1Pe 3:5-7 “For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”
We often talk about how things were “back in the old days.” Apparently, that is nothing new. Peter was pointing out to the women he had been giving instruction to that what he was telling them was not new either. Back in the old days, holy women behaved in a quiet and chaste manner. Women who trusted in God were not afraid to put on obedience to Him by being in subjection to their own husbands. Peter makes an important distinction several times in these passages. A woman was expected to be in subjection to her own husband. The language here suggests that she was not expected to be in subjection to every man she came into contact with.
Peter sites Sara, one of the heroines of faith, as an example of a holy woman. Even though Sara initially laughed at the notion of bearing a son in her old age, the scripture says that “she judged Him faithful who had promised (Heb 11:11).” To be a daughter of Sara, or to be esteemed in faith as Sara, requires two things: to do well and to have courage. Doing well is not an ambiguous notion in Peter’s writing. Doing well is being obedient to God and His word. We can all attest to the fact that doing well requires courage. If our hearts desire is to do well, then God will give us the courage to do well. For women or men to be godly requires that we have our confidence in God.
Godly men dwell with their wives according to knowledge. Godly men are going to know their wives and allow their wives to truly know them, and not just in the sense of physical intimacy. If we love our wives as Christ loves the church, then we are going to know what brings them joy and what causes them sorrow. We are going to know what their plans and dreams are. If we are good husbands, we are going to honor (value, esteem) our wives. Peter does not say here that the woman is the weaker vessel; he instructs us to honor her as though she were a weaker vessel. Do you have things in your home that you value so much that you do not want to leave them where they can be damaged? Do you place these things in a case, up on a high shelf, or devise some other means to keep them out of harm’s way? We usually only do this with items that we highly esteem.
If you have an anvil that belonged to your grandfather, you may treasure it and display it, but you don’t worry about it being damaged. On the other hand, if you have a pocket watch that belonged to him, you probably have a safe place to keep it because it is more delicate than the anvil. Peter says our godly wives should be to us as a delicate treasure, and we are to show them the same honor. We are to treasure them because we are heirs together of the grace of life. To live any other way is a hindrance to our daily worship (prayers) of and to God.
While this is sound instruction to those of us who are blessed to have a true companion in this life, do you see a deeper meaning? Thinking in terms of our relationship to Jesus, we need to understand that the Church has always (since the old days) adorned itself with meekness, in well-doing, and in the courage to obey her Husband. I am concerned that, all too often, we take the counsel of the Divine Expression as a suggestion instead of the very truth of how we are to live. We are only to be in subjection to our own husband, Jesus Christ! We do not have to live in fear when our life is dedicated to Him. He has placed the greatest of value on us even to redeeming us with His own blood (1Pe 1:18). He has made us heirs together with Him (Rom 8:17) of the very grace of life. He dwells with us according to knowledge: He knows us and shows Himself to us that we might also know Him (Joh 17:3). When we are involved in this type of relationship with our Lord, then our prayers (worship) are not hindered!
May we humble ourselves today before our loving Husband and worship freely in His presence!