"There was a certain man of Ramathaim - zophim, of the hill country of Ephraim, named Elkanah son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu,the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives…."
I Samuel 1: 1,2, Amplified Bible
"The Tale of Two Wives"
An Accepted Practice
"We have been accustomed to the sacrifice of the ideal on the altar of the convenient and immediately profitable."
Are there certain behaviors in my life that I have allowed to become "acceptable practices," when in fact, I recognize there are destructive consequences associated with these actions, not only on myself, but on others as well?
"Compromise must always be impossible where the truth is essential and fundamental."
C. H. Spurgeon
"We can tell when we have been influenced by the world. It is when we find ourselves neither hot nor cold, just compromised."
Today we move from the house of Boaz, Ruth, Naomi and little Obed, to another home, that like the one we just studied, is a home where the residents included two females and two males. At least, it is these four individuals whom we will be focusing on.
However, to say there is a huge difference between the lives of Boaz, Ruth, Naomi and Obed and the lives of Elkanah, Hannah, Peninnah and Samuel would be a profound understatement.
The reason for this disparity is found in the first five words of I Samuel 1: 2, "And he had two wives." These words were written, sandwiched between the male and female history of the individuals in our story, as though this was not an unusual situation. Indeed, sad to say, the practice of polygamy wasn't uncommon in Israel. As I studied volume after volume on the life of Hannah in preparation for our studies during the next few weeks, much to my shock, even Christian authors, both women and men, appeared to view the practice of multiple wives as, "just one of those things." I was specifically surprised to note what was written in a popular set of Bible Study guides for women about the custom of polygamy, "Polygamy was an accepted practice with Biblical figures. Jacob and David also had multiple wives." Excuse me for a minute, but just because Jacob and David made the unwise decision to have multiple wives, didn't make it right. What's more, they paid dearly for their stupidity, not only in their own personal lives but also in the consequences their compromising decisions had in the lives of their children as well as the people who respected them.
And so, before we dig deep into the lives of two women forced to live in a less than optimal situation, let's get it straight. God never intended, when in a beautiful, sinless garden He performed the wedding ceremony for Adam and Eve, that marriage would end up being two women and one man or any other multiples of the joy He designed.
Lest we become like the children of Israel and forget everything God asks of us, we need to remember that one of the most frequently repeated phrases in the book of Judges was: "Everyone did what was right in their own eyes." It seems taking on as many wives as you wanted was just part of "doing what one thought was right." Abraham did it and what a disaster. Jacob did it and another catastrophe ensued. Gideon, the person God called a "man of valor," did it, and his family life went to pieces.
You know what some people say, even those who call themselves Christians, "If everybody else is doing it, I'll do it, too! There must not be anything wrong with it." I've lived long enough now to warn you ahead of time, every single time in my own life I decided, without the hand of God guiding me, to do something because everybody else was, I ended up in the biggest mess you could ever imagine. You'd think one time of falling into a pit would be lesson enough, but Dorothy, the hard-headed, has had to learn the hard way! Other people's compasses may not reflect God's compass. What others think is "OK" may not reflect what God says is "OK." If I decide the guiding light for my personal behavior is going to be controlled by what others do, I'm in for a heap of trouble. As William Danforth so accurately noted, "Lines of least resistance make crooked rivers and crooked (women.)" In the case of Elkanah, doing what was an "acceptable practice" at that time brought sorrow, heartache and pain, not only into his life, but into the lives of those he loved.
I really like this observation by the well-known mystery writer, Agatha Christie, "I've a theory that one can always get anything one wants if one will pay the price. And do you know what the price is? Nine times out of ten - compromise."
I'm certain when Elkanah decided to have two wives, in direct defiance of God's plan for His children, he never imagined the heartache that would be the result - and often we don't either. There are some bad consequences for doing what is right in our own eyes, even when the entire world tells us it is an "acceptable practice." Nothing that defies the God of heaven and earth is "acceptable" for the results will always be to our harm and destruction.
"Compromise is always wrong when it means sacrificing principle."
"Your grace, O Lord, is all I need; for Your power is strongest when I am weak."
II Corinthians 21: 9, Good News Bible, Adapted
"Make us, O blessed Master, strong in heart, full of courage, fearless of danger, holding pain and danger cheap when they lie in the path of duty. May we be strengthened with all might by Thy Spirit in our hearts."
F. B. Meyer
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $10.00.
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