a spot or a wrinkle or any thing of the sort.” Or, as some other versions put it: stainless glory [CON], as something wonderful [BEC].
Think of what this may mean! Like Christ presenting his Church to his Father in celestial glory, the godly husband will be able to present his wife - whom he has loved and cherished in harmony with the Word - before the Head of the Church as something fully pleasing to himself as well as the God and Father of Christ Jesus our Lord. Godly husbands, may this be your happy lot on that “day when Christ is to Appear in his glory”!
Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller
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