An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. 11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. Proverbs 31:10-12
For the next week or so, we will look at the "excellent wife" as she is represented in Scripture. This portrayal is given by Solomon's mother, who sought to point him toward the right kind of godly woman to be his wife. Rather than try to give direct parallels to everything that is written in this chapter, I'm going to look at this excellent wife more by categories. That is because, due to culture and the times in which we live, we don't do some of these things any longer. I also do not believe that godliness in a woman is measured by whether she spins her own yarn or makes her own bread. Godliness is determined by issues of the heart - not by works that a woman does or does not do. So with that in mind - and with that as our backdrop - let us dive in and take a look at what God calls an excellent wife in His Word.
Solomon's mom begins by asking a question, "An excellent wife, who can find?" Good question. She is not the kind of mother who just wants her son to get married - no matter to whom. She wants her son to focus on excellence in a wife. She does that by presenting to him a number of character traits that are present in a wife who is excellent. He reminds her son that when he does find one - her worth is far above jewels. There is a hint here of just how difficult a task this may be. Jewels are not found lying around on the ground. You have to search for them. There are few precious jewels - but a lot of rocks. So also may be the search for an excellent wife.
There also may be just a little more than a tinge of pain here for Bathsheba as she writes this to her son. She was not an excellent wife to either Uriah or David. Unfortunately her wisdom was learned in the school of sinful, hard knocks. She betrayed her first husband by committing adultery - and eventually cost him his life in doing this with a very powerful man. Then she agreed to a sham marriage for the sake of covering up her indiscretions - that cost her the first born child of that union. She was a woman who was very beautiful outwardly - but that outward beauty was not indicative of the inward state of her heart. Now, her goal was to do all she could to keep her son from making a mistake like that his father made. She did this not out of bitterness or resentment - but as a recipient of grace. (see the post for Proverbs 31:1-2)
Even as she wrote the words in verse 11 there had to be pain in the penmanship. The heart of her husband trusts in her. He knows she will be faithful to him - and that truth resides in the core of his heart. The issue of faithfulness and trustworthy character is first on her list. An excellent wife is faithful and true to one man all her days. There are no thoughts lurking within him of her seeking out another man - no thoughts of adultery. Oh the peace that resides in a man's heart when this is true - and oh the torture that hunts a man's spirit when it is not. I've seen men destroyed by jealousy - even the point of doing the unthinkable - killing their wives and then themselves. Let me say that this faithfulness is a two way street and the man is held to no less standard as well.
He will have no lack of gain. Does this mean that if you get the right excellent wife you'll be rich? That is not what Bathsheba is saying to her son. She is saying to him that due to her influence and the spirit she brings to the home, he will know no lack of blessing. Go to a home of an excellent wife and what you will see if a woman who cheers on her husband if he is a CEO or a ditch-digger. He will feel as if he is a king in tthe way that appreciation and love flows to him. If there are good times in their lives - they will enjoy them together. If difficult times ensue - those will be embraced as well. In good times and bad - she will be there to let him know that all things will work together for them as they seek The Lord and follow Christ Jesus. As a result this man - whether he has a large bank account or just two pennies who keep each other company - knows that which this woman he has no lack of gain!
She does him good and not evil all the days of his life. Her heart is set on bringing good to him. In this it is first set on walking with God and knowing Him. Then it is set on whatever God's good, acceptable, and perfect will is for her, her husband, and their entire household. She uses her words to encourage and built him up according to the need of that hour - giving grace to him as he hears her. She looks to him to be a man - to reject passivity - accept responsiblity - to lead her courageously, and to look to God for his ultimate reward. And in any moment he shows an inkling of doing this - she cheers him on - letting him know it is a good work he does. She looks to good as God ultimately defines it and she applies herself to seeing that good given to her husband.
What kind of lady is an excellent wife? She is the lady who is faithful and true to her husband. She is the lady who puts his heart at ease for her eyes and heart are fully his. She is a lady who accepts God's direction and will walked out as wonderful gain - regardless of the financial bottom line it brings. She is a lady who seeks the face of God, knows the Word of God, and according to the will of God - brings good to her husband, shunning any and every evil impulse of her fallen heart. This is quite a wonderful woman. A diamond, a jewel, a rare jem whose worth is not measured by her wealth or her looks - the real gem here is a heart redeemed and remade by God. Find one of these - and you have become rich indeed.
An arrogant man stirs up strife, but he who trusts in the Lord will prosper. Proverbs 28:25
A wise man knows that arrogance and pride are always evil. There are not many things we can say are wrong always - but this is one of them. God said in James that He resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Embrace pride and you will embrace resistance to God's will and ways.
What we learn here about the arrogant man is that he stirs up strife. This is because the arrogant man considers himself right and first at all times and in all things. His pride will not allow him to consider others before himself. the ultimate example of this is Lucifer who, although the annointed one who covered - some say the highest angel in all of heaven - he decided he would be God. This arrogance stirred up the ultimate stife in all the universe. First it stirred up strife among the angels as a third of them followed him into his eternal insanity. They were subsequently cast out of heaven and are condemned for all eternity for following the pride of the devil.
On a much lower level, we too will find ourselves in strife when we are arrogant. An arrogant man will not humble himself. He will resist confessing sin - or even the thought of him doing something wrong. He will not serve others - but will demand that others serve him. He will not follow leadership - because he wants to lead - and then wants no one to question his leadership. His very demeanor will stirr up strife among others who will react to his arrogant ways.
What is portrayed against this strife-causing arrogance is a man who trusts in the Lord. He looks to God and relys on God's work in people's hearts and minds. As a result he does not have to have his own way. He does not view others as a threat. He can serve them and place himself lower than all others because ultimately he knows that God is in sovereign over all things. The greatest example of this is found in our Lord Jesus Christ. Although he was God, He did not consider equality with God a thing to be grapsed - but humbled Himself and became a man. Christ's humility and trust in God led to very interesting places. He became a man - humbled himself to be a servant - and wound up on a cross being crucified for others. Yet, whereas Satan's pride and arrogance cost him everything - the humility and trust of Jesus in God won Him the name that is above every name. He was blessed for all eternity as the One Who saves. To say that Christ's humble trust caused Him to prosper is an understatement of monumental proportions!
But let's take a moment and leave the lofty courts of heaven itself and get in the trenches where you and I live every day. When we are arrogant and feel like we need to defend ourselves and get what our rights deserve . . . those actions will lead to strife. It is when we trust the Lord and lay down our rights that we will prosper. It is not when we take up the crown but when we embrace the servant's towel that we will prosper. Trust the Lord in every circumstance and become a servant to others. Allow the Lord to prosper you - and then use that prosperity to bring glory to God. This is the way to true happiness and to a blessed life. It may cost in the short term - but in the long term of a person's life it will lead to so much more - and to the ultimate blessings for all eternity!
A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished. Proverbs 28:20
Get rich quick schemes usually come with some form of sin involved in it. The quick riches come at the expense of others. The lottery is such a scheme - everyone is buying a chance to strike it rich - and only one does. All the others waste their money. The lottery is for those who are bad at mathmatics or who are wanting to get rich so that they can quit working. Either way - their riches come with a burden of sin. That is what today's proverb counsels against.
Let's look at the last half of this proverb first. The one who makes "haste" to be rich is going to face punishment in the end. It is never wise to be hasty in decisions or in following schemes that others hatch to make you rich. The corporate world is filled with those who learn to become rich on the backs of other's misfortune. Companies are bought and gutted for the purpose of making the investor rich - and people in the Stock Market are always talking of plans whereby you get rich quickly. The problem is that in every case - someone has to pay a price for your quick wealth. The phrase at the end of this proverb that reads, "will not go unpunished" is a Hebrew phrase that also means, "will not be innocent." The idea is that some form of sin is entered into that leaves them guilty - and eventually will lead to them being punished. Just know that every scheme that makes someone rich hastily - will leave them with an aspect of guilt in the end.
God is not against people becoming rich. God promised riches to the patriarchs and to Israel if they would follow Him with all their heart. He also warned them that when they became rich they would have a tendency to forget God and trust in their riches. God is against those who make haste to be rich - and cut corners morally to do so.
The Lord wants us to be faithful. Work is NOT EVIL! There are so many who think work is some sort of evil activity that came with the fall of man into sin. Work was something God gave man in the garden before the fall. Therefore to do faithful work puts us in a position for God to bless us. That is why The Lord says here that the faithful man will abound with blessings. Those blessings may include financial riches - but for many it does not. The blessings abound in numerous areas. I am blessed with my work associates - and the friendships that have been built over the years. I am blessed with projects that we do together that bring a very real sense of accomplishment. I am blessed with less temptation because my hands and my mind is busy doing work. I am blessed with being able to see my children learn the value of a strong work ethic because they've watched their father do what he learned from his father. I am blessed with a good night's sleep because I am tired and ready to go to bed each evenring. For some there is a blessing of an expanding business where others can be blessed with employment. And there is the blessing of serving others in your work - and building more and more of a servant's heart. Regardless of whether the blessings are financial or through moral character building - there is such a blessing that is ours when we embrace faithful work. May God help us to once again embrace the value of lifelong faithful work - and shun the get rich quick schemes that always involve some aspect of guilt and sin.
Like cold water to a weary soul, So is good news from a distant land. - Proverbs 25:25
One of the joys that God has graced me with is to see my children follow Him in taking the gospel to the nations. As a result of such blessings, I also know the blessing of hearing of good news from a distant land. When my daughter was in Africa we would often plan a time when we would Skype together and talk. It was so refreshing to hear what God was doing in her life - and to know that He was faithful even thousands of miles away. When we would talk to her and hear such things, it was indeed cold water for a weary soul.
But there is a message from a far more distant land that should be infinitely more refreshing to our souls. It is the message of the gospel and it should be the best of all news that has come to us from the distant land of heaven itself. God has sent such a message to us - not by UPS or by FED-EX, or even by email or Skype. He sent such a message in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The message that God sent to us was not a message of pleasantries. It was a message of grace given to us because we were facing wrath for our sins. This message from a far land began as a child within the womb of a peasant girl - yet this was no ordinary child. The Message was God, yet man. The Message grew up as ordinary as any other child would have - and grew into a man. Yet the Message from a far land was no ordinary man. He did works unlike any other man - even raising the dead. Then there was a day when this Message from a far land was rejected and hung upon a cross - cursed of man, but more importantly bearing the curse from God. He died that day, was buried, but three days later rose from the dead. To many this does not sound much like good news from a far land. It sounds like injustice and a horror story.
This news, though, was about far more than what happened to the Message. It was about what happened to our sin and our state before God - who sent the Message in the first place. You see, our sin was paid for and forgiven - and our state went from one who is sinful, wicked, and worthy of punishment to one who is perfectly righteous in the sight of a holy God. So, indeed, this is good news from a far land.
Want to be refreshed? Then take the time to review the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the most glorious news ever heard from a distant land!
An inheritance gained hurriedly at the beginning will not be blessed in the end. Proverbs 20:21Quick money is often thought of as a blessing - but often is more like a curse. This proverb is all about warning us of the dangers of greed and quickly gaining money and wealth without having the character to deal with what we receive. The best example of this is the prodigal son. His father gave him his inheritance, but he was not ready morally to handle it. What happened next is an altogether too often heard story. He wasted his inheritance on loose living and partying with his new-found friends. He only learns when the money is gone that he has no real friends among the sycophants who have gathered around him. He only has regrets and abject poverty. The inheritance gained hurriedly at the beginning - was not blessed in the end.
Note here that the problem is "hurriedly" gaining this inheritance. A wise man will prepare his children and his children's children for the inheritance that they will most likely receive at his death. He does this by teaching them the value of work. This work ethic that is built into them gives them a proper perspective toward money. They see money earned and see that they do not waste all their hard work on silly and frivilous pursuits. When the inheritance comes - they learn to spend it and invest it in ways that will bring long-term blessing rather than just a short-term high.
The best way to prepare a person for an inheritance is to have them focused on God rather than on money. They see an inheritance is a blessing to pass on rather than to be wasted on their lusts and desires. They want to see the family wealth passed to many generations. This is called generational wealth - and it can bless multiple generations of one family. But even more important than this is passing on to children the truth that the things of this world are passing away. Therefore the wise man invests and sees real wealth in terms of becoming rich toward God. This means investing in the kingdom of God - investing in good works - and investing in buiilding up disciples of Jesus Christ who can bless multiple generations. Ultimately the wise man teaches his children that the greatest inheritance is that given to us by God. We are blessed with a heavenly inheritance in Christ Jesus our Lord. That inheritance will never pass away - and is reserved in heaven for us.
Wealth - especially sudden, hurriedly gained wealth will test us sorely. We will be tested in our values - in our view of what is truly valuable - and in our view toward eternally valuable things. The man whose master is money (mammon in Scripture) will cling to that master and hate any others who rival him. The man whose master is the Lord will be blessed not just in the short term as he receives an inheritance, he will be blessed in his own generation - in multiple generations afterward - and ultimately, he will be blessed in the presence of God forever. Now there is an inheritance worth living for in life!
Bright eyes gladden the heart; Good news puts fat on the bones. Proverbs 15:30
It is a good thing to be bright-eyed and fat-boned as a Christian. Ok, there is a sentence you won't hear everyday. Yet the fact is that today's proverb tells us that this is a good thing - and that the wise man will fully embrace it. Therefore it would definitely be good to understand just what this proverb speaks about - so that we can be blessed in this way.
Bright-eyed . . . We hear of people who wake up each morning being "bright-eyed and bushy-tailed." This is an expression that refers to someone who wakes up and is truly awake. The idea of being bushy-tailed refers to a squirrel who when his tail is bushy means that he is fully alert. These are English expressions, but what we are dealing with here is a Hebraism. It was an expression that meant something to a Jewish person - just like our sayings mean something to us.
This proverb is a "restated" proverb, meaning that each half restates the other. Thus this brightening of the eyes - is similar to the good news that puts fat on the bones. So we can know that the effect on the eyes here is from seeing good things. What is fascinating though is looking at the word "bright" in the ways that it is used in other places in the Old Testament. The overwhelming use of this word is in reference to the light of the seven-fold lap in the tabernacle of Moses. The reason this is fascinating is because of the imagry that this picture. The lamp was filled with holy oil - a picture of the ministry and work of the Holy Spirit. The lamp was the only source of light in the Holy place. It illuminted two things in that room. There was the table of showbread - which is a type of God's Word. There was also the altar of incense - which is a type for us of prayer and worship. Now in light of these things, let's look at at this proverb again.
What is the news that fattens our heart? It is when we have the full measure of the illumining work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. When that is the case we have Him opening the Word to us. We have Him opening our hearts to pray and to worship God. This would definitely make our hearts glad. This is the best news of all - God is worthy - God wants us to make our requests known to Him - God wants to speak to us through His Word!
This also makes wonderful sense when we see what the Hebraism, "fat-bones" means. This particular Hebraism means a sense of prosperity. When someone has fat on their bones - they are prosperous and blessed. It is good news that does this. Indeed there is a sense that this proverb can simple mean having eyes that are brightened by seing good things and ears that hear good things - makes us glad and prosperous. But there is also a deeper spiritual meaning that takes us to a different level. When we hear and see the good news that the Scripture tells us about God - it brings joy to our heart and spiritual fatness to our bones.
It is a wise thing when a man submits himself to the work of the Holy Spirit. This will brighten his eyes and bring great gladness to his heart. He will see the gospel, which indeed is good news. He will see the truth of God which will put some serious fat on his bones. He will find himself prospering greatly in the Lord - blessed with spiritual growth - and delghted in the goodness of God. No doubt about it - it is a good thing to start your day with a quiet time where you seek the Lord - and submit yourself to the Spirit of God as a teacher and guide. Doing that will truly make you a bright-eyed and fat-boned Christian!