She looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight. She is like merchant ships; she brings her food from afar. She rises also while it is still night and gives food to her household and portions to her maidens. Proverbs 31:13-15
Solomon's mother is describing for hiim the excellent wife. She began with how the excellent wife is faithful and true to her husband. The second trait that she describes for him is how the excellent wife cares for her household. There are thre things mentioned in these verses. Let's take a look at them.
First we see that she looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight. Just an observation that we should make initially is that this lady is not into watching soap operas and reality shows and eating bon-bons on the couch. She is a busy lady, as most wives are. She is looking for things to do. Here we see that she is searching for wool and flax - evidently to do some kind of handcrafted items for either her family, her employees, or paying customers. It is interesting to find, after reading an Enclyclopaedia Brittanica article on these two substances - that far more than just knitting or sewing is involved in gathering these two things. The wool is gathered from sheep - and is first strained in a manner of speaking to get the fatty substance from it. This is used for greasing things - and was also considered a beauty aid in how it softened skin. The flax was gathered from the field and was used for a number of different things. The fibers of the plant were used to help make linen - while the seeds and the crushing of the plant produced flaxseed oil - which was used as a health aid - especially with problems like constipation. The flaxsed oil was also considered a wonderful health aid for older people - as we now have learned that is lowers cholesterol and helps with blood flow in the body.
The excellent wife was not afraid to work with her hands on these things. In fact she considered it a delight to work with her hands. I remember my grandmother working with her hands almost constantly. She was able to knit or crochet, tat or sew and even talk to us while she was doing it. These are things we've pretty much lost in our generation - and it has hurt us. I fear that the majority of women in today's work are not delighted in working with their hands - and instead of having women who talk with their children and families, giving them wisdom and speaking of the things of God - we now gather around a television to listen to the converstaion of fools. Do you really want your kids growing up with the Kardashians, Snooki and JWow, and the Dance moms as their role models?
The excellent wife also enjoys cooking. She does not live out of a box - although that did not exist at that time. This lady goes out of her way to bring interesting and delicious foods to her family. Some southerners take this passage to mean that she grills out all the time (you know - she brings her food from a'far - from a fire - southern drawl removed). She looks for good food - and seeks out merchants who bring interesting and exotic foods that will make for exciting fare for the family.
The third thing we see is that this excellent wife has servants who work for her. But she is humble - not seeing herself so high above others as not to serve them as well. She brings portions even to her maidens as she rises early in the morning to cook for them as well as her family. I have to admit to nostalgia when reading this - because I cannot remember a time, other than when my mother was sick, that I did not wake up to the smell of something cooking for breakfast in the morning. I took it for granted - and yet - there was a solidity brought to me because I would sit with my mom and dad and eat breakfast with them. We'd talk - and when I was older (adolescence and high school) they would drag conversation out of me. It might shock you to learn that they did this even though I was a competitive swimmer for four years, waking up at 5:00 a.m. to get to an early morning practice. What was interesting is that even though the hour was early - my mom never complained about it. She just delighted in doing kind things for me.
Ladies - I've always marvelled at how you can give yourselves away for your husbands and children! The selflessness and hard work truly amazes me. The excellent wife is like this - delighting to work with her hands - to make even exotic and exciting meals - and to rise early to feed her household. The word that I guess describes all this is the compound word, "servant-hearted." What a blessing comes to a famiily when they have such a lady as the woman of the house. Her character is much like that of her Lord Who said that He did not some to be served either - but to serve and give His life for others. Ladies, when you live like this you bless your entire home - not just with hand-made items, food, and breakfast . . . but with the very spirit of Christ permeating your home.
Correct your son and he will give you comfort; He will also delight your soul. Proverbs 29:17
It is a common error for parents to think that if they discipline their children, they will not like them later in life. This is especially the case when at the time of the discipline the child makes a comment to the effect that they hate you. Another winner at this juncture is when a child announces in overdramtic fashion that you are ruining their life. Let me assure you from having reared 6 children of all personality types - when you discipline them you are not ruining their lives. What you are doing is insuring that at a later date you will find comfort and delight in a child who knows how to control himself and make wise choices.
Correcting your son involves discipline. The word here is "yasar" and it means to discipline, chasten, instruct, teach, and even punish. This process of correction therefore takes into account all the aspects of rearing a child. It means so much more than just spanking or punishing a child when they do wrong. It involves instructing and teaching them even as you chasten and punish them. It is not enough to tell a child something is bad - you have to eventually explain why something is bad or a wrong choice. When you do this, you take the time to encourage them toward godly, right behavior.
When you rear a child in this fashion you will find that your son gives you two wonderful things. First, we are told that he gives us "comfort." The word here means to give someone a sense of rest and repose. It can also mean a rest in the way you feel when you are satisfied with something. A well-disciplined child, although a chore during the process, will give a parent rest as they make godly, wise choices later in life. I know from a little experience and from helping others that when a child makes unwise choices - it can rob you of any sense of rest or relaxation. Some parents seem to spend a majority of their latter years rescueing a child from one disaster after another. That is not rest!
The second blessing that comes to parents who correct their children is delight. The Hebrew word here is "ma'aden" and it means something of beauty or when refering to food something that tastes wonderful. One of the blessings that I have is that of thoroughly enjoying my children. We have 6 of them - and they are a delight to the soul of their mother and father. When they visit we speak deeply of spiritual things - and we have a blast together - often laughing and enjoying each other's company. That is what is promised here.
Now just a word in closing on this proverb. The delight often comes later in life - because rearing a child is a full contact sport! There were many times when we struggled to know what to do - and how to deal with rebellion in our children. There were times when my wife and I were dropped to our knees in broken-hearted prayer on their behalf. We both know that the reason they are godly today is because of God's grace and mercy - not our wonderful, bookworthy parenting. So do not lose heart if at first you read this and wonder about such words as comfort and delight. That comes after you've spent 15-20 years of work together rearing them - praying for them - and often wondering what may become of them. That part is the "correcting" phase. It is not always delightful - but is very useful to God not only to bless your children - but to drop you to your knees for a few times of God's work in you as well.
A man has joy in an apt answer, And how delightful is a timely word! Proverbs 15:23
Don't you love it when you say the right thing - in the right way - at just the right time? That is what our proverb is about today. It is about being wise enough to know when to speak - and not only that - but what to speak when you have the opportunity.
The beginning of this proverb starts with a Hebraism about the mouth. There is joy in having an answer of the mouth, which the way that this Hebraism would read. It has to do with the ability to speak well - or in this case to speak what helps others. When speaking of Moses' complaint to God about his inability to speak, this similar Hebraism is used. Moses complained to God that he had a "heavy mouth." This meant that he stuttered and stammered when he spoke. This speech problem made Moses think he could not be a spokesman for God. God gave him Aaron to speak for him, but we see plainly that Moses did not struggle to speak when the Spirit of God moved upon him to confront Pharaoh. The mouth of the man here in proverbs knows no such problem. He brings joy to others as they here the "answer of his mouth," which means the perfect thing to say in the moment. Whether this is a word of teaching, reproof, correction, or training in righteousness - the best word to speak is one that is in agreement with God's Word on the matter.
The prophet Nathan spoke the perfect word to David to bring him to repentance over his adultery and cover-up of his sin. Joshua spoke the perfect word to the people of Israel as they needed to decide whether they would serve the Lord. David spoke the perfect word to Goliath to remind him that God was going to give David victory because of Goliath's mocking of God. Daniel had the perfect words to speak to Nebuchadnezzar when he needed his dream interpretted. Jesus always had the perfect word to speak to detractors, to those who were hungry for his Word, and to those who came to Him needy and longing for God's grace and healing.
A timely word is delightful - both to the one who speaks it and to the one who receives it. There are so many who come to church hurting who need to hear such words. They long for a word of encouragement - for someone to lift them up. Others who are complacent and full of themselves need rebuke. Others still may need exhortation because they are timid about following the Lord radically. And a few who are long term church members, but who do not know Christ, need someone to love them by sharing the gospel with them so they can move from just being religious - to being Christians. No matter what the need, God will give us these "answers of the mouth." He will do so as we surrender to Him and desire far more to speak the truth in love - than just to engage in small talk.
A wise son makes a father glad, But a foolish man despises his mother. Proverbs 15:20
At first look this proverb might look a little prejudiced, giving dad all the gladness and mom the pleasure of being despised by the foolish son. Yet the proverb actually reveals some interesting things to us about children and how they affect both parents as they grow older and make choices according to the way that we have taught them.
One would think this proverb is about parents and their reward for rearing godly children, but it is not. It is rather a proverb dealing with children - and is a warning to them. First, we see that a wise son makes his father glad. When you see a son who is wise, he is going to be the delight of both parents, but especially his dad. He will speak glowingly of his boy, not because of all his achievements, but rather because he acts with wisdom in all his ways. You can have a very successful son in the eyes of the world, and still have a child who is a fool. Many fortunes have been won then lost because a young man is filled with business savvy, but has no wisdom in the way he lives with the riches he amasses. A wise son, though not rich or wealthy, is such a delight to his father. He watches his boy make good decisions - to love his wife and his children. He watches as his boy makes decisions according to the wisdom his father has taught him - both his earthly and heavenly Father that is.
Our proverb turns to the mother though, and refers to how her foolish son treats her. The passage says that he despises her. The word for "despises" is the Hebrew word "bazah" which means to hold in contempt and disdain; to consider worthless or vile. It is quite a strong word and it indicates a child who is very foolish because he does not appreciate his mother. He holds her in contempt even though she has loved him and cared for him. Many a foolish boy is ashamed of his mother - and cringes when she shows him love openly. Such a young man will not be blessed in his life, because he disdains one of the choicest servants he will ever know. In despising his mother like this, he disains his father on earth - her husband, and he disains his Father in heaven - her maker and the One who gave her to him.
How a child views his mother has much to say about his heart. The child who is more concerned with looking cool to his friends will treat his mother with contempt and disdain. He breaks her heart often - even though she continues to serve and love him. This young man has no humility or gratefulness, which will come back to haunt him later in life. He spurns her wisdom for the opinions of his foolish friends. Solomon's son did this with his father's advisors and watched his kingdom split as a result.
Oh, young man - and honestly, even older men. Treasure the mother that God gave you as one of His choicest gifts. Openly acknowledge her to others and praise her before your friends. I often tell people that when a young man courts your daughter, pay close attention to how he treats his mother. You are watching in that how he will one day treat your daughter. When a man cannot love and honor and treasure his mom, you are looking at a fool. That fool will not prosper in ways that matter for eternity - you can bank on the Word of God that this will be true. Therefore fathers, teach your sons by your actions and attitudes to honor their mothers - to thank them for all that they have done for them. Teach them that this is practice for having a prosperous and delightful marriage. If they cannot treasure the woman who they can see - how will they be ready to treasure one they have not seen yet?
The perverse in heart are an abomination to the LORD, But the blameless in their
walk are His delight. Proverbs 11:20
When God uses the word "abomination" it is only when it is about things that are very serious - and very wrong. Today's proverb uses that word as well as later using the word "delight." We have before us a proverb that tells us what God hates, as well as what He loves.
What God considers to be an abomination is someone who is perverse in heart. The word for "perverse" is the Hebrew "iqqesh" which speaks of something or someone who is crooked and perverse. This word is used to describe those who have moral, religious, or social perversions - and was used corporately of Israel to describe their crookedness. This one is twisted in their thinking, and therefore tends to twist what God says so that in the end God says what he wants to say. The perversity is said to be in the heart of this individual. Since we know that Scripture says that our hearts are the watercourse of our lives - this is a very serious problem. The fundamental center of this person's decision-making process is crooked and twisted. God considers such a man an abomination. In case we need any reminder what the word abomination means, we can know that it means to abhort or to detest. The word loathe is also associated with this concept.
Before we jump to a conclusion and state that God shouldn't feel this way about someone, we need to remind ourselves why Satan was cast our of heaven. It is because he had a perverse heart that lifted himself above God. The heart of the devil is a despicable thing - and God abhors it - and all those who seek to function with that same flawed, perverse thinking will fall under the wame ban
But before we think this proverb is just about the evil, we have an equal and opposite action and attitude as well. The Lord delights in those who are blameless in their walk. They seek to honor and obey God in all things. This is not just in isolated incidents, but speaks of their entire way of life. We see the Hebrew word "derek" used here - which speaks of a lifestyle. It is their way of life - to seek to be blameless before God and man. The Lord loves such a person - and finds His delight in watching them honor Him throughout their day. In the end, this is due as well to the state of their heart as well. They delight in obeying Him - and He delights in their obedience.
But to those who rebuke the wicked
will be delight, And a good blessing will come upon them. He kisses the lips Who gives a right answer. Proverbs 24:25-26
We continue with Solomon's comments on partiality and favoritism. There is a blessing that comes to those who do what is right in these situations. We are told of those who "rebuke" the wicked. These are the men who give a right answer when faced with issues of justice and righteousness. Let's take a couple of minutes to learn what they do - and how they are rewarded.
To "rebuke" here means more than just speaking a simple word of correction. The Hebrew word is "yakah" which means to argue, convince, convict, judge, or reprove. This word usually has the meaning of clarifying where someone stands morally. This involves making arguments to establish the ground upon which a moral judgment is made. The word is used of God's reproof and rebuke of the wicked and sinful. When He rebukes, there is no doubt the right-ness of His Words - and the biblical reason behind them.
When we rebuke the wicked - it is not just a simple statement that we make. This blessed man comes to the wicked with wisdom, with understanding, and with arguments to help the wicked grasp why their actions are wrong. Christians need to embrace this kind of rebuke and reproof as they seek to convince those who stand in biblically unjust positions of the truth. It is not enough just to say, "I rebuke you for your stand!" The wise man comes with ordered and convincing arguments. He does not come just to state that a position is wrong and ungodly - he makes a case that convinces and convicts the one holding it.
We are told to this kind of man there will be delight and blessing. These will come as he experiences first the blessing of God who delights in wisdom and justice. Knowing the smile of God - and His approval of our works and words is more to us than the favor of all the nations. Please understand that when a godly man takes a stand worldlings will hate him - and some will mock his views. But many will see his arguments and rejoice that righteousness is being upheld. If the "wicked" are in positions of power - this man may face problems - even imprisonment - but the blessing from God - and the joy of the people will abound in what he has said. They may not be able to rescue him from imprisonment, but his words will be embraced by those who love what is just and righteous - and that includes Almighty God Himself. Remember if your stand for truth, righteousness, and justice costs you in this life - that you will be richly rewarded in the life to come - in eternity.
We are told at the close of these statements that, "He kisses the lips who gives a right answer." The right answer here is the honest and true answer. It is the person who does not let the world, or any kind of personal favoritism enter into their thinking and judgment. The proper judgment in this matter is God's judgment. And the "kiss" that is spoken of here is the kiss one gives in approval. The idea expressed here may seem strange to us in the United States, even forward and weird. But in the middle east it was common to express approval with a kiss. Thus the idea here is that when we speak what is right - approving the righteous and rebuking the wicked - there will be favor for us. Those who love what is right will hear - and it will be as one receiving loving favor to hear it.
Wise men speak what is right. They do not allow favoritism and partiality to cloud and darken their judgment. They are instructed by the Word of God as to what is proper and true. They open their mouths to speak this truth to others - not just in a denunciation - but with convincing arguments that help to instruct men as to what is good and right. To have such men around you is a blessing that cannot be measured. Such men are rare and hard to find, so if God gives you one - thank Him for the favor He has shown you - and treasure this blessing always.