(Original Hebrew) בָּ֣טַח בָּ֭הּ לֵ֣ב בַּעְלָ֑הּ וְ֝שָׁלָ֗ל לֹ֣א יֶחְסָֽר׃
(Hebrew Transliterated) bā-ṭaḥ bāh lêḇ ba‘-lāh; wə-šā-lāl, lō yeḥ-sār.
(King James Version) “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.”
(Berean Study Bible) “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will lack nothing of value.”
Breakdown of the word for “Safely Trust”/ bā-ṭah / בָּטח
- Bet: House/Container/Vessel
- Tet: Basket/Womb/Choices
- Chet: Life/Grace/New Beginnings
Batah = Safely Trusts
The word used here for safely trust is Batah and the imagery of it is powerful. It denotes the image of a house, specifically a good house. In some cases it can mean a basket instead of a house and in many places is translated as “a place of refuge.”
So the imagery here is of a safe container, that perhaps the husband places his heart in? In my mind I imagine a sort of safe where he can go and find safety and peace. And not just safety from physical war but safety for his dreams and his hopes. The middle letter represents a “womb” and is in fact in that shape. The word is a place where dreams can grow.
Interestingly, when you think about a womb, or even a woman providing a safe place, the idea is most commonly associated with children. Moms are a child’s safe place. But here we see that the woman also needs to extend that safe feeling to her husband.
A Verse With Promise?
The second part of the verse addresses the need of “spoils”. The Bible generally uses this particular word to describe the spoils of war. Not too long ago, we watched a series on the War of the Roses (the battle for the English throne between the houses of Lancaster and York) and I was so struck by the greed of men. These men that had so much – mansions, armies, gold, fine foods, all the luxuries – and yet they were never satisfied. They always wanted more. I found myself asking why.
Obviously, they probably needed a better relationship with the Father but then I read this verse and I thought perhaps part of what they needed was for their hearts to be safely with their wives. In a time of arranged (aka forced) marriages and unhappy couples, perhaps their miserable marriages contributed to their warmongering.
How often do we see men in a turned-sour marriage who seek out other things? Women, new jobs, adventure. (Note: I am not, at all, wife-shaming for failed marriages, its definitely a complex issue of living in a fallen world.) However, I can vouch from very personal experience that in my previous marriages, I did not work to safely guard my husband’s heart. Part of it came from simply not knowing that I should or how to do it, but the other part came from my own self-seeking. I will always wonder if those marriages would have worked out if I had been more of a safe place for their them?
What if… what if we could turn the world on its head if we all just safely cared for our husband’s hearts? What if we could alter the course of the future by giving our husbands a safe place to be open and raw?
Men have been told for generations not to feel, not to cry. Boys are told they can’t play with dolls, they can’t be weak. We have an epidemic of men who have no access to their emotions. No one with whom they feel they can safely be vulnerable. There are numerous warnings in the Bible about being a contentious wife, and this seems to be the promise of the opposite. The promise that if a husband feels his heart is safe, then he won’t have the desire of “other spoils.”
Once again, I’m just not seeing where “being a good wife” is about making bread and clothes or even babies. Its about being the husband’s “help meet.” Its about being the one place he is safe. If we become one with each other, but the man doesn’t feel safe with his own wife – an extention of himself – then how can he feel complete? How can he feel satisfied? How can he be open and raw with himself?
We are constantly telling men that they need to cherish their wives. They need to make them feel loved. And what about them? Yes, men and women often experience love differently, but that doesn’t mean they have any less desire of being cherished. They want to feel safe also.
What Is Her Worth?
A woman’s worth, her value, is partially connected with what she can bring to the table. This verse, to me, is highlighting the very real power that a wife has. In the game of chess, its the queen who holds all the power. She’s the one that protects the king. Her value on the board is more than all the other pieces.
A woman’s attitude and how she treats her husband sets the stage for not only how her husband feels, but more so how her life goes, how her children’s life will go and maybe even others that her husband might have affected if he was dissatisfied at home. Will he stay home and feel safe? Or will he feel unsafe and leave the home in search of something to make him feel better?
Find Verse 3 here – Gimel: She Brings Him