The Divine Institution of Marriage
Malachi 2:14-16
Yet you say, Why? Because the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously…

Yet ye say, Wherefore? etc. The subject of these verses is the Divine institution of marriage. In relation to this institution we observe -

I. THAT IT IMPLIES A LOVING UNION OF TWO, AND ONLY TWO, SOULS UNTIL DEATH. "Because the Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did not he make one?" "Wife of thy youth." The Jews had ever been accustomed to marry very young, the husband often being not more than thirteen year's of age, and the wife younger. "Thy companion;" not a slave, nor an inferior, but an equal and a friend. Love-companionship is the highest ideal of matrimony. "Wife of thy covenant." A relationship established by mutual agreement. Marriage (Proverbs 2:17) is called the covenant of God; it is so because he has ordained it. "Did not he make one?" Thine exclusively. "Yet had he the residue of the sprat, etc. Maurier and Hengstenberg explain this verse thus: "The Jews had defended their conduct by the precedent of Abraham, who had taken Hagar to the injury of Sarah his lawful wife. To this Malachi says, 'Now no one [ever] did so in whom there was a residue of intelligence [discriminating between good and evil], and what did the one [Abraham, to whom you appeal for support] do, seeking a godly seed? His object [viz. not to gratify passion, but to obtain the seed promised by God] makes the case wholly inapplicable to defend your position.' It is asked, 'And wherefore one?' Wherefore only Eve for Adam, Sarah for Abraham?" "Instead," says Dr. Henderson, "of forming two into one, the Creator might have given to Adam many wives. There was no lack of spiritual existence from which to furnish them with intelligent souls. When he gave to Eve such an existence he did not exhaust the universal fountain of being. There remained all with which the human race had been furnished throughout its generations. What, then, the prophet asks, was the design of the restriction? To this he replies - The securing of a pious offspring. Divorces and polygamy have ever been unfavourable to the education of children. It is only by the harmonious and loving attention bestowed by parents upon their children that they can be expected to be brought up in the fear of God. The reply bore hard upon the priests who had married idolatrous wives."

II. THAT IT HAS BEEN SADLY OUTRAGED IN ALL AGES. The Jews outraged it. The command here, "Take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth." implies this. They dealt "treacherously" against the wife of their youth by marrying others. "Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives" (Ezra 10:10). They do so also by putting them away - by divorce. "For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the Lord of hosts." This has been done in all ages.

1. Polygamy is an outrage on it.

2. Cruelty is an outrage on it.

3. Mutual unfaithfulness is an outrage on it.

The Divine idea of marriage is that the two souls shall be one, so united in love, sympathy, aim, that the two would think, feel, and act as one. But how few amongst the million matrimonial alliances reach this ideal!


1. It is abhorrent to God. "The Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away." A separation of man and wife, a divorce, is abhorrent to the Almighty, although by the Law of Moses it was allowed because of the hardness of their hearts.

2. It involves violence. "For one covereth violence with his garment." Some suppose the garment here means the wife, and that the idea is that violence was done to her. Others suppose it means the pretext they employed for doing so by the permission of Moses (Deuteronomy 24:1). Others suppose the garment means man's reputation, and that he would damage his influence by it. Whatever the particular meaning of the passage is, it is certain that the outrage of the institution of marriage is fraught with great evils.

CONCLUSION. An extract from my Marriage Service in the 'Biblical Liturgy' may not be out of place here. "Marriage is an institution of God: it accords with the dictates of nature and the laws of inspiration. It is coeval with human society; it was an essential ingredient in the happiness of Eden. It heightened, it perfected, the pure, fresh, and serene joys of that garden, the scene of every beauty and the temple of God. In mercy it has been perpetuated to the present hour as a social blessing to soothe and sustain our nature amidst the depressing circumstances of our fallen state. Jesus threw around this relationship a peculiar grandeur. He clothed it with sublimity: to his holy eye it was a holy thing; he ratified its contract, he guarded its obligations, he expounded its laws, he graced its celebration with his presence; the first miracle his sacred hands performed was at a bridal feast. The apostles caught the idea of their Master, and invested it with a mystic solemnity by representing it as a type of the substantial, invisible, and everlasting union existing between Christ and his Church. It involves the most tender, close, and lasting ties that can unite human beings together in this life. 'Therefore shall a man leave father and mother, and cleave unto his wife; and they both shall become one flesh.' It combines the earthly interest, fortunes, and happiness of two; it may influence the destinies of many. The interests of the parties united, the triumphs of truth, and the upward progress of humanity are all dependent on the nuptial bond." - D.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.

WEB: Yet you say, 'Why?' Because Yahweh has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion, and the wife of your covenant.

The Divine Institution of Marriage
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