Is this in your marriage?

When my husband and I were in Seattle to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary recently, we took a “duck” tour of the city. In case you’ve never heard of these, they were built during World War two, mostly by Rosie-the-Riveter women. The ducks are oddly shaped trucks that can go into the water and behave just like a slow-moving boat.

Near the end of the tour, the guide proudly declared that he had been married twenty years and that he had learned the most essential thing to keep a marriage healthy: forgiveness.

Now, I’ll admit, that forgiveness is a pretty important element of a healthy marriage. But if I were to name the number one quality that keeps marriages going into the third, fourth, fifth decade, I’d have to say it’s not forgiveness. It’s commitment. That decision to stick together no matter what, through hard times, through economic downturns, through serious or chronic illness, through crisis and tragedy.

Our former pastor preached a short message at a wedding recently. He’d discovered a Hebrew term for this kind of commitment: “Chesed.” The English translation of the Hebrew word literally means: covenant loyalty.

I love that. It’s a term used many, many times in the Bible. Most of the time it refers to the kind of loving kindness that God shows us. And that is the kind of loving loyalty we are to show to our spouse.

God has promised us, as believers, covenant loyalty. He cannot break His word. He will always be loyal to us, He will never leave us. He would not be God if He broke His word.

So even when you are in the midst of crisis and you feel completely alone, rest assured that God’s presence surrounds you. As a loving husband promises his bride faithfulness, So God promises His Bride, the Church—and each believer is part of the Body of the Church—covenant loyalty.

No matter if we have just celebrated our first or our fifty-first wedding anniversary, the daily recognition of God’s consistent presence and loyalty helps us to reaffirm our own commitment to our husband or wife.

Covenant loyalty.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with kindness.” (Jer. 31:3 NIV Bible)

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2 thoughts on “Is this in your marriage?”

  1. I agree, Dena. “Covenant Loyalty”–a promise to believers by the God of the universe by the blood of the Lamb! Annie

  2. Dena, I suspect that the Hebrew word to which you refer is “hesed” (sometimes spelled ‘chesed’). In Strong’s Lexicon, 2617. I have often heard it referred to as the OT word for ‘grace.’

    Interestingly, I’m working through the Precept study of RUTH preparing for our next class, and just last night I ‘found’ that term used three times in RUTH. It is a very significant term in the book.

    In 1:8 Naomi blesses Orpah and Ruth as she prepares to return to Judah from Moab. She prays, “May the LORD deal kindly with you as you have dealt with the dead and with me.” Even though they were not part of the covenant community of Israel, they acted within it’s parameters, and “whate’re thou spendest, Jesus will repay” even under the Adamic covenant of ‘common grace.’ “Good News” indeed!

    In 2:20 Naomi calls down The LORD’s blessing on Boaz for his remarkable ‘kindness’ to Ruth, this foreigner, on her first day in his fields: “Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, ‘May he be blessed of the LORD who has not withdrawn his kindness to the living and to the dead.’ Again Naomi said to her, ‘The man is our relative, he is one of our closest relatives’.”

    Naomi’s focus is probably on Boaz AND the LORD (see ESV Note): The LORD has demonstrated His “covenant loyalty” to Ruth (who has clearly chosen to ‘cast her lot with the People of God’ despite the apparent lack of ‘reward’ for doing so), to her AND to her dead husband in identifying that ‘close relative’ (ga’al, ‘kinsman-redeemer’) who will keep Elimelech’s line ‘alive;’ and Boaz who has demonstrated the direction of his ‘heart’ in showing such kindness to Naomi who is not a relative of his (except by marriage) and such extreme generosity to “the young Moabite woman” Ruth, while under no obligation to do so. (Isn’t ‘love’ wonderful?!)

    And in 3:10, Boaz speaks and acknowledges Ruth’s ‘covenant loyalty’ to him and, by extension, to Naomi and Elimelech/Machon: “Then he said, ‘May you be blessed of the LORD, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich.’ Her selection of Him will “raise up seed” to a family in Israel.

    All three uses of the word are within the context of “the blessing of the LORD,” all three are expressions of self-initiated ‘kindness,’ all three result in ‘reward’ from the LORD.

    Sounds like ‘grace’ to me (Eph. 2:1-9).

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