Promise Keepers

Kevin DeYoung

READ : Malachi 2:10-16

So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. (v. 15, NIV)

The men of Judah were also breaking faith by divorcing their wives. This is a tricky passage, verse 16 in particular. A better translation for verse 16 says, “For the man who hates and divorces . . . covers his garment with violence” (ESV). The text says if you hate your spouse and divorce him or her, you cover your garments with violence. As we might say, “if you divorce your wife or your husband because you don’t like them, you are caught red-handed in sin.”

Malachi is likely correcting an overly loose understanding of marriage common to his day. Jewish tradition allowed men to divorce their wives on almost any grounds, even for burning the toast! Malachi argues for a stronger notion of marriage as a covenant. True, there are New Testament grounds for divorce (e.g. adultery and desertion), but God simply does not allow for divorce based on aversion. You cannot divorce because the spark died, or things got hard, or you’ve fallen out of love, or because he or she “wasn’t the one.” You can’t even get a divorce because you feel like you hate each other. The God who saves us from sin can save our marriages. And he calls us to keep covenant and not break faith.


Lord, make us promise keepers in our marriages. Amen.