Barely able to bend over anymore, his love made him into an amateur gardener.
Every morning, 90-year-old Roy braced himself against a tree to stab at the roots of a neighboring tree that threatened to destroy his wife’s grave. Though gone for over a decade now, he spoke of her and cared for her like she went to be with the Lord yesterday. He wielded his strength for her in life, and now bent his aged back to protect her in death.
His happiness in the beloved of over fifty years brought tears to my eyes. He recounted how they walked to church together, raised children together, grew old together, laughed, cried, and prayed together.
He told us how they first met and how he, a rascal in his youth, first kissed her in the middle of the street. His bobbing eyebrows, musical intonation, and watering eyes bore witness: His delight in her had not diminished. It burst through his smile, seeped into sentences, and stained the knees of his pants with cemetery mud.
Out of reach, out of earshot, out of this world, his heart still sung her name.
Is She Our Delight?
For reasons we can’t always articulate, scenes like this touch us. And rightfully so.
His delight in his bride communicated something more than her value; it communicated something of heaven. When God surveys the earth, looking for an analogy for his omnipotent happiness in his redeemed people, he points down at the fervor of young husbands, an ardor that only increases in godly men like Roy.
For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your sons marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.
Christ rejoices over his bride. We will spend all eternity immersed in the heat of his love. But after the diamond in this verse began to captivate, it also cut. When others observe my relationship with my wife, can they see anything of God’s delight in his? Can others plainly see that I call my bride what my Lord calls his, “My Delight Is in Her” (Isaiah 62:4)? Is Christ’s love obscured in mine?
I extend my conviction for other husbands’ consideration: Is she your delight? Do we paint (not perfectly, but truly) pictures of God’s passion in our marriages? What banner do we fly over her? The wife in the Song of Songs attested, “His banner over me was love” (Song of Solomon 2:4) — can ours say the same? Brothers, may it never be said of us,
“His banner over me was indifference.”
“His banner over me was harshness.”
“His banner over me was regret.”
Lord, help us.
Marrying the Wrong Girl
The story of Jacob’s first bride should haunt us.
It was plain to all that Jacob “loved Rachel more than Leah” (Genesis 29:30). Rachel was beautiful; Leah possessed “weak eyes” and was less attractive. Jacob labored seven years to win Rachel, and “they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her” (Genesis 29:20); Jacob regretted Leah the moment he realized his uncle tricked him into marrying her instead of her sister. After marrying both, Jacob flew two different banners over each the rest of their lives. And God saw it.
Leah’s Maker — whose image she bore and whose concern she had — looked at Jacob’s marriages, and what did he see? Rachel, Jacob loved; Leah, he “hated” (Genesis 29:31). God, seeing his daughter so despised, looked upon her affliction of a loveless husband and opened her womb instead of her sister’s (Genesis 29:32).
Climactically, agonizingly, she birthed child after child, hoping with each new son, “Now my husband will love me. . . . Now this time my husband will be attached to me” (Genesis 29:32, 34). Finally, with the birth of her fourth, Judah, she gives up her hopes of husbandly love and turns to praise the Lord.
Whatever cautions this story holds in warning young women against idolizing a husband’s love, we shouldn’t overlook the tragedy: Her husband’s banner over her was disdain. Is she automatically an idolater because she longed to be delighted in by her husband? What about women like Leah today? Perhaps her final declaration of divine praise speaks as much indictment on her husband as it does sanctification in Leah.
The point stands for husbands today: We did not marry Leah. We did not marry the wrong girl. The ring, the covenant, the marriage makes her, at all times, our Rachel. Not to be overlooked. Not to be despised, compared, or assumed. She is flesh of your flesh and bone of your bone. Your lovely deer, your graceful doe. Your lily. Your beautiful one. Your well of desire and spring of delight. And she does not need to bring you children, success in your career, or an airbrushed physique to receive your blush-provoking, grave-protecting love.
A Prayer for Every Husband
God does not tolerate his church. He does not ignore her. He does not wake up in the morning thinking he married the wrong girl. Familiarity does not dampen his passion. Eternity will seem like a moment to him because of his love for her. She does not scheme to win his embrace. He spent his strength for her in his earthly life and was pierced for her transgressions to stab at the roots of death and shield her from the grave.
This is amazing love, a holy love, a love that, to give an earthly analogy, God displays through husbands in our marriages: “As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you” (Isaiah 62:5).
Our delight in her is about his delight in us; our marriages about his (Ephesians 5:32). We, like Roy, follow our Bridegroom — braving Satan, the flesh, and the world — to plant our flag over her: She Is My Delight. Not, “She is my cook and cleaner.” Not, “She is my children’s mother.” But, “She is my chosen, my favorite, my fairest one.” She seeps into our sentences. Our hearts sing her name.
Time and again, let us pray, “Lord, may she increasingly be my delight.”