|This troubadour, accompanied on accordion, provided a wonderful gondola serenade.|
"He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.”
This statement from Proverbs 18:22 was written by King Solomon of Israel, one of the Bible’s most interesting characters. He is called the wisest man who ever lived. In 1 Kings 10:6-8, the queen of Sheba declared, “The report was true that I heard in my own land of your words and of your wisdom, but I did not believe the reports until I came and my own eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report that I heard. Happy are your men! Happy are your servants, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom!”
Despite his acclaim, it seems at times Solomon failed to take his own advice. For instance, the Scriptures tell us he amassed 1,000 wives and concubines during the course of his reign. In most cases, “being in love” wasn’t the issue. He wasn’t a multiple times guest on “The Bachelor.” These were political alliances, even though elsewhere in the Scriptures, God made clear His warning against acquiring numerous wives. Deuteronomy 17:17 says, “(the king) must not take many wives for himself, lest his heart go astray.” Which is exactly what happened to King Solomon, especially during his later years.
Nevertheless, Solomon held high the virtues of a strong, loving marriage. In writing Song of Solomon, the king authored a tribute to romantic love and devotion. And in Proverbs 5:18-19, he exhorted his male readers, “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth…may you ever be intoxicated with her love.”
He could just as easily have written, “She who finds a husband finds a good thing.” But of course, Solomon was writing from the standpoint of his experience and perspective as a husband – albeit many times over.
|The isle of Capri was one of our favorite stops.|
As I read passages such as these, I can’t help but think of how blessed I have been. And how I can identify with the opening verse above. My wife, Sally, and I recently observed our 44thwedding anniversary. We were in Venice, Italy, and on the eve of our anniversary we had the thrill of being able to celebrate with a gondola ride in the city of canals, serenaded by a talented local singer who was accompanied by a friend on the accordion.
When I reflect over my teenage and young adult years, wondering who would become my wife, I could not have imagined a better mate. It’s been far more than a four decades-plus love affair. She’s been my best friend, companion, partner and supporter. Sally has followed me around the countryside as I pursued vocational opportunities, put up with my faults and foibles, and patiently let me strive to be the spiritual leader God has called me to be, even at those times when I failed or didn’t successfully communicate the what’s and why’s of decisions I made.
We’ve gone through tough times. Raising a family, wrestling with financial issues, coping with career changes, facing health struggles, and just the challenge of dealing with everyday life all make tough times a given. But I firmly believe it’s those times that have cemented our relationship, causing it to grow much stronger as a result.
In Romans 5:3-5 it states,“…but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” I suspect that many marriages fail because one or both parties give up too soon – they fail to understand or appreciate the benefits of perseverance, how hanging in during those times when going gets tough can help in forging a relationship that can endure any storm.