Friday, December 4, 2009

The Biblical Case for Stay-at-home Daughterhood Part 3

Last Friday we studied a most important chapter of God's Word, Numbers 30. We discovered that this is a passage which so eloquently reveals to us the Lord's plan for daughterhood. It is now time for us to delve into further passages pertaining to the God-given roles and sphere of unmarried daughters.

Psalm 45

This psalm is a beautiful portrayal of a royal wedding, a wedding which is symbolic of our Lord and His chosen people (I encourage you to read the entire psalm, but again, for our purposes today and due to article length, we will only be addressing certain verses of this passage). In this wonderful account, we see that a royal daughter is marrying a great king, and through this story, I believe there are two lessons for us to grasp.

First, in verse 15 we see that this young woman is entering into the king's palace to be joined to him in marriage. At the very time when she is entering this royal home, she is admonished to, "Forget also thine own people, and thy father's house" (vs. 10). Now, because this psalm is ultimately dealing with those the Lord has saved and the relationship they have with Him, we should interpret this verse as meaning that when we are joined to our Savior through His blessed salvation, we are to forget our old ways, old passions, sinful desires, and habits which are at odds with our new life in Him. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that this psalm is also referring to an earthly wedding, and so there are principles concerning family life for us to consider as well. Notice at what point she is commanded to forget her father's house. Is it when she reaches some magical age and goes off on her own, to be independent and autonomous? By no means. Rather, she is never admonished to forget her own people and her father's house until at the precise moment when she is entering the royal palace to unite with the king in marriage. Likewise, it is noteworthy to see what she is told to forget. Is she told to forget her independent life out on her own and her apartment? No! She's told to forget her father's house, thereby implying that she is in his palace (remember-her father was a king, as well!) up until the time she leaves to marry her future husband and to begin a new life in his palace. Verse 10 is in this psalm for a reason-it presents a picture to us of where a daughter is residing leading up until the time of her marriage. This interpretation is in keeping with Numbers 30 and other passages of the Scriptures (such as 1 Corinthians 7:36-38, which we will be studying next week) which present to us a picture of stay-at-home daughterhood.

Second, notice verse 13: "The king's daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold." Commentators such as C.H. Spurgeon and Matthew Poole believe this verse to be referring to the fact that she is all glorious within, meaning that she has great inner beauty and strength of character. They also view verse 13 as addressing the fact that she is all glorious within the palace, a phrase which the NKJV adds to the verse in italics. Therefore, one of the clear meanings of this verse is that she is all glorious in her father's house (please note that it is likely referring to her father's house and not her husband's as the next two verses speak of her entering her future husband's palace to be wed). Not only is she not a drudge in her father's house (the sphere where she is up until her wedding day!), she is glorious within the royal palace! She is attractive and productive there. In fact, it is glorious for her to be in this sphere! It is a good thing that she is in her father's palace; it is not something to be shunned! She seems to be content in this sphere and is praised for being so. If she were a couch potato who heartily wished to be removed into some other home or sphere, she could not have been referred to as being glorious within the palace. Rather, I believe that this royal daughter knew well the fact that this was her God-given place and rejoiced in the thought of residing and working in this sphere which the Lord had prepared specifically for her. She was not pining away for Prince Charming or wishing she could lead an autonomous life out on her own somewhere. No, she was glorious within the palace! It would not be a glorious condition if this unmarried woman were off on her own, in her own home, independent from her family. She is glorious in the palace, partaking joyfully of the protection and authority it lovingly provides for her.

Also, from a study of the entirety of Psalm 45, it becomes clear that verse 13 could also be used to refer to this woman's future life as the wife of a great king, as commentators agree. She is glorious within his palace, for she is a true Proverbs 31 woman. Therefore, we see from verse 13 that it is glorious and noble for a woman of any age to be in the important, influential sphere which the Lord provided specifically for her-the home.

So, before continuing on to another verse study, let us recap. First, we saw in verse 10 that this royal daughter is in her father's home until marriage, and that upon the arrival of her wedding day is told to forget her former home. Second, we saw in verse 13, that prior to her wedding, this daughter was glorious within her father's palace. Verse 13 did not say a thing about her being glorious elsewhere, but expressly stated that she was glorious in the royal palace. Besides this, she is also glorious in that she has great inner beauty and is graced with upright character, and will likewise be glorious in her future husband's home.

Psalm 144

Now we can turn to another of my favorite passages, Psalm 144. This is one which we will be referring back to numerous times throughout the remainder of this series, so I will not address every detail of it here. However, it is a verse which most certainly needs to be addressed in this current article, because it, as well, provides us with a glimpse into God's plan for unmarried daughters.

Psalm 144 is a beautiful and eloquent psalm as well, and holds many similarities with Psalm 45. For example, Psalm 45 speaks of a woman being glorious within the palace, while Psalm 144:12b speaks of an unmarried daughter's role in the family palace. Likewise, while Psalm 45 speaks of the Lord and His relationship with His people, Psalm 144 outlines the many blessings enjoyed by a family who follows after the Lord and obeys His commands. I encourage you to read this psalm in its entirety, but for our purpose today, we will simply focus on verse 12, which says, "That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace." When addressing the subject of stay-at-home daughterhood, this verse is a very noteworthy one for several reasons.

First notice the differences between sons and daughters. They and their roles are not the same, nor should they be. The family who has been blessed by God has sons who are characterized by one certain set of traits and daughters who are characterized by another. Sons are referred to as plants grown up in their youth. God desires for young men to act as men-not as immature little boys. Now, what do mature plants do? They send out their seed. The seeds of the plant do not remain in the "home plant", so to speak, but are dispersed, much as arrows in the hand of a mighty warrior are dispersed (Ps. 127:5). These young men grow up and one day leave home to make a living for themselves, to search for and marry a wife, and to begin a family of their own. In other words, they leave. Remember this fact next week when we address the subject of sons leaving, but daughters being given!

Contrast the role of sons as plants with that of daughters. Daughters are referred to as "corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace". What is a corner stone and what are its roles and responsibilities? For millennia, pillars have been used to, in essence, hold up palaces and other structures. They were literally what kept the buildings from collapsing. Without the presence of pillars, the structures would have fallen to ruin. In his dictionary of 1828, Noah Webster describes a pillar as being "a supporter, that which sustains or upholds, that on which some superstructure rests". As one can see, a building's pillars served a crucially important purpose. Is it not amazing that daughters of the King are likened unto pillars? We know that daughters are called on to be pillars, but what are they to uphold? Verse 12 says that they are to serve as the kind of corner pillars which would support a palace. It is clear that the palace to which this verse is referring is the family home-our parents' household. Therefore, daughters are given the special role of literally upholding, stregthening and serving the home. This role is a crucial one which has been wisely given to them by Almighty God Himself- a role which, if not fulfilled properly, will result in the destruction and ruin of the household. Daughters are to help make their homes productive, hospitable, strong, comforting, welcoming havens. Clearly, therefore, the unmarried daughter is to be in her father's home, helping to fashion that home into a beautiful, thriving place and striving to make the household a more unified, thriving, loving unit. The Lord has given unmarried daughters a huge responsibility-a responsibility that simply cannot be obeyed or fulfilled if the daughter is not in the home she is called on to strengthen. Just as a palace without pillars will soon crumble and fall to ruin, so will a family whose unmarried daughters are not in the home, serving as pillars fashioned as for a palace. If daughters are not in the home, but rather off on their own somewhere, the household will begin to fall apart. The family will become less and less productive and will begin to lose some of its strength, productivity, and godly influence. It is therefore crucial that they remain in the home until marriage, faithfully submitting to and joyfully living out, the role of stay-at-home daughter which the Lord has ordained and fashioned for them. Families and homes whose unmarried daughters are busy about the home, seeking to make home life as productive and joyful as possible are described in verse 15 of this beautiful Psalm: "Happy is that people, that are in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord."

In Conclusion

Today we have had the privilege of studying two beautiful psalms which portray so eloquently the wonderful design God has fashioned for the home and for the lives of unmarried daughters. This design is not to be taken lightly, which we will discover even more in future articles. Next week we will continue to study passages of the Scriptures which portray stay-at-home daughterhood as God's plan for daughters. Following this, we will, the week after that, study daughters of the Bible and glean wisdom from their stories as to how we as unmarried daughters are to live our lives.

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