By Bishop Charles Ighele
The Living Bible translates 1 Samuel 18:24-26 this way “Tell David that the only dowry I need is one hundred dead philistines.” Saul had learnt that David was up beat about the idea of marrying his daughter, Michal. That was what led to his fixing the above high bride price.
There is hardly any sane human being who will not condemn the action of King Saul as “barbaric and wicked.” Some will say, but that is exactly what many families, especially in Africa are doing.
The other day, a family insisted that the suitor must build a house for the girl’s family as pre-bride price conditions. Some ask for cars, lands, means of livelihood, costly cloths, huge sums of money, a huge list of things to be bought and so many family members to be “seen” and “settled.”
Whether, we like it or not, this is the same as asking the suitors to bring “one hundred dead Philistines” as bride price. This is behaving as the wicked king Saul. Some may say, “This is our cultural heritage.” But the truth remains that culture is dynamic, culture changes from time to time. Let the culture of high bride price change.
Even if the general practice of high bride price remains in your town or ethnic group, you and your family can start another culture of a reasonably low price. Start it and your family will earn respect of reasonable people and in-laws.
High bride price shows absence of integrity in a family. It advertises the family as a family of hungry people. It portrays the family as that of low-level people. Even if the suitors’ family fulfills the high bride price conditions, the lady’s family has made themselves objects of disdain and as cheap people.
Reasonable family members should always rise to enthrone or defend family honour. They must not allow the family hardliners to hold sway.
The bride price King Saul asked David to pay was certainly more than bride price. It was higher than what was supposed to unite a boy and a girl and their families.
The point here is, what if you find yourself in a situation where you are asked to pay what you consider to be outrageously high, what do you do? What will you do if you find yourself in the position David found himself?
First of all, we strongly advise that people, who easily get angry, should not be a part of a bride price paying delegation. If they will, they should be seriously advised to be wise and to control their temper. People like this are likely to be verbally violent or instigate a walk out in the event of a high bride price or pre-bride price conditions.
Clear the ground before that day. Gather information about the custom of the people you are meeting. Make those that are from the same place with your future in-laws your spokesperson or part of your delegation.
Negotiate and keep negotiating. The lady involved should not be aloof. She should not be rude to her parents for insisting that her suitor brings “one hundred dead Philistines” as her bride price. She should appeal to them respectfully and prayerfully.
If her parents are stronger than her, she should secretly search out for some people within and outside the family to appeal to her people. But if the lady’s family should insist on behaving like Saul, the man should then behave like David i.e, he should go about paying the hard, high bride price. A high bride price is not enough to dissolve love. God will make a way for you to succeed in life, as He made a way for David to succeed in life. Love you.