“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10 ESV
Through the Bible: Isaiah 59-63
One of the most beautiful moments in a Jewish wedding is when the groom takes his tallit— the prayer shawl, and holds it over his bride’s head, symbolizing that she is “covered” by his prayers.
The only two English translations that use the phrase “like a priest” are the ESV and the NIV. I would love to understand more about Hebrew to know what the translation team saw in this verse. But it reminded me that, even as a pastor, my first responsibility is to be a priest to my family. I am to intercede for my wife and children. I lead them. I serve them. I represent them to the Father. I make sacrifices on their behalf. It’s part of the deal when you enter into a Christian marriage.
Which means that as a priest I dare not come into God’s presence with unclean hands. If I am to intercede for my family, I have to guard my thought life and flee from willful sin.
If you are a man reading this, then please understand your biblical responsibility to pastor your family. I see a lot of men who passively relinquish this role, letting their wife handle all the “churchy stuff.” I also see a lot of men who go to the opposite extreme, using the “spiritual head of the household” as their trump card to win every argument or their battering ram to dominate their wives and children. Both are wrong. The former is just lazy. The latter is abusive. You lead your family by serving them and by praying for them. My first responsibility to the church I pastor is not to be their ultimate authority on what the Bible says. It is to serve them, pray for them, and represent them to the Father through the ministry of intercession.
If you are a married woman reading this, pray for your husband to lead well. It is so hard for me to know how to lovingly lead my wife and children. My wife is such a godly student of the word, and there are lots of times I think, “Who am I to lead her?” But the answer from God’s word is so simple, but so convicting: “You’re her husband. That’s who.” Your husband may feel the same way. I see the insights many of you post in this group, and you may very well be the more spiritually mature spouse in your marriage. But that doesn’t mean your husband isn’t called to be the “priest” in your home. It’s ok if he doesn’t know as much of the Bible as you do. He can still pastor you and your family by interceding for you. That’s what he is called to do. And the best thing you can do for your husband if he tends toward the “passive” side of this is to affirm and encourage every attempt, however clumsy, to be the spiritual leader in your home.