Category Archives: marriage

Come Into My Parlor

Proverbs 7:12 

“Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.”

Lieth In Wait

I can visualize the following event just like it happened yesterday even though it took place some 31 years ago. I was 7 years old and my parents and brother lived in a two story house right outside of Chattanooga, TN. Our den was located in the basement while all of our bedrooms were upstairs. The evening was coming to an end and so we started to gather up our belongings to take them upstairs. As we began cleaning, I noticed that my father was no where to be found. I didn’t give it another thought and continued to help my mom and brother.

With arms full of blankets and pillows, I made my way up the stairs and started down our hallway. Because this happened during the winter time, it was already dark outside and my arms were full so I could not turn the hallway lights on. I walked about ten feet down the hallway and stopped in my tracks. There was something that was telling me that I should not go any further and that my best bet would be to turn around slowly and go back. I quickly exited the hallway and run to find my mom who was still downstairs.

My mother began to laugh when I told her what just happened.

She explained to me that she was pretty sure that my father was hiding in one of the rooms just waiting for me to walk by so he could scare me (there was never a dull moment in the Sneed household). Sure enough, when I returned upstairs and turned on all of the lights, my father was laying on his stomach on the floor just “lying in wait”.

Her Prey

Solomon is explaining to us that the “strange women” is lying in wait for this man to come by and just like the spider, she is ready to pounce on her prey. She is out on the street, but she is lurking around each corner just waiting for her victim to arrive.

The Take-Away

How many times have we seen it or heard about it? How many times have we seen homes broken up and children being torn apart by a man that has gone off and had an affair?

In today’s society, the “strange women” is ever so prevalent in JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING! The TV, internet, radio, smartphones – she is everywhere and if we are not grounded in the Word of God, we are doomed to fall. That is why Solomon was again telling his son to make sure and keep his commandments!

Men, we must guard ourselves against sin each and every day. We must keep God’s commandments and do our best to obtain wisdom and understanding, so that we can live!

Lord, help us to guard our hearts and minds against anything evil that comes our way. Help us to always be on the lookout for things that are not according to Your Word. Help us to always seek your face each and every day!


Get Drunk On Love!

Proverbs 5:18-20

“Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love. And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?”

A Sweet Spring

It’s the sweetest spring in the world, that spring seeping from the foot of Wolf Creek Mountain in the South Gap region of Bland County, Virginia.  The water of that spring is so delightful that my ancestors built their two-story log home next to that spring some 200 years ago.  At that time or shortly thereafter, they dug down around five feet, and encased the pool in stone. Later still, they built a log “spring house” to enclose and protect the spring itself, and to create a safe haven for the jugs of milk and tubs of butter which they kept chilled in the pool.  My father grew up fetching buckets of water from that spring every morning, and when he became a man and built a house of his own nearby, he tapped into that same ever-flowing source of sweet spring water to supply his new home.

Once you’ve tasted the best, no other water in the world is going to satisfy!

A Blessed Fountain

I think that’s what Solomon has in mind in Proverbs 5:18.  The precious union between a husband the wife of his youth is a satisfying, life-strengthening fountain to be enjoyed deeply and guarded faithfully.  As I type these words, my mind goes back to the many summer mornings I spent doing farm work in the environs of the spring house, and I recall the immense joy of plunging my sun-burned, sweat-streaked face deep into the pool and gulping down that sweet water.  Twenty-one years into marriage with the wife of my youth, I can affirm that the fountain of union with my precious wife is just as blessed and precious today, as it was on June 15, 1991, when we exchanged our vows of marriage.

Drinking to Intoxication

Did that heading get your attention?  Perhaps a closer examination of the verses above will make you think about the marriage relationship in an exciting and intriguing way.  In verse 18, the sexual union of husband and wife is described as a delightful fountain from which the couple is urged to drink deeply.  In verse 19, that union is depicted in even more intimate terms, with the metaphorical image of drinking from her breasts.  In verse 20, the “drinking” image is re-visited by a rhetorical question which the father asks the son, “Why would you want to be intoxicated in the embrace of a woman who is a stranger?”  (The ESV and the “new” NIV both pick up on the translation of the Hebrew “tis-geh” as “intoxication”, which I believe is preferable to the KJV “ravished”, in light of the author’s chosen metaphor of ‘drinking’.)

What’s the overall message? 

What’s the overall message? Within the context of marriage, to drink and get drunk on love!  Of course, Solomon develops this theme much more deeply in the Song of Solomon, in which the husband describes his union with his wife in similarly poetic language,

I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk

And the community urges the couple to indulge in the joy of marital union,

Eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved. (Song of Solomon 5:1)

Can Marriage Really Be that Great?

Can marriage really be that great? Absolutely!  But first, re-visit the implicit warning.  If you’re not happy at home, then you’re most certainly not going to become happy through an affair.  An affair is a sure path to personal destruction.  (Many entries in this blog teach as much.)  If you and your spouse find yourselves struggling to make your marriage work, please know that there is hope and healing in Jesus Christ.  Locate a solid Christian marriage counselor.  If your spouse won’t go with you, then go alone.  You can work on “your stuff” even if he or she refuses to work on “his or her stuff”.  Attend a marriage conference together.  Family Life Today’s “Weekend to Remember” marriage conferences are phenomenal places to re-connect and start over.    http://www.familylife.com/weekend

Father God, I pray for those readers who have taken the time to read this entry.  I ask that by your Spirit, that their marriages would be strong, and that they would drink deeply from the spring of marital love.  Bless them I pray through Christ our Lord, Amen. 


Politically-Incorect Advice

Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell. – Proverbs 23:13-14

As of this writing, Rahm Emanuel, the soon-to-be-ex Mayor of Chicago and someone with whom I have rarely agreed, is in trouble for saying what needed to be said in the wake of unabated violence, including hundreds of murders:

“This may not be politically correct,” he said, “but I know the power of what faith and family can do. … Our kids need that structure. … I am asking … that we also don’t shy away from a full discussion about the importance of family and faith helping to develop and nurture character, self-respect, a value system and a moral compass that allows kids to know good from bad and right from wrong.”

He added: “If we’re going to solve this … we’ve got to have a real discussion. … Parts of the conversation cannot be off-limits because it’s not politically comfortable. … We are going to discuss issues that have been taboo in years past because they are part of the solution. … We also have a responsibility to help nurture character. It plays a role. Our kids need that moral structure in their lives. And we cannot be scared to have this conversation.” (source: FoxNews.com)

What was so wrong with he said? Oh, I know! It gave the impression that the actions of parents have a lasting effect on children, and children grow up. It took the responsibility off of the government and placed it back on the parents. It didn’t lay all the blame for violence on poverty but suggested that the decay in the family, faith, and morality is at the root of what’s wrong.

In response to the Mayor’s suggestions, a former president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League, Shari Runner, refused to accept any responsibility on behalf of families. She said, “I cannot see the victims of racist policies and bigoted practices shamed by anyone who says they need to do better or be better in their circumstances. I won’t accept it!”

Well, somebody needs to accept the blame. Who is responsible for rearing one’s children? Who is responsible for applying the rod of discipline to the seat of instruction? Not the government, that’s for sure! And, I’m sorry, folks, but racist policies and bigoted practices are no excuse for immorality, having children out of wedlock, and men with 16 baby mommas.

Folks, the stats don’t lie: “Children from broken homes [are] nine times more likely to commit crimes.” (source: The Telegraph UK)

And when it comes to Proverbs 23:13-14, we need to understand that a lot of grown men and women are on their way to hell and taking others with them all because of delinquent parenting.

It may be politically incorrect, but I’m not running for office – I’m telling you the truth…and so is Rahm Emanuel.


“Mahwidge…mahwidge is what bwings us togetha today…”

jealousy-3029711_1920Please pardon the old movie referred to in the title.  If you don’t know where it’s from, no worries–it’s not worth it.

We’re coming up on thirty-eight years, Bob and I.  Old-timers know how the stars in the eyes you both had walking down the aisle fade pretty quickly after maybe five years. 

How about five minutes?

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because communication patterns have to be adapted to each other’s personality type, fatigue level, ongoing external stresses, and for some of us, that time of the month.  Just bein’ real here. Continue reading


Marriage Advice … for All

Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.
Proverbs 11:12, ESV

Today happens to be my ninth wedding anniversary.

Any good husband will tell you there is a time when you should just keep your mouth shut and listen to your wife.

Honestly, it is advice that can go both ways. Neither partner should be so prideful as to assume you know everything better than the other. Mutual communication benefits both!

Conversely, it is unwise to speak down to the other. Belittling – literally causing someone’s ideas and character to seem small and meaningless – only creates pain and bitterness. It is no longer a partnership but a tyranny, and even more confusing when both are guilty of this. Whoever belittles attempts to control the other, and this means slavery and problems.

It is best to work together and be willing to hear each other out.

And, yes, I may be talking about married couples, but this advice applies to any relationship, even with strangers.


Pernicious Lust

Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress? For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord , and he ponders all his paths. The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
Proverbs 5:20‭-‬22, ESV

This passage reminds us of three things:

  1. Sex is supposed to be reserved for marriage (yes, one man and one woman);
  2. God knows and judges even our thoughts;
  3. Sin is pernicious, touching every area of life and holding on fast.

Firstly, think about society today, throughout most of the world, and how fixated are on sex. The more we stray from God, the more we seem to crave and then celebrate sin. Just look at the variety of “gay pride” parades and festivals, websites for “personal pleasure” and even affairs, and the use of sex in advertising and popular entertainment.

Secondly, we tend to live either as atheists or as though God is not omniscient nor hates sin. How? In the way we think, convincing ourselves that “it’s okay to look” and “no one else is getting hurt.” Yet, Jesus reminds us that lust is adultery (Matthew 5:28) and that God even judges our thoughts.

And finally, those songs and thoughts do affect everything else, especially the more one dwells on and/or lives out sins. Ask the adulterer or the couple whose marriage fell apart who started by “only looking at porn.” Look at how many people are defined by who they are attracted to or what they look like on the outside. And remember: the urge to look does not go away just because you “put a ring on it.” Lust becomes a habit.

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:13 ESV


Is Shallow and Stagnant THAT Attractive?

Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. – Proverbs 5:15

It never fails to amaze me how many men and women leave their spouses after years of being married. Yet, that is exactly what happens when husbands and wives are more attracted to the shallow wells of new relationships and the stagnant streams of painted beauty.

I can attest that after nearly 25 years of marriage, I would not trade the depth of my relationship with my wife for a puddle, one that is likely to dry up in the heat of the next drought.

The refreshing and renewing qualities of our relationship could never be replaced by the single-issue sameness of surface-beauty expectations.

The natural appeal of illicit relationships is just that – natural. Fortunately for my wife and me, our relationship is based on more than natural affections; it is strengthened by spiritual connections that only years of life together can forge.

Yes, there are temptations which we all must deal with, but how much easier it is to rebuff them when you realize what you’ve really got.

Are shallow wells and stagnant water that attractive to you? Why not take the time to lower your bucket a little deeper? The water’s much better there.

My wife and I while visiting our daughter and son-in-law in Charleston, S.C.


Blessed

Proverbs 31:10, 28 

Who can find such a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies….
Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

This last chapter of Proverbs has provided the male contributors to Proverbial Thought with several opportunities to reflect on the blessing of a good wife. Perhaps that is something all husbands should do more frequently. Perhaps by taking stock more often husbands would be prompted to praise their marriage partners instead of taking them for granted.

This challenge applies to our children too. How often do children fall into the same trap as their father and fail to appreciate just how blessed they are by their mother? This does saddle fathers with additional responsibility. If children see their father taking their mother for granted then it seems inevitable that they will fail to truly value the blessings they receive from their mother.

Marilyn and Reuben copySo here in my final entry as a contributor to Proverbial Thought I want to take the opportunity to thank my wife Marilyn. It is difficult to adequately express my gratitude. In two months we will celebrate our thirty-fifth wedding anniversary. As I look back on those thirty-five years I know that God has blessed me beyond anything I have ever deserved in a wife, and I thank Him for what I consider to be an arranged marriage. When God chose us for each other He knew what He was doing. He always does.

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19: 3-6 NIV)


Just Keep Spinning

Proverbs 31:10, 19 

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. … She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.”

Spindle and Distaff

The first question that we could ask is: “What in the world is a spindle and a distaff, and what would a woman be doing with them?” Seriously, how many people on the street could tell you what a spindle and a distaff are? One out of a hundred?

Susa woman spinning yarn

Susa woman spinning yarn

Actually, a spindle and distaff are ancient tools used in the making of yarn, or thread. Women back then, and today, spun material such as wool, flax, and goat’s hair to make the yarn and thread to weave into clothing. Spinning takes a lot of skill and coordination, too, which is rather amazing to watch.

Then and Now

The second question we could ask is: “How can we relate the idea of a good woman with her spinning tools to today?” In other words, if you’re gonna be looking for a Proverbs 31 woman in metropolitan Big City, USA, what is the equivalent of laying her hands to the spindle and distaff?

Find a woman that loves the work that she does, one who does it with grace and dexterity, even beauty. Find a woman that creates something useful and is not afraid of getting her hands dirty. Find a woman who is patient, purposeful, and productive with the talents God has given her.

Find a woman like that, and like the old folks would say, “You’ve got a keeper!”


A Spicy Ship

Proverbs 31:10, 14

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. … She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.”

Being Careful

I must be careful, for any time a man writes about his wife he should first consider: what he is about to say…the weather…her mood…her future mood…whether or not she will ever read what he writes…what people will tell her he wrote…and most importantly, has she taken out any new life insurance policies?

King Lemuel was a very fortunate man, much like King Solomon. Both had the luxury of living in a culture that prized such things as goats, flocks of sheep, and merchant’s ships. They thought these things were beautiful and found no difficulty in comparing their wives to them. However, I must be careful when I compare my wife to a heavily-laden wooden hull that creaks, leaks, and has to be patched with tar. I’m better off comparing her hair to a flock of goats, and her teeth to a flock of sheep (Sgs. 4:1-2)!

However, in order to keep with the program, I must find a way to relate to Proverbs 31:14, to share my “thoughts,” and to make an application. Therefore, I will get to the point of what the passage is telling us before I get into trouble.

Spiced Up

The rare and virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 is like the merchant’s ships in that she is always a source of variety. Instead of being content with the same old stuff day after day, this woman is like a merchant’s ship, one that goes out far and wide to find new spices, new colors, and new fragrances to adorn not only herself but to spice up her home.

Most people know how plain and dreary a man’s home can be without a good woman. I was always one who liked white walls, plain dishes, and simple clothes. But when my wife came along, up went color on the walls, color on the table, and color on me (I would have never worn anything but a white or blue shirt under a suit).

Bargains

The woman of this verse is also a bargain shopper. Like the merchant’s ship, she travels far and wide to find the best deals, the ones most advantageous to her family, and always comes back with something to show for her efforts.

Anyone who really knows me could tell you that I hate – I HATE – to negotiate on prices. On the other hand, my wife almost never pays full price for anything. I have literally witnessed her negotiate on an object at a rummage sale when the asking price was only 25 cents! My response was, “Valerie! Pay the man a quarter and let’s go!”

Variety is the spice of life, so they say. If that is true, a good woman brings plenty of flavor to the table.