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.