I do not really understand the ‘test for an unfaithful wife.’ First I wonder why there is not a parallel ‘test for an unfaithful husband.’ I suspect that the answer was the very patriarchal nature of societys back then.
So once I got past the seeming unfairness of a law for one and not the other, I thought about this law. Was it demeaning for women? Possibly. But it also provided a neutral judge for women who didn’t cheat on their husbands that would not otherwise be possible in a patriarchal society.
Without this law, a man in a man’s world could simply say, “Hey, my wife is cheating on me, I divorce her.” This would break his marital covenant leaving the woman disgraced and out on her own likely with her children with little or no way to provide for herself.
With this law a woman can be vindicated. Yes, she has to go through what could be a humiliating stand before the priest with its incumbent rituals, but God is doing the judging. God is determining if the bitter water will harm her or not. And since God is the protector of the weak that is a much better place to be than left to the whim of a male, who may or may not have an axe to grind.
The more I ponder this obscure law, the more I see God’s grace and righteousness at work. God will judge the fate of the woman and God alone can see the heart. So God is truly judging rightly and a woman who is not guilty, I would think, would be ready to stand and be judged not guilty.
Mercy, fairness, honest judgments… these are all words that I am hearing as I ponder this text. They speak to me of my God. He is merciful, fair and honest in His judgments.
I am reminded of David, who when he was found guilty of sin and offered 3 options, chose to fall into God’s hands rather than the hands of men.
Some day we will all stand before God. Thanks be to God we will be judged righteous if we believe in Jesus, because Jesus has taken on our sin and given us His perfect righteousness. Alleluia.
Thank You, thank You, Lord, God, Almighty… for Your love and mercy and forgiveness. You are a good God, a mighty God and I surrender to You. Alleluia Amen.