My marriage has had its ups and downs, like any. But God has had His finger on one area for a while now: RESPECT. Where women crave love, men crave respect. God designed us that way. To make the deal sweeter, He commanded spouses to give each other the very thing they crave. Men are to love their wives, and women are to respect their husbands (Ephesians 5:25-33).
I love Ed. I have shown that through the years. But have I shown him the respect he deserves? Reading Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs several years ago made me ask this question, something I had not thought too much about until then.
I knew I had not been grossly disrespectful. Ed has expressed his happiness in our marriage. But when asked not long ago to think of a time he felt greatly respected by me, he drew a blank. I felt sick. Maybe he just forgot? Or just maybe in my zeal to be right or to be in control, I have gone over the line in sass and quibble.
A 3,000-year-old conversation
God used a 3,000-year-old exchange between husband and wife to make His point clearer to me. Here’s the scene (2 Samuel 6:12-23):
David, the king of Israel, danced with abandon on the way back to his city, Jerusalem. He and the people of Israel were bringing the ark of God to its rightful spot among them. The Philistines had captured the ark in battle, but suffered tumors and disease while it was with them. They soon returned it to Israel.
Still, for more than 20 years, the ark had not been in the place of prominence it deserved as the sacred symbol of God’s presence with Israel. David wanted to change that.
Trumpets blared, and the people shouted as priests slowly carried the ark toward Jerusalem. Wearing a simple linen garment, David danced before the Lord with all his might.
Michal, David’s wife and daughter of Israel’s previous king, looked out of the window as the ark entered the city. She saw David leaping and dancing, and she despised him in her heart.
The ark was set in place in the tent David had pitched for it. Smoke from offerings rose to heaven. David blessed the people in the Lord’s name and distributed special cakes to everyone in the huge crowd.
When David made his way home to bless those closest to him, Michal came out to greet him, her tone contrasting sharply with the joyful events of the day. “How the king of Israel distinguished himself today! He uncovered himself today in the eyes of his servants’ maids as one of the foolish ones shamelessly uncovers himself!” she said.
David had not really “uncovered” himself. Instead of his kingly robes, he wore the linen garment and undergarments of a priest, identifying himself as God’s servant. Michal’s jeering words must have sprung from a proud and bitter heart. (Read the full story in 1 Samuel 18, 19, 25 and 2 Samuel 3, 6.)
Heavy or light?
“How the king of Israel distinguished himself,” Michal said. “Distinguished” comes from the Hebrew word kabad, literally, made weighty. Interestingly, kabad is the root word of kabod, or glory. God’s glory is not only splendor, light, and beauty, but also heavy, important, weighty.
You might say Michal told David, “You did not display the weightiness and honor of a king today. You made yourself foolish and trifling in front of the servant girls” – the least important people around, in her eyes.
David replied, “It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel; so I will celebrate before the Lord. I will be more lightly (qalal, light, swift or trifling) esteemed than this and will be humble in my own eyes, but with the maids of whom you have spoken, with them I will be distinguished (kabad, weighty, honorable).”
Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.
God used this passage to drive His point home in my heart. I grieved to realize that sometimes I am like Michal. I too have regarded my husband too lightly. My sassy tone even feels right as I correct my husband. At first.
A child of my culture
I think this is because I am a child of my culture. When I was coming of age in the 70s, women were being “liberated.” And the “liberation” has only increased. Today we are bombarded with media portraying women as brighter, wiser and superior to men, and sometimes even physically stronger.
Yes, women are capable of excellent leadership and martial arts. But it is wrong to constantly show men as more foolish, more childish and weaker than women – and to shame, ridicule and sass them.
I sorrow over these messages from our media. Boys and men ought to be encouraged to be and achieve all they can, just as girls and women should be. There are hurts and disrespect on both sides.
Unfortunately, I have absorbed some of my culture’s values. But if I am going to fit in with God’s culture and not the world’s, my disrespect has to go, especially in my most important relationship.
There is much to respect in Ed, a wise and forgiving man who deeply loves his family. He is not perfect. But that is not an excuse for disrespect. He is the head of our home. And obviously, I’m not perfect either.
My green sticky note
I asked some friends to hold me accountable. Then I wrote RESPECT on a green sticky note and began keeping it on the current page in my journal. I see it daily as I record my prayers and Bible study notes. The sticky note quickly filled with other words and verses.
- “The heart of her husband trusts in her…she does him good and not evil all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:11-12)
- Humility. “God is opposed to the proud” (1 Peter 5:5).
- Being on time is a way to show respect (my daughter’s insight…painful since I am chronically late, to Ed’s dismay). You are on time, Lord.
- You honor us, Lord (Psalm 91:15). I will honor Ed.
- Not just tone, but timing.
- His way, not always mine.
- Let the wife see to it that she respects her husband (Ephesians 5:33).
- The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands (Proverbs 14:1).
Some of these verses were in my wedding vows. Ouch. I didn’t start out disrespectful. And I am not always so. But I do love to be right. Pride does creep in. My issues do need to be dealt with. The enemy’s lies must be uncovered and thrown off. He wants to deceive me, ruin my marriage and discredit my Lord and Savior. What a tragedy that would be.
The more I understand this area, the more I believe humility is the key to success in marriage. It’s hard to be disrespectful when you’re truly humble.
The realm of eternal values
God is helping me check my tone and my attitude. I am excited to operate more and more in the realm of eternal values. It’s definitely more peaceful there. I think Ed likes it. I do.
Unlike Michal, who followed her pride at the cost of her happiness, I choose the joy that comes with humility. I will give my husband the place God wants him to have. Fully loved, fully respected, weighty in importance in my eyes, as he is in God’s. For that matter, everyone deserves this kind of respect.
Lord, help me and my sisters in Christ understand the beauty of Your plan. True freedom, peace and joy exist in a marriage when we follow Your design. In Your Spirit’s strength, we choose humility. We choose to hold our husbands in weighty esteem, honoring and respecting them as the head of our homes – in Jesus’ name.
If you haven’t discovered life in Christ, don’t hesitate to check it out. Life is too short to miss His love and perfect plan for you. Read About “The Nearness of God” or see everyperson.com for more information. You can also read my story of coming to faith in Christ: How My Song Began.