4 Marriages in the Bible We Can Learn From
By Katie T. Kennedy, Crosswalk.com
The Bible is full of marriages we can learn from. Each one shows us a little something different. Keep in mind that every couple was created by God and are sinners just like us. We can glean things from them, but the only perfect human in the Bible is Jesus, so keep that in mind.
What are we going to learn when looking at marriages in the Bible? We will discover persistence, dedication, humility, great faith, lots of prayer, struggle, loss, and challenges. Let's look to see what we gather from these marriages.
1. Abraham and Sarah
At times Abraham and Sarah exhibit fear in the Lord and obedience. Other times they are overtaken with fear and make poor decisions that have lasting consequences. Who can't relate to that? What marriage can't look back and wish they had chosen a different path at times? However, the Lord is faithful and fulfills His promise to them regardless of their sinful behavior.
That is the key in their relationship. We will mess up in our marriages and raising children, just like Abraham and Sarah. The key is not to give up but rather repent and return to God's ways.
God made a covenant with Abraham when he was ninety-nine. God promised Abraham he would be the father of many nations (Genesis 4:5). God promised Abraham the land of Canaan. He blessed Sarah and gave them a son, Isaac (she had been barren until now).
These two, while trying to follow God, often find themselves in trouble, and God rescues them from their own mess. The first example is Sarah taking her bareness into her own hands and asking Abraham to impregnate her servant Hagar. God protects Hagar when Sarah changes her mind and has contempt and deals harshly with Hagar. When Abraham tells Abimelech Sarah is his sister instead of his wife, God intercedes by telling Abimelech in a dream that Sarah is his wife.
Through all their mistakes, God is faithful. Abraham is extremely obedient when God asks him to sacrifice his only son. God tested him, and when Abraham didn't withhold his son, the Lord said, "I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars in heaven." (Genesis 22:17)
Abraham and Sarah have quite the story. Through their mistakes, I believe their faith increased in God. They learned to trust and obey. They stuck together through some rocky times and were committed to each other. Although they seemed unlikely to have children at such an old age, God was true to His word.
2. Isaac and Rebekah
This marriage was the doing of a faithful father and, of course, ultimately, our Heavenly Father. Isaac was Abraham and Sarah's son. Abraham, well advanced in years, was concerned for his unmarried son. He made his faithful servant swear by the Lord to help find a wife for Isaac from the land of his forefathers. He did not want Isaac to marry a Canaanite woman.
The servant traveled to Mesopotamia and stopped at a well outside the city. This is where he meets Isaac's future wife. The servant shows his faith by praying to God and asking Him to help identify the spouse meant for Isaac. He prayed for the girl who would offer him a jar to drink and propose to provide water for the camels be the one chosen for Isaac. A girl named Rebekah, in the line of Abraham's brother, comes out and says the words the servant had prayed.
We know that Rebekah is very attractive in appearance. (Genesis 24:16) We also see kindness in her heart when she takes care of a stranger and his animals. Through her actions, we learn God has appointed her to be with Isaac.
The servant goes back to her house and tells Rebekah's family the purpose of his travels. Her family blesses the union, and Rebekah begins her travels to Canaan. Rebekah shows courage, strength, and faith when she leaves her family and heads to an unknown land to meet a stranger who will be her husband. We learn Isaac married her upon their return and loved her. (Genesis 24:67)
While the relationship was filled with faith and love, it was not without its challenges, as all marriages are. Isaac exhibits his faith as he prays for his barren wife. They have two sons, Esau and Jacob. As the boys grow up, Rebekah and Isaac have their favorite children, which is not the best parenting move. This rivalry between the two creates some conflict within the family.
Isaac remains a faithful man remembering what his father taught him. He prays and loves his wife, and the Lord blesses them.
3. Ruth and Boaz
While we don't have much information about Ruth and Boaz after they are married, we are shown quite a bit about their character before marriage. The Lord blesses their marriage with a son. They named him Obed, who was the father of Jesse, the father of David. Their marriage was important because their son was in the bloodline of Jesus, and it exemplified faith and the protections that the marriage covenant brings.
The beauty of this story is how a family, ruined by tragedy and death, finds a way to make a new start and ends in a marriage that will secure Ruth and Naomi's future. Ruth and Naomi suffered the death of their husbands, and Naomi lost both her sons. Back then, marriage was a means to security; these deaths were a blow to their hearts and stability.
Ruth shows her character when she will not leave her mother-in-law alone after Naomi decides to return to Judah. She says, "Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God my God." (Ruth 1:16) Ruth could have returned to her parents as Naomi suggested, but she doesn't. She shows kindness, loyalty, and abundant love toward her mother-in-law. It was these character traits that attracted Boaz to Ruth. He saw someone with a kind heart who exhibited endless love for their family.
Boaz is a respectful man, a man who takes care of the poor. He displays grace towards Ruth when he lets her glean from his fields. Under his protection, she is safe. Whether he was attracted to her physically or just impressed with her selfless actions towards Naomi, he finds favor with Ruth. His keenness and persistence in winning her hand in marriage show his wit and affection toward her. Boaz is a man with honor and integrity.
If Ruth loved and treated Boaz half as well as she did her mother-in-law, I imagine they had a very fruitful marriage. We know the Lord blessed them with children. They could have led lonely lives, but the Lord brought them together and created a beautiful story.
4. Mary and Joseph
What can we learn from the parents of Jesus? They had quite a job raising a perfect son. What an honor God gave to them; He trusted them greatly. In fact, in Luke 1:30, an angel tells Mary, "You have found favor with God."
Mary and Joseph display magnificent faith and obedience. Both are visited by angels and accept and listen to the angel. Mary finds out she will be pregnant with the Son of God (Luke 1:35). An angel tells Joseph not to fear taking Mary as his wife; she has conceived by the Holy Spirit. I imagine receiving these messages was extremely alarming.
This is a tough way to start a marriage. Joseph knows his betrothed is pregnant, yet not with his own child. We learn Joseph is a just man and does not shame Mary (Matthew 1:19). After the angel's visit, the couple proceeds with their relationship, showing great trust in the angel and, ultimately, God.
After Jesus is born, Joseph trusted the Lord yet again when another angel visited him. He is warned not to return home but rather to flee to Egypt so Jesus would be safe from Herod. (Matthew 2:13) Joseph follows the angel's guidance and protects his son. Mary submits to her husband's leadership and trusts him to guide and protect their family. It could not have been easy for this young couple to change plans and not go back to their home and family and instead go to a new town and start over.
Mary and Joseph took their role as parents seriously and showed love and care for their son. They show much parental concern when he is missing after a visit to Jerusalem at the Feast of the Passover. "Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you." (Luke 2:48)
Mary and Joseph exhibited much fear in the Lord. They respected the traditions and customs of their heritage. They seemed to be a faithful and dedicated married couple, with Joseph leading his family and Mary surrendering to his headship. They were asked to do unexpected things, yet took each challenge in stride and entrusted themselves and their marriage to their Father's plans.
There is quite a bit to learn by looking at these couples. Although what I see repeatedly is God in these stories; He is the one who redeems the couples when they mess up or struggle with challenges. He protects and guides marriages.
The main lesson we learn from all these couples is to surrender our will to God's will. Something that is easier said than done. Some did it well, and some struggled, trying their way first, then realizing that God's way is better. Surrendering takes time for couples to learn. The bumps in the road, however painful, also make us stronger.
I pray we may surrender our lives and marriages to God. May we exhibit faith and prayerful lives like these previous believers. May our marriages be fruitful and filled with joy, children, faith, and perseverance. Help us remember these stories when things get hard and not lose faith.
Related Article: 4 Marriages in the Bible That Show Us What NOT to Do
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/gldburger
Katie T. Kennedy lives in Richmond, VA. She is married to a wonderful husband Jonathan and they have three girls. She is a writer, blogger, and employee of the family business. After a mid-life spiritual transformation, she discovered her love of writing. She loves to travel, read, be in nature, cook, and dream. She would love to connect with you online at www.katietkennedy.com, Instagram or Facebook.