Proverbs 31, ESV and KJV, The Wife of Noble Character. What women can learn, and apply to their lives, by following in the foot steps of this marvelous and noble woman of God. A fun fact about Proverbs 31:10-31 is that it’s an acrostic poem, meaning that each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
V.10 – ‘Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.‘ In this text the word for virtuous is chayil meaning to display valor, strength, power, ability, might, or efficiency. So literally this statement reads “Who can find a woman of strength, valor, or ability…” meaning that this woman displayed a high level of firmness and strength in her abilities. We also find this same expression used of men in Exodus 18:21 – ‘Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place [such] over them, [to be] rulers of thousands, [and] rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens…‘ Moses was to find able men with these ‘virtuous’ attributes – but these men, as we see unfold, were not easy for Moses to find. When using this expression towards women it is found in 2 other places; (1) Ruth 3:11 ‘And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou [art] a virtuous woman.‘ and (2) Proverbs 12:4 ‘A virtuous woman [is] a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed [is] as rottenness in his bones.‘ Using these three references, we find out the importance and meaning of being virtuous (1) Being able and virtuous means to fear God, be honest, love truth, and hate covetousness (which is Idolatry, which is Sin). (2) When you display such firm spiritual strength, and strength in character, people will notice because it’s abnormal to the culture around you. But like Ruth, do not let the world sway you – but instead keep firm and be bold. (3) A virtuous woman does not cause shame to her husband, or the family name on that matter, because she has these characteristics her price is above rubies, which are rare and expensive, she is a true daughter of our Lord and Savior and is hard to find. She has an inner beauty and a strength of character and a moral firmness that is lacking in the vast majority of women, even believing women, today.
V.11 – ‘The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.‘ In this text ‘trust’ is batach meaning have confidence in, to be bold, to be secure, and to feel safe. The word ‘spoil’ is shalal meaning plunder, gain, or spoil. No need in this context is the same found in Psalm 23:1 – ‘The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want…‘ – it means to ‘be in need’ or to ‘be lacking’. In both instances the word is used with a negative changing the meaning to ‘not be in need’ and to ‘not be lacking’. So if the Lord is my shepherd, I will not be in need, because the Lord will provide that need for me. Get it? Let me help; what the text here is saying is that; if i have a godly wife I will not (1) be in need of spoil (money, equity, etc…) and/or (2) be lacking spoil. As stated above this word can also mean plunder or gain; which is usually used in the gain or plundering of valuable items from defeated enemies after obtaining a victory in battle. This doesn’t mean that if his wife is not virtuous that he would, in desperation, go into battle and gather up as much plunder as he could. But because his wife is such a benefit, even financially, he will have no need of soil. As we see in the next few verses; she keeps the home so well, is so industrious, and is so productive in all her efforts – that the result of it all is great gain and even profit. Sadly today some wives are so lazy and careless that they cause the family great financial loss, rather than the opposite. They go on shopping sprees, incur immense credit card debt, or waste countless hours each week glued to habitual unproductive activities (television, gossip, etc). How can her husband safely trust in her? After she has finished destroying the family it results in him having a great need of gain – considering all that she has lost. Here, it’s not only the women, but many men are at fault as well, though we’ll save that talk for the Proverbs 31 Man.
V.12 – ‘She does him good and not evil All the days of her life.‘ Verses 11 and 12 go hand in hand, he knows he can trust his wife because she does him good, and not evil, all the days of her life. Proverbs 18:22 says, ‘He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the Lord.’ This statement is only true when a man finds the ‘right wife’ – which would be a virtuous, noble, god fearing proverbs 31 woman. Some men will find a woman who will be a ‘crown of her husband…‘ and others will who is a ‘rottenness in his bones…‘ (Proverbs 12:4). In verse 12 the word ‘will do’ literally translate to deal fully with or bountifully with, repay, or reward – because in Hebrew there was no actual word for ‘do’. In 1 Samuel 24:17 David had spared Saul’s life, and Saul’s response to Davids act of mercy was, ‘…You are more righteous than I; for you have rewarded me with good, whereas I have rewarded you with evil.‘ Also in Genesis 20:15-17 the term is used of when Josephs brothers remembered what they did to Joseph “Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.” So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, “Before your father died he commanded, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph: “I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.” “Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him…‘ Here Joseph also had mercy on his brothers lives as well. They did not repay evil with evil, but they re-payed evil with godly conduct; goodness, mercy, forgiveness, and righteousness. The virtuous woman doesn’t serve her people/husband that which is good one day and that which is evil the next day. Her husband can count on her to do him good and to be a blessing to him, and their family. He can count on her to do this today, five days from now, one year from now, ten years from now, and all the days of her life. She is not up and down, hot and cold, because her godliness is marked with consistency.
V.13 – ‘She seeks wool and flax, And willingly works with her hands.‘ The word for seek is ‘darash ‘ and it means to seek with care, require, enquire (consult), or search. The word for willingly is ‘chephets‘ which means to delight in, to desire to, or to purpose oneself. The word for works is ‘`asah‘ which means to produce, to make, to deal, or to prepare. If you didn’t know wool is from a sheep’s coat – it spun and woven into yarn/string then knitted together to make a cloth. Even today we still wear wool sweaters and coats. Flax is from a plant, and in the same way as wool, was spun into yarn/thread which later became linen. Now flax is special, because the finest of them all was found, and grown, in Egypt under almost perfect conditions. From flax can be made a variety of materials including coarse canvas, rugged sails for ships, and even thin delicate scarves. As we see in the text she ‘seeks’ flax and wool, which are basic materials needed to make clothes and garments. However, by using the literal translation she is consulting, and seeking carefully, for these items. More than likely she is looking for ‘the best‘ buy or quality. The last part bums me out, because a lot of people forget about the importance of this last half, ‘willingly works with her hands’. WOW! That is such a beautiful statement. The virtuous woman’s hand is never a forced hand. The husband does not demand this from here, nor makes her feel obliged to do this. According to text she does these things willingly; meaning she delights, desires, and purposes herself to seek and find these materials to work with. This woman is looking to prepare, make, and produce an item for dealing (selling) out of them…. and she DELIGHTS in it. In our modern, computerized, electronic, entertainment-saturated society we have lost the art of working with our hands. Most women don’t delight in making clothes with their hands. Instead they delight in shopping for clothes at the mall and thus adversely affecting the family budget. However the virtuous woman desires to work with her hands to productively (financially) benefit her home, her children, and her husband. This wise woman uses her time and individual resources in the best way she can.
V.14 – ‘She is like the merchant ships, She brings her food from afar.‘ Simply put; she does the grocery shopping! Who hasn’t traveled 10-20 minutes to the grocery store to get the best deal? Huh? Well this next virtue actually goes a little deeper than my first statement; the Bible teaches us that with food and clothing we can be content (1 Timothy 6:8) and the virtuous women plays a key role, as God’s instrument, in providing both. Interesting how the author of this Proverb compared the virtuous woman to being like a merchant’s ship. The word here used for merchant is ‘cachar‘ and it means to travel about in or go about in trade – to be a trader or trafficker. The buy, sell, and trade, commodities to make profit. Now she wasn’t being compared to a merchant, she was compared to the ship! The merchant ships then carried hundreds, maybe thousands, of rare, useful, and desirable items from far and distant lands/countries. in this verse it says that she is bringing ‘food from afar‘, the word for food here actually means ‘bread‘, which was a common item to eat in those days. For the sake of the lesson it’s food in general. But does this mean that she traveled to different countries and lands to bring food home? Probably not! The picture this verse paints is this; today the wife usually says, “Dear, I need some money because I’m going to town to do our weekly grocery shopping.” Whereas, the virtuous woman said, “Dear, I’m going to town but I don’t need any money because I’m taking some of the fine linen which I have made and will trade it in for some items of food which you will really enjoy.” Now how can her husband complain about that? The virtuous woman produced a product (with the wool and flax) in which she could then trade to get a wide variety of foods form near and far.
Those are our tips on how to be a Proverbs 31 woman for today! Continue coming back and reading them as many times as you need! I personally have them posted on my fridge so i never forget! Thank you for joining us in this study, next time we will be going through verses 15 to 20. God Bless and we’ll see you next week!