This is part 3 of a series on courtship principles, singleness, and preparing for marriage. It was originally given as a seminar in China and is recorded here for you as you dig into Scripture to find out more about this important issue. You are welcome to copy, share, or print it. To learn more on these issues see: part 1 and part 2.
Courtship Principles in Scripture Part 3 of 3
Proverbs 31 lists the qualities of an excellent wife. It is a great starting point to determine what qualities you should pray for in your future wife. We’ll write up on the white board the qualities we find. (Go through it verse by verse. Write the qualities.)
Prov 31:10 An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. 11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good and not evil All the days of her life. 13 She looks for wool and flax And works with her hands in delight. 14 She is like merchant ships; She brings her food from afar. 15 She rises also while it is still night And gives food to her household And portions to her maidens. 16 She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17 She girds herself with strength And makes her arms strong. 18 She senses thather gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night. 19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,And her hands grasp the spindle. 20 She extends her hand to the poor,And she stretches out her hands to the needy. 21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet. 22 She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies belts to the tradesmen. 25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future. 26 She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 27 She looks well to the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children rise up and bless her;Her husband also, and he praises her, saying: 29 “Many daughters have done nobly,But you excel them all.” 30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. 31 Give her the product of her hands, And let her works praise her in the gates.
Valuable, Precious worth is far above jewels
Trustworthy, Discreet, Honest, Integrity trusts in her
Servant, Devoted, Does good works does him good
Devoted, Good steward looks for wool and flax
Diligent, Hard worker works with her hands
Joyful heart in delight
Prudent, Resourceful brings her food from afar
Diligent, Dedicated, Energetic rises also while it is still night
Responsible, Caring gives food to her household
Administrative skills portions to her maidens
Analytical, Discerning considers a field
Enterprising buys it
Fruitful her earnings
Initiative, Far-sighted, Knowledgeable plants a vineyard
Strong girds herself with strength
Strong makes her arms strong
Profitable her gain is good
Diligent, Dedicated, Energetic Her lamp does not go out at night
Hard working hands to the distaff
Hard working hands grasp the spindle
Generous extends her hand to the poor
Generous stretches out her hands to the needy
Prepared not afraid of the snow
Industrious all her household are clothed w/ scarlet
Industrious makes coverings for herself
Well-dressed family clothing is fine linen and purple
Husband has good reputation husband is known in the gates
Hard working makes linen garments
Enterprising sells them
Enterprising supplies belts to the tradesmen
Strong, Dignified Strength and dignity are her clothing
Trusts in the Lord smiles at the future
Wise, Good teacher opens her mouth in wisdom
Kind, Good teacher teaching of kindness is on her tongue
Good manager looks well to the ways of her household
Industrious does not eat the bread of idleness
Respected, Cherished children rise up and bless her
Respected, Cherished husband also
Praiseworthy he praises her
Noble done nobly
Excellent excel them all
Fears the Lord fears the LORD
Praiseworthy shall be praised
Productive product of her hands
Praiseworthy works praise her in the gates
These are some of the qualities God says an excellent wife has. Look over this passage for a moment. What does it say about how attractive she is?
Prov 31:30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
1 Tim 2:9 Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, 10 but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.
We have looked at some Biblical principles for courtship and some qualities to look for in a prospective wife. Let’s look at a couple of examples in the Bible. First, we’ll look at the example of Samson. He is an example of what NOT to do!
Samson’s life was special from the beginning. The angel of the Lord (Jesus) appeared to the woman who was to be Samson’s mother to announce his coming birth as well as his mission in life. Manoah, Samson’s father requested that the man of God (Jesus) return to tell the how they were to raise Samson after he was born. God graciously granted this request and Jesus once again visited Manoah and his wife. There is very little recorded for Samson’s very early years. Judg 13:24 Then the woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson ; and the child grew up and the LORD blessed him. 25 And the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.
What better start could someone have?
Jesus (the angel of the Lord) personally comes to announce that you will have a child.
In answer to your father’s prayer, Jesus returns to give advice concerning the child.
He was given the name Samson which means “sunlight”. This child is surely going to have a “bright” future.
The first record of any of Samson’s acts is found in the very next verses. Judg 14:1 Then Samson went down to Timnah and saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines. 2 So he came back and told his father and mother, “I saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.” 3 Then his father and his mother said to him, “Is there no woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she looks good to me.”
The first thing we observe is that Samson saw her. How much interaction did he have with her? How well did he know her? There is no indication that he knew much at all about her beyond her physical appearance. That’s what attracted him to her. So that was his first problem. His attraction to her was based merely on her external appearance.
The next problem is that the lady was not an Israelite. In fact she was a Philistine, one of the enemies of the Israelites. God has warned Israelites against marrying foreign wives who will lead them to follow other gods. Deuteronomy 7:1 ” When the LORD your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you, 2 and when the LORD your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them. 3 “Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. 4 “For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you.
There is no indication that Samson prayed about it at all. In fact it seems apparent that he didn’t pray about it.
Should he have prayed about it? (Pause for answers) Surprisingly, the answer is “NO”! Why not? If the Lord has already clearly shown His will, we should not pray and ask Him for something to the contrary. For example, do I need to pray and ask the Lord if I should kill my neighbor?
Then, we observe that Samson didn’t seek out Godly counsel. Not only did he not seek out Godly counsel, but when his parents offered good counsel, he rejected it and decided to marry her anyway.
It’s easy to imagine how this marriage worked out.
Example of Ruth (from John MacArthur Study Bible) –
Devoted to her family – Ruth 1:15 Then she said, “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. 17 “Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” 18 When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.
Delighting in her work – Ruth 2:2 And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after one in whose sight I may find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.”
Diligent in her labor – Ruth 2:7,17,23
7 “And she said, ‘Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves.’ Thus she came and has remained from the morning until now; she has been sitting in the house for a little while.” 17 So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. 23 So she stayed close by the maids of Boaz in order to glean until the end of the barley harvest and the wheat harvest. And she lived with her mother-in-law.
Dedicated to Godly speech – Ruth 2:10, 13
10 Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” 13 Then she said, “I have found favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and indeed have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants.”
Dependent on God – Ruth 2:12
12 ” May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.”
Dressed with care – Ruth 3:3
3 “Wash yourself therefore, and anoint yourself and put on your best clothes, and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking.
Discreet with men – Ruth 3:6-13
6 So she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law had commanded her. 7 When Boaz had eaten and drunk and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain; and she came secretly, and uncovered his feet and lay down. 8 It happened in the middle of the night that the man was startled and bent forward; and behold, a woman was lying at his feet. 9 He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth your maid. So spread your covering over your maid, for you are a close relative.” 10 Then he said, ” May you be blessed of the LORD, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich. 11 “Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence. 12 “Now it is true I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I. 13 “Remain this night, and when morning comes, if he will redeem you, good; let him redeem you. But if he does not wish to redeem you, then I will redeem you, as the LORD lives. Lie down until morning.”
Delivering blessings – Ruth 4:14-15
14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed is the LORD who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel. 15 “May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.”
Example of choosing a wife for Isaac
Qualities a wife for Isaac should have & the Principle of Courtship:
24:1 Now Abraham was old, advanced in age; and the LORD had blessed Abraham in every way. 2 Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he owned, ” Please place your hand under my thigh, 3 and I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live, 4 but you will go to my country and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” 5 The servant said to him, “Suppose the woman is not willing to follow me to this land; should I take your son back to the land from where you came?” 6 Then Abraham said to him, “Beware that you do not take my son back there! 7 ” The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my birth, and who spoke to me and who swore to me, saying, ‘ To your descendants I will give this land,’ He will send His angel before you, and you will take a wife for my son from there. 8 “But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this my oath; only do not take my son back there.” 9 So the servant placed his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and swore to him concerning this matter.
10 Then the servant took ten camels from the camels of his master, and set out with a variety of good things of his master’s in his hand; and he arose and went to Mesopotamia, to the city of Nahor. 11 He made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water at evening time, the time when women go out to draw water. 12 He said, “O LORD, the God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today, and show lovingkindness to my master Abraham. 13 “Behold, I am standing by the spring, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water; 14 now may it be that the girl to whom I say, ‘Please let down your jar so that I may drink,’ and who answers, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels also’ — may she be the one whom You have appointed for Your servant Isaac; and by this I will know that You have shown lovingkindness to my master.”
15 Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor, came out with her jar on her shoulder. 16 The girl was very beautiful, a virgin, and no man had had relations with her; and she went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up. 17 Then the servant ran to meet her, and said, ” Please let me drink a little water from your jar.” 18 She said, “Drink, my lord”; and she quickly lowered her jar to her hand, and gave him a drink. 19 Now when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw also for your camels until they have finished drinking.” 20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, and ran back to the well to draw, and she drew for all his camels. 21 Meanwhile, the man was gazing at her in silence, to know whether the LORD had made his journey successful or not.
22 When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold ring weighing a half-shekel and two bracelets for her wrists weighing ten shekels in gold, 23 and said, “Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room for us to lodge in your father’s house?” 24 She said to him, ” I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor.” 25 Again she said to him, “We have plenty of both straw and feed, and room to lodge in.” 26 Then the man bowed low and worshiped the LORD. 27 He said, ” Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His lovingkindness and His truth toward my master; as for me, the LORD has guided me in the way to the house of my master’s brothers.”
28 Then the girl ran and told her mother’s household about these things. 29 Now Rebekah had a brother whose name was Laban; and Laban ran outside to the man at the spring. 30 When he saw the ring and the bracelets on his sister’s wrists, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, ” This is what the man said to me,” he went to the man; and behold, he was standing by the camels at the spring. 31 And he said, “Come in, blessed of the LORD! Why do you stand outside since I have prepared the house, and a place for the camels?” 32 So the man entered the house. Then Laban unloaded the camels, and he gave straw and feed to the camels, and water to wash his feet and the feet of the men who were with him. 33 But when food was set before him to eat, he said, “I will not eat until I have told my business.” And he said, “Speak on.” 34 So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. 35 “The LORD has greatly blessed my master, so that he has become rich; and He has given him flocks and herds, and silver and gold, and servants and maids, and camels and donkeys. 36 “Now Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master in her old age, and he has given him all that he has. 37 ” My master made me swear, saying, ‘You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live; 38 but you shall go to my father’s house and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son.’ 39 ” I said to my master, ‘Suppose the woman does not follow me.’ 40 “He said to me, ‘ The LORD, before whom I have walked, will send His angel with you to make your journey successful, and you will take a wife for my son from my relatives and from my father’s house; 41 then you will be free from my oath, when you come to my relatives; and if they do not give her to you, you will be free from my oath.’
42 “So I came today to the spring, and said, ‘O LORD, the God of my master Abraham, if now You will make my journey on which I go successful; 43 behold, I am standing by the spring, and may it be that the maiden who comes out to draw, and to whom I say, ” Please let me drink a little water from your jar”; 44 and she will say to me, “You drink, and I will draw for your camels also”; let her be the woman whom the LORD has appointed for my master’s son.’
45 “Before I had finished speaking in my heart, behold, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder, and went down to the spring and drew, and I said to her, ‘Please let me drink.’ 46 “She quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder, and said, ‘ Drink, and I will water your camels also’; so I drank, and she watered the camels also. 47 ” Then I asked her, and said, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ And she said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bore to him’; and I put the ring on her nose, and the bracelets on her wrists. 48 “And I bowed low and worshiped the LORD, and blessed the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who had guided me in the right way to take the daughter of my master’s kinsman for his son. 49 “So now if you are going to deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me; and if not, let me know, that I may turn to the right hand or the left.”
50 Then Laban and Bethuel replied, “The matter comes from the LORD; so we cannot speak to you bad or good. 51 “Here is Rebekah before you, take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the LORD has spoken.”
52 When Abraham’s servant heard their words, he bowed himself to the ground before the LORD. 53 The servant brought out articles of silver and articles of gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave precious things to her brother and to her mother. 54 Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night. When they arose in the morning, he said, “Send me away to my master.” 55 But her brother and her mother said, ” Let the girl stay with us a few days, say ten; afterward she may go.” 56 He said to them, “Do not delay me, since the LORD has prospered my way. Send me away that I may go to my master.” 57 And they said, “We will call the girl and consult her wishes.” 58 Then they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” And she said, “I will go.” 59 Thus they sent away their sister Rebekah and her nurse with Abraham’s servant and his men. 60 They blessed Rebekah and said to her,
“May you, our sister, Become thousands of ten thousands, And may your descendants possess The gate of those who hate them.”
61 Then Rebekah arose with her maids, and they mounted the camels and followed the man. So the servant took Rebekah and departed.
62 Now Isaac had come from going to Beer-lahai-roi; for he was living in the Negev. 63 Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening; and he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, camels were coming. 64 Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she dismounted from the camel. 65 She said to the servant, “Who is that man walking in the field to meet us?” And the servant said, “He is my master.” Then she took her veil and covered herself. 66 The servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. 67 Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and he took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her; thus Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.
Now we are going to break into four groups and identify principles and qualities from a chapter in Genesis. ( Two of the groups, look for principles. The other two groups, look for qualities. Let them discover the qualities & principles themselves. Write them on a white board up front.)
Genesis 24 – Courtship
Principles to Apply and Qualities to Look For
Principles to Apply:
2,3 It is a very serious matter and should never be approached casually.
7 If you trust Him completely, God will surely lead you to the woman He has for you.
12-14 Pray earnestly for God’s will
21 Observe her in real life situations (example – Bible study & Football → Teamwork, Determination, Self-Control, Humility, Love, Wholeheartedness, Encouragement, Stamina)
Preparing a meal
Washing the dishes
Playing a game
Eating a meal
Serving opportunities – if you think she likes you, then you have to discern if she is serving to impress you or to please the Lord (sometimes this can be a little difficult)
21 Wait for the Lord to give a clear answer to your prayers.
33 Purposeful, Focused
34-49 Straightforward, Forthright
48 Give the Lord the credit He is due
56 Purposeful, Focused, Undeterred
Qualities to Look For:
3 Abraham starts with the foundational quality. It is absolutely essential that she is a believer.
14,18 Kind, Servant heart
16 Beautiful (icing on the cake) Eph 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,
16 Pure – Virgin (more icing on the cake) Back to the example of buying a pair of shoes. Would you rather get a used or a new pair of shoes? This is not to say that your wife to be will necessarily have been pure prior to becoming a believer. We live in a fallen world and God’s best for you may not include this.
20-22 Hard worker, Exceptional Servant heart (remember, this was a stranger), Very Diligent – Each of the ten camels could drink up to 11365 liters. So she could have drawn as much as 2,840 liters (also 2,840 Kgs)!
24 Rebekah and Isaac were cousins (this practice was later forbidden)
28 Wholehearted, Energetic
58 Decisive, Strong faith
65 Discreet, Modest dress
67 Kind, Gentle, Compassionate
Promises to Claim
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
11 ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
7“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.8“For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9“Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10“Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,
3 Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.