When you think about your life and your marriage, where do you place your focus? After it’s all said and done…what really matters?
“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.” – Ecclesiastes 12:13
Christians and Jews alike have traditionally agreed that Solomon is the author of the book of Ecclesiastes. This is based on Ecclesiastes 1:1: “The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem.” While many other theories have been offered, I hold to this traditional view and write from this perspective.
But whoever wrote Ecclesiastes, I can say this with certainty: It is the inspired Word of God. And it, therefore, contains God’s wisdom.
That the book was most likely written by Solomon is important for several reasons. He is known as the man who was given the opportunity by God to ask for anything. And he chose God’s wisdom (1 Kings 3:4-12).
Ecclesiastes, like the other Wisdom Literature Solomon authored, was written by him to teach his sons how to live godly lives and how to govern God’s people after his death. It was written from the perspective of an aging man looking back on his life. He recalled what God taught him over the years, and he shares those final truths with his children.
In doing so, God has left those truths for us. And we can apply them to our marriages so our unions can be all He intends for them.
The final words from Solomon are found in Ecclesiastes 12:13: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.”
If we follow that wisdom, we will have the joyous marriage that God intends. We will be instruments to serve Him and others. And we will have a marriage that will draw others to Him.
If we want real wisdom–God’s wisdom–it begins with Christ.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:22-25: “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”
Jesus is “the wisdom of God.” He is God, as we read in John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Word is Jesus, who is God.
Jesus’s words and life teach us everything we need. When we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, He sends the Holy Spirit to live within us to teach us everything we need for a meaningful, joyful life and marriage.
Just before His crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus promised: “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:25-26).
If we want the marriage God intends for us, it must begin here: “Fear God.” That means we hold Him in complete awe and reverence. We understand that He is holy, and we are sinners—who on our own will never acquire His wisdom.
Thankfully, He has made a way for us to receive forgiveness of our sins and be made right with Him—through Jesus Christ.
We start by accepting Jesus as our Savior and Lord. This allows us to come into His presence and ask Him for His wisdom, just as Solomon did. And God when we accept Christ as Lord, God sends the Holy Spirit to live in us. He teaches us and gives us His wisdom. Only then are we able to enjoy that marriage we have been longing for.
(To know more about how to give your life to Jesus and enjoy these blessings, please read Meet Jesus.)
Having the Holy Spirit living in us enables us to follow the second part of Solomon’s wise teaching: “keep his commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). We are commanded throughout God’s Word to know, understand, and live out God’s Word. James 1:22 says: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
Jesus tells the importance of both learning about and living out His Word in the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders. This can be found in Matthew 7:24-27: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
It has always been God’s plan for His people to have His wisdom. But not just so we can enjoy the wonderful results of living by it, though He certainly wants this for us. But also that we might share it with others.
Paul writes in Ephesians 3:10-11: “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
We–God’s people who have given our lives to Christ–are the church. It is through us that He wants to share His wisdom with the world. That certainly includes through our marriages.
When God created humans as man and woman, it has always been His plan for us to serve Him together as a couple.
We read what God said in Genesis 2:18: “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” The word translated as “helper” in this passage is the Hebrew word “ezer.” It means to come alongside and assist. It means to work together with someone.
This term is often used to describe God when He comes to work with and for His people. It is used by David, for example, in Psalm 121:1-2: “I lift up my eyes to the mountains–where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (bold mine)
The help the Lord has given us in marriage–along with Himself–is each other. The purpose He has given us is to work together to glorify Him. It is to lift Jesus up in everything we say and do so people will be drawn to Him.
Jesus said in John 12:32: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” Of course, He was describing His crucifixion. He was also giving instructions for what we were to do after He died and rose again. Lift Him up in all we say and do as a couple. That is our purpose.
Everything we do must be to honor and glorify Jesus. Paul put it this way in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Paul lays our goal out clearly for us in 2 Corinthians 5:9: “So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.”
We please Christ when we help each other to serve Him by serving others. We please Christ when we live out His Word together. Martin Luther said that marriage is “a school for character.” God brings us together to help each other become more Christ-like.
Paul states this clearly in Ephesians 5:25-27: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” So when it is all said and done, God in His wisdom has given us each other as husband and wife to help each other become like Jesus, and to serve Him together.
Jim Cowan wrote the song “When It’s All Been Said and Done.”* In it he says to God:
“When it’s all been said and done,
there is just one thing that matters.
Did I do my best to live for truth?
Did I live my life for you?”
Those are good questions for us and our marriages.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
♦ Discuss this week’s teaching together. Talk about what God spoke to you about individually and as a couple.
♦ As you think about wisdom, what comes to your minds? Is it first and foremost God’s wisdom? Do you fear Him (hold Him in awe and reverence) enough that you are willing to follow His teaching over what you and/or the world says is wise?
♦ Discuss in what ways you are working together to glorify Him, and to tell about Him to others? If you are not doing this, discuss ways you can begin to do so.
♦ Ask yourselves the questions from the song lyrics at the end of today’s lesson. Are you doing your best to live for His truth? Are you living your lives for Him?
♦ Close your time together in prayer. Recommit or commit for the first time together that you will seek His wisdom in His Word, and that you will live by that wisdom. Ask Him to use His Spirit in you to give you the power to do this.
Next week, we will begin a new series from God’s Word. We will look at how Jesus’ messages to the seven churches in the book of Revelation apply to our marriages.
Until then, may God bless you and your marriages in all His wonderful ways,