Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Proverbs 14:10 --- Solitude, Gender, and Marriage

Proverbs 14:10
The heart knows its own bitterness,
    and no stranger shares its joy.
This proverb points to the solitude of each human being.  "Bitterness" and "joy" constitute a merism, which points to the full spectrum of the inward life of each individual, and the full gamut of our emotions.  It teaches us that no other human being can fully understand the heart of another.  Like fingerprints, so each person's inward life is known only to themselves.  In the final analysis, we are alone until we know the Lord.  The poet Matthew Arnold stated it this way:
            Yes! in the sea of life enisled,
            With echoing straits between us thrown,
            Dotting the shoreless watery waste,
            We mortal millions live alone.[1]

We see the original solitude of each human being in the garden.  In Genesis 2:18 the Lord says, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him."  As Christopher West points out, "It is significant that the first man (adam) is not defined as a male (ish) until after the creation of woman (ishah).  So Adam's solitude is not only proper to the male.  It is proper to 'man' as such, to every human person."[2]

While it may appear on the surface that the solitude of the individual is met in the institution of marriage, it is not.  Marriage is a shadow that points to something greater. The reason for this is stated in our proverb.  No human being can know the inward being, the "emotional-intellectual-religious-moral motions"[3] of another.  "They are too complex, too inward, and too individualistic to be experienced by others or even to represent them adequately."[4]  Only the Lord can know our hearts completely.  Therefore, he must be our Lord, our Husband, the One who knows our heart completely.  As Augustine put it, "God is closer to me than I am to myself."[5]

Who we are, both inwardly and outwardly, soul and body, point to who we ought to be.   Augustine famously said that our hearts are restless until they find their rest in God.  Thus, our proverb teaches that our inward solitude shows us who we ought to be, for only the Lord can know us thoroughly.  The solitude of our inward being is pointing to our need to be united to the Lord, for he alone can know our heart.  But even our outward being, our bodies as male and female, point to fruitful union and communion.  Our biology pictures our purpose, which is found in union and communion, even if that purpose must ultimately be sought in marriage to our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is remarkable that our triune God reveals our purpose for living in the opening two chapters of the Bible.  Our inward solitude and our outward biology as male and female point to this grand purpose of union and communion with himself!  What a glorious purpose it is!  What dignity we are given!  We are made for fellowship with the triune God.  He in us and us in Him!  To think he would give such a privilege to finite and dependent creatures is astounding.  To think he would give such an honor to creatures who have committed rebellion against him is beyond astounding.

The question, then, for us all is this: Will we fulfill our purpose?  Will we accept the invitation of marriage?  Will we prefer our solitude to communion with Christ?  Will we prefer a marriage with the idols of this world to a marriage to Jesus Christ, who in his mercy endured the cross, so that we might come to him?

There is a joy that those who refuse the invitation will never know.  There is an intimacy the unbeliever will keep seeking, but never know.  For this intimacy and joy is only known if we come to Jesus Christ.  Our Lord bore the bitterness of the cross, so that his people might have the deep joy of knowing him and knowing the Father through the indwelling Spirit.  How unspeakably sad it would be if you missed the purpose of your creation, and your recreation in Jesus Christ.  Come to Him.




[1] Quoted in Thomas Thomason Perowne, The Proverbs, 106.
[2] Christopher West.  Theology of the Body Explained: A Commentary on John Paul II's "Man and Woman He Created Them," 96.
[3] Waltke, Proverbs, vol. 1, 590.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Quoted in Murphy, Proverbs in the Word Biblical Commentary, 104.

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