Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Proverbs 31 Woman

Oh, the Proverbs 31 woman. She is who we are talking about today, and I'll have to admit, when I first started my study of this woman, I got instantly discouraged. How in the world could I measure up to this seemingly perfect woman? I realized very quickly that I do not need to compare myself to this woman, but look at her characteristics and strive for them in my life. I do not need to try to accomplish every single thing that she can accomplish all at once. My life would be a hot mess if I even attempted that! The most important thing to remember about the Proverbs 31 woman is that she lives her life based on wisdom. Wisdom comes from God. Bottom line: we need to live our lives in fear of God!

Let's begin by looking at the Scripture, Proverbs 31:10-31:

10 An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13 She looks for wool and flax
And works with her hands in delight.
14 She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.
15 She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.
16 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.
20 She extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies belts to the tradesmen.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
26 She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
29 “Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
For this study, I am going to go through each verse one at a time. Remember, these are characteristic of a seemingly perfect woman. We don't need to think about accomplishing all of this at once, as I think that would be impossible. Instead, we need to live our lives in fear of the Lord, knowing that these characteristics come from living our lives for God.

Verse 10 - This passage is talking about a wife, but we see in verse 28 that it is also talking about a mother.

Verse 11 - her husband trusts her.

Verse 12 - She does her husband good "all the days of her life." Every single day she is doing something for the good of her husband.

Verse 13 - She "works with her hands in delight." She is willingly doing the work that she has to do.

Verse 14 - She does the grocery shopping! (This one cracked me up because it is such a practical thought laid out for us in Scripture.)

Verse 15 - She gets up early in the morning to prepare food for those in her house and those who work for her.

Verse 16 - She takes three steps, in a certain order, to accomplish things: 1. She "considers" - she thinks it through; 2. She "buys" - she takes action; 3. She "plants" - she works for prophet.

Verse 17 - She works out (again, a little chuckle). She is strong and not lazy.

Verse 18 - She knows she is doing good. She doesn't doubt herself. She doesn't compare herself to others. She is confident. Also, she works into the night to get everything done that she needs to get done.

Verse 19 - She works.

Verse 20 - She is generous. She helps those in need.

Verse 21 - She is prepared for whatever may come. She makes sure her family is cared for and protected.

Verse 22 - She makes her own clothes. She looks nice, and wears "fine linen and purple." She doesn't wear the leftovers and rags. She takes care of herself. How often do I neglect myself in order to care for everyone else? That is not the Biblical way to live and act. I have to take care of myself in order to take care of those around me.

Verse 23 - Her husband is known. Is he known because of her? It isn't made clear, but these are a well known couple.

Verse 24 - She is always working and always making a prophet.

Verse 25 - Strength and dignity surround her, and she is not afraid of the future.

Take a moment to read through 1 Timothy 2:9-10 and 1 Timothy 3:11:

9 Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, 10 but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.
11 Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
These verses support what we read in Proverbs 31. Modest, discreet clothing does not contradict fine linens and purple. Instead, it supports what a woman should look like in her outward appearance. We also learn more details as to what a woman should be like in her inward appearance. If we are to be filled with dignity, we do not need to be out gossiping to those around us.

Back to Proverbs 31.

Verse 26 - She has wisdom and kindness in her words. According to Proverbs 9:10:

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
The opposite of wisdom is folly. Look at Proverbs 9:13:

13 The woman of folly is boisterous,
She is naive and knows nothing.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
We need to be women of wisdom, and that wisdom comes from the Lord.

Verse 27 - She keeps up with her house. She isn't lazy.

Verse 28 - Her children and her husband bless her because of who she is and what she does.

Verse 30 - Above all else, she fears the Lord.

Verse 31 - She continues to work and prophet from her work.

As I said at the beginning, trying to live up to all of the characteristics of this woman is next to impossible. But if we fear the Lord and keep Him at the center of our lives, we will be able to accomplish great and wonderful things in our lives.  Go out, fear the Lord, and live to glorify Him!

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