“And David sent and inquired after the woman. And one said, ‘Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’”
II Samuel 11: 3
King James Version
“Bathsheba: Wife of Uriah the Hittite”
“Of all the home remedies, a good wife is best.”
What are the qualities I believe a wife has?
What qualities do I believe I have brought into relationships in my life?
How have these qualities affected my life?
“A perfect wife is one who doesn’t expect a perfect husband.”
“I dreamed of a wedding of elaborate elegance; a church filled with flowers and friends. I asked him what kind of wedding he wished for; he said one that would make me his wife.”
She was a bathing beauty. She was someone’s precious daughter. And she was Uriah’s wife. Bathsheba wasn’t just a gorgeous woman, desired by the king. She had parents who loved her. And a devoted husband who was off at war, fighting for his king and country.
Knowing that Bathsheba was the wife of an honorable man has, as I have studied about her, prompted me to think about what it means to be a wife and how marriage has affected my life, as well as the lives of those I know.
In a few weeks, Jim and I will celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary. Before we married, nearly everybody we knew said we were too young. Even family members unkindly predicted doom upon us! We had no money. And it took us months to save the $500 we needed to cover all our own wedding expenses. I was able to purchase my wedding dress (which I still have right here in the closet where I write the daily devotionals) for the sale price of $49.95.
We couldn’t afford the cost of special music so at the end of our wedding ceremony we invited our over 250 friends and family in attendance to sing “Blest Be The Tie That Binds.” I still come to tears when I sing that simple hymn, for it is a constant reminder to me of what the tie is that works like super glue to bind relationships together in this day and age when marriages sometimes appear to be nothing more than a 72-day stage show, rather than holy matrimony.
As a reminder, if you have never sung “Blest Be The Tie,” here are the words to the two verses we chose to sing at our wedding:
“Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love!
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above!
We share our mutual woes,
Our mutual burdens bear,
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.”
Several years ago, when my precious niece married her husband Ben in a wonderfully spectacular wedding, I reminded her, in my hopefully “Effie” way, that it wasn’t what was spent on the wedding that would hold it together, it was the qualities they brought to the wedding that would weld her life to Ben’s – permanently.
Four years after Jim and I married and had to face the fact of my inability ever to have children, I think some individuals were surprised that this event didn’t break up our relationship. There was a group sponsoring a marriage seminar and they asked us if we would come speak about our “successful” relationship. You may be able to still hear the echoing of our laughter as we both said, “Give us 50 years!” And now after 34 years, I must tell you, having witnessed the struggles and break-ups of friends and family members, I’m even more silent about what it takes to stay together in harmony. I find Michel de Montaigne’s words about marriage rather interesting: “A good marriage would be between a blind wife and a deaf husband.” Actually, there is a fair amount of truth to the fact that a spirit of kindness and forgiveness is needed regarding the spoken word and some of our actions, especially if we want to succeed.
And please, I’m not talking here about emotional or physical abuse in any way. I’m relating this to the “kindness” lapses we all exhibit that can be like sand in your shoe – causing irritations in the best relationships.
Having over three decades to reflect on Jim’s and my union, I would like to share several observations. Believe me, this is not to be taken as marital advice. Instead, these are just some building materials I’ve noted are found in many of the successful partnerships I have been blessed to witness.
- King Solomon penned inspired words when he wrote: “A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15: 1, K.J.V.). My 92-year-old father-in-law, who is a dear man, but who would also be the first to admit that he has a temper, told me many years ago, that Zoila, his wife and Jim’s mother, was the kind of person who instead of throwing gasoline on a hot fire by the words she said, had the heavenly ability to speak with a gentle spirit that calmed the waters. He was absolutely correct and this is a virtue I am continuing to ask my heavenly Father to bestow on me. Quiet gentle words or even silence, are often the best way to diffuse confrontational situations.
- We as women hold a great power, God-given I believe, to be nourishers to those around us – be it husband, children, family members and friends. Ralph Waldo Emerson captured the essence of this thought when he wrote, “A man’s wife has more power over him than the state has.” As we continue our study of Bathsheba, and the influence she had on her son, Solomon, as well as the influence of other women who tugged at Solomon’s emotions, we’ll find that as wives and mothers, we can have a profound effect on people whose lives we touch. I encourage us as women to nourish rather than sap the vitality out of those around us.
- Finally, it is not how tightly we try to hold onto or control those in our lives. Instead, it is the bonds of love we embrace them with that matter the most and are remembered the longest. I love this beautiful poem written by Betty Vilas Hedblom:
Love With Wings
“There is that Love –
the one with wings,
that neither cages
but lets others in,
I know that Love.”
It was Sir Charles Gavan Duffy who penned one of the most beautiful descriptions of a husband and wife. “My best chosen friend, companion, guide, to walk through life, linked hand-in-hand, two equal, loving friends, true husband and true wife.”
While I recognize that in our world, there are constant strains that pull at all our relationships no matter how long we have been together, that longing, which for many is a heartfelt desire to share your life with another, is best undertaken when the tie that binds is woven with the golden thread of our Father’s eternal love.
“From this day we are one.
I linger; you hurry on.
I explain; your thoughts wander.
You react with excitement; I wonder.
Do we share?
Where is the level ground where we can see
Eye to eye?
Can we dream a single thread and soar
With feet firmly planted?
You the kite, me the string.
We pull apart with force
Yet remain solidly joined.
Our dream becomes reality
As husband and wife.”
“Lord, let me, in giving love, remember the seashore –
the ocean’s openness. May I keep in touch with your Divine passion
beyond my sight’s limits on the water’s surface – a passion
that ridges both the sea and the seashell.
Let me risk giving of myself – an exposure
like the crosscut section of the chambered nautilus.
Yet help me to understand how to use the power you have given me.
Remind me that I must know quiet moments,
Cra dling your gifts so that then I can pour them forth like the tide.
May I not be as the water lily that closes in on itself
at evening in its still pool. But may I become,
with time, strong and nourishing
like the brilliant breakers of the sea.”
Mary Ann Coleman
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