Proverbs on Family, Part 1: The Foundation – Marriage

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Pastor Scott L. Harris

Grace Bible Church, NY

May 6, 2012

Proverbs on Family, Part 1: The Foundation

Selected Scriptures


Thank you for your cards and notes last week as I completed my 21st year of ministry here at Grace Bible Church. They were very encouraging as were the practical gifts I received as well. The couch and love seat at our home were gifts from our first church in 1988. I rebuilt the seats in them a couple of years ago, but I don’t know how to rebuild the backs, so they have become somewhat uncomfortable after more than 23 years of heavy use by multiple home Bible studies and meetings. Thank you for enabling us to look for something to replace them. Thank you also to whoever gave me the Neat scanner. I assume this is from someone that has been in my office and wants to help me reduce the piles of paper work residing there. I haven’t quite figured out the programs in the machine yet, but I am anticipating that it could be very helpful.

I also want to thank you for your comments and notes about the message last week. Back in 2001 I preached a series of 12 messages on Successful Christian Living (See Sermon series – Successful Christian Living). Last week I felt compelled to try to address those basic principles in a single message, and from the feedback I have received, I believe I was able to do so. The five principles we looked at last week are:

1) You are a created being who exists to glorify the Creator.

2) You are to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ and not of someone else.

3) You need to feed yourself from God’s word.

4) Understand God’s priorities for your life and set your goals accordingly.

5) Actively use your spiritual gift(s).

I hope you are keeping those points in mind as you consider the things you do in daily life so that you will successfully live the Christian life. (See: Pastoral Thoughts on the Basics of Christian Living) The book mark in the bulletin – and there are extra copies on the back table – is just a way to remind yourself of these things. You could also post it some place as a reminder.

Today I want us to turn our attention to the subject of the family the topics of marriage, the role of the husband and wife, parenting, children, relatives and leaving a legacy. This is another case in which I had originally thought I could cover the subject in one sermon, but it will take quite a few more than that. Proverbs is proving to be a book that just gets deeper the more you think about what it says. One statement can lead to a question which in answering leads to more questions. The particular one that begins this study of the subject of the family is Proverbs 18:22, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the Lord.” That statement leads to a series of questions. The word translated “wife” here is ‘ishshaw (ish-shaw’) which can also be translated as woman or female. Is this a wife or just a woman? Why is this a good thing? Why does this obtain favor from the Lord? Tracing down answers to these questions you find that the Proverb is definitely referring to a wife and not just a woman since Proverbs gives so many strong warnings about finding the wrong kind of woman and God’s disapproval that comes with her. The favor is directly related to the institution of marriage, but that brings up additional questions about marriage and why God favors that.

Such questions about marriage and family would not have even come up two generations ago, but we live in a time in which the immoral thoughts of a secular society have become dominate. Over forty percent of the children born in the United States are now born to single mothers. We are fast approaching the point when there are fewer people living as married couples than living in some form of immorality – either as promiscuous singles or couples shacked up in temporary relationships. Even among those professing to be Christians there is a high degree of sexual activity outside of marriage. There is even confusion about the definition of marriage due to politicians courting the votes of certain constituents and to gain funding by trying to play God and give official approval to sin. This includes our own NY State Senator Steve Saland who was a pivotal vote in changing the legal definition of marriage in our state to include sodomite and lesbian unions. The only word to describe that is evil. Our God is very patient and longsuffering, but a society cannot continue to be defiant against God and His commands without His judgment coming against us. As described in Romans 1, His hand has already pulled back so that the nation is reaping the consequences of its sin and it will be getting worse. The rot in government is only a reflection of the decay of our society and the stench does rise to heaven. Pray for mercy.

Because of this moral confusion in our society, it is imperative that we go back to the beginning to understand God’s establishment and purpose for the family before we can hope to understand the various Proverbs that deal with the family. Turn to Genesis 1.

The Purpose of Man – Genesis 1:26-31

I pointed out last week that we are created beings who exist to glorify our Creator. That is the purpose of man. The same is true for the family. It is the creation of God, not an invention of man. It has a purpose in God’s glory, not man’s success, pleasure and happiness, though those things will also be true if the family is glorifying God.

Made in Image of God – Genesis 1:26, 27. God created the heavens and the earth and separated light from darkness on the first day of Creation. He separated the waters above from the waters below on the second day. On the third day He gathered the waters below together and let the dry land appear. He also created the plants. On the fourth day God created the Sun, Moon and stars to separate day from night and be signs for seasons, days and years. All the creatures that live in the ocean and the winged creatures of the sky were created on the fifth day. (See:The Days of Creation). It was not until the sixth day that God made the land animals and creeping things culminating in the creation of man. Genesis 1:26-27 records, “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

Man was different from all the other created creatures from the very beginning, for mankind was made in the image of God. (See:God Created Man) Man was made to be a reflection of God and that separated him from all the animals. Man is rational. He can think in both concrete and abstract terms. He can contemplate not only logic, but beauty and even ideas that are only imaginary. Man is also emotional. He can feel psychically things such as love, hate, compassion, anger, peace, anxiety, joy, depression, etc. Finally, man is volitional. He can use his mind and emotions to make decisions. Animals are controlled by instinct and training. Man can make decisions contrary to what might otherwise be considered instinct or training. He can even change his decision according to changes in what he thinks and feels. Man was also created to reflect God’s moral attributes such as holiness, righteousness, love, goodness, kindness, justice, etc. We may have bodies similar to other animals, but man is much more than an animal because these all these qualities give man personhood.

As a quick footnote here, notice as well in verse 26 that the plural nature of our singular God is brought out by the plural pronouns. He says, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” Who is God talking to? The other members of the triune Godhead. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are all involved in the creation of man.

Created to Subdue & Have Dominion – Genesis 1:26, 28-30. Next we must notice the purpose that God had in creating man. Notice that verse 26 states that God wanted man to “rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” He adds in verses 28-30, And God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; 30 and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, [I have given] every green plant for food “;and it was so.”

This is often referred to as the dominion mandate and it is a crucial point that is often overlooked. God gave man a practical purpose on this earth from the very beginning. To subdue, (k bash / Kaw-bash’) is to bring into subjection. The Theological Word Book of the Old Testament states, “Genesis 1:28 implies that creation will not do man’s bidding gladly or easily and that man must now bring creation into submission by main strength. It [Creation] is not to rule man.” To rule, (r?d” ) is to have dominion over. It is having authority and taking action. God has entrusted to man the authority to bring creation into order and direct it.

Even before the fall into sin, it would take work to put creation into order and get the animals to do man’s bidding. That work became infinitely more difficult after the fall into sin when creation was also subjected to the curse. Those who advocate the idea that humans and animals are somehow equal with each other are in defiance of God’s direct command to mankind. God will hold man responsible for this. God restricts man from being cruel and needlessly destructive, but otherwise, God has given man a free hand to manipulate his environment and put what plants he wants where he wants them and to subjugate the animals to himself. This also lays a foundation for the purpose of the family.

Children to Extend Dominion – Genesis 1:28. Notice that in verse 28 God’s command to the man and the woman to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth leads directly into the dominion mandate. Children are the means by which the dominion mandate would be carried out. One couple could not subdue and rule over the earth by themselves, but by having children and a multitude of descendants through them, mankind could fulfill God’s command. Children then are not for your self fulfillment or pleasure. They were not originally even for the continuation of human life, for the command was given prior to the fall into sin and death. Children were the means by which God’s command can be obeyed. The responsibility of parents then is to rear children so that they can fulfill that purpose and their responsibility is to grow up, become responsible and leave their parents in order to do their part in fulfilling God’s purpose.

It Was Very Good – Genesis 1:31 gives God’s pronouncement on His work of creation. “And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” Each of the previous days was declared to be “good,” but with the completion of creation on day six, it was now “very good.” Keep that in mind as we now look at several sections of Genesis 2 which is a more detailed account of what occurred on the sixth day of Creation.

The Fashioning of the Woman – Genesis 2:7, 18-25

The Solitary Man – Genesis 2:7. This first thing I want you to notice is that Adam was created before Eve. “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Adam was single, the solitary man on the earth. God made the garden of Eden, which would be a perfect environment for Adam. Genesis 2:15 then tells us that God placed Adam in the garden of Eden with the specific responsibility to cultivate it and keep it. Cultivate (‘abôd”) here is the word for labor or service. The word for keep here (sh?mar) means to attend to or guard. It is the idea of exercising great care over to fulfill an obligation. We tend to think of work as a curse, but it is not. From the first day of his creation, Adam was to labor in the garden of Eden and give careful attention to fulfilling God’s command to him in subduing it and having dominion over it. This would have been an absolutely wonderful place to live, yet there was something missing which we are told about in verse 18.

The “Not Good” – Genesis 2:18, “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” The pronouncement here is not that it was bad for the man to be alone, but that it was not good. There is a significant moral difference between the two. This statement is made prior to the fall in to sin so it could not have been bad which would have implied either an evil or some negative element that would have declined into evil. Even after the fall, being alone is not bad, otherwise the Apostle Paul and even the Lord Jesus would have lived in a bad state. How could Paul have then advocated the advantages of being single in 1 Corinthians 7 if being single was bad?

The idea here of being alone must also be qualified, for Adam was not completely alone. Adam’s relationship with God Himself would have been more than sufficient. Adam also had all the various animals which could keep him company. Even when it came to fulfilling the dominion mandate, Adam had animals that would be able to help with various tasks as he learned to control them and take advantage of their abilities – horses to ride, donkeys to carry things, elephants to move heavy objects, dogs to fetch things, birds to make music, etc. The idea of being alone here is directly related to what was missing that made being single something that was not good.

God continues in the verse to say that He would do something to alter this not good and change Adam’s state of being alone. God would “make him a helper suitable for him.” A helper (‘?zer)
is someone who assists. Suitable for him (keneged) is “that which corresponds to.” It would be a creature that would be able to assist Adam in the fulfilling the mandate God had given him, and this creature would correspond to him. So more than just being a living aide to his purpose, this creature would complement him and be a companion to him.

The Missing Complement – Genesis 2:19-20. The first task God gave Adam in Eden was designed to heighten his awareness that none of the animals would qualify for this role. “And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought [them] to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20 And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.” In naming the animals, Adam began his work of establishing authority over them. To accomplish this, Adam had to have been created with a full language and incredible intelligence. Adam does not name the creatures of the sea or the “creeping things” on this day, but this is still an incredible amount of work on his very first day of existence. Yet among all these animals nothing qualified as a “helper suitable for him.”

The Woman is Fashioned – Genesis 2:21-23 records God making a suitable helper. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 And the Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 23 And the man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”

It is significant that God does not make the woman from scratch has He had done with man out of the dust of the ground. Instead, the Lord performs surgery on Adam and removes part of him to fashion her. The word translated as “rib” (ts?l?) is usually translated as “side,” but it is interesting to note that the rib is the only bone in the human body that will grow back as long as you leave part of its sheath. Adam did not lose anything in the creation of Eve. His body would have replaced what had been removed, and what had been removed was rebuilt into something that did correspond to him. She was indeed bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. God formed (y?tsar) Adam out of the dust and then rebuilt (b?n”) a piece from Adam’s side into Eve. Adam called her woman which is simply the feminine form for the word for man. A woman is a female man and she corresponds to and is complimentary to man.

The Establishment of Marriage – Genesis 2:24. Moses adds this comment in verse 24 as this is the reason for the establishment of marriage. “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” This verse is quoted by Jesus and Paul in explaining the nature and purpose of marriage (Matthew 19:3-9; 1 Corinthians 6:16-17, Ephesians 5:28). Note from verse 22 that is it God that brings the woman to Adam. It is God that establishes marriage, not human government.

In Matthew 19 Jesus answered the Pharisees question about divorce by going back to the definition and purpose of marriage given in Genesis. Jesus said, “Have you not read, that He who created [them] from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 “Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

God’s design for marriage was to be for a man and woman to be joined together as one flesh for life. Anything other than that is sin. Fornication and adultery are at epidemic levels in our society and lawmakers have catered to those practicing these sins by removing the civil penalties and giving approval. Divorce laws have been changed to make it easy for an adulterous spouse to dissolve the marriage to the detriment of the spouse striving to keep the marriage intact and walk in righteousness. There are those in our own congregation that have suffered greatly because of this. Lawmakers in this state have not only given legal protection and approval to the sexual perversion of homosexuality, but have also perverted our marriage laws to accommodate them. Who knows how long before other sexual perversions such as incest, child exploitation and bestiality are also given government sanction.

Lawmakers may think they have the power to change the definition of marriage and with it the determination of what is good and what is evil, but they only fool themselves and lead others astray. God has not changed and neither has His definition of marriage or His declarations about what is good or evil. Every human will one day stand before the Lord God who will judge each person by His holy and unchanging standards, and unless they have repented and gained forgiveness through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, they will be condemned to eternal Hell.

I know those are strong statements, but they are true and they must be said both in warning to those who advocate such perversions and those who might be lead astray by them. Do not fall for the lies and to delusions now common in our society that might lead you to either approve of or practice what God declares is sin.

God’s design for marriage is also for a purpose. Notice that verse 24 begins with, “for this cause.” What cause? Confusion on the reason for marriage has resulted in all sorts of strange ideas which in turn tragically lead to failing marriages. By that I am not referring just to marriages which dissolve, but any marriage that does not fulfill God’s purposes in it.

What is the cause for marriage? It is not your happiness, though marriage is one of the greatest sources of human happiness. If it has the wrong purpose it could end up being one of the greatest sources of pain. It is not your economic well being, though census statistics still show a strong correlation between marriage and wealth. The poverty rate of single parent families is about six times higher than married couple families. It is not even your sexual satisfaction, though marriage is the only God approved relationship for it and surveys continue to show monogamous married couples are much more satisfied than singles (fornicators) and those having affairs (adulterers).

The cause for marriage is so that man can fulfill the responsibilities God has placed upon him in subduing the earth and having dominion over the animals, which in Adam’s case, included laboring and watching over the garden of Eden. With the fall of man into sin there have been additional responsibilities placed upon man which would have occurred naturally in a state of innocence. All the various commands God has given to man since Genesis 3 can be reduced down to loving God with all your heart, mind and strength and loving your neighbor as yourself. The family is where these things are taught and learned, and the family begins with a man leaving his father and mother and cleaving to his wife so that the two become one flesh. Paul said in Ephesians 5:32 that though it was a great mystery, marriage was to be a reflection of Christ and the church.

A successful family begins with a marriage that strives to fulfill God’s purposes. The husband and wife learn the role God has for them in the marriage and strive to fulfill those responsibilities. They then teach their children to do likewise. That is why Proverbs 18:22 can say, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the Lord.” Together, a man and wife can help one another fulfill the responsibilities God has placed upon them, and that is good.

A single person can successfully serve the Lord, and again, Paul points out some of its advantages in 1 Corinthians 7, but it is also harder in many respects. Not only in the area of sexual temptation, but also in lacking such a close and intimate friend that can love, accept, serve, help, build up, teach, stimulate, encourage, forebear or admonish, rebuke and correct as needed. It is difficult to have a relationship with someone as deep as you can have with a husband or wife. A godly marriage is a good thing which is why it brings the Lord’s favor. But there is also danger, for as Proverbs 12:4 explains, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, But she who shames [him] is as rottenness in his bones.” A bad husband is just as harmful.

Marriage Before the Fall – Genesis 2:25 gives us a glimpse into what marriage was like for Adam and Eve and the goal for us to have in our own marriages. “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” Because we are tainted by our sin nature, we can easily miss the real point of this verse. We tend to think of naked as just not wearing any clothes and then conclude the lack of shame was related to being nude. There is much, much more in this verse.

The Hebrew word translated as naked here (‘ar?mmîm) actually means to be laid bare, exposed. There is no impediment blocking what is really there. It is used in a word play with crafty (‘ar?m) in Genesis 3:1 which means to have sharp mental abilities to perceive and distinguish. Adam and Eve were able to be completely open and exposed with each other on every level – physical, mental and emotional, without any conflict or shame because there was no sin present in any of it. They could see each others bodies fully exposed and had no thoughts of exploitation, selfish lust, or any kind of perversion. They had no knowledge of evil, so there was no shame. They could express any thought they had and there was nothing twisted, nothing demeaning, nothing ungodly. They could express their emotions without anything threatening the other. Adam would have understood his role and Eve and so could have led her with both strength and tenderness. There would not have even been a hint of oppression. Eve would have understood her role and happily served in any capacity Adam desired in helping fulfill his responsibilities. She would have been completely feminine, but without a trace of feminism. Since there was no selfishness, they would have neither challenged nor manipulated each other in an effort to get their own way. Neither presented a threat to the other in any way, shape or form. They would have lived in harmony with one another working together to fulfill the responsibilities God had placed upon them.

The curse of sin has changed all of that for every married couple since Adam and Eve were forced to leave the garden of Eden. Such blessed harmony will not occur this side of heaven because our minds and emotions are perverted by sin so that our decisions are also corrupt. The shame of physical nakedness dates back to the garden as a reminder of our disobedience to God’s commands. Our selfishness toward one another should cause us shame, but too often we try to find some way to justify our ungodly attitudes and behavior while blaming the sin on someone else.

The only hope of moving back toward the harmony and bless of Eden is to become a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. That means you will repent of your trespasses and sin, place your faith in the person and redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ which will cause you to be made spiritually alive, and then learn to walk with Him. The Christian couple that will do this can and will move toward fulfilling their God given roles and accomplishing their God given purposes which in turn will bring about a divinely blessed marriage that will glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.

That is the foundation that we need so that we can talk in the coming weeks about the many other things that Proverbs states concerning the blessings of godly marriages and families and its warnings to fools.


Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the Scripture references made. 2) Count how many times the word “marriage” is used. Talk with your parents about God’s establishment and plan for marriage in Genesis.


Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What basic principles can help you live the Christian life successfully? How has marriage and morality declined in the last 50 years? What is the purpose of man? What is the significance of man being made in the image of God? How does man differ from the animals? What responsibility did God place on Adam in Genesis 1:26, 28-30. What does it mean to subdue? To rule? How would Adam have carried out those commands in Eden? What is the purpose of children according to Genesis 1:28? What made the sixth day “very good”? What was man’s responsibility in Eden prior to the making of Eve? Why was it “not good” for man to be alone? Why wasn’t this bad? Who / what was with Adam in the garden? How could animals have helped Adam fulfill his responsibilities? What is a “helper suitable for him?” Why didn’t any of the animals qualify? How was the making of Eve different from God’s formation of Adam? Who established marriage? What can be said about those who want to redefine marriage or morality? What is God’s original design for marriage? Why are neither happiness, economic well being nor sexual satisfaction the causes for marriage? What is the cause for marriage? Why is finding a wife a good thing and obtain favor with the Lord? What advantages do single people have in serving the Lord? What advantages do married people have? What was marriage like before the fall into sin? What is needed for a couple to pursue a harmonious God blessed marriage?

Sermon Notes – 5/6/2012

Proverbs on Family, Part 1: The Foundation – Selected Scriptures


Keep the basic principles of Christian living in mind in order to be successful in daily life

A Proverb often becomes ______________ the more you think about it

Proverbs 18:22 – the starting point of considering what the book teaches about ______________

We live in society in which _____________ thinking and practices are becoming dominate

To clear up moral confusion, we must start again at the __________________ laid by God.

The Purpose of Man – Genesis 1:26-31

God created man for His own glory, likewise, God established the ____________ for His own glory

    Made in Image of God – Genesis 1:26, 27

The culmination of the Creation week was God making ___________ in His own image

Man is ___________, emotional & ___________

Man has ______________ and so is much more than a
mere animal

God is a _____________ singularity

    Created to Subdue & Have Dominion – Genesis 1:26, 28-30

To subdue, (k bash / Kaw-bash’) is to bring into ______________

To rule, (r?d”) is to have ______________ over – have authority and taking action

From the beginning, man would have to _____to bring the plants and animals into submission to himself

    Children to Extend Dominion – Genesis 1:28

One couple could not subdue and rule over the earth, their descendants would ________man’s dominion

    It Was Very Good – Genesis 1:31

Each day was good, but the completion of all the work on the sixth day made it _________ good

The Fashioning of the Woman – Genesis 2:7, 18-25

    The Solitary Man – Genesis 2:7

God placed Adam by himself in the garden of Eden with the responsibility to ___________it and keep it

______________itself is not part of the curse of sin, but God’s plan for man from the beginning

    The “Not Good” – Genesis 2:18

“Not good” does not mean it was ________which would have implied a moral deficiency

Adam was not completely alone for he had the ____________ and he could talk with God

The ___________ could help Adam in some ways carry out his dominion mandate

God would change Adam’s “not good” state of being alone by making him a _________suitable for him.

Helper (‘?zer) is someone who assists. Suitable for him (keneged) is “that which _________________to”

    The Missing Complement – Genesis 2:19-20

Adam’s work in naming the land animals showed his authority – and full ______________& intelligence

No animal ____________ as one that could be a helper suitable for him

    The Woman is Fashioned – Genesis 2:21-24

_______is made from a portion of Adam’s side – the human rib can grow back if part of its sheath is left

God formed Adam from the dust of the ground, then __________ a part of him into a woman

The Establishment of Marriage – Genesis 2:22-24

___________ establishes marriage, not human government – Matthew 19:4-6

    God’s design for marriage is one man and one woman joined together as one flesh for _________

God will __________every human by His standards and will condemn those not forgiven in Jesus Christ

God’s design for marriage is for a ___________- “for this cause”

Marriage is not for the cause of ____________, economic well being or even sexual satisfaction

Marriage is for the purpose of fulfilling the ______________ God has given to man

________________ has some advantages (1 Cor. 7), and a godly marriage has other advantages.

    Marriage Before the Fall – Genesis 2:25

“Naked” is to be laid bare, ______________ – physically, mentally and emotionally

Without the knowledge of sin, there was no shame – or ____________ practices

Our hope for harmonious marriages lies in being true _____________ of Jesus Christ

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