Bible Reading: Genesis 21:8-21
Abraham loved both his sons but the presence of Hagar and Ishmael antagonised Sarah. In Genesis 16, we see how she had afflicted Hagar and how Hagar had run away. The final straw for Sarah was seeing Ishmael laughing [“mocking” KJV] at Isaac, and so she demanded that Abraham send Hagar and Ishmael away. This distressed Abraham because he loved both Isaac and Ishmael.
In Genesis 16:2 Abram had heeded the voice of impatient Sarah who, so desperately, wanted a child and had not waited for God’s time. Sarah had been wrong at that time, but now God tells Abraham to listen to Sarah. God knew that it would be impossible for Isaac and Ishmael to grow up together in the same environment, and His promise was that Abraham’s seed would be in Isaac. Therefore, although what Sarah demanded seemed harsh and unkind, it was actually best for both children, and therefore Abraham on this occasion should listen to his wife and do what she said. Even if Hagar and Ishmael were sent away God would take care of them, and make a great nation from Ishmael.
I am specifically writing to married men today. Some years ago in a Missions Convention, we invited a couple from Malaysia to be our key speakers. On the final night of the convention, 21 overseas missionaries stood at the front of the meeting and our guest speakers prayed for them. For most of them there were words of prophesy, and when they had all been prayed for our speakers returned to their seats on the platform. I too was a missionary and felt sad that they did not have a word from the Lord for my wife and I. Suddenly, the speaker’s wife turned to her husband and said, “We didn’t pray for Michael and Esther”. They came back off the platform and began to pray for us. My great longing is to be constantly filled with the love of God and the word from our speaker blessed me so much. Years later, I can still remember him saying, “You are an apostle of love”. My heart was overwhelmed. Then his wife took hold of me, and said, “I think that the Lord wants to say to you, ‘Listen to your wife more!’” The congregation, who knew me so well, erupted with laughter. It really was a word that I needed to hear.
Many men might find it difficult to accept being told to listen to their wife more, but I have learned that Esther is so often right and it is of great benefit to me to listen to her. If God gave her to me as a helper [Genesis 2:18], then surely we should work together, and she will hear from the Lord and be a part of all the decisions that we make. When I married Esther, I promised to love and honour her. That includes her spirituality and her God-given gifts. As I look back, I now realise how many more mistakes I might have made if I did not have Esther beside me.
If you are a married man, will you make a decision today to honour your wife by listening to her opinion and making decisions together as a couple? This might well give you protection but will also strengthen your marriage.