“He who finds a wife…”

“…finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.”

That’s Proverbs 18:22 as translated in the English Standard Version.

I’ve often reflected on that verse and on a few possible words that seem to be missing.  Any one of them would’ve fit.  Any one would’ve added to it, clarified it, completed it.  And yet, not one of them appears in it.

It doesn’t say any variation of, “He who finds a good wife finds a good thing.”  It doesn’t say anything about the wife being joyful, supportive, respectful, or having any other positive qualities.  It just says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing.”

Huh.  Maybe it’s just an oversight that other translations fix…

“He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD,” New International Version (NIV).

Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD,” King James Version.

“The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the LORD,” New Living Translation (NLT). This one’s even stronger, calling her not just “a good thing” but “a treasure.”

Guess not.

Certainly, it is a blessing to have a spouse whose positive traits bear mention; there are other verses in Proverbs that celebrate the contributions of good spouses.  Proverbs 31:10 (NIV) states, “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies,” and Proverbs 12:4 (NIV) states, “A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.”  Proverbs is a book of wisdom, and it’s not hiding or denying that the qualities of a spouse do affect the quality of life in that marriage.

However, this verse points out something else entirely:  simply having a spouse is a blessing, regardless of his or her qualities.  That’s a bit different from how our culture tends to think about wives and their valuable qualities (and that would be equally true about how our culture speaks about husbands and their qualities).

Appreciating our spouses when they joyfully, enthusiastically cheer us on and support us is easy.  So is appreciating them when all is going well and the blessings are visible all around us.  That’s common sense, though.  What I’ve long appreciated about the main verse here, Proverbs 18:22, is that it reminds me to appreciate Tracy even when times are tough.

It would be impossible to live with someone day after day, year after year, and never take them for granted.  We all have moments we’re too tired or overwhelmed to notice or remember the help we’ve received.  We all have arguments and misunderstandings and hard times.  Sometimes, we’re even actually the ones at fault.

When those parts of our wedding vows that none of us think are really for us – the “for worse … for poorer … in sickness” parts – come true and come to life, it’s good to remember the value of simply having a companion, a partner, a person who knows us and has stood beside us through thick and thin before and who, for some inexplicable reason, vowed before friends, family and God to do so “’til death do us part.”

That is a good thing, a treasure, the favor of the LORD.

Today is Tracy’s birthday, so it has been a fitting and natural time for me to think about what a blessing she is to me.

Since we met in 2000, she has been a joyful, faithful, encouraging friend and companion.  She makes me laugh, smile, think, listen, strive, and care.  She inspires me to grow and learn and work harder.  She has made countless sacrifices for the good of our marriage, our children, and our family, and she has done so cheerfully, joyfully, and lovingly.

She is and has been a very good thing, a treasure, a favor and blessing from God.

Happy birthday, my love.  Thank you for all you’ve done for us, and thank you for being beside me always and forever, no matter what.

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