"Your desire shall be for your husband": what does it really mean?
I am recently doing a study on wives in the bible. I came across this verse today when God says, “...And the woman he said...your desire shall be for your husband and your husband shall rule over you.” I was excited to do some research on this one because I have heard mainly two differing opinions on the subject. So, you can see why I was very interested to figure out my view.
First, we must look at the words in the Hebrew. Desire: longing desire. This form is also used in SS 7:10 which says, “I belong to my lover, and his desire is for me.” The only other verse is Gen 4:7 “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."
One concordance says this about the word, “The key is in the word 'desire,' translated from the Hebrew tesuqah calls 'unusual and striking.' It occurs only three times in the Old Testament: here, Genesis 4:7, and Song 7:10. It can carry the sense of sexual longing (as in the Song of Songs), but its usage in Genesis 4:7 shows another side, that of a desire to overcome or defeat another: "[Sin's] desire is for you, but you should rule over it."
I believe that the word in Gen 4:7 is the same in Gen 3:16
1.The word “for” in “your desire shall be for your husband” is also translated as against. So, let's look at it again... “your desire shall be against your husband.”
2.Because of the context and the phrase after “desire” says “and your husband shall rule over you”. This seems only in context with a negative meaning of “desire” implying that your desire shall be to “rule over/overcome/defeat” your husband. One commentary says that these two “having a desire for your husband” and “him desiring to rule over you” are not parallels, but a statement of action and reaction.
3.As I look at my life, I must say that both facets are present. I do have a desire for my husband. I want him, and I feel an overwhelming desire for him. But, I must say that even more present than the desire “for” my husband is a desire “against” him. In all I do, I have this ever-present struggle that I feel is my constant companion... It is always by my side, plaguing me. I want what I want. I want to rule David. If he does something I don't like, even at times that I am submissive in deed, my heart is far from it. I may win the battle of submission on my “white washed wall” but my heart is so dirty inside this tomb.
What now: I must conclude that as I recognize this constant battle of submission vs. superiority I can only turn to one source of strength to help. The word for “excellent” in Proverbs when it talks about being an excellent wife means to be strong, noble character, etc... The word that stands out to me the most is strong. I recently read the book “Feminine Appeal” by Carolyn Mahaney. In this book she stated that to be strong in God's eyes is anything but strong in the world's. Because our nature is to rule over our husbands, to be a strong woman is to be submissive. To be strong is to respect and enjoy our husbands. The world would say this is anything but. However, if strong is submissive, we must rule that to be weak is to not submit. What these feminists show when they declare to be strong but really live out what their natural desire is (to rule over men) is that they are really weak. They have no desire to submit, thus they are living under false pretenses that say they are strong by ruling over men. We must fight against this default thinking and live a valiant life with Christ as our life!
God says that we can “struggle/labor/work with all of his energy.” To slay this dragon does not mean bending ourselves to our husbands will. We will always fall short if we rely on ourselves. We must depend on God to give us the strength to bend our will and submit to the leader God has designed and given us as an act of mercy and grace.
How delightful to know that by God granting this position of submission, he is graciously revealing himself to us!