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God’s Word for You

1 Chronicles 2:25-33 Love and marriage

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, October 2, 2023

25 The sons of Jerahmeel, the firstborn of Hezron: Ram his firstborn, Bunah, Oren, Ozem, and Ahijah. 26 Jerahmeel also had another wife, whose name was Atarah; she was the mother of Onam. 27 The sons of Ram, the firstborn of Jerahmeel: Maaz, Jamin, and Eker. 28 The sons of Onam: Shammai and Jada. The sons of Shammai: Nadab and Abishur. 29 The name of Abishur’s wife was Abihail, and she bore him Ahban and Molid. 30 The sons of Nadab: Seled and Appaim; and Seled died childless. 31 The son of Appaim: Ishi. The son of Ishi: Sheshan. The son of Sheshan: Ahlai. 32 The sons of Jada, Shammai’s brother: Jether and Jonathan; and Jether died childless. 33 The sons of Jonathan: Peleth and Zaza. These were the descendants of Jerahmeel.

We return here to Judah’s grandson Hezron and his descendants. Most of the people in the first half of this group were born in Egypt; the later names probably come from the time of the Judges. It is tempting to think that there is no one of significance here; no knot to untie; no story to recount. But I think that there are at least four or five twigs on this branch of Scripture that we should take a closer look at.

The first is Ozem. There are two men named Ozem in the Scriptures; both are from the tribe of Judah, and both appear in this chapter only. Ozem is the name of King David’s brother, the brother who came just before him (1 Chronicle 2:15). The appearance of Ozem in this list shows God’s blessing to Jerahmeel’s family, with five sons, and also separates the two men called Ozem so that there would be no confusion about them later on.

Ahijah is present for the same reasons. There were other men named Ahijah besides this one. One was a priest from the family line of Eli (1 Samuel 14:3). Another was a prophet in the days of King Jeroboam I; he is often called Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh (1 Kings 11:29) or Ahijah the Shilonite (1 Kings 12:15). A less well-known man with this name is involved in that same chapter, because Baasha, the third king of Israel after the break from Judah, was the son of yet another Ahijah.

We notice that two sons are named Nadab and Abishur (verse 28). I suspect that because of their placement within the list and the similarity of names to Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu, that these men may have been named after the sons of Israel’s first high priest, but before they fell into sin and were put to death by God (Leviticus 10:1-2). It could even be that the second son’s name was changed from Abihu to Abishur so that people would not be reminded of the tragedy (Nadab was a common name; the second king of the northern kingdom had this name, 1 Kings 14:20).

More importantly, we have the mystery of Jerahmeel’s second wife. Was she a rival wife, like Rachel was for Leah, or was she a wife that came after the death of the first wife? The text is not clear, but I suspect that since the first wife’s death is not mentioned (as we saw in 1 Chronicles 2:19) that here is a marriage of one man with two women. The will of God is that marriage will be between a man and a woman, as with Adam and Eve. A man should not take more than one wife while his first wife is still living, nor should a woman be married to more than one man at a time. Such a sin would disqualify a man from serving in the ministry (whether as an elder, 1 Timothy 3:2; overseer, 1 Timothy 3:12; or deacon, Titus 1:6) and would be a sin for any Christian. Those passages in the Law of Moses that mention two wives do not condone the sin, but rather make certain that a man who has sinned in this way does not abandon the rival wife or his children through her, even if he puts her away (divorces her). He must still provide for their needs even though it was a sin in the first place (Deuteronomy 21:15-17).

Why were such marriages permitted in antiquity? For the same reason that gay marriages and other unions are allowed today: The government sanctions them, because sinful and godless people demand them, and the government must provide for its people even when they are abhorrent and lead lives bound for hell. People have rights that the secular government must uphold, even when officials in government would never condone such things privately. These things are sinful, and we don’t need to say more about them. A government’s acknowledgment of a sinful act does not change the sinfulness of the act, and cannot change the doctrines of the holy Scriptures.

But as for true and genuine marriage: “The love of a man and woman is (or should be), the greatest and purest of all loves. For he says, ‘A man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife’ (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5), and the wife does the same, as we see happening around us every day. Now there are three kinds of love: false love, natural love, and married love” (Luther, A Sermon on the Estate of Marriage, LW 44:8-9). False love is selfish, such as the love of money, power, position, or authority, or the desires of a thief. It is also the desire of men and women who sleep together outside of marriage and against God’s command. They fling their bodies against the gates of hell when they do this, begging the devil to let them in. Natural love is the love between parent and child or friends and relatives, like the almost fatherly affection of old Jonathan for the young David (Jonathan was almost as old as David’s father Jesse, 1 Samuel 19:1).

“But over and above all these is married love,” Luther proclaims, “that is, a bride’s love, which glows like a fire and desires nothing but her husband. She says, ‘It is you I want, not what is yours: I want neither your silver nor your gold; I want neither. I want only you. I want you in your entirety, or not at all.’ All other kinds of love seek something other than the loved one: this kind wants only to have the beloved’s own self completely.”

Because of the fall, we don’t have such a lovely thing in its purest form. Instead, even though the married partners desire one another as God intends, the desire is stained with selfishness that whistles in like a cold wind getting in under the door. And yet marriage is a marvelous estate of faith, made pure by Christ.

Marriage is not just a choice men and women make, like what career to have (which might change) or what they will eat for lunch (which is little more than a whim). Marriage is an estate, a godly estate, given to mankind for many blessings. A person who is married but doesn’t recognize marriage as an estate from God cannot receive those blessings, and he will have a marriage of bitterness, drudgery, unhappiness, resentment, and anguish. He will complain about it, make fun of it, and he will show his wife as little respect as she shows him. “But,” Luther says, “he who recognizes the estate of marriage will find in it delight, love, and joy without end. As Solomon says, ‘He who finds a wife finds a good thing’ (Proverbs 18:22)” (LW 45:38).

When we read the Scriptures and take the Sixth Commandment to heart along with Jesus’ explanations in Matthew 5:27-32, 15:18 and 19:9 as well as Paul’s wise words about fulfilling our marital duties (1 Corinthians 7:3-5) we will come to these conclusions:

  1. Those who are unsuited to a celibate life should marry.
  2. Husbands and wives must remember to love one another with their hearts, with their words, with their intentions, and with their bodies.
  3. Husbands and wives should have such a respect for one another that they never say anything apart from casting the best possible light on one another, whether in public or in private.
  4. All Christians should support marriage, which means that no one should ever do or say anything that might possibly harm or bruise someone else’s marriage—whether the marriage is between Christians or pagans. Belittling someone else’s marriage is no different than hitting or hurting someone else’s child or whipping another man’s horse. Marriage is to be held in the highest possible regard and celebrated by all.
  5. A wedding should not be too much of a show, as if the couple is trying to honor themselves or just find an excuse for a big show where the bride is the star, but they should seek to marry quietly and happily, and saving their money for their marriage rather than for their wedding.
  6. Young newlyweds should not fret too much about when to start a family. Luther: “God makes children; he will surely also feed them.”

The prophet says this about a man and his wife: “She is your partner; the wife of your marriage covenant.” And then he asks us: “Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and in spirit they are his. And why ‘one’? Because he (the Lord) was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth” (Malachi 2:14-15).

And these words come from the New Testament: “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all of the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4). Pray for your marriage, and for the marriages of the people you know, and especially of the people you love.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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