So what does it mean when scripture says that there are four things that the earth cannot ‘bear up?’ It means that if these four things are occurring, the laws that God has put into place have been violated to such a point that wrong looks right and life will begin to be very bad in that area.
So what are these things and why are they bad? (As you will see, we do some of these things today and call them ‘right.’ I will try my best to explain exactly why they are wrong, but society has had a lot more time to teach you differently…)
1. A servant (slave) who becomes king.
Okay, so why is this bad? Most of the movies we like have the poor, oppressed but good person ending up in charge, and we love it. The problem here is that a person who ends up as a slave in this passage is not a godly person. They have mismanaged their own finances to the point where they were forced to sell themselves (and likely their family as well) into slavery because there was no one who would help them out. Now remember, in Israel you live surrounded by your entire extended family, and family members are expected to ‘redeem’ you and your land when things get bad. If you are in this serious a financial situation then you have not only mismanaged your money, but have ticked off everyone you know who would be motivated to help. You make bad decisions, and are brick-headed. This is why it is bad to have this type of person in charge!
The other way to become a slave is to be captured. This means that you are a foreigner, likely an enemy, and probably ticked off at the people who captured you. It will go bad for the people if somehow this type of slave becomes powerful. (Joseph is a righteous exception. He is an example of what you should do if you wind up in power after being oppressed and unfairly treated. Most people don’t behave this way though!)
2. A fool who is full of food.
Fools cause trouble. They do stupid, sometimes evil, things that make other people’s lives miserable. Keeping them busy, working to feed themselves keeps them out of trouble. If they have all of their needs met, and want for nothing, they will do things you do not want them to be doing with their free time. It is not that we want them to go hungry, but they need to be kept occupied, or else bad things happen.
3. An unloved woman who is married.
Again, many, many movies show this to be a good thing, and in the Song of Solomon we see a woman who is not treated well by her family becoming the ‘beloved’ of a king. There are two problems that may be occurring here, and neither is good.
In the Song of Solomon, it appears that her father has passed away, and her brothers are the ones not treating her well, so this woman knows what it is to be loved, but is not experiencing love now. This is not an ‘unloved’ woman. She is just in-between loves (her father’s and her husband’s) and has brothers who are schmucks.
Unloved people are children who do not experience love at an early age. They develop something we refer to as ‘reactive attachment disorder,’ (though they are trying to change the name of this disorder so it doesn’t sound so ‘final’). The problem is that very few people ever overcome RAD. Children who are not held, who are in abusive homes, or orphanages, or who are ripped away from multiple families through foster care do not learn to bond with people. They crave love, but are so afraid of it being taken away that they destroy relationships rather than letting anyone get close. People who suffer from this are self-destructive and often hurt others as well. (Google this. It is an impressive problem.)
The other way a married woman is ‘unloved’ is to be in a marriage where her husband does not love her as he should. Human beings crave love, and love is expected in a marriage. To be denied this leads people to become bitter, self-focused and harsh. Not the recipe for a ‘healthy’ society, and not the type of mother who will be ideal at raising children. Though a few may overcome and do well, generally an unloved wife will have too much personal pain to fully and joyfully devote herself to be the parent she wishes to be, and her husband is setting a horrible example for his children regarding how people are to be treated.
4. A maidservant who replaces her mistress.
Today this would be the man who cheats on his wife with his secretary, divorces the wife and then marries the secretary. The woman who replaces a wife in this way can never be sure that she will not be replaced herself. This leads to insecurity and an unhappy household. It is not a healthy way to live, or raise children as it teaches them that people are ‘disposable’ and can be traded in for a ‘better model’ any time one likes.
Notice that two of these things have to do with the family unit. Problems in the family affect more than you would expect. Not only are the adults who are hurt in these situations less productive because their minds are occupied with other issues, but the children do not receive the care and attention that they deserve. (While you may think your children are doing ‘just fine’ ask yourself if your goal for them is ‘just fine’ or if you want them to have the most optimal conditions to grow up in. I think you know the answer…) The next generation will therefore suffer, and likely repeat the mistakes of their parents, usually doing worse than the previous generation did.
So what does this tell us?
First it tells us not to elect , or put into power people who have messed up their own lives. The people we place in power over us should be financially sound (excellent at handling large sums of money would be good since that is essentially what we elect them to do), and they should get along well with others. They should be the type of people who, if their fortunes suddenly changed, would have plenty of people offering to help them out with no thought of taking advantage of them later in return for the favor. Greedy, selfish people do not have these types of friends.
We also learned that some people don’t behave and it is best to keep them busy. There must therefore be wisdom in our social programs.
It is also clear that marriage and family are the bedrock of our society. Loving your spouse is important, as is loving your children. Cheating on her causes problems that are bigger than even I may have indicated since the world cannot ‘bear up’ when a society is full of this type of behavior. Guard your marriage. Get counseling if needed. It is too important to let it be less than God intended it to be. Your marriage will be the example though which your children learn how to treat others. It will therefore affect more than just their later love relationships. Remember, Isaac and Rebekah’s marriage was arranged and they were happy. Following godly principles leads to love. Feelings are not the bedrock on which a marriage lasts. Trust and commitment are. Knowing that your spouse will never intentionally do anything to hurt you, disrespect you or lose your faith in them is an incredibly sexy thing! And teaching your children to do the same leads to stable individuals who are free from the drama that consumes some people’s lives. ‘Drama’ and our focus on it keeps us from spending that time concentrating on what it takes to be all that we were made to be. Work hard to be a person who brings peace and security to all of those around them, especially those they are supposed to love. (There is also an argument to be made that we need to fix our foster care system so that children have a more stable environment when the family does fail them…)