Proverbs 31:29 Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all.
There is an influence that the excellent wife has that few consider - and yet it is an influence that reaches to the ends of the earth. William Ross Wallace wrote, "The hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world." He wrote that in his famous poem entitled, "What Rules the World," in 1865. In that wonderful poem Wallace lauds true godly motherhood. He understood the influence that a godly woman can have. He may or may not have known that Solomon said such a thing centuries earlier at the close of his section on the excellent wife. Let's look at what he said.
Solomon begins by promising the excellent wife that her husband will say to her the following statement, "Many daughters have done nobly." A couple of things catch my eye as I look at these words. First, the husband gives a shout out to his mother-in-law. He speaks of "daughters" that have done nobly. The reason they usually do nobly is that they were taught by example and by precept how to be an exemplary wife by their mothers. It is a wise man who praises his mother-in-law for the work that she has done with his wife. Second, the godly husband speaks of how his wife has done "nobly." The word used here is "hayil" and it means to have strength and influence. When it is used of his wife, he uses it to speak of her exemplary character and godliness. He speaks of her virtuous character. The word is used to speak often of either military, financial, or numerical influence. When the husband uses it he speaks of his wife's influence with the family and others. That influence is due to godliness and an excellent work ethic.
The next thing the husband does is compare his wife to others around her. This may seem unwise at first - but he only says that his precious wife excels all others that are around her. He speaks glowingly of her as a jewel among all others. She is his rare gem and is as precious to him and to the family as any gem would be to its owner. In fact, Solomon states elsewhere in proverbs that she is worth more than multiple gems and silver and gold. The wise man does not let his wife wonder if she is being godly and leading the family aright in her husband's absence. HE knows- and he is delighted at what her godly character has brought to his family - and to others around her.
Men . . . your wife needs to hear such things from you! She is, for the most part, ignored and stepped upon by the society around her. Some may even speak well of her actions, but more than anything she wants to hear these things from your mouth! Let her know that in your eyes she excels any other woman. Remind her that the things she is investing in her children will yield great influence as they grow to love Christ and share Him with others. This is the high and noble work of a woman - in fact I believe Scripture indicates it is the highest and noblest work she could aspire to in her life! If she is doing that work - acknowledge it man - acknowledge it!
NOTE: Just a brief word here for single moms who are doing it all alone. It is a sad thing that you will probably not hear such a thing from your husband - especially if you are a single mom due to his unfaithfulness. But know this - all will receive their reward in the end. Know that your heavenly Father sees all - and He will speak such words of encouragement to your heart as you do this hard work by His grace. But there will be a day when before His throne you will hear so much more. You will hear it because you chose to be an exemplary mother - even when the father of your children has been far less than exemplary. But for now precious ladies - you too have done nobly - excelling others with your sacrifice, your humility, and your Christ-honoring attitude and actions! Well done - dear ladies - well done!
Proverbs 31:28 Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
This is the part of the passage on the excellent wife that speaks of the rewards of her choices. The rewards are not received in ceremonies and award shows. She receives no trophies or plaques - no ribbons or citations are given to her. No, the reward of the excellent wife is far better than any of those things. Her reward comes from the praise and affirmation of those she has spent her life seeking to build up and bless. Her reward comes from her children and her husband.
The first thing we see here is that her children rise up and bless her. There are two words used for "bless" in the Scriptures. The word "barak" means to bless another - and most often refers to God blessing others. From what I've studied there is an aspect of grace here. God blesses others and chooses to bring blessing on them. The second word is the one we have used here and it is "ashar". It means to stand up and bless someone - to speak well of them - to compliment or praise them. For someone to receive this, they have to have done something. This kind of blessing is in a way earned by something someone has done to deserve being blessed or praised in this way. When we apply this to the excellent wife - she is blessed by her children - who have all benefited from her gracious works on their behalf. This lady is blessed by her kids - because they have all experienced her kindness and all the good things she does for them. The kids may not always do this - but the passage says that they "rise up" and bless her. The idea here is that as they get older - they come to appreciate what she has done on their behalf. There is also just a hint of them rising up in a kind of defense of their mother. If someone says something bad about mom - the children are quick to dispel this kind of talk by rising up and speaking well of her.
The second thing we see here is that her husband also speaks well of his wife. The word that is used here is "halal," which means "to praise." The kids rise up and say good things about mom - but her husband - he breaks forth into the Hallelujah chorus towards his wife. He has praise for her - but goes beyond what the kids have to say. In fact, we are given the verbiage of what he has to say about his sweet bride. We'll look into that another day. What I want to say here has two directions.
First is for us husbands and our children. Do you speak well of mom - on other days than the second Sunday in May (which is Mother's Day if you did not know). Mom needs our encouragement - and especially for us to RISE UP when our society speaks evil of mothers who give themselves for their families. She also needs her husband to do more than refer to her as the "ole ball and chain" or some other current stupid statement that is encouraged by men who are truly ignorant of the blessing God gave them. It is good to write her a note - or occasionally break out into your shorter version of the Hallelujah chorus for the Wife! You cannot imagine what a blessing it will be to her.
The second thing I want to do is to encourage the moms and wives who are not getting the praise from their families - and actually deserve some kind of acknowledgement. You will receive praise from God when you see Him for your sacrifice. I realize that you need some kind of encouragement now. Know this though . . . God sees everything you've done - your sacrifice - your tears - your laying down of your life to bless them. He will reward you for all of it on that day when men see the true value of a life lived for God's ways instead of those of our culture. You will be rewarded - and that reward will be from God Himself for a life lived to be an excellent wife for His glory.
Proverbs 31:27 She looks well to the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness.
The excellent wife is a woman who watches and makes sure that she knows the spiritual condition of those in her household. This particular verse we will examine today says this in a wonderful way that will remind us that as a parent we truly need to know the state of our families' hearts.
We read first that the excellent wife "looks well" to the ways of her household. The Hebrew word for "looks well" is "tsaphah" and it means to look about, keep watch, even to spy on another. This word originally meant to watch or keep guard over something or someone. The word is used of God watching over people, over nations, and even over situations that are happening at the time. The idea behind this watch was that of being a "watchman" who would look far out over the horizon, and warn of danger that was coming. Here is where the excellent wife and godly mother is so valuable to her family. She watches over everyone in the house to make sure that danger is not arising in a way that will catch the family off-guard. She watches for the enemy - and warns everyone in the family of its approach.
What does this woman "watch" for in her family? The word that expresses what she watches for is that she is watching the "ways of her household." This phrase refers to watching someone travel. She is watching as her family walks along the paths of life. She watches because she knows from experience as well as from Scripture that these ways are not always easy. They are often fraught with danger and with problems. If no one is there watching to warn of the traps and the snares of the wicked one - it is far easier to be caught in them. She does what the Scriptures commend us to do as she both "watches and prays" for those whom she loves.
What is interesting to me is the second half of this proverb about the excellent wife. It reads this way, "And does not eat the bread of idleness." The danger for her is that a woman will begin to be sluggish and even lazy about watching and praying for her family. What a reminder this is to the ladies of the church (and honestly to the men as well) that the whole task of marriage and family is not one that can be successfully carried out without watching and praying. Why is this the case? Because the enemy of our souls and our families is setting snares and traps for our loved ones. The wise parent knows this - and prays regularly for his or her child. They also watch for telltale signs that the child is not doing well spiritually. They do this so that they can both pray and offer further parenting as needed.
Just a note on the end of today's post. My oldest child is 29 and my youngest is 18. One would think, according to conventional wisdom, that for me and my wife our parenting duties are almost over. Those who think like this don't grasp that for the excellent wife and the exemplary husband - their time as a parent is never finished until they depart for heaven. The wisest among parents continue to watch and pray long after they have an empty nest. The evil one does not put down his fiery darts just because your child has married and left home. Roles may have changed - but the role of intercessor for your child is one that lasts for a lifetime - at least for the wise and understanding.
Proverbs 31:26 She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
The excellent wife is a doer, which we have seen throughout this entire portrait. But we learn in verse 26 that she is also a teacher - and one whose words are a blessing to all those who hear them. Let's take a look at the two pictures that are painted for us, describing this aspect of the excellent wife.
First we see that she speaks wisdom. The picture that is painted for us is a woman who when she sees the need of breaking silence with her mouth - speaks and wisdom pours from her. The phrase "opens her mouth," is a Hebraism meaning what is under her tongue or ready to proceed from her mouth. It has the idea that as soon as her mouth opens to speak - wisdom pours forth from it. The Jewish scholars believed that this woman's heart was so filled with this wisdom from God that the moment she opened her mouth it naturally flowed from it. This is the kind of woman you want to be around when she did speak. She was the female embodiment of E.F. Hutton - who when she speaks - you should listen!
The second thing we learn about her is that "the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." There are two ways of reading this - and honestly I think either is correct. The first way would be to say that she teaches of kindness to others. The word for kindness here is the Hebrew word "chesed." This word is the one that is closest to the New Testament concept of agape love that we have in the Old Testament. The word meant both goodness and kindness - and referred to God's covenant love. She taught of God's great covenant love. She taught of a God who loved His people, showing them His kindness and His goodness to them. But the second way of seeing this is that she was loving as she taught. The reason I feel that either is applicable is that they compliment each other so well. One who teaches of God's love would, of course, be one who showed it as well even as she taught.
The excellent wife is not just a worker - but a lover - and one who loves as God Himself does. She speaks wisdom and teaches of love. These are two wonderful aspects of God that every family member and especially the children need to learn. That is why the excellent wife is so ready to speak of such things whenever she opens her mouth. She is a source of blessing therefore not only in all that she does for this family - but also in all she speaks and teaches as well.
Proverbs 31:25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future.
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 wrestling 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 set 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.
Proverbs 31:20-24 She extends her hand to the poor, And she stretches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet. She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies belts to the tradesmen.
The wise and godly woman here knows the taste of success. When it says that she "senses" her gain is good - God uses the word for tasting something. She works hard, which we see consistently in the previous verses. But more than that, she tastes that what she is doing it good. The things that she sells to the merchants brings her gain - it helps her to earn money. She knows and tastes the success that hard work brings. It is important that people experience the fruit of their labor. I am not one who believes in the economic systems of socialism or communism. Those two systems tout a false idea of community goods that are shared by all. The problem is that such systems kill the benefits of hard work and labor for the individual. In the end, the collective works only as hard as they want to - and since they receive nothing but the same allotment for their labors - they are not motivated to excel at them. The result of tasting the fruit of your labors will be far less labors. When we are allowed to taste that sweet fruit, we are motivated to labor harder, smarter, and wiser for the good of our own benefit - and by that for the good of our family and others around us.
This godly woman knows that her gain is good. Here we have another confrontation with the current thoughts on economics. In our world gain is bad! How dare Capitalists relish the fact that they are making a profit? We wrongly call them evil - yet it is their "so-called profit that allows so many others to enjoy benefits. This godly lady knew in her heart that hard work would yield good things - and would bless her - bless her family - bless others who bought them - and eventually would bless her community. When governments try to "equalize" the playing field - what they mean is that they are going to promise everyone the same outcome - because that is what they say is fair. What is amazing is that they want an equal misery for the masses - but for themselves luxury. Every socialist and communist leader has evidenced the sin nature. They talk a certain egalitarianism among others - but they themselves will have the most. They will have the best of everything. What they deliver to the people is equal poverty and misery.
It is self-interest that will drive men and women to their best efforts. They must receive some reward for hard labor - and once they taste this fruit - they will want more. This results in hard work - work ethic as it is called. This woman knows that. Because she tastes that her gain is good - she works hard. She labors into the night as her lamp can testify. She stretches out her hands to make clothing - which is what the terms distaff and spindle indicate. This is because she is working toward her own self-interest. In this case that means her own clothing - the clothing of her family - and clothing that can be sold to others to earn more money for the welfare of her home. This is the kind of work God encourages - and blesses. May He give us wisdom to reject the false philosophies that promote powerful government officials who speak of equality and egalitarianism - but who only deliver a corporate misery to the masses as they live high on the hog themselves. May we instead see the value of hard work, frugality, and wisdom in taking what God gives us and using it for the benefit of our families. The fascinating thing about this kind of life is that as families (which are the basic unit of society in God's economy) multiply with these views, a village, city, region, and even nation is blessed and prosperous as a result.
Verse 21 introduces us to the way that this woman is generous toward her own household. She does this by knowing of their needs. She lives in a climate where snow and cold affect her children and family. Therefore she labors to make sure that they are clothed with scarlet. The imagery here is that of seeing the heaviness of the clothing she provides for her family. She makes sure that they are warm when it is cold outside. The word household even goes a step further. This word also referred to the servants one might have in and out of their home. She is gracious and kind enough to make sure that even they are warm and well taken care of especially when it is cold outside and they need warm clothing.
This next verse may seem strange to us - but she also provides for herself. This indicates her frugality, as clothes made by her own hands would cost less than those made by others. But it also indicates that she cares about her appearance. Her clothing is fine linen and purple. These are expensive and fine fabrics she uses and it indicates that her household (who are all clothed in this fashion as well - from verse 21) is dressed as those who are proud of their appearance. This is not because they are clothed in the latest fashions from Gapstein, Eyptian Eagle, or Old Testament Navy. These are clothes their mother produced by the labor of her own hand. There is class here - but not class that arises out of buying things from others. It is the class that arises from quality made at home. In this way she blesses her children, her husband, and even herself.
The excellent wife is generous toward her husband as well. We find it said that he is known in the gates and sits among the elders of the land. He is successful and wise. Working with and for him and her family is this godly woman who takes great joy in seeing her husband respected. That takes for granted that she herself respects him - and respect for him grows in concentric circles from what men see in her heart and actions. When a man's household is in order and respectable - men want him to rise to other positions of leadership where he can do the same. The wisdom and discretion they see in his choice of a wife makes them want him to lead them. His wife, in this way, is his crown (Proverbs 12:4).
We see this attitude in Ruth - who delighted in seeing her husband Boaz honored in the gates of the land. She was indeed an excellent wife, even though she was a Gentile. Those who saw and experienced her wisdom and servant heart praised her to Boaz - and spoke to her mother-in-law of how she was better to her than seven sons. To bring honor to those around us by the way we carry ourselves is a high task. Too many live only for the honor brought to themselves - and are content with the compliments being spent there. The true servant and generous person is the one who gives of herself with no thought of herself. She is content to receive praise by seeing those she loved praised. Truly that is a generous person.
The excellent wife is generous even in business with others. Her skill is such that she is not just able to make garments for her own family - but she makes them for others. The quality of her work creates a demand for what she makes. She sells garments she makes to others who desire them for their beauty and quality. Even the tradesmen want her products. This is quite a compliment because a tradesman is one who offers quality merchandise. They learn their trade and perfect it over years. What we have here is a woman of excellence - who makes garments excellently so that those who know excellent merchandise want it when they see it. She is generous even to them for what she makes . . . sells and sells well.
The excellent wife is a generous woman. That generosity moves out in circles blessing first those she loves and calls family. Eventually though, she is so skilled in what she does that the demand for her work is great. Being selfish most often hurts the one who is this way. But being generous will bless the one who is in ways that only someone who is truly giving can understand.
Proverbs 31:16-29 She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength And makes her arms strong. She senses that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hands grasp the spindle.
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.
Proverbs 31:13-15 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.
Solomon's mother is describing for him 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 three 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 flaxseed 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 conversation 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 marveled 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 family 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.
Proverbs 31:10-12 An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.
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 the 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 responsibility - 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 gem 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.
Proverb a Day
Each day, we'll take a look at a verse from the chapter of Proverbs for the day. Our hope is to gain wisdom each day - and from that wisdom - to have understanding to make godly decisions in the throes of everyday life.
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