Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future. Proverbs 31:25
As we look at the excellent wife, we now turn to inner qualities in her life. These are discussed in verses 25-28 and once again represent a godly woman who takes her role seriously before God, before her family, and before the outside world around her. In verse 25 three things characterize the inner qualities of this godly wife.
First, she is a woman of strength. Keil and Delitzsch say this about the word strength here. "She is clothed with strength, which is the power over the changes of temporal circumstances, which easily shatter and bring to ruin a household resting on less solid foundations." Hers is an inner strength derived from a relationship with God - and from the Scriptures which guide those who know Him. Just as she would clothe herself daily with outward dress - she also turns each day to God for the inner strength she will need to face the world and love those in her family. When I think of what strength she functions from, Ephesians 6:10 comes to mind. "Be strong in The Lord and in the strength of His might." Any lady who has run a home knows that Keil and Delitzsch's comments are very true. The average home faces changing circumstances - especially when it comes to the people who live in it. The godly wife is a rock to her family - in that she faces the problems they face with the wisdom of God. The throes of a child's life - especially in the Junior and Senior High years are a roller-coaster of emotions, highs and lows, and wrestlings with the world seeking to influence them negatively. She faces every battle - every situation - every new trial with strength.
Secondly, we see that she faces these things with "dignity." The word here is "glory" which here points to a mindset that thinks above that which is low, little, or common. She does not look to life as just getting by or living for the things of this world. She thinks higher than that. She is clothed with a mind and a heart that reaches higher - that desires a life that glorifies God. Some live aspiring to no glory at all. They live in the mundane and think that is all that they will be able to do. But a godly woman knows that God wants to work in those around her - and she cooperates, knowing that in doing so a touch of glory will be on the lives of those around her as a result. She is both dignified - and lives with a dignity that has others look up to her.
Because of these things the godly wife smiles at the future. There is something that is needed today. Too many look at the future and grit their teeth as they await the devastation they figure is coming. The godly woman faces all things with God's strength seeking God's glory - and as a result smiles that although much may be wrong in the world - she sees things in light of growing closer to God and doing things that glorify Him. As a result, regardless of the circumstances, she smiles at the future knowing that getting closer to God - loving Him more - serving Him better - and selflessly giving herself for those around her is not governed by anyone other than herself as she responds to God Himself. That is why while all others seem to frown at the future - she stands smiling and looking to God for His work even in the midst of a crooked and godless generation.
The inner strength, character, and outlook of the excellent wife sets her apart from other women. She stands as a beacon of hope and joy in a world where too many struggle with depression and thoughts that everything stinks. Rather than let the world depress her - she seeks to live by God's purposes and designs - and then seeks to influence the world rather than let it influence her. What a delight it is to know such a woman - and an ever better one to have one blessing your home.
She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17 She girds herself with strength And makes her arms strong. 18 She senses that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night. 19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hands grasp the spindle. Proverbs 31:16-19
This is the third day that we have looked at qualities of the excellent wife. In the verses we look at today we see that this particular woman that Bathsheba is describing for her son is an industrious woman. Let’s look at the ways that she walks out her industriousness.
First we see that she knows real estate – or at least how to “consider” a field in which she plans to plant a vineyard. The word here for “consider” is “zamam” and it means to speak to oneself in a low voice or a quiet one. The concept here is that of deliberating on something. It meant to formulate a plan of action – from beginning to end – and then counsel with yourself to make sure that the plan is a good one. It represents the inner thought process one has as they seek God and even converse within themselves when making a very important decision. For the excellent wife this decision concerns whether a field is worth purchasing. This includes the thought of whether the field is acceptable for agriculture (in this case to plant a vineyard). Then it moves on to whether she has the money to make the purchase – as well as whether the field is going to be profitable in the endeavor. This lady is not a wall-flower – and neither is she so delicate that she shuns hard work.
The second thing we see is that this woman is strong. She has girded her arms with strength. This strength is not from going to the gym all the time – but rather from good, old-fashioned hard work. She is planting a vineyard – working a field, then coming home to grasp the distaff and spindle to make yarn and eventually fabric from which to clothe and bless her family. Whatever the work – it is a good thing to have a wife who knows how to work hard. All this is delightful to her – for she senses that her work is good. She sees that the things she is doing are going to be a blessing to her family. She is earning money from which they can be blessed. She is planting a vineyard from which they can get grapes, grape juice, and wine. She is working hard to turn the lamb and sheep’s wool and cotton into cloth and eventually garments for her, her family, her servants, and even those to whom she sells them later in the passage. She even works in the evening time – not having her lamp go out at night for the purpose of blessing those whom she loves.
The excellent wife knows work – knows strength that comes from work – and senses and knows that a good work ethic is a blessing to her and to her family. First there is the direct gain to herself that comes from it. It is a good thing to desire to bless ourselves with our work. There is a self-interest that God has built into each of us that is beneficial to us if we use it to work hard. That self-interest though must go to bless others around us as well. The excellent wife wanted to bless her husband, her children, her servants, and even the men and women in the city as she worked hard to produce things of benefit. That selfless self-interest is what drives a beneficial economy. Things like socialism and communism have NEVER blessed a country and its economy. That is because they do not encourage work ethic. They do not encourage a selfless self-interest to be productive. They encourage instead a growing dependence on government as the driver of all things – and the one that determines who gets what in the end. Everywhere that has been practiced it has encouraged laziness and greater dependence on someone to give us more and more – even if we did not work to get it. The excellent wife knows that her example of hard work will do more than give the family a few more shekels. She will promote that same hard working ethic in her children and in others around her. She will provide goods for others – and will show people that hard work and frugality does bring blessing on those who practice it. In the end, the excellent wife knows that there is more to this than raising grapes . . . she needs to raise children and their children to many generations with the same hard-working mindset. That will last far longer than a bunch of grapes or any other products she labors to produce.
The glory of young men is their strength, And the honor of old men is their gray hair. Proverbs 20:29
Today's proverb gives us some valued information about both young men and old men. This is not a proverb that compares them against each other. It gives us the best view of what is wonderful about them - and what they should strive for in their youthful zeal - as well as their older, wiser days.
There are some great words used here to describe the younger man and his pursuit in the things of God - and in life in general. Note that God's wisdom tells us there is a "glory of young men." When you are younger in years you seek after the glory of something. This is not meant to be a negative statement - as if the younger man is usurping the glory of God. They just have an appetite for glory. The best way to describe this is that they yearn for rewards in life. If you place a goal with a reward that grants glory for something - young men will pursue it with great passion. These are the years when trophies, plaques, awards, and bonuses mean the most. Put a goal in front of these young men - and they will be greatly motivated to reach it. This is why the movement to make everyone equal at a young age is not good for our children. The whole, "we don't keep score" and "everyone is a winner" is not a realistic view of life. Granted we don't want competition to become an all-consuming desire to where morals and character don't seem to matter any longer - but the fact of life is that there is going to be competition. There are going to be winners and losers chosen in almost every area of life. Solomon warns that this can become vanity - when competition becomes the only thing that matters - but at the same time God's Word exhorts us to run the race "so as to win." Only one person gets the prize (or one team) but a wise parent encourages his children to excell at what they do - even if all they have to measure their success is their own previous performance.
We read here that the young man's glory is his strength. Young men want to be strong in some way. Some choose physical strength - others mental prowess. Whatever way they choose, they love being seen as strong in something. There is a wisdom that takes this desire and channels it in ways that are very constructive. Encourage your young men to find something they enjoy - or an area in which they can excell. Put goals and lofty aspirations before them in this - and then encourage the daylights out of them as they strive toward it. Let me give you a small example of this. Too often we do not challenge our young men - and this is a detriment that cripples them later in life. We are so given to the fear that they will have their self-image damaged - that we do not see that it already is because as young men they are not being challenged to do great things. One summer I took the high school guys I work with and challenged them to read the New Testament once a month - and memorize 8-10 verses a week. They were to do this in June, July, and August. Some might be concerned that I was "setting them up to fail" and that their poor little self worth would be damaged as a result. But that was not the case. They rose to the task with youthful vigor and strength! They loved it - and as a result were blown away at what God did in their hearts as they strove for something challenging. They each felt their strength as they were challenged to do something that was a huge challenge. They would come in week by week having met the challenge - or needing to step up and do what needed to be done to meet it. These young men gloried in the strength to do something hard for God.
What about old men? What is it that motivates and moves them. Note first that the word glory is removed and the word honor is inserted. Older men desire honor - but once again let me state that they do not desire God's honor in an ungodly way. Their desire is for others to realize that they have lived a godly, honorable life - and due to this should be respected and honored for their years of labor and wisdom. The proverb says that older men are honored due to their grey hair. Grey hair is achieved by . . . getting older It means that you've lived for a while. We joke that grey hair comes because of walking through the difficulties and challenges of life. That may not be as much of a joke as we think. Grey hair means you are no longer a young man plowing through life's difficulties. It means you've walked through them - and honestly - know ways that are wiser and better. Grey hair comes with battle scars and with proven character in the difficult trials that life throws your way. Grey hair means you've been around for a while - you've been knocked down a lot - but it also means that you've gotten back up and continued in the way a little better and a little wiser. There is a phrase older men know - you learn to work smarter, not just harder. This comes from wisdom - and it is a reason to be honored. Honor comes when people listen to you. They listen, not because you love to talk and because you have a thousand stories you repeat again and again. They listen because you are wise and becasue you truly have something to say. They listen because you not only know the road - but you know the good short-cuts. You know the the short-cuts that work - and those that will result in disasters. You also know that some things are only learned over time - and that there are no short-cuts to them. They also listen because you've walked with God for years - have survived the pitfalls and ambushes of life - and have come out a godly man.
There is a lack of wisdom that unwisely pits younger men against older men. It devalues one or the other while trying to make the case that one is more important than the other. The truth - and wisdom tells us that both are needed. The military needs strong young men who can fight - yet it also relies on older, seasoned men to strategize the best ways to fight and defend the land. Business needs young, strong men who can work hard and cover a lot of things - yet it also relies on older, wiser men to navigate the dangerous paths that can often destroy a business. Both are needed - if they understand their roles and don't succumb to jealousy. Blessed is the business, organization, and nation who grasps this - who values the strength of young men and the grey hair of older ones. They will receive the best of both ends of the age spectrum - and will prepare the next generation of older men to do the same. The fact is this - the younger men of today are becoming the older men of tomorrow. Oh that we will learn to value the contributions of both - and will find ourselves continuously training the next group of older men who will lead and appreciate the younger.
He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city. Proverbs 16:32
It is interesting that the wisdom of God puts greater value on persistant patience, longsuffering, and goodness than on sheer physical strength. Self-control was something that was more valued than military heroism. Who truly is the strong man? Is he the guy who can flex his muscles and take up a sword and lead an army? Or could it be the one who can control his own passions and prevent a battle from ever needing to take place?
Could it be that part of the downfall of Goliath was the anger with which he carried out his attack on David? Could it be that in running to the battle line, he did not take care to fight not just with strength, but with wisdom? Could it be that Egypt's anger and rage led them to ride foolishly into the midst of the Red Sea - when everything should have told them to halt their attack? So often the ability to rule our spirit is one of the most difficult things we have to do in life. To halt our tongue from speaking in anger - to refrain from entering the fray when our feelings are hurt - to stop a fight before it begins - all these are not easy things to do - and require a depth and strength of character that is often lacking in men and women.
Samson was indeed a strong, mighty man - physically. But he did not "rule his spirit" at all when it came to anger - and other more dangerous passions. In the end - though he did many mighty acts of valor - he was overcome by the wiles of a woman who knew his lack of control over his spirit. Great fighters know how to get their opponents angry - for then they will no longer be controlled by their mind - but by their rage. It is in such moments that the majority of them make a fatal mistake - and the more talented - more controlled boxer - finds his opening and knocks out his opponent with little more than a blow or two.
We too need to be men who not just physically are strong - but are spiritually and morally strong as well. But the truly wise among us know that such a feat of strength is beyond our flesh. It is only Christ Who truly mastered sin and took it to the grave with Him. He rose victorious over it - and granted to us, through His resurrection, the power to win this illusive victory. It is His power that will allow us to master the most difficult foe of all - that of mastery of our own spirit. Then, dear brothers and sisters, is when we are truly mighty - when we are truly strong - and when we are truly a champion. Just know that the only way this can happen is by coming to know and walk with the ONLY Champion - Jesus Christ!
"She girds herself with strength and makes her arms strong. Proverbs 31:17
The godly woman is not the quintessential weak or frail woman. According to God she is strong and does what is necessary to have physical strength in her arms. Please do not misunderstand me to be saying that a godly woman is a fitness freak. She isnrather a woman who knows that it is wise to be able to maintain her physical strength for the sake of her family, for the work God would have her do, and for even her own well-being.
As a guy who is getting older I am realizing the wisdom in taking better care of my physical well being. You are much less effective in life when your health begins to fail. This is worse when your health fails due to your own lack of wisdom and bad eating and exercise habits. The wise woman knows this and takes care of herself.
The wise woman makes herself and her arms strong for a good reason. At this point I am going to meddle a little for the sake of godliness for the ladies who read this. When you read this passage you see why this godly woman seeks to be physically fit and strong. She does it to be able to serve her Lord and her family. She is not getting fit in order to be hot and look good in a bikini. She is not doing it so that she can dress in tight clothes so she will have men compliment her on her figure and so women can tell her how skinny she is getting. She does it for the glory of God, not for her own glory.
Ladies, the Word encourages you to be wise, to remain strong, and to stay healthy. It does so not so that you can serve the American cult of self-centered "hotness." he encourages this so that you can be an effective godly woman who loves her husband and who loves her children. In this way you will receive the only praise God desires for you to pursue - the praise of God Himself and the praise of your husband and children as they see in you that servant heart that brings glory to God and good to your family, church, and friends in Jesus name.
The spirit of a man can endure his sickness, But as for
a broken spirit who can bear it? Proverbs 18:14
There are two kinds of sickness that can come upon us. One is a sickness that we can endure and bear - but there is a second type mentioned in the Scripture that is impossible to bear without the work and grace of God being upon us.
We are told that the spirit of a man can endure his sickness. This sickness mentioned here is the word used for various illnesses that come upon us due to the face that we live in a fallen world. The entrance of sin into our world ruined it. It also introduced sickness and death into our world as well. But a man's spirit can help him endure his sickness. I am about to share something that will cause some to react badly. If we live in this world, we are going to face illness and sickness. Because of the fall of man and the entrance of sin into our world - sickness also came into it as well. What I mean by this is NOT that anyone who is sick must have sinned. That is false doctrine. But what I do mean is that when sin entered the human race - death did as well. Now all things are running down - aging - and generally falling apart. The second law of thermodynamics tells us that things are moving from order to disorder. That is true in our very makeup itself. Our cells are breaking down - our DNA is liable to mutation (which is never good) - and we will slowly fall apart until we physically die. This is fact. Those who think we can go through all of life simply confessing divine health - and therefore never having to be sick or adversely affected by the degeneration of our world or ourselves are sadly mistaken. They to will die due to the sin of man.
Now, before I completely depress you, let me return to our proverb today. Our spirit can help us endure sickness. There is an inner strength that is granted to us in our spirit that helps us deal with the fact that we are human. We will make it through sickness. I've seen the extreme of this in believers who glorify God in the midst of terminal illnesses. There is something so alive and strong in them - even in the midst of their last days. They conquer death - even as they face it. That is the power of God working in our spirits.
But the Proverb does warn of a second sickness that is unbearable to the human condition. "But as for a broken spirit who can bear it?" The word for broken here is so telling. It does not refer to what we experience at the end of a romance - the famous broken heart of romantic movies and novels. This broken spirit is one that is stricken and scouraged. It refers to more than just suffering. It refers to when we come to see that everything we can live for in this life means nothing. It is the brokenness that God actually seeks to bring us to in life. It is a brokenness that cannot be cured with more stuff or more power. It won't be solved by a new romance - or another boyfriend or girlfriend. This brokenness goes to the very depths of our spirit. It is God telling us that we cannot be self-repaired. We need Him. That is why the wise man poses the question, "Who can bear it?" No one can - except he turn to God. Only He can reach to the very core of our deadness and cause our spirit to come alive. This work He does by the Spirit of God as He applies the gospel of Jesus Christ to our broken condition. Then we find ourselves fixed - and actually far more than fixed. We are reborn - and our spirit comes alive as the Holy Spirit grants us the very life of God.
The wise man knows as he sees and endures the sicknesses of this present world that something is terribly wrong with this world. The death that reigns over this present world points us to a much deeper death that reigns over our souls. This brokenness of spirit can only be repaired by God. He has given the cure in the gospel of Jesus Christ. And . . . a wise man knows to turn to God for His ultimate remedy for a broken spirit.
If you are slack in the day of distress, Your strength is limited. Proverbs 24:10Why do distresses and troubles come to us? I know that I would like it much better if I had a life without these things. In fact most often I think that these kind of things are not just a problem - they are an annoyance. Some equate such things to the devil - as if troubles never come to us within the will of God or have a purpose in what He does in our lives. But they have tremendous purpose. Without them we would face grave problems in the end. Let's take a few moments today then and look closer at how God uses trials and distress for our good.
The proverb today says that we are slack if in the day of distress our strength is limited. The word "slack" here means to cease and desist, to become discouraged or disheartened. To be slack in the day of distress is to lack the strength to face the distress or trial and thus to quit - become discouraged or disheartened by it. How often have we faced distresses only to realize that we lose heart in the midst of them. We don't have the strength to go through them without becoming seriously discouraged? That is why they are given to us. To teach us when we lack strength - or lack the kind of mindset that makes us fight when things get rough. We need distresses because it is only when we are tried and tested that we can know if we are learning anything from the Lord. It is only in these times that we will know whether we are just being religious - or whether we are gaining the strength to stand when things get difficult for us.
Without distresses we would not know the joy of knowing that God's strength is sufficient for us to stand in any situation. As we go through these things, we learn that our hearts need to be stronger and our minds more filled with God's Word. We learn when our thinking is off and easily led astray in trouble. These things are vital to us as we seek to mature in the Lord. Yes, it is tough to go through a distress - and on top of it learn that our strength is limited. But when we learn this - we turn to the Lord - realizing that it is only in Him that we will be able to stand in every distress and every trial!