A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that makes ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.
Delilah's character, though but briefly drawn, is not without terrible significance. In her we see a violation of the ties of life and properly-poised affection which makes us start; and yet by many among us this fault is committed and scarcely considered to be a fault. We hardly know a case of more affecting and heartless treachery than that of Delilah. Under the guise of love and in the apparently trusting confidence of affection a man is induced to tell a secret. There is a mixture of treachery, hypocrisy, cruelty, and perseverance about the whole which is remarkable. Yet is the case so uncommon after all? Delilah's conduct has few parallels in Scripture. It is a fearful contradiction — treachery and hypocrisy stand among its foremost features; conspiring with others, and those cruel and vindictive foes, against one who trusted her, is a strong aggravation of the evil. It would be scarcely worth while to dwell on a character like Delilah's were it not that it bears on a certain condition of things among ourselves which we continually have brought under notice, especially among our poor — the determination to defend and protect at all hazards, through evil report and good report, the husband and near relative from the mere fact of his close relationship. It is often difficult to know how to treat persons whose prominent features are so beautiful and attractive, when the deeper lines of the character may perplex us by an indifference to truth, the glory of God and the zeal needful for His service, which deviation from such a line of uncompromising affection and defence necessitates. Illustrate the devotion of a woman who has a drunken husband, of a woman who has been wronged, or whose husband is a criminal. These are cases of heroism. What is the history of these feelings, these sad perversions of rectitude, and what are the remedies which we may apply to them? What is the object of these intense natural affections? Are they intended to blind the eyes to the faults of those we love? No. And yet the moral sense of mankind condemns Delilah, and honours these other women. They may be partially in error; no doubt they are, but the question is, Which tendency is right? The very object of strong natural affections is to give a tendency or prejudice which may, to a certain degree, supersede the mere dictum of justice. We are too weak, too frail, to endure the latter only. If we cannot stand at God's tribunal neither can we endure man's ignorant and partial judgment, when there is no counter impulse given by some other prejudicing principle. I say it with reverence; the justice of God is tempered by the love of the Incarnation, and the stern decree of bare judgment is toned down or reversed by the examination of motives and impulses, circumstances and temptations, which He alone can do who "knoweth our frame and remembereth that we are dust." The office of natural affection in us gives a strong impulse in favour of, not adverse to, the dependent. And when justice decides that the extenuating circumstance is not enough to acquit, it forces itself on the forlorn and forsaken, goes out of court with the condemned criminal, sits by his side in mournful attitude in the cell, sings sweet words of sympathy through the dreary hours of punishment, "weeps with him who weeps," and makes his sorrows its own. We can so little trust the keen eye of the most impartial justice. We need to see with some other eye. None looks so deeply as that of affection. It lets nothing escape which can defend, justify, save. Its object and aim — its interest is to defend from false blame; to detect palliating circumstances; to discover motives which may extenuate. And do we not need that protective power? Are any of us sufficiently fair judges of one another to allow of our demanding a state of society without the protecting influence of this strong and mighty advocate? Evidently we should value, not despise, the existence and exercise of natural affections. And more than this, they are to be brought into practical account. We should in every way encourage those who are pursuing that line of self-devotion and unselfish affection by showing them how beautiful we esteem their conduct, and how well it may be the stepping-stone to higher self-sacrifice to Him who yearns for their heart's devotion.
Parallel VersesKJV: A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.