“Book of Elkanah – What Not to Say to Your Wife” – Nov. 9

November 9, 2015

“Elkanah, her husband, said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep?  And why do you not eat?  And why is your heart sad?  Am I not more to you than ten sons?””  1 Samuel 1:8

I suspect that there was a “Book of Elkanah” that never made it into the Cannon of Scripture.  We only have one passage from the “Book of Elkanah”, which was recorded in 1 Samuel 1:8.   However, I am confident that this could not have been the only passage espoused from the oracle, Elkanah.

In fairness to Elkanah, I believe that every husband pens their own collection of romance-killing proclamations.  These collections are the thoughtless, misguided, and blatantly stupid sayings that periodically have come out of every husband’s mouth.  There are just some husbands whose epistle of stupid sayings have more stanzas than average.  I bet that the Elkanah’s book was a thick book; it probably included multiple volumes since he had two wives.

The story of Hannah reminded me of the typical failure of most husbands in marriage.

Most husbands, myself included, have failed in the same manner as Elkanah.  His knuckled-headed attempt to comfort his wife Hannah has to have made it into  the book.  I chuckled a little as I read the story of Hannah, but it reminded me of my theory as to the common source of these common novels.

Consider what could possibly have motivated Elkanah to say to a woman who probably had just received evidence, once again, of her infertility:

“Hey Babe, be happy; you’ve got me. I’m better than ten sons.”

I don’t think that Elkanah was really thinking about Hannah when he spoke those words.  His attempt at comfort reveals the person who was really paramount upon his mind.  Elkanah was thinking more about himself than Hannah and he had a pretty high opinion of himself.

This motivation troubles most husbands and marriages.  Marriage reveals the heart condition of every man and it is why I say with confidence that every husband has penned his own “Book of What Not to Say to Your Wife”.

I have now been married longer than I was single.  I know that my selfishness has been revealed by saying some pretty stupid things to my wife.  However, I hope that the frequency of those entries have gone down over the years.   In fact, the frequency of entries should decline with years for every Christian husband but not necessarily due to an understanding of how to live together.  The entries should become scarce because of an increasing personal sanctification that is supposed to be happening in a follower of Christ.

A husband’s words to his wife are an accurate reflection of his sanctification.

It is why we see men in all stages of married life playing the role of husband poorly. One does not have to look very far to see a myriad of lackluster attempts.  I have seen incompetent husbands newly married, packing small children, at kid’s graduations, and in retirement.

Time and experience does not necessarily make us better husbands.

We must consider the standard for the Christian husband; it is daunting:

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his wife loves himself.”  Eph. 5:25,28

One cannot be truly competent as a husband without the help of the Spirit.  Husbands have to die to the terrible idol of self in order for them to be what God intended them to be in marriage.  Every man should desire to be a God glorifying, selfless husband.  We should not be satisfied in marital incompetence.  We should not deluge ourselves into thinking that we are good husbands if our spouse’s sanctification exceeds our own and she’ll just forgive us for the selfish things we do.

Every Christian husband should be embarrassed by their personal authorship of a “Book of What Not to Say to Your Wife”.  We should all strive to make that horrible book as thin as possible.

May Jesus Christ be the husband that we characterize in our marriage and not Elkanah.

“The Puritan ethic of marriage was first to look not for a partner whom you do love passionately at this moment but rather for one whom you can love steadily as your best friend for life, then to proceed with God’s help to do just that.”
~ J.I. Packer

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for my wife.   Thank you for enabling her to forgive me for all the selfish words that I have spoken.  Lord, bind us together despite our sinful natures.  Father, help me to love her as you love her.  Help me to see her as you see her.  Help be to die to myself in order to be the husband that you have called me to be.  Lord, grant her patience as you continue to refine me.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen


  1. I find your points very thoughtful and well taken. A common complaint of lack of reciprocity in this text goes, “Doesn’t the husband also have duties of respect and submission to his wife?” Of course, but we must also apprehend the polarities of creation. We are not to infer that husbands are to love their wives, but wives need not love their husbands, but only respect and submit to them; that would be an impossible paradox. The wife is to respect her husband as the head of the union/family, and this is scarcely conceivable without the trust founded in love. And, she is to submit to her husband’s protection, because God’s perfect order of Creation requires this.

    Elkanah blew it, but we also see at 1 Samuel 1:5, that “to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb.” But his obnoxious, prodigiously fertile wife, Peninnah, was a constant bane to Hannah and this apparently went unobserved by Elkanah.

    Truly Elkanah was self-centered, and, as you acknowledge in your moving prayer, we all share the same sin-afflicted nature.

    • Hey Lauren – great and insightful comment. There are a lot of lessons for wives in the example as well. They have their own books that should not be written. God Bless! JD

      • Amen, neighbor! (We’re in Wadaho 🙂

      • That is awesome; where in Idaho are you located?

      • “Wadaho” is my contraction for the Washington-Idaho border. We’re on the WA side of the Snake River. 🙂

  2. Reblogged this on Deciphering Life and commented:
    This take on Elkanah rivals the Biblical story of his wife, Hannah. Husbands, this is good food for thought!

    • Thank you so much for the reblog!
      God Bless! JD

  3. Awesome post! Reblogging! 🙂

  4. Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.

  5. Re-blogged this today as a tribute to my wife (or maybe it’s a confession) on her birthday.

  6. Reblogged this on I love the Psalms and commented:
    Today is my wife’s birthday and as a tribute to her I am re-blogging this post by JD Blom. I know I have a few choice verses I could contribute to the Book of Elkanah.

  7. I confess I too have said some foolish Elkanahan’s ‘ to my wife too. Great post except notice I said foolish instead of stupid. Check out why below if you are interested..


    Regards and goodwill blogging.

  8. J.I. Packer was onto something. Nice post brother. My book is thick, but the chapters are getting to be much shorter… I call that progress in lieu of perfection. It’s still embarrassing enough to keep me humble, but good enough for government work. 😉

    • Hey Jim – I think it would be good for all us husbands to keep Packer’s words in mind. I hope all is well with you. How is the winter riding going?

      • Winter riding has been sparse. Been doing a lot of hunting but we’re experiencing quite the mild fall season. Now that rifle season starts up I’ll have a lot more time for cycling… We’re going to be putting in some decent miles till winter, for sure. Thanks.

  9. Thank you for this post. “A husband’s words to his wife are an accurate reflection of his sanctification” motivates me to want to live up to the challenge of loving my wife as Christ loves the Church. And the 2 videos were wonderful additions!

    • Hey Robert – I am so glad that you found the post encouraging. That was what I was hoping for. God Bless! JD

  10. God bless you, your wife, and your marriage as a result of your humble admissions, the wisdom of God’s Word you’re applying, and your heartfelt prayer. You’re a good man, JD! Keep up the good work. P.S. ‘Love Tim Hawkins. His humor makes me laugh so hard my cheeks hurt!

    • Thank you Nancy! Tim Hawkins is a problem for me – I can’t watch just one video. I had a hard time finishing this post because I got to watching too many of his videos.

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