Scripture: “The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my kindred, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your offspring I will give this land,’ he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there.” Genesis 24:7 ESV
Observation: After the dramatic story of Abraham risking the life of his only son of the covenant to obey God, chapter 23 interludes with Sarah’s death and Abraham negotiating with Ephron the Hittite to purchase a burial site in Hebron. In chapter 24, the author returns to the narrative of the covenant heir, Isaac. Wanting Isaac to avoid a misstep by marrying a pagan wife, Abraham commissions his senior servant by oath to travel to the country of his kindred to find a suitable wife for Isaac and bring her back to Canaan. The servant, concerned about the outcome, poses the question, “What if the woman is unwilling to leave her family and homeland behind?” Abraham responds that his servant would be released from his oath but assures him that the Lord will guide the process (above verse).
Indeed, when the servant arrives in Paddan Aram, he and his entourage approach a community well to water their camels and quench their thirst. Seeing daughters of the community coming to the well, the servant offers a succinct prayer: that the one who should become Isaac’s bride would respond to the request for water and extend the courtesy of watering his camels. And so Rebekah does. The servant then discovers that Rebekah is Abraham’s niece. When the servant explains to Laban (Rebekah’s brother) all that unfolded and that he is under oath to return to Canaan with Isaac’s bride-to-be, Laban inquires whether she is willing to leave it all behind. Unhesitantly, Rebekah says she will go.
Takeaway: For those who desire to marry and start a family, the most critical decision they will make is choosing their partner. To make the best choice, we must have enough self-awareness to know who we are (not our idolized image of ourselves) and the strengths and weaknesses of our prospective lifetime partner as well. Often, we lack the emotional maturity to discern these qualities in ourselves and others fully. We need the community of believers to provide feedback, and, most importantly, we need to seek the Lord in prayer earnestly. Regarding the body of believers and input from family and friends, we also need to avail the guidance of our pastor through premarital counseling. As for prayer, if we sincerely seek direction from the Lord, his Holy Spirit will faithfully check or affirm our consciences if we take it one step at a time and not muddle our feelings and judgment with premarital sex. Lastly, we need to be mindful that there is no perfect spouse—starting with ourselves.
Finally, as the marriage wears on and we ponder whether we married the right person during those tough times, we need to remember all the confirming signs the Lord provided through prayer and the feedback of others. And we would do well to maintain the perspective that love is not a feeling; it is an action. Our love for our spouse will mature and strengthen our marriage as we sacrificially love them.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you that you hold the marriage covenant in high esteem. For those who are not married, would you please help them prayerfully wait on you to bring the right person into their lives and avail themselves of the feedback of godly friends and family? And for married couples, would you please encourage them during the difficult times by bringing your confirmation of the covenant to their minds and by granting them your grace to love their spouses sacrificially? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling