3. CONCUBINE OR WIFE?

(The Called To Be A Wife Series)

I can’t help but feel sorry for some women in the Bible days, who were designated the role of nothing more than that of a concubine, which I understand to mean, kept by a man (usually a king or a man of wealth and influence), solely for his sexual pleasure.

Abraham had concubines (which I presume came sometime after his wife Sarah’s death, although he remarried Keturah) and his brother Nahor also had one (Genesis 22:24; 25:6). Similarly, Saul, David, Solomon and Ahasuerus are examples of the some of the kings that the Bible notes, had concubines. Solomon in particular, had 300 of such women.

This term, ‘concubine’, while inferior to the role of a wife is not to be confused with the third category given in the Bible, of a woman who was a harlot. Whereas a concubine was used and kept without charge, for sexual gratification by the king or man of influence and therefore, her body was dedicated to only one man, in the case of a harlot, she used her body as a trade, sleeping with different men, all of whom were expected to pay her for her sexual service.

A concubine was therefore distinguished from a harlot or prostitute but it was still in my view, a very degrading role to have, as in essence, the purpose of the concubine, although exclusively reserved for one king or man was not very different from that of a prostitute.

Some concubines may have been happy to serve in the role, given that they were sure to benefit from royal treatment in being so closely affiliated with the king or man of influence. However, it is my view, that it must have been sad for others.

In the case of a king, while it was perfectly possible that a woman back then, may have voluntarily offered to take up the role of one of the king’s concubines and therefore resign the rest of her life to be nothing more than a sort of sex slave, I don’t get the impression, that the majority of concubines referred to in the Bible were given a choice, Instead, due to their external beauty which they could not hide, it appears that they may have been forced into these roles, by the king’s servants.

Take the story of Esther for example. In Esther 2, the servants of king Ahasuerus advised him to look for young, beautiful virgins to replace Vashti as Queen, due to the disrespect she had publicly shown to the king. As a result of this plan, women who were very beautiful to look upon were brought from all over, so that the king could decide who would be the new Queen. Due to Esther’s beauty and although she was a Jew (which the king’s servants did not know at the time), she too was taken (most likely not based on her own will) and brought to the king’s palace.

She found favour in the eyes of the king above all of the other women and was chosen by him to be Queen, which I take to also mean, his wife. However, it appeared that all of the other women who visited the king but were not selected were thereafter kept as his concubines, no longer free to go back to their homes, to find love with a man and to marry. If this was the case, then although it does not appear that they had a choice in the matter when it came to them being summoned to the Palace therefore, them not being chosen to be the king’s wife, meant that this honourable role of wife-hood was one that they would never get to have or experience with any man.

Verses 13 and 14 state:

  • Then thus came every maiden unto the king; whatsoever she desired was given her to go with her out of the house of the women unto the king’s house, In the evening she went, and on the morrow she returned into the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s chamberlain, which kept the CONCUBINES: she came in unto the king no more, except the king delighted in her and that she were called by name.

Imagine, in becoming a concubine, one’s hopes and dreams to marry, become a wife and have a family one day (as most women tend to aspire to) would have been dashed. For, once assigned the role of the king’s concubine, one was automatically disqualified from ever becoming somebody’s wife.

Such a person had to resign themselves to the role of being a mere sex partner whenever and if ever the king summoned them and nothing else. If some happened to conceive and bear children out of those sexual escapades, then they may have considered themselves fortunate, as they got to at least experience the role of motherhood.

Yet, even as a mother of one of the king’s children, such a woman still had to live with the fact that she would never hear the words, “I love you” from the king. She had to be content in the fact, that she would never be really respected by him for who she was as a person, would never get to spend quality time in meaningful discussions with him and never get to develop any emotional and intellectual intimacy or bond with him, based on any appreciation of her personality, character and feelings.

Despite how much more she may have had to offer as a woman and even as a wife, all the king would ever know her and the rest of the concubines for was the relief that their body could provide him and their power to arouse him sexually, due solely to their outward physical appearance and beauty.

Alas, these poor concubines also had to resign themselves to the fact that they were like chattels and just one of many other women, whose sole purpose for existence was to satisfy the king whenever and if ever he called, sexually. Anything else that they may have had to offer, any strengths, talents and abilities that they may have hoped to one day showcase and to have their communities and the world benefit from were all discarded, as if they did not even exist.

They were for the most part, regarded as just another one of the king’s sexual objects, just another face and body, which he usually kept in large numbers, given his desire for diversity and to avoid boredom in the bedroom.

Additionally, I have seen no record in the Bible, where a concubine was ever promoted to the role of wife. It appears that she stayed in that pathetic role until she died. She never got to realize her full potential or gain the full respect of the man who she was sometimes summoned to sleep with based on a roster that bore her name, along with a long list of other names of women, possibly all scheduled on their own specific dates and times, for sexual encounters with the king.

The more concubines the king had, (like in the case of Solomon), the less frequent one particular concubine would most likely be summoned to spend the night with him. If for example, a king had 50 concubines, one particular concubine, hoping to at least get pregnant and have a child (which was very important and considered honourable back then), may have found becoming pregnant difficult, as she may have been summoned to the king’s bedchamber, maybe twice in one year, if she was fortunate.

Interestingly, these kings who kept concubines in large numbers, still recognized the need for a wife or wives, as some had back then. They therefore realized that there was a void in them as men, for a woman or women who could provide more than just a warm body in bed and in a manner that appealed to them.

What then differentiated those women who were chosen by kings to be wives and those to be merely concubines? Why were some women found to be worthy of nothing more than an ongoing fling with the king, while others were given the title of ‘wife’?

The story with David and Abigail in 1 Samuel 25 gives us some insight into this.

When Abigail’s husband died, David could have sent for her and offered her the role of a concubine along with the other concubines that he already kept. However, David propositioned to her through the servants he sent, not to be another one of his sex objects but to be his wife.

There was something he saw in Abigail’s character (not in how provocatively she dressed or how flirtatiously she spoke or how well she applied her makeup), that sent her straight to the category of wife material in his mind.

This got me thinking: As women today, have we branded ourselves as wife material or are we sending the message to men that we have nothing more to offer than a concubine?

The concubines in the Bible days did not appear to have a choice. All they knew, they were very physically beautiful, the king’s servants most likely spotted them whenever they were busy and about minding their own business and they were taken, unfortunately, to live in the Palace, as mere sex objects.

Today, we have a choice in terms of how men perceive us and whether we will accept the role of concubine or wife.

Sadly, there are many women who want to become wives, who think that they must dress and act like concubines and some, even like harlots, in order to get men to give them attention and to get that ring on their finger.

Make no mistake, if you behave and conduct yourself like a concubine, then because a man is a man and is highly affected by what he sees, you will certainly get his attention. This however, will be purely physical and it takes more than the physical, for a man to be so impressed with a woman, that he wants to make her his wife.

As a matter of fact, while you are busy ensuring that your makeup and hairdo is ‘on-fleek’, as they say, that your body is perfect, your nails immaculate, your outfit short and tight and your cleavage exposed to the world in general, don’t be surprised if the man you’ve been eyeing, puts a ring on another lady’s finger, who is the complete opposite of you.

If we focus exclusively or too much on just our physical appearance, dressing provocatively and giving in to sexually flirtatious talk from men, then sadly, we are saying that we are not wives but concubines.

The Bible says in Proverbs 18:22, “Whoso findeth a wife…” (not a concubine), “…findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.” Blessed is the man therefore, who finds, not a woman whose beauty or shape sexually arouses him and nothing more but someone who can be an equal partner to him, bringing benefits that are not all sexual and which only someone who knows how to be a wife, can bring.

Which category do you fall in? How are you branding yourself in the eyes of the male community? Have they concluded from the way you dress, the way you conduct yourself and the way you speak, that you have nothing more to offer than a good romp in the bed? What exactly do you have to offer that is not sexually-related and does he even have a chance to see it or is he too blinded by the boobs that you have chosen to put on display or your physical appearance that you have spent hours in the mirror perfecting with makeup?

When a man looks at you is he convinced that you are of wifely status and deserving of the utmost respect or just another one of those pretty girls that can be gotten cheaply?

Nothing is wrong in being physically beautiful and in ensuring that you keep yourself. The virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 dressed well, although not immodestly. Note though, that of all the virtues she possessed which were listed in that portion of scripture, none made mention of her body shape, her looks, her hairstyle, her nails or her ability to perform in the bedroom. No reference was made to her cleavage, her legs, the ability of her eyes to seduce or the sexiness of her lips. This was because she was more than just sex. She was a respected and cherished wife and mother.

Many of God’s daughters in the Bible, like Sarah, Rebekah, Esther and Abigail were described as very fair and beautiful to look upon but their beauty was not their focus. They were more concerned with their character. They were strong women of substance and focused on adorning their hearts with virtues that were inwardly beautiful.

1 Peter 3,1-6 states of women that are wives (not concubines), that their focus should not be on the outward adorning of plaiting the hair, wearing gold and putting on apparel but that instead, they should focus on dressing up and enhancing their heart. It goes on to state that this inward adorning of the heart was what the holy women like Sara did, who trusted in God.

What about you? Do you have what it takes to be a wife or are you just banking on your good looks and body, to get and keep a man?

Can you keep his interest beyond a million kisses and caresses planted in the bedroom? Can you appeal to his intellect? Can you encourage him and speak words of wisdom into his life when he needs it most (like Abigail did with David)? Do you know how to give life to his vision and to be the kind of support that he truly craves? Do you know how to please him, other than between the sheets?

You have the power to influence how people and in particular, men, see you.

Men instinctively know which woman they can get away with cheap, vulgar, flirtatious talk with and which woman they don’t dare be disrespectful to. They know which women are worthy of being wives and which they would not be able to build a life with beyond the bedroom. They know this because of how these two types of women carry themselves.

I am far from perfect but I don’t have to tell men how to treat me. They take one look at me and know that they better be respectful in my presence. They keep the cheap, filthy talk for the girls who don’t yet know the full value of themselves and their worth and when they are dealing with me, they know instinctively, that they must come with their best manners.

Admittedly, I haven’t always known my value. I’ve always known that I was unique and special but in my earlier days, I suffered from low self-esteem due to issues in my childhood. However, I can thankfully say that while I am not perfect and insecurities rear their ugly head occasionally, God did a work in me over the years and men can see this in the way I carry myself and dress. I believe that I am a royal daughter of the King (Jesus) and I know that that is exactly the message that men receive whenever I am around them.

If you have concubine mentality (which is sad), there is still hope for you. Spend time in God’s Word so that he can change the way that you think and view yourself. Ask him to mould you as he sees fit, to help you respect yourself, to value and treat your body with dignity and if you desire to be married one day, to make you into the wife you were meant to be.

Spiritual makeovers are possible with Jesus. Tell yourself, “By the grace of God, I am somebody’s wife (not concubine)” and carry yourself accordingly.

(Written on 22nd June, 2018)

For further details on the impressive traits that Abigail possessed, how her character wowed the socks off David, making him propose soon after her husband died, you can read Article No. 72 under the neighbouring ‘SINGLE Daughters of God – Hephzibah Diaries’ Page, which is entitled, ‘Qualities That Got Women Noticed And Eventually Married To Good Men In The Bible’.

You may also wish to read Note 5 on the ‘VIRTUOUS Daughters’ Page entitled ‘What Are You Wearing And Does God Approve?’

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