If you're looking for a wedding reading from the Old Testament, here are some of the most popular and beautiful pieces of scripture that talk about love. Old Testament wedding readings are an important part of Catholic and Episcopalian ceremonies and are also often used in other denominations. They are especially appropriate for Christian-Jewish interfaith marriages.
Your priest, minister, or other officiants can often help guide you to appropriate verses. Yet, you should still read and discuss all of the suggestions. Hopefully, you will find one that particularly speaks to your relationship, views on marriage, or relationship to God. You may also wish to read New Testament wedding readings and the Most Popular wedding readings from the Bible
Scroll down and view the additional pages to read the full text of these Old Testament wedding readings. I've also included why they make good wedding readings:
- Genesis 1:26-28, 31a Be fruitful and multiply
- Genesis 2:18-24 It is not good that Man should be alone
- Genesis 9: 8-17 The rainbow and God's covenant with Noah
- Genesis 24:48-51, 58-67 The marriage of Isaac and Rebekah
- Joshua 24:15 as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord
- Ruth 16-17 Your people shall be my people
- Proverbs 3: 1-6, 13-18 Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you
- Proverbs 31: 10-12 Ode to a capable wife
- Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 For everything there is a season
- Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 Two are better than one
- Song of Solomon AKA Song of Songs 2:10-13 Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
- Song of Solomon AKA Song of Songs 8:6-7 Set me as a seal upon your heart
- Isaiah 32:2, 16-18 Each will be like a hiding-place
- Isaiah 43:1-7 You are precious in God's eyes.
- Isaiah 54: 10-14 My steadfast love will not depart from you
- Isaiah 61: 10-11 As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
- Jeremiah 31:31-34 I will make a new covenant
- Jeremiah 33:10-11 There shall once more be heard the voices of the bride and bridegroom
- Hosea 2: 16-20 I will betroth you to me forever
- * Tobit 8:4b-9 Grant that we may grow old together (Tobit is a book of the Catholic and Orthodox Biblical Canon but is not accepted by most Protestants)
- *Sirach 26:1-4, 13-16 Happy is the husband of a good wife (Sirach is a book of the Catholic and Orthodox Biblical Canon but is not accepted by most Protestants)
Genesis 1:26-28, 31a
Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth." God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.
Why this Old Testament scripture makes a good wedding reading: Your wedding day is the start of your new family, when you will fulfill God's command to pair off, be fruitful, and multiply.
Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner." So out of the ground the LORD God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.
The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken." Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Why this Old Testament scripture makes a good wedding reading: Woman comes from not from man's foot or from his head, but rather from his side, as his helper and his partner. Like you may have searched for your new spouse, God searched for a suitable partner for man, rejecting all the animals before he created her especially for him.
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, "As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark.
I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth." God said, "This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth."
Why this Old Testament scripture makes a good wedding reading: The covenant that you make with one another today is an echo of the covenant that God made with all of us. Like the rainbow is a symbol of God's covenant, your rings are symbols of your everlasting covenant.
And they called Rebekah, and said to her, "Will you go with this man?" She said, "I will." So they sent away their sister Rebekah and her nurse along with Abraham's servant and his men. And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,"May you, our sister, becomethousands of myriads;may your offspring gain possessionof the gates of their foes."Then Rebekah and her maids rose up, mounted the camels, and followed the man; thus the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.Now Isaac had come from Beer-lahai-roi, and was settled in the Negeb. Isaac went out in the evening to walk in the field; and looking up, he saw camels coming. And Rebekah looked up, and when she saw Isaac, she slipped quickly from the camel, and said to the servant, "Who is the man over there, walking in the field to meet us?" The servant said, "It is my master." So she took her veil and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent. He took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her.
So Isaac was comforted after his mother's death.Why this Old
Testament scripture makes a good wedding reading: If you've lost a parent, you might find this an especially appropriate wedding reading. Though Rebekah and Isaac have an arranged marriage, they find love and comfort together.
Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."
Why this Old Testament scripture makes a good wedding reading: This brief verse is another way for a couple to signify that their new household is committed to serving the Lord.
But Ruth said,"Do not press me to leave youor to turn back from following you!Where you go, I will go;where you lodge, I will lodge;your people shall be my people,and your God my God.Where you die, I will die—there will I be buried.May the Lord do thus and so to me,and more as well,if even death parts me from you!"
Why this Old Testament scripture makes a good wedding reading: Though Ruth is talking to her mother-in-law, the commitment she makes is poignant. She is cleaving to her husband's family the way that modern couples cleave to each other.
Proverbs 3:1-6, 13-18
My child, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments;for length of days and years of life, and abundant welfare they will give you.Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; bind them round your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favour and good repute in the sight of God and of people.Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.Happy are those who find wisdom, and those who get understanding, for her income is better than silver, and her revenue better than gold.She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her.Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honour.Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called happy.
Why this Old Testament scripture makes a good wedding reading: A wedding is a transition between stages of life. It's a time when our parents give us advice about what lies before us. Though a couple getting married aren't children, it's a good time to be reminded of the need to trust in the Lord.
A capable wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.She opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy.Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.Give her a share in the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the city gates.
Why this Old Testament scripture makes a good wedding reading: If you're looking for a simple and short verse about being a good wife, this passage can be ended after the third line. If you use the entire passage, it goes into more depth about a woman's relationship with the Lord and with her community. You might pair this verse with the New Testament reading Ephesians 5:25-32, so that there's one reading about the wife, and one about the husband.
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:a time to be born, and a time to die;a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;a time to kill, and a time to heal;a time to break down, and a time to build up;a time to weep, and a time to laugh;a time to mourn, and a time to dance;a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;a time to seek, and a time to lose;a time to keep, and a time to throw away;a time to tear, and a time to sew;a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;a time to love, and a time to hate;a time for war, and a time for peace.
Why this Old Testament scripture makes a good wedding reading: A wedding is one of the most important events of your life. This verse reminds us that these important events aren't random, and do not happen whenever; God has a purpose behind each of them. He is sovereign over all of these events, ordaining when they will happen and why.
Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Why this Old Testament scripture makes a good Christian wedding reading: We are reminded why marriages are so valuable to us. Though most of this verse talks about the strength of two being better than one, the last line speaks of three. The threefold cord is the bride, the groom, and God.
Song of Solomon or Song of Songs 2:10-13
My beloved speaks and says to me: "Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
Why this Old Testament scripture makes a good wedding reading: Song of Songs is an unusual book in the bible – it's a love story between a man and a woman, and doesn't contain explicitly religious content. Though some religious scholars posit that the book is a metaphor for the love between God and His people, it can also be read simply as a pretty love story. That makes it a good choice for interfaith couples, as well as those who are not as religious as their parents.
Song of Solomon or Song of Songs 8:6-7
Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If one offered for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly scorned.
Why this Old Testament scripture makes a good wedding reading: See above entry for Song of Solomon 2:10-13
Isaiah 32:2, 16-18
Each will be like a hiding-place from the wind, a covert from the tempest,like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness abide in the fruitful field.The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust for ever.My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting-places.
Why this Old Testament scripture makes a good wedding reading: Your love for each other should provide you shelter and protection from struggles, and you should remember that your love is a gift from God.
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel:Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.Because you are precious in my sight, and honoured, and I love you,I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life.Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you;I will say to the north, "Give them up", and to the south, "Do not withhold; bring my sons from far awayand my daughters from the end of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made."
Why this Old Testament scripture makes a good wedding reading: At a happy occasion like a wedding, it might seem slightly strange to talk about suffering. But isn't that what we are doing when we vow to love one another in good times and bad? This verse is a reminder that we can make everlasting commitments because we know that God will be with us in those trials.
Isaiah 54: 10-14
For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed,but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,says the Lord, who has compassion on you.O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, I am about to set your stones in antimony,and lay your foundations with sapphires.I will make your pinnacles of rubies, your gates of jewels,and all your wall of precious stones.All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the prosperity of your children.In righteousness you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;and from terror, for it shall not come near you.
Why this Old Testament scripture makes a good wedding reading: This is another beautiful passage about God's commitment to us, which we can emulate in the commitment we make to one another. God is rebuilding His holy city for us, making each part of it beautiful and special. As you build your marriage with one another, it too should have walls of precious stones. Moreover, though you know not what marriage will bring to you, you shall not fear for God is with you.
Isaiah 61: 10-11
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,my whole being shall exult in my God;for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.For as the earth brings forth its shoots,and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praiseto spring up before all the nations.
Why this Old Testament scripture makes a good wedding reading: In a modern wedding, there's so much importance put on our appearance, and other superficial aspects. This is a good reminder that they are but symbols of what's really important – salvation and righteousness.
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, "Know the Lord", for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.
Why this Old Testament scripture makes a good wedding reading: Though many wedding readings from the Bible talk about God's covenant, this verse talks about a broken covenant, and then a new, stronger, and deeper one. It's a reminder that your marriage vows aren't just about loving each other, but really taking each other into your hearts as an example of God's love. Your relationship will be a beacon for others, teaching your families and communities about the Glory of God.
Jeremiah 33: 10-11
Thus says the Lord: In this place of which you say, "It is a waste without human beings or animals", in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without inhabitants, human or animal, there shall once more be heard the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank-offerings to the house of the Lord:"Give thanks to the Lord of hosts,for the Lord is good,for his steadfast love endures for ever!"For I will restore the fortunes of the land as at first, says the Lord.
Why this Old Testament scripture makes a good wedding reading: A marriage is divine thing, and a cause for much joy. When Jerusalem is rebuilt after the coming of the Messiah, the bride and bridegroom's happy marriage will be a sign of God's presence.
On that day, says the Lord, you will call me, "My husband", and no longer will you call me, "My Baal". For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be mentioned by name no more. I will make for you a covenant on that day with the wild animals, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; and I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land; and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will take you for my wife for ever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord.
Why this Old Testament scripture makes a good wedding reading: In this book, God makes Hosea marry a harlot, as a symbol of Israel's unfaithfulness. Hosea's wife is unfaithful, and rather than have her stoned, God commands Hosea to go back to her and love her. God does the same with His people, who have forsaken Him. This verse is a beautiful love song, reminding us of God's steadfast love. In our marriages, we should seek to be as steadfast and forgiving.
Tobias got out of bed and said to Sarah, "Sister, get up, and let us pray and implore our Lord that he grant us mercy and safety." So she got up, and they began to pray and implore that they might be kept safe. Tobias began by saying,"Blessed are you, O God of our ancestors,and blessed is your name in all generations for ever.Let the heavens and the whole creation bless you for ever.You made Adam, and for him you made his wife Eveas a helper and support.From the two of them the human race has sprung.You said, “It is not good that the man should be alone;let us make a helper for him like himself.”I now am taking this kinswoman of mine,not because of lust,but with sincerity.Grant that she and I may find mercyand that we may grow old together."And they both said, "Amen, Amen." Then they went to sleep for the night.
Why this Old Testament scripture makes a good wedding reading: Tobit is a little-known book of the Deuterocanon – or Old Testament books that are not part of the Hebrew Bible. It tells the story of Tobit, an Israelite who devoted his life to doing good, but then is exiled, loses his fortune, and is blinded by a bird. His wife yells at him and he prays to die. Meanwhile, his relative's daughter Sarah is also suffering. She's been married seven times before and each of her seven previous husbands were killed by a jealous demon on their wedding night. God hears both Tobit's and Sarah's prayers and sends an angel to help them. He tells Tobit's son, Tobias, that he has the right to marry Sarah, and shows him how to cure his father of blindness, and Sarah of her demons. This wedding reading tells the story of their wedding night. Read more about Tobias and the angel.
In his prayer, Tobias starts first with his gratitude, then asks for God's blessings for him and his new wife. If you are a couple who prays together, or who sees your relationship as a blessing after hardship, this may be a particularly apt Old Testament wedding reading for you. Other translations of the Bible substitute "Noble purpose" for "sincerity" – which is perhaps the ideal of a Christian marriage. Its purpose is not lust, but rather nobility, family tradition, and the Glory of God.
Sirach 26:1-4, 13-16
Happy is the husband of a good wife;the number of his days will be doubled.A loyal wife brings joy to her husband,and he will complete his years in peace.A good wife is a great blessing;she will be granted among the blessings of the man who fears the Lord.Whether rich or poor, his heart is content,and at all times his face is cheerful.A wife's charm delights her husband,and her skill puts flesh on his bones.A silent wife is a gift from the Lord,and nothing is so precious as her self-discipline.A modest wife adds charm to charm,and no scales can weigh the value of her chastity.Like the sun rising in the heights of the Lord,so is the beauty of a good wife in her well-ordered home.Like the shining lamp on the holy lampstand,so is a beautiful face on a stately figure.Like golden pillars on silver bases,so are shapely legs and steadfast feet.
Why this Old Testament scripture makes a good wedding reading: This passage might elicit a few laughs from your audience, as it's slightly strange to give advice to just one member of a couple. But, it is still an uplifting message about taking pride in each other.