The blessing of a godly spouse (and the curse of an ungodly one!)

The blessing of a godly spouse (and the curse of an ungodly one!)

In 1 Kings 21, King Ahab was sulking. He wanted to have a field next to his palace for a vegetable garden, but the owner of the field had refused to sell it to him. He acted like a toddler. He “lay down on his bed and turned away his face and would eat no food” (v4). He was overcome with his situation and was generally feeling sorry for himself.

Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, came to check on him; he wasn’t coming down for meals. She asked him what the matter was. He explained it in a selective way, explaining the problem he had but casting himself as the victim of a terrible injustice. As his wife, Jezebel is concerned for him. She understands the basic situation. So what does she do next? She takes responsibility to get Ahab what he wants at any cost. She starts a series of events that leads to injustice, false testimony, and the death of innocent people.

We are not surprised by anything Jezebel does by this part of 1 Kings. This is the woman who introduced the worship of Baal and expelled the prophets of the LORD. She threatened Elijah’s life. She has a reputation for being ruthless and is no friend of believers. This passage, however, gives us an insight into the marriage of Ahab and Jezebel more than we have had before. Jezebel doesn’t just reinforce Ahab’s petulant behaviour; she encourages it and pushes it further.

It would be understandable if Ahab’s servants chose to remain silent about his childish behaviour. After all, Ahab is a king, with absolute power! But Jezebel was in a different position. She is happy to contradict him and condemn him for his actions (v7), but she then drives his sinful desires into reality in terrible ways.

Jezebel encouraged and enabled Ahab’s sin. She made the situation worse than it already was and led Ahab into greater sin and greater guilt. Her involvement led to the couple impacting more people and doing more damage.

Think about what a godly wife would have done when they realised what Ahab’s childish tantrum was about. They would have stopped the cycle right there. They would have pointed out that Ahab already had so much, including two palaces. They would have pointed out that Naboth was right to refuse to sell his ancestral land. They would have guided Ahab’s ambitions to more productive and godly directions. There was much that could have been done.

A godly spouse can help restrain us from sin and point us to Jesus. An ungodly spouse can reinforce our sin and lead us further into disaster.

What can we take from this idea? There are a few directions we can apply this, depending on your life situation:

  1. If you are single and seeking to be married in the future, choose wisely. It is better to remain single than to marry someone who will reinforce your sin. You should avoid marrying an unbeliever, for they will not see sin as the problem you do. And you should look carefully at the character of any Christian person you would consider marrying. Their concern for purity and dedication to honouring God is of great importance.
  2. If you are a Christian wife, don’t misinterpret the verses about submitting to your husband (Eph 5:22). This doesn’t mean to encourage your husband in their sin. Being a helper for your husband might mean speaking against your husband’s sin instead of doing whatever your husband wants to do. You serve Jesus; don’t move away from that out of a desire to entertain the sinful desires of your husband.
  3. If you are married, whether a husband or a wife, remember that you should be a reflection of Christ and the church. Husbands are also called to help their wives towards godliness (Eph 5:27). Are you helping your spouse to follow Jesus better? Are you helping them resist temptation and seek godliness? If not, do something about it. Use your marriage to serve God and not only to reinforce sin.