Calvary Road Baptist Church

“ADVICE TO A SINGLE MAN ABOUT MARRIAGE”

Proposition #5

“Commit to finding a woman to marry, rather than being
found by a woman to marry.”

Proverbs 18.22

I am giving advice to single men about marriage. I will assume that the advice given can only be taken by those young men who know Christ, and who recognize that they have been created in Christ Jesus unto good works, and have before been ordained of God to walk in those good works, Ephesians 2.10. To show you what we have dealt with so far, allow me rehearse the first four propositions:


·        Proposition #1: “Tending to eternity is more important than tending to matters of marriage.”

·        Proposition #2: “Consider marriage only if you need to consider marriage.”

·        Proposition #3: “Recognize the wisdom of planning for marriage.”

·        Proposition #4: “Recognize the potential for danger when dealing with women.”

 

The fifth proposition arises from our text for this evening, Proverbs 18.22: “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.” Please let me review the meanings of the significant words in this verse.

First, there is the activity of finding. Translating the Hebrew word aum, maw-tsaw', which appears in some 425 verses in the Hebrew text, it is a term that comes from a root that means to come forth, and means to find or to acquire. However, the word does not necessarily refer to finding after searching. It can also refer to unintentionally coming upon something. For example: The word is found in Genesis 2.22, where we read, “but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.” In this verse, the word does not necessarily suggest a diligent search was made, just that no wife presented herself for Adam. However, in many other verses the word definitely does indicate the discovery resulting from a search, such as when Jonah “found a ship going to Tarshish.”[1] Thus, a man who finds a wife may have been a man diligently searching for a wife, or he may be a man who is not looking for a wife, but comes across a woman to marry in the course of his daily activities.

Next, there is that one referred to as a wife. This Hebrew word, hva, ish-shaw', is the generic Hebrew word for woman, which is also translated as wife if the context in which it is used warrants it. Thus, a woman is wife if she is your woman or if she is someone else’s woman. If she is an unattached female, the word is translated woman.

Third, there is the description of a wife as good. This is the Hebrew word bwj, tobe, which is simply good in the widest sense of the word. No nuance or complexity here. In would be inappropriate, however, to think sanction is given to a man to find just any woman, as though any woman is better than no woman is. Proverbs 19.14, which declares, “a prudent wife is from the LORD,” shows that just any woman who will marry you is not what is in mind here. There are simply too many passages warning a young man about women to ignore the implication that it is good to get a good woman to be your wife, and it is not good to get just any woman to be your wife.

Finally, there is this matter of obtaining favor of the LORD. It is interesting to note that Proverbs 12.2, “A good man obtaineth favour of the LORD,” uses the same common Hebrew word for good as we discover in our text, as well as the infrequently used word for obtaining that is also in our text. This, of course, suggests both the type of man referred to in our text, as well as the type of woman referred to in our text. Good men tend to end up married to good women, suggesting that there is a protocol involved in what most frequently turns out to be a good marriage. To put it another way, there is a vital process at work that results in a pleasing product. Or to rephrase the matter in yet a different way, if you want to maximize the likelihood of ending up married to the right kind of woman, you have to go about the whole thing in the manner prescribed by God.

Please look at the text with me once more: “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.” Allow me to state the fifth proposition in this series of messages:

 

“Commit to finding a woman to marry, rather than being found by a woman to marry.”

 

Two trains of thought for the consideration of that single man with wisdom, whose primary desire is to glorify God in his life and with his choice of the woman to be his wife, and eventually the mother of his children. Guys, we are now addressing the getting of a woman for you. Is caution in this matter appropriate? And how. Allow me to quickly rehearse Solomon’s warnings:

 

Proverbs 11.16:   “A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches.”

 

Proverbs 11.22:   As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.”

 

Proverbs 12.4:     “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.”

 

Proverbs 14.1:     “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.”

 

Proverbs 19.13-14:   13     A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.

14     House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the LORD.

 

Proverbs 21.9:     It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.”

 

Proverbs 21.19:   It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.”

 

Proverbs 25.24:   It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house.”

 

Proverbs 27.15-16:   15     A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.

16     Whosoever hideth her hideth the wind, and the ointment of his right hand, which bewrayeth itself.

 

There are good women, who are wonderful for a good man to be married to. As well, there are troublesome women whose husbands are undoubtedly not at all happy. What do you want, a happy marriage, or decades of misery? That is what is at stake here, men.

 

THE FIRST TRAIN OF THOUGHT IS THE PATTERN THAT WE SEE

 

This is not a complex concept, though it completely escapes many people these days:

First, our text shows a pattern of men finding wives. I know you have the instance of Abraham sending the unnamed servant to find a wife for his son, Isaac. However, the pattern that is normative throughout the Bible is one in which men find their wives. To be sure, men who find wives are not always looking for a wife. There is no evidence to suggest that Moses was explicitly looking for a woman to marry when he crossed paths with Reuel and eventually married one of his seven daughters, a girl named Zipporah.[2] Neither can it be said that Jacob was initially looking for a wife when he first met Rachel. As was the case with Moses, he was in the region for reasons of personal safety and not for reasons directly related to matrimonial bliss. That said, there is absolutely no indication in God’s Word that it is not entirely appropriate for a man to search for a woman to marry. Why do you suppose this pattern of a man finding a wife is set forth in scripture? It seems so very clear to me. When a man takes it upon himself to find a wife, either by actively seeking a woman to marry, or simply keeping his eyes open to the opportunities to marry that may present themselves as he moves through his life of meeting people and interacting with others along the way, he is functioning as a leader. In light of what our text shows us, a man should most decidedly not entertain the notion of marrying any woman that he does not find, either by actively searching or by passively searching.

I say this because what we most certainly do not find in God’s Word is the pattern of women finding husbands. I caution you single men about this because it is becoming more and more of a problem in our increasingly feminized society. You have no idea how many times I witnessed young women go off to Bible college with an eye toward marrying some guy and spending the rest of her life married to a pastor. Therefore, she picks out a good candidate right out of high school, who is predictably flattered by the attention of a wonderful Christian girl and ends up marrying her. The problems come afterward, depending on how she handles the reality of him not entering the ministry, or entering the ministry and then quitting, and how he handles marriage to a woman he thinks he has let down. I remember another situation in which a young man with great dreams started attending our church. A number of people went somewhere together, and when he had to return home due to a schedule problem, one of our young women took him home in her car. I immediately knew what was happening, and before long, she landed him. The problem, of course, is that the woman who found her husband has no appreciation for his dreams, and I sadly predict a tragic divorce in their future. It all went wrong because she found herself a husband. How can any rational man expect a woman to follow his spiritual leadership after marriage, when the way they got married was he following her leadership? Is this not the case with so many guys? They think they are taking the initiative, but what they are doing is outmaneuvering potential suitors by following the woman more aggressively than other guys. Finding a spouse is a leadership function. So when a woman picks out the man she plans to marry, and then works her plan (no matter how sophisticated and subtle she may be in her feigned coyness), she is usurping leadership from the man. This does not mean that all marriages that began as the result of a woman’s active search for a husband are doomed to failure. God is most gracious and merciful. However, for a marriage and a home to glorify God, dramatic changes have to take place to bring about a husband’s spiritual leadership. It is frequently the case that the wife who started in a marriage in that fashion finds it very difficult to transition from leading her husband to following him. And why shouldn’t it be difficult? He followed her, did he not, thereby convincing her that he was not a leader? It is so profoundly important for a man to find a wife, rather than a woman finding a husband. As well, you would be very surprised to learn that the subtleties are such that it is not uncommon for young men and women to be completely blind to the realities of who is leading whom in the development of a relationship. All I can say is that those who have the eyes to see can clearly see what is happening, though such role reversals are very difficult to stop, because a weak man is never as strong as when he is trying to show that he is not weak, or that he is not following his woman. I can also say that relationships that begin wrongly, with the female leading the guy, can be repaired and put on a right track. However, such a thing is far easier to fix before a marriage takes places than afterwards. But that is a private counseling session, not a sermon.

We have a pattern, then, in God’s Word, a pattern that is not unlike every culture in the world that is not overwhelmed by feminism and the crazy notion that all that two people who love each other need is a chance to make it work. Marriage is a hierarchical relationship between a man and a woman, First Corinthians 11.3, and ignoring that hierarchy is asking for trouble. Men are hard wired to function in a certain way in relation to women. Proverbs 18.22 recognizes and builds on that hard wiring reality in a man’s physiology, in my opinion.

 

THE NEXT TRAIN OF THOUGHT HAS TO DO WITH WHERE WIVES ARE FOUND

 

Please recall that there is a range of action described by this idea of finding a wife. At one extreme, we can be considering a guy who feels like he is about to lose his mind he is in such need of a woman. His appetites are bothersome to him and he knows that if he does not marry sooner rather than later he is liable to commit serious sin. At the other extreme is the guy who knows God made him to marry, but he is not actively searching for a wife. He is living his life, serving God, and keeping his eyes open for God to answer his prayers so as to providentially cross paths with the woman God wants him to marry.

Most single guys are at neither one extreme nor the other, but somewhere between the two extremes. However, for sake of our discussion, I will deal only with the two extremes, and you can surely figure out that the principles should be adapted for your particular situation. And you will certainly need help, which is what pastors are for. “I don’t need any help. I can find my own wife.” Yes, but are you confident she will be the right woman, and are you so determined to function autonomously that you will risk the next thirty or forty years of your life just to demonstrate you don’t need any help? Consider the places where wives are found:

If you are up against it, and you are actively searching for a wife, I need to plead with you to limit your search to a woman who is already a godly Christian and who is already in church. Why do I make such a suggestion? You do not have a lot of time. Since you are on the prowl, you are in a pretty vulnerable situation. Almost any woman who knows you are desperate to marry can take advantage of you in a situation. Remember the warnings I showed you last week? Remember the capacity for subtlety women seem to be born with? My point is that you are neither experienced enough nor patient enough to be able to patiently sift through the marriage candidates to pick a woman who really is a Christian, and who does not have these terrible tendencies I read to you earlier this evening. Therefore, you have to limit yourself to a woman who is already a Christian, and was obviously so before you came along, and already serving God, so you can be sure she is not just posturing as a servant of God until she is able to land a husband. My wife and I celebrate thirty-four years of marriage today. I hope that should you find a wife you will be married at least that long. Can you risk the danger of marrying a woman who is not a spiritual Christian? You cannot. Therefore, since you are pressed for time you have to cut a corner, so to speak, and limit yourself to someone who is already a Christian, or who did not become a Christian and start serving God to impress you. Otherwise, you may be trapped into a very bad situation.

At the other extreme is the guy who will definitely marry, but you are in no hurry. You can approach this whole matter of marriage with patience and a head that is not clouded by passion. You are the guy who may very well meet the woman you marry at work, or in your apartment building, or at the gym. As well, it may even be that this girl is not a Christian at all when you first meet her. Hey, you may even meet her when she comes to church for the first time. The point that I seek to make is that, since you are in no hurry, you have some real opportunities to take advantage of. For instance, if she does not attend church, you can invite her. That way, you can see if she is inclined to follow your lead. Let us say you meet a girl at work and you like her. Therefore, you invite her to church and she actually comes. That is first. Therefore, she comes and comes and comes. Do you want to find out if she is continuing to come for you, or if she is interested in spiritual things? If you are interested in her spiritual welfare, you have the freedom to back away just a bit to see if she continues to come. Therefore, she keeps coming. That is excellent. Back up a little bit, so she can meet other people in the church. Remember, it is not all about you. Keep your eye on her, but let other people talk to her. Make sure she gets to know your church family. Give her some space so she can listen to the sermons, so she can take it all in, so I can deal with her about her spiritual condition. Is that wrong? Is that objectionable? Is that unreasonable? All I am trying to do is bring this girl to Christ. Do you have a problem with that? Therefore, after a while she is hopefully converted. Not so fast. It turns out that she had a false hope. Some months pass, and she is hopefully converted. Do you want her to go through all this to please you, or do you want her to be genuine? Then you have to behave wisely and not selfishly. Therefore, time passes. Her testimony seems solid and eventually she is baptized. A little more time yet. What you are so patiently looking for is evidence that she is going to faithfully serve God whether you are in the picture or not. Why is that so important? Because you are considering this woman to become the mother of your children, and you have no interest in bringing children into the world just so they can die and go to Hell after you are passed from the scene. You want to marry a woman who will protect your legacy, not destroy it, who will bless your children in your absence, not curse them. Therefore, you exercise patience. You come to me one day and ask, “Pastor, what do you think?” I tell you that she seems to be a fine Christian woman. Perhaps spiritually immature, but I think she will make you a good wife, and that God will bless your marriage.

Two extremes. One guy is in a real hurry, as I was in a real hurry. The other guy is not in a real hurry, so he can cast his net farther afield. The important point for a man, no matter where between those two extremes he is, is to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto him.

One final situation has to do with two kids who have known each other all their lives, because they have grown up in church together. They have just always known they will get married. So long as the young man does not feel as though he is being swept along by any current of momentum related to the expectations of others, and so long as both of them have good testimonies and faithfully serve God, I would expect them to be okay. The important thing for them to be wary of is who the leader in the relationship happens to be. It has nothing to do with skill or preference. You see, God has decided who the leader should be, both before any marriage occurs, when a relationship is begun, and after marriage takes place. I have no issue with women being better leaders than most men are. Neither do I take issue with women generally being better at most things than most men, and harder workers to boot. However, spiritual success will be the result of compliance with God’s wishes, submission to His will, and His will is for the guy to be the leader, both before and after marriage occurs.

 

It really comes down to faith for a woman. Do you trust God to know what He is doing, by allowing Him to control the heart of a man with respect to your future? Most women do not trust God to patiently wait on the Lord when it comes to a man and the matter of marriage, so they take matters into their own hands and find, hook, and then marry the guy who they can manipulate. The more successful he is, of course, the better.

Some women trap a guy with sex. Some women trap a guy with pregnancy. Some women trap a guy with pure intelligence. Some very few women do not trap a man, but wait on the Lord to be found by a good man. My friend, that is the woman you are after. Flee fornication. Run from the woman who would entice you with sex. Run from the woman who tries to lead you in any way. If she will not follow you before you marry her, it is highly unlikely that she will follow you after marriage. Then, sir, you will be among the most miserable of men.

Trust God enough to go about this business in a way that pleases Him, that glorifies Him, and yields to His infallible and inerrant Word.



[1] Jonah 1.3

[2] Exodus 2



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org