Ezekiel 48:1-35; 1 Peter 3:1-7; Psalms 119:41-48; Proverbs 25:20-22
Psalms: “Let your faithful love come to me, Lord, your salvation, as you promised. Then I can answer the one who taunts me, for I trust in your word. Never take the word of truth from my mouth, for I hope in your judgments. I will always obey your instruction, forever and ever. I will walk freely in an open place because I study your precepts. I will speak of your decrees before kings and not be ashamed. I delight in your commands, which I love. I will lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and will meditate on your statutes.” (Psalms 119:41-48 CSB)
Often times in our very Independence-drive culture, submission is seen in a negative light. Submission to rules and regulations is seen as a hinderance to freedom and creativity. Submission prevents a person from becoming their true selves… from being all that they can be. While there is such a thing as overregulation to the point of suffocation, good regulation actually provides security and promotes creativity. For instance, in music, there are rules around what sounds good and what doesn’t sound good… what creates a harmonious sound verses a horrible noise. The collection of those rules and “laws” of music is called music theory. Within the confines of good music theory is a vast playground that has not, in thousands of years of musical history, found the limits of expression. If a composer musician stays within the confines of good music theory, and the musicians submit to the notes written by the composer, the result is a beautiful symphony.
Submitting to the word, will and ways of God is the same way. In this passage from psalm 119, the psalmist extols the confidence and freedom he found in staying within the lines of God’s word, judgements, instructions and precepts. Walking according to your own will and ways will actually provoke fear and anxiety. When we come under the covering of God’s will and ways, we find safety. By submitting to the word of God, the psalmist found that he had the courage to answer those who taunted him, the freedom to fully enjoy all that God had provided him, and the confidence to speak to kings and not be ashamed. Therefore instead of shunning submission, the writer of Psalm 119 welcomed and embraced the well-placed rules and regulations of God’s word.
NT: “In the same way, wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by the way their wives live when they observe your pure, reverent lives. Don’t let your beauty consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and wearing gold jewelry or fine clothes, but rather what is inside the heart — the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For in the past, the holy women who put their hope in God also adorned themselves in this way, submitting to their own husbands, just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord. You have become her children when you do what is good and do not fear any intimidation. Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker partner, showing them honor as coheirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:1-7 CSB)
One of the areas where submission is most maligned is in the area of male/female relationships – probably because godly submission has been so misunderstood, and thus became the cause of much abuse. In this section of his epistle, Peter sought to bring some understanding on what submission within the husband/wife relationship was to look like and why it was a good thing.
When Peter wrote, “in the same way,” he was referring to the description of Jesus’ submission to The Father that he gave at the end of the previous chapter. In the same way Jesus submitted to The Father, wives are called to submit to their husbands. In the same way that Jesus subjected Himself to suffering for our sakes, husbands are to show the same level of sacrificial care to their wives, while honoring them as equal heirs to the grace of God. Submission here is not about being bossed around. It is given for protection and covering and within the context of mutual respect and honor.
The word translated as submission here is the Greek word ‘hypotasso.’ Hypo means under. Tasso means to mutually appoint, arrange or order. When you put those two words together, hypotasso literally means to mutually arrange under. It is not a forced subservient position. It is a mutually agreed upon order and arrangement where one comes under the care of another… and the other agrees to care for the one. In non-military applications, hypotasso was a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, and assuming responsibility.
Among the believers that Peter was writing to, there apparently were a lot of believing women who were married to non-believing men. In the midst of explaining a healthy husband/wife relationship, Peter was also helping the wives lead their husbands into the faith. Instead of conducting themselves like the unbelieving gentle women in their community, Peter advised them to conduct themselves like Christ. Instead of constantly pushing back against their husbands and badmouthing them, they should voluntarily submit themselves under the care and leadership if their husbands. Instead of focusing all of their attention on their outward appearance and trying to stay sexually attractive, they should focus on becoming beautiful from the inside out and develop a beauty and grace that doesn’t waste away with time. As they submitted to the word, will and ways of the Lord and thus came under the care and protection of their husbands, they would find the freedom and confidence to be all that God called them to be, and possibly win their husbands to the Lord in the process.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You for the protection and safety, care and confidence that comes through submission to Your word, will and ways. I know that as I submit fully to You, I will find the freedom to become everything you call me to become by Your grace. As I endeavor to be like You, help me (as a husband and father) to love like You love, care like You care, and empower like You empower. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.