Read Proverbs 31:10-31
We have come to the final section of the Proverbs. It has been given many titles.
· The Wife of Noble Character
· The Virtuous wife
· The Capable Wife
· Hymn to a Good Wife
· Ode to a Capable Wife
Sometimes we just say, the Proverbs 31 Wife.
Sometimes this is labeled an epilogue, but it doesn’t really tie together or summarize that which precedes it. It does however present one of the most powerful sections of the Bible.
In a world then governed almost exclusively by men, this collection of proverbs speaks to the value of a virtuous wife.
The entire section is an acrostic poem. What is an acrostic poem?
The first letter of each line can be used for something else. In the case of this acrostic, the author simply took the letters of the Hebrew alphabet in order and attached a quip of wisdom to each.
There are other acrostics. They are sort of acronyms with rhythm.
Go forth with the gospel and proclaim it
On to the places he leads
Directed by his Spirit
Sent to meet other’s needs
Last not first is our heart’s desire
Open proclamation of the truth
Valiantly pursuing what mercy requires
Excuses the miscues of our youth.
Interceding for those who cannot help themselves
Never ceasing in our prayers
Always putting others over self
Concerned where no one else seems to care
Taking the good news to the ends of the earth
Including those left out by leaders above
Open to those said to be without any worth
Never failing is the quality of love.
If you took all of the first letters of this somewhat rhythmical prose and put them in the order offered, you would get: GOD’S LOVE IN ACTION.
So as we come to appreciate the Proverbs 31 Wife, let us also appreciate it is brought to us with much precision and poetry. That means that much like the rest of the Proverbs, not everything is arranged topically.
This is wisdom organized for poetry.
Who is this woman?
A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She is not every woman. In fact finding such a virtuous woman is quite a task, but finding such a woman is like finding a precious jewel.
Her value is intrinsic and acquired. That is she is extremely valuable in and of herself and she has access to the things of value that she needs. Her husband has complete confidence in her.
How is this possible?
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
This sounds like the intent that came with the account of the creation of woman that we find in the second chapter of Genesis.
She was created as a suitable helper for her husband.
She has both skill and an incredible work ethic. She makes things of value from raw materials with her hands. She can select choice food and goods.
She rises early to get a head start on the day in order to provide what her family needs. In those days that included the servants.
This brings us to a key point. The virtuous wife is more than a worker. She is a manager. The relationship between husband and wife is not master and servant. It is two managers, each with his or her own gifts. In the present context, we consider her gifts and talents.
She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
Consider what is packed into this single verse.
· This virtuous woman is making a cost-benefit analysis for the family.
· Finding the opportunity to be a good one, she acts and acquires the property.
· She puts the asset to use.
How many junior or even senior level executives can do this today without the board’s consent or at least the approval of one or two more senior executives?
This is a heaping load of trust placed in the virtuous wife.
But she is not just an executive who signs her name and others do the work.
She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
She is in the mix of things and can hold her own with any of her servants; yet she knows that her wisdom is more valuable than her labor.
She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
The choices that she makes are both wise and profitable and they provide for her family. Beyond this wisdom we see that she does not lose touch with the basic needs of the home.
In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She can sew or weave a cloth or make clothing for her family. But more than this, we see that she is a godly woman.
She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
She understands more than business and homemaking. She knows mercy. She knows generosity. We are told that because of her wisdom and godliness, she does not go without. Her family is well provisioned.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
This family doesn’t just have enough to get by. They have fine things and they practice generosity.
This next verse offers more insight that it often receives at first glance. It may be of more value today than it was to the original audience in which many marriages were arranged, some without a bride’s right of refusal.
Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
The selection of a husband is a life event. In Solomon’s day, this responsibility fell mainly to the parents.
Today is different.
But in today’s world, the virtuous woman will be partnered with an honorable man. The woman who is virtuous will not settle for the first good looking guy that comes along.
In proverbial terms, she will wait until the man qualified to take his seat among the honorable men of the community comes along.
That means that she must put as much wisdom, effort, labor, and patience into this process as she does into the things we have already discussed. In Solomon’s time, the parents did most of this.
If you want your daughters to become a Proverbs 31 wife, they need to be very selective about prospective suitors.
You might think, we have no control over who we fall in love with, but that’s just not true. We generally select our partners from the group of people that we know and associate with in some way.
Young ladies today must be more proactive in reducing their dating prospects to those young men who are considered honorable.
This is a tough task and many a young lady has fallen victim to marrying a deadbeat for a husband.
Traditional courtship rituals had value. In today’s modern culture, the blessings of such a ritualistic process have been lost. Dad cleaning his gun collection as he talks with prospective suitors cannot replace the deliberate and sometimes protracted courtship process.
Young ladies, if you want a man who is welcomed in honorable circles, you must wait until such a man comes along.
Now it is back to some basic skills.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
The Proverbs 31 woman does more than meet the basic needs of her family.
She is also respected in the community and can hold her own with the merchants of the land.
And now we come to character.
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
This woman knows that she has the knowledge, skills, abilities, confidence, patience, endurance, and wisdom to face whatever may come.
This is not hubris or arrogance. This is God-inspired confidence.
This is the He will make your path straight part of Proverbs 3:5-6. She trusts the Lord. She has ample skills to trust in herself as the ungodly might, but she maintains strength and dignity by walking the path that God has given her.
She does not fear anything that the world can throw at her. Not only is she ready for tomorrow but she is ready to equip others.
She is a valued counselor.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
The author next offers up a quality that we might label industry.
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Any employer that can latch onto a manger with both wisdom and industry has won a victory. This is someone that you hire on the spot.
The Proverbs 31 wife has qualities that most employers look for in their leaders.
Now we come to the validation of the Proverbs 31 wife. It comes from her children and her husband.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
Mothers, imagine how would it feel to be greeted in the morning by your children and they come to you and say, “Mother, you are blessed and a blessing to us.”
The husband’s validation recognizes all that the proverbs 31 woman does. He says, “I know what others do and they do some really good things, but you top them all.”
And then we come to some counsel for both husband and children.
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Women spend a lot of time doing their best to look beautiful. Why?
Guys spend a lot of time looking for beautiful women.
The counsel here—mostly to the guys—is look beyond the charm and the beauty and seek the godly woman.
Charm can vanish in a second and despite the best efforts of our health and cosmetics industries, that youthful beauty will fade at some point.
The wisdom of the world says, “Trade her in for a younger model.”
God’s wisdom says latch on to the Proverbs 31 wife, keep her happy, and keep her for life.
Find a woman who fears the Lord, marry her, praise her, and enjoy the fruits of God’s wisdom for all of your years.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
The blessings of being joined by marriage to a Proverbs 31 wife go beyond the fruit produced in the home. Your virtuous wife will increase your honorable standing among men.
We conclude where we began, this time from The Message.
A good woman is hard to find,
and worth far more than diamonds.