The Christian husband and father has authority and thus power in his family. This is a good and God-ordained fact, but it is also very challenging.
Why? Because all authority and power can be used constructively or destructively, and this simply depends on the individual’s attitude and heart. As someone said,
The heart of the problem is a problem of the heart.
Here’s an example. In I Samuel, the Bible gives us a detailed history of King Saul’s reign in Israel. After Saul’s repeated failures, the prophet Samuel had told Saul,
…Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king (I Sam.15:23).
Immediately after David killed Goliath and became a national hero (I Samuel 17), Saul feared him. Saul’s life began to unravel under the influence of an evil spirit and his own insecurities, and he tried to kill David (I Sam.18:10-12). There was a temporary lull in this hostility after Jonathan interceded with Saul on David’s behalf (I Sam.19:4-5), but then Saul not only tried to kill David again (I Sam.19:9-17), but then Jonathan as well, his own son (I Sam.20:30-34).
This shocking chain of events could hardly seem to get worse, but it did, when Saul killed all the inhabitants of Nob in jealous, vindictive spite (I Sam.22:16-23). With a couple of brief interludes, Saul’s degenerative life and reign in Israel continued to spiral down till his death, and it was God who killed him (I Chron.10:13-14).
Every godly husband can and must take lessons from the disaster that Saul’s life became, firstly as a husband and father, and secondly as the king of Israel. And let’s be frank: what will make me and every other godly man, any different to Saul?
Not much, except the Spirit of the Lord, my attitude towards the Word of God, and my heart attitude and actions. What motivations we hold to, what heart attitudes we embrace, and what actions we live by, are what can and must make the difference, by God’s grace. The Bible refers to this:
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable [willing to yield], full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace (James 3:17-18).
The marginal reference or rendering of “reasonable” in this passage is “willing to yield.” I am firmly of the view that Christian husbands in many circumstances should be “willing to yield” to their wife, and others. After all, the Bible says that “…her worth is far above jewels,” that “the heart of her husband trusts in her…” (Prov.31:10-11), and it refers to her as a “…fellow heir of the grace of life…” (I Pet.3:7).
God is good, and so the Bible is good for all people, including women. They should never be considered in any way as second rate; they certainly aren’t. And their husbands should value their opinions.
Insecure husbands are obsessed about their authority, just as Saul was. But a godly wife is a complement to her husband, for God said in the garden concerning Adam, the first man and husband, that “… I will make him a helper suitable for him” (Gen.2:18). This help may come in unexpected ways, because
…wisdom is with those who receive counsel (Prov.13:10).
Do we see any of this in the scriptures? Yes, we do. We see Isaac willing to listen to Rebekah’s suggestion to send Jacob away, when she knew Esau planned to kill him (Gen.27:41-28:5).
We see Zipporah vigorously intervening in her family, when Moses had negligently failed to circumcise his sons, and God came to judge him. She did what Moses should have done but hadn’t, so the Bible’s commentary is that “… He [God] let him alone” (Ex.4:26).
We see Manoah’s wife encouraging her fearful husband, who was afraid after they’d been visited by an angel. She explained that God was not going to kill them, after all (Judges 13:22-23), and she was right.
We see Esther appealing to her husband the king, to grant her petition that the innocent lives of her people be spared (Esther 7:1-6). In doing this, she is acting in accordance with the command given later through Solomon, to
Deliver those who are being taken away to death, and those who are staggering to slaughter, oh hold them back (Prov.24:11).
Not only this, but Esther doesn’t want her husband directly implicated in the shedding of innocent blood, something that God said He hates (Prov.6:16-17).
We see Michal warning her husband David, when her father Saul was scheming to kill him, that “If you do not save your life tonight, tomorrow you will be put to death” (I Sam.19:11). David got out that night, and saved his life.
We see Pilate’s wife encouraging him at Jesus’ trial, to “have to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him” (Mat.27:19).
Every godly husband really needs his wife. If he is ever foolish, stubborn or arrogant, he’ll despise her and the great benefit she can bring him, and their family. But if he is humble enough, he’ll take seriously her advice, and benefit from it throughout his marriage.
My fellow Christian husband, will you?
Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; it is oil upon my head; do not let my head refuse it (Ps.141:5).
The wise woman builds her house… (Prov.14:1).