Why should the husband honor his wife? Because she is the “weaker vessel.” Weaker in what way? People don’t seem to know or understand. Is she morally weaker? Spiritually weaker? Intellectually weaker? No! Of course not! She is physically weaker. Her body is not built with as much strength. Nearly any husband can whip his wife in an arm wrestling contest and pump more iron. Men are generally bigger and bulkier. This doesn’t mean that a man’s wife isn’t physically strong in some ways. There probably isn’t a man alive who could endure the pain of childbirth, but women can. That’s great strength. But men are generally physically stronger than their wives, so that lends itself to assuming some roles for the husband. This is why Scripture assigns the roles of provider and protector to the husband.
By calling the wife a “vessel,” Peter used a Greek word for a vase, or “vahse” if it is really expensive. A vase is a lovely receptacle to keep precious things in – like a bouquet of beautiful roses. When you move, you pack your vases carefully and mark them “Fragile – handle with care,” because they are breakable. A fine china vase isn’t as strong as a sledge hammer, but it is usually a lot more valuable.
The Greek word for vessel also gives us the word, “vest.” A vest is an outer garment covering the body, hence the word speaks of our bodies. Peter is calling on us men to give honor to our wives because they have weaker bodies. To give her honor means to assign her honor. It means to grant it to her because she is not as strong as we are and can’t demand it. We willingly treat her like a precious treasure.
This involves chivalry. What ever happened to chivalry nowadays – a chivalry that was once so common? Men used to open doors for women, and give up their seats for them. And chivalry involves treating her with respect. If any of you men ever make derogatory remarks about your wife in public, calling her “the old ball and chain,” or “the old lady,” somebody ought to hit you up alongside the head with a baseball bat to knock some sense in you. I wouldn’t do it, but that’s what you would deserve. We are called on by God to honor our wives, not belittle them.
But not only does honor involve chivalry, it also involves care and support. The husband is to be the protector and provider. But isn’t that why we are called husbands? The word, “husband,” in the verb form means to keep carefully. A husbandman would tend the crops. John 15:1 quotes Jesus as saying, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the husbandman.” The husbandman nurtured and cared for the precious vines so they could thrive. The husband must do that for his bride. He must care for and tend to her needs.
Ray Ortland wrote:
“’To husband’ means to watch her as you would a flowering plant. It means to stake that plant so she is supported and can thrive beautifully. That’s what being a husband means.”The husband is to honor his wife in this way.
Matthew Henry wrote this concerning our wives,
“Giving due respect to her, and maintaining her authority, protecting her person, supporting her credit, delighting in her conversation, affording her a handsome maintenance, and placing due trust and confidence in her.”The wife is to be granted an honored position. The husband must elevate her to that position by figuratively putting her on a pedestal where he can admire and respect her. When she abandons that place of honor, she doesn’t go up, but down. Intimacy within a marriage depends upon this kind of honor bestowed upon the wife.