Where I grew up, a “sure-fire” way to get into a fight was to talk about someone’s mama. It was the proverbial gauntlet to throw down if you wanted to scrap with somebody. Please don’t ask me why young boys would fight over words unknown to mama while at the same time listening to her lessons about “sticks and stones,” but we would.
Actually, the reason had to do with honor. We (as sons) appropriate the offense to ourselves personally. Talk about mama in front of me…and you are talking about me.
When I married, that sense of defending honor was directed toward my wife. No one talks about “Precious.” No one. I reminded my sons often that she was my girlfriend and before you “bow up” toward her, you have to go through me. I would remind them that I would gladly “take them out” and make a replacement model with her…so don’t ever try to elevate themselves above the special relationship between me and my Precious.
Why defend her? It isn’t that she cannot take care of herself. In fact, the most merciful thing I could ever do for a raucous stranger with a “potty mouth” would be to step between him and my wife. She certainly could handle him and leave him in a diminishing puddle of regret that he ever crossed her. 🙂 The reason for the defense though emanates from my love, passion, devotion and sense of honoring her. She is valuable, therefore an afront toward her must be addressed. In this case (different than the example with “mama” above, the focus is her, and not an appropriated offense toward me). Someone has assaulted the very honor of one I treasure and believe to be of immense value and honor.
This is much close to the heart behind the Psalmist in Psalm 139:19-22:
O that you would slay the wicked, O God;
Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.
For they speak against You wickedly,
And Your enemies take Your Name in vain.
Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord?
And do I not loate those who rise up against You?
I hate them with the utmost hatred:
They have become my enemies.
The writer is so passionately devoted to God that an offense toward Him is hated as if it were an offense personally. He wants to defend the Name of God because God is of immeasurable value and worthy of limitless honor. The writer will confront the greatest enemy that would dare even utter evil words (through word or deed) toward Holy God.
As I reflected on this today, two thoughts came to mind:
- Sometimes, we care about the afront toward God (at least we say we do) but the real offense is toward us. We hate how sin and sinful pursuits negatively affect us…not how they offend and grieve the heart of Holy God.
- At other times, we don’t voice concern at all over the offense toward God. We say, “God can defend Himself.” Isn’t the question not whether God can defend Himself, but do we honor Him enough to defend His Name when He is offended?
I’d not stand by while someone dishonored my wife. To do so would communicate to her that her value was less than it is. I also would not say, “Did you hear what he said to you? How dare he disrespect ME like that?” I am not the one being attacked and dishonored. She is. And that evokes a strong response from me for her honor.
Should we not honor the God of the Universe in like fashion?