"[Wisdom] will save you also from the adulteress,
from the wayward wife with her seductive words,
who has left the partner of her youth
and ignored the covenant she made before God."
Malachi 2:15 and Proverbs 5:18 give men careful instruction not to leave the "wife of their youth." I was studying these passages one day when I found this verse in proverbs. I noticed that it was different because it was coming from a female's standpoint and said she had left the "partner of her youth."
Curious as I was, I decided to look into the original meaning of the phrase "partner of her youth" and see what exactly the writer meant. We know that the adulteress left this partner, and that was bad, therefore it is good to stay with this partner. So who are we staying with? Here is the Hebrew definition:
(Guide or partner) Chief-leader, familiar, friend, gentle, captain, duke, chief friend (or best friend,) governor, guide, ox.
Interesting huh? Let's look at the breakdown of each word! It gets even better...
Chief-Leader as used in Exodus 15:15; a military leader, head person
Friend John 15:15, Jesus says I now call you my friends
Familiar friend-this phrase points to Proverbs 16:28 and Proverbs 17:9, both speak of close friends or "very friends"
Gentle. Read the instructions to husbands found near the end of Ephesians chapter 5. I'd say gentle is a good way to describe them.
Duke-Straight out of Genesis 36; referring to all of the leaders
Chief Friend-best friend, a cord of 3 strands is not easily broken; Jeremiah 3:4 says God is our close friend from our youth!
Guide-Ephesians 5:24 says husbands lead their wives and the wife is to submit to her husband
Ox-2 Corinthians 6:14 explains Christians to be "yoked together" with other believers. This phrase also appears as "joined together" in Matthew 19:6
Barnes commentary explains even further:
"Better, the familiar friend. The friend of course, is the husband,
or the man to whom the strange woman first belonged
as a recognized concubine."
The "guide of her youth" was the husband God picked out for her. The one we wait for. The one we pray for. The one he has promised us. Think about all the qualities mentioned here for a biblical husband: best friend, guide, gentle, ox that is joined together, duke, leader. Are you praying for these qualities if you are a lady in waiting? If you are a man preparing for marriage, do you work towards these characteristics daily?
How beautiful a picture this word Al-loof portrays. Partner of your youth. Not only is this a wonderful description of the earthly marriage God has ordained, but the heavenly marriage that is to come. God wants to be all these things and more for us. He wants to be our best friend. If God is your #1, everything else will fall completely into place...even your marriage (Matthew 6:33, 22:37-40.)
"Have you not just called to me:
'My father, my friend from my youth,"