To leave and cleave

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Genesis 2:24; Psalm 63

It’s no accident that the key verbs of Genesis 2:24 rhyme.  The King James translation was written to be read aloud.  They would have been glad to find a rhyme that so naturally arises from the Hebrew.  And certainly preachers for the last four centuries have enjoyed the fact that their sermons on marriage can have rhyming points – couples leave and they cleave:

“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Genesis 2:24

But here’s something odd.  Who is it doing the leaving and the cleaving?

Think about it – Adam is the original and Eve is the late-comer.  Eve is made for Adam.  Therefore you might think that verse 24 should be the other way around.  Surely she should be the one to leave and cleave.  Surely she needs to make the sacrifices and join him in his kind of life.  Surely she needs to ensure she’s holding fast to him.

But the verse puts the obligations on Adam.  He needs to leave his old family and he needs to cleave to his wife.

This word ‘cleave’ is often used in the Bible to describe how body parts stick together – like the way skin ‘cleaves’ to bone.  How appropriate, since Eve is bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.  Now he ‘cleaves’ to her like she’s his own body.  Actually she is.

But this is the uniting power of the marriage.  And it’s primarily Adam’s role to cleave.  It is his resolve to unite to his wife that determines the marriage.

So it is with Christ and His bride – the church.  He is the One who leaves Family – the Father and Spirit.  And He is the One who cleaves to His people.  It is ultimately His sacrifice and His determination to ‘cleave’ that is decisive.

That is so important when we think of our relationship to Him.

Sometimes our relationship to Christ feels like what the Psalmist describes here as he addresses the LORD:

My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.  (Psalm 63:8)

Sometimes we follow hard after the LORD.  But then again, sometimes our souls feel dry, our ‘following’ strays and our grip on the LORD seems weak indeed.  Our cleaving to the LORD waxes and wanes.

But here’s the bottom line: His right hand upholds me.  Whatever ups and downs we feel, our hope lies in His enduring love.

If we’ve come to Jesus to be joined to Him, this is what we need to know: It’s His cleaving to us that upholds our union, now and forever.

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