Friday, May 14, 2010

Wives, Wine, and Joy!

This is a partial exerpt from an email my wife Kim sent to a few ladies to stir them up in the Lord.  It is based on a time in the word of God we had together recently.  We are praying for more children, and one of the promises in Scripture we like to read comes from Psalm 128:

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways! 2 You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. 3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. 4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord. (Psalm 128:1-4, ESV).

We normally zero in on the part about the children around the table, all growing up and healthy like olive plants, and the wife being like a fruitful vine.  Fruitful! That's a blessing that comes from the Lord! So we pray accordingly.

But the last time we read this passage together I happened to be using my giant, billboard-sized ESV Study Bible (which I recommend, by the way). I glanced at the study notes for this passage and received a blessing:

"...he" (the man who is blessed) "has a wife who is a fruitful vine (i.e., a bringer of joy like wine)..."

In all my times of reading that the wife was like a fruitful vine, I had only seen the word fruitful. I missed the vine!  But all this time the Bible has called the blessed wife a fruitful vine in the house. Or, in ancient Israeli thought, a fruitful grapevine, producing wine!  The editors of the ESV Study Bible did not miss this point. And I praise God for having seen it! 

Wine is a biblical symbol for joy:
  • "the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work. to gladden the heart of man" Psalm 104:13, 15
  • And also their relatives...came bringing food...cakes of figs, clusters of raisins, and wine and oil...for there was joy in Israel.  1 Chronicles 12:40
  • Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  Nehemiah 8:10
  • You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound  Psalm 4:7
  • Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.  Ecclesiastes 9:7
In Israel a lack of wine was associated with a lack of joy:
  • And joy and gladness are taken away from the fruitful field, and in the vineyards no songs are sung, no cheers are raised; no treader treads out wine in the presses; I have put an end to the shouting  Isaiah 16:10
  • There is an outcry in the streets for lack of wine; all joy has grown dark; the gladness of the earth is banished.  Isaiah 24:11
  • Gladness and joy have been taken away from the fruitful land of Moab; I have made the wine cease from the winepresses; no one treads them with shouts of joy; the shouting is not the shout of joy.  Jeremiah 48:33
This was also why it was such a big deal at the wedding feast in Cana (John 2) when they ran out of wine. A wedding with no wine?  Where is the joy?!

The point of all this is that Scripture likens the wife of the blessed man (who fears the Lord) to a fruitful vine within his house.  The symbol of JOY right in the middle of his house!  This is a description of the kind of blessing the Lord can give a godly man - his wife will be a bringer of joy in the house!  Proverbs even goes so far as to instruct the husband to get drunk on the love of his wife ("rejoice in the wife of your youth...Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love." 5:18-19)!

The Bible also gives descriptions of the wife who does not bring joy.  Proverbs warns us, "It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife" (This warning was so important that it was given twice!  Proverbs 21:9 and 25:24).

So, application time
Wives, are you a bringer of joy in the heart of your house?
Do you gladden the heart of your husband and children like sweet wine?
Or are you a quarrelsome wife, bringing strife and an atmosphere that is not in line with the fruit of the Spirit?
Good news!  Jesus died on the cross for quarrelsome wives who are joy-stealers in the house!  There is a Savior for sinners.  Jesus rose from the dead and gives us his life.  He can fill you with his Spirit, wives, and make you a bringer of the Lord's joy in your house!

Husbands, if you have a wife who is a bringer of joy are you thanking and praising God for the tremendous blessing (remember, this comes from the Lord!)? 
Are you praying for your wife in love if she struggles in this area?
Remember, we are commanded to love our wives as Christ loved the church (Eph 5:25) even when we think they don't deserve it (the church did not deserve Jesus' love!).
Praise God for his blessings to us!  Praise God for godly women who, by grace through faith, are bringing sweet joy to their husbands and children!  I thank God that my wife is a fruitful vine within my house.

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