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.21 – ‘She is not afraid of snow for her household, For all her household is clothed with scarlet.’ Snow in Palestine occasionally occurs, but when it does snow, it rarely reaches any great depth. The Bible mentions snow a number of times, but only records one instance where snow fell; ‘Benaiah was the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man from Kabzeel, who had done many deeds. He had killed two lion-like heroes of Moab. He also had gone down and killed a lion in the midst of a pit on a snowy day.‘ (2 Samuel 23:20, 1 Chronicles 11:22). This virtuous woman is not in fear of her household becoming cold when it snows because she has already made the preparations to keep her household warm by producing garments in which they can wear. Overall this woman was prepared and blessed. She used her time wisely and did not waste it in idleness or on vain aspirations. With diligence and industry she was able to produce great profit which in turn provided her with more to money to work with – in which she probably bought more wool and flax to make garments for her household (including servants). On a side note the color of scarlet came from the insect ‘coccus ilicis’, and the dried body of the female yielding coloring matter from which the dye is made and used for cloth to color it scarlet/crimson. The cotton or wool cloth was dipped in this color twice; and the word used to express it means also double-dyed. It is the ‘worm of coccus’ which is used in Psalm 22:6 in which God the Son is likened, or referenced, as a worm who was bruised and slain so that all His redeemed might be clothed in the splendor of eternity provided by His crimson blood. ‘But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised by the people.‘ Yet in Isaiah 1:18 you see the prophetic reference to Christs coming to redeem our sin as well as both scarlet and snow used in the same scripture, ‘Come now, and let us reason together, Says the Lord, Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.‘ Let’s divvy up the scripture verse. As we have explained scarlet is a color that was used to dye and color the wool in which people wore. Scarlet was a permanent color, and dipping it twice insured that. We speak of crimes and sins as being black, or deep-dyed; and of the soul as being stained by those sins. Neither dew, nor rain, nor washing, nor long usage, would remove the scarlet coloring in which the wool was dyed. Hence, it is used to represent the fixed-ness and permanency of sins in our heart. White is an emblem of innocence, if snow gets dirty it is no longer pure; instead it’s dirty, unclean, and stained. The ultimate meaning is that, the deep, fixed stain, which no human power could remove, shall be taken away. In other words, sin shall be pardoned, and the soul will be made pure. The second half is poetic in the Hebrew sense but just reiterates on the first half of the verse. It says that our sins may be crimson but they should be made like wool; the wool before it was double stained, giving us a clean canvas with God so to speak. We care clothed and made pure by the love, grace, and mercy proved by Christ’s blood shed on the cross. Our sin stained Him, and he washed it away, making us unspotted and blameless in the sight of God. One lesson here is that believers and children of godly parents do not need to be dressed in dull clothing, for drabness and dullness of apparel do not add to one’s spirituality. This is because God ultimately looks at your heart not what color clothes you wear or how good you look to other people. We must remember that we are bond-servants of Christ and we are to be advancing the gospel not diverting it. People wear lavish clothes and jewelry and take the focus of others off of God and onto themselves. Be warned though for you are stealing glory from God and idolizing yourself rather than Him. A virtuous woman would not do this but instead be modest about her apparel and not outlandish. This does not mean you can’t wear jewelry or colorful clothes, but it means to make sure that what you are wearing will not distract you or others from the main focus…. God!
V.22 – ‘She makes tapestry for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple.‘ Okay I’m going to give you 3-4 translations of this verse (the main one is NKJV); (1) NASB – ‘She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple.‘ (2) ASV – ‘She maketh for herself carpets of tapestry; Her clothing is fine linen and purple.‘ (3) Message – ‘She makes her own clothing, and dresses in colorful linens and silks.‘ (4) NLT – ‘She makes her own bedspreads. She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.‘ – So as you see here we have 4 (technically 5) translations of this verse which will better help me explain the meaning and lesson we get from it. This first, and only other, place the word tapestry is seen is in Proverbs 7:16. The word for ‘tapestry’ is ‘marbad ‘ meaning; spread, coverlet (first seen in Proverbs 7:16 ‘I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt.‘) The virtuous woman took the time to make the tapestry, or bead covering, or carpet, whichever one it was she took the time to make it. This means that she made her bedroom a comfortable and adorning place to be in. Out of assumption we can say that she also she took the time to make similar decorations for the rest of her house feel like a HOME as well; and yes there is a difference my friends. Her clothes are of silk and or fine linen, the Hebrew word is ‘shesh ‘ which means something bleached white, byssus, linen, or fine linen (first seen in Genesis 41:42 ‘And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck;‘). As you can see from the last scripture verses for the word tapestry, and from the scripture verse for ‘Silk’ or ‘Fine Linen’, that the materials for these products came mainly from Egypt and were ‘Fine’ meaning expensive in those days and obviously worn by people of high stature. So we can guess that this virtuous woman was not only profitable and well off financially, but she must have been a part of a family (possibly the husband?) of prestigious rank in their day. In those days you were actually able to tell a persons status in society by what they wore, but today anyone can buy a 5 piece suit and call themselves a millionaire, or dress like a street walker and call themselves homeless and abandoned. We look at the last half and see that this fine linen or silk had been made of purple dye. The word for ‘purple’ is ‘‘argaman ‘ meaning exactly what it is purple, but sometime a red-purple; this is obtained by a species of shell-fish (most likely muscles) from the Mediterranean shore areas; or as read in Numbers 4:13 it is a blue-purple coloring. The shell was broken in order to give access to a small gland which was removed and crushed. The crushed gland gives a milky fluid that becomes red or purple on exposure to the air. (this word is also seen in Exodus 39:1 ‘And of the blue, and purple, and scarlet, they made cloths of service, to do service in the holy place, and made the holy garments for Aaron; as the Lord commanded Moses.’) Purple was prized by the ancients and exported far and wide. Great labor was required to extract the purple dye, and thus only royalty and the wealthy could afford richly colored garments. A total of 250,000 mollusks were required to make one ounce of the dye, which helps us to understand how valuable this dye was. Purple cloth was used in the furnishings of the tabernacle (Exodus 25:4), in Solomon’s temple (2 Chronicles 2:14 and 3:14), and it was a royal garment worn by kings (Judges 8:26). Purple was a symbol of luxury and wealth, worn by the rich man of Luke 16:19, and by the luxurious harlot woman of Revelation 18:16. In Mark 15:17,20 our Savior was mockingly dressed in purple when a kingly robe was put around Him. Lydia was a seller of purple (Acts 16:14). So what is the meaning of this proverbial verse? We know now that this virtuous woman did not dress shabby clothes and was quite possibly part of a family (her own) that was of high status and prestige. We know that she was industrious and she was able to purchase the finest materials and with her own hands made the finest of garments. Though she did not consider it a mark of spirituality to go around looking impoverished, dilapidated, and threadbare. Rather, as was often true under the former dispensation, material prosperity was a sign of God’s blessing, and was not to be despised. She wore expensive, royal clothing to match her regal and godly character, representing that she was the daughter of the most high God, the King of Kinks and Lord of Lords. Her outward garments of beauty and splendor matched her inner beauty. However she was not vain, haughty, or unpleasant; for she well understood that external beauty fades. She understood that the most important clothing was the adorning of the inner man: ‘strength and honor are her clothing‘. The temple in the Old Testament was quite elaborate and beautifully adorned, and this adornment included fine linen and purple. As believers, our bodies are the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Should not our “temple” express something of the Lord? “‘But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price‘ (1 Peter 3:4). ‘That they may adorn the doctrine of God, our Savior, in all things‘ (Titus 2:10). Dressing well, both inwardly and outwardly, is a virtue, not a vice. The godly woman of Proverbs 31 was dressed in costly array. In 1 Timothy 2:9 Christian woman are instructed not to adorn themselves in costly array. How do we explain this apparent contradiction? Is it wrong for a believing woman today to go out and buy an expensive dress? Should she instead only shop at thrift stores where she can spend a minimal amount on necessary attire? In the Old Testament, great wealth and godliness were not incompatible. Abraham had tremendous wealth, as did David and Solomon, and they were not condemned for possessing riches. They were condemned for setting their heart on their riches (Psalm 62:10). Wealthy believers in the New Testament era, though not extinct, are harder to find. It is not easy to amass wealth while being persecuted by a Christ-hating world. Those who are rich are not condemned for their riches, but are told not to trust in them (1 Timothy 6:17) and to be generous in the distribution of their wealth (1 Timothy 6:18). Which many of these attributes and acts we see this proverbs 31 woman performing throughout the poem.
V.23 – ‘Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land.‘ It is remarkable that in a passage devoted to a godly and virtuous woman we find this verse which says nothing about the woman, but only describes her husband as a prominent leader of the land. It was at the city’s gates that public business was transacted and cases were decided (the “gates” served as the city’s courtroom). This further proves that they were a family of prestige and also of status! So what then do we learn about the virtuous woman from this verse? A well-known proverb says, “Behind every good man is a good woman.” A godly wife contributes greatly to the success and prosperity of her husband. “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband, but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness to his bones” (Proverbs 12:4). Where would the man mentioned here in Proverbs 31:23 be without his godly, industrious, loving, and faithful wife? The value of a godly wife is illustrated from the life of Daniel Webster. By age 31 he had become known as one of America’s most effective speakers. One of Webster’s earlier biographers, Norman Hapgood, assigns much of the great orator’s success to the quality of his marriage to a woman, Grace Fletcher, whom he married at the age of 26. Of her the writer says: ‘She had the goal of keeping alert to those high principles which her husband held. Her upright New England faith and sweet loyalty must have been one of the strongest barriers resisting the temptations which lay before the impressionable statesman‘ (Norman Hapgood, Daniel Webster, Boston; Small Maynard & C o, 1899, page 64). When Grace Fletcher Webster died, Daniel remarried a year later. The biographer said of Carolyn Roy, his second wife: ‘She brought him money and social position and nothing else that could be traced in his life‘. Two years into that second marriage it was said of Webster: ‘He steadily declined from a height at which his altering nature could no longer sustain itself. Daniel Webster began overeating and drinking. His spending habits soared out of control, and his moral life disintegrated. By the end of his political life, the man once known for his great integrity had become typed as a political compromiser. Tragedy mounted upon tragedy, and when he died, he was a beaten and bitter man.‘ A wife can be a tremendous influence for good or for ill; nevertheless the husband is responsible before God to live rightly regardless of the spiritual and moral state of his spouse. If a man fails spiritually, it is first and foremost his fault. He must not blame anyone but himself. His wife may be a negative influence, but he is responsible to follow God, not her. Think of the example of Job. His wife said, “Curse God and die!” but in spite of her negative influence, Job remained faithful to the Lord. “Behind every good man is a good woman” is not always true. But this statement you can take to the bank when i say, “Behind every good man is a great God!”
V.24 – ‘She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies sashes for the merchants‘ This capable, industrious woman was very enterprising and she operated an amazing home business. She wove fine linen garments, a process which has already been discussed. Linen garments are mentioned in Judges 14:12-13. Thirty sheets, or thirty linen garments, were to be the payment to Samson if the Philistines could not figure out his riddle. Linen garments are also mentioned as having been worn by the sinful daughters of Zion in Isaiah 3:23. She also manufactured girdles or belts (richly adorned belts?) or sashes (ESV) which had value on the trade market. This word “belt” is used in 2 Samuel 20:8 to describe Joab’s belt which held a sword. The term “girdle” as used in the Bible refers to an article of dress encircling the body, usually at the waist. She may have enlisted some of her children to help her in this business. She delivered these goods to the merchants or traders. These were Phoenician traders, according to the meaning of the Hebrew word. Phoenicians were known for their trade and commerce and their skill as a seafaring people. Phoenicia’s two major ports were Tyre and Sidon. The virtuous woman provided a source of income for her family through her business. “When other women impoverish their husbands by buying, she enriches her husband by selling those valuable commodities for which there is a constant demand” (George Lawson, Commentary on Proverbs). “It is only modern pride and laziness which has introduced the idea that it is inconsistent with the dignity of a fine lady to make profit of her own manufactures. This virtuous woman, although her husband sits among the elders, does not think it a discredit, but an honor to herself, to make fine linen and girdles for sale; and the wise will praise her on account of it” (George Lawson, Commentary on Proverbs).
V.25 – ‘Strength and honor are her clothing; She shall rejoice in time to come.‘ Her wardrobe is remarkable. These items of clothing are not available at any marketplace or shopping mall. The LORD Himself provides these garments to the believing heart that is looking to Him. Such clothes adorn the inner man which is renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16). Concerning her garment of strength, see the discussion under Proverbs 31:17. The virtuous woman knew that the LORD was the strength of her life (Psalm 27:1). The word “honor” means splendor, majesty, honor. In Psalm 8:5 it is used of the honor and majesty conferred by the LORD upon Adam and Eve: “and hast crowned him with glory and honor.” In Psalm 21:5 it is used of the God-given majesty David had as king: “honor and majesty hast thou laid upon him.” Of special interest is how this word is used of our wonderful Lord. We learn that honor and majesty are before Him (Psalm 96:6), and that the LORD is clothed with honor and majesty (Psalm 104:1). This was certainly true of our Lord Jesus Christ in His per-incarnate state. We catch a glimpse of Christ in His majesty in Isaiah 6:1-3 (see John 12:41 in context where the glorious King of Isaiah 6 is identified as Christ). This splendid King of the Universe stepped out of His ivory palaces and descended to this world of woe. He laid aside His majestic garments, as it were, and humbled Himself by taking upon Himself our humanity (John 1:14). In Isaiah 53:2 we have a description of God’s suffering Servant, the Messiah Himself: “when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.” The word “beauty” is the same word as “honor” (majesty, splendor) which is found in Proverbs 31:25. The Lord laid aside His glorious splendor so that He could die as the perfect Substitute for sinners (Isaiah 53), thus making it possible for the believer to be clothed with garments of majesty and splendor; we who were once dressed only with filthy, bloody rags (Isaiah 64:6, “filthy rags” equals bloody cloths, or menstrual cloths). The word “rejoice” (KJV) is the Hebrew word meaning “laugh.” It is used in Ecclesiastes 3:4, “A time to weep, and a time to laugh.” In Psalm 37:12-13 we learn that “the LORD shall laugh at him (the wicked); for He seeth that his day (of judgment) is coming.” The virtuous woman will laugh at “time to come” (coming time), a clear reference to the days ahead, the future. She will laugh at the future. There is an analogy between this passage and Psalm 2. In Psalm 2 the armies of the world’s nations are gathering together to wage war against the LORD and against His Messiah (the Lord Jesus) at the great final battle of Armageddon. We can imagine the scene. The world’s armies aim their weapons toward God (their missiles, their warplanes, their nuclear weapons, etc...). Mankind against God! Puny man taking on the Omnipotent One; how laughable! It would be like a toy sailboat taking on a massive battleship or an ant trying to do battle against an elephant! “He who sitteth in the heavens shall laugh.” The word “laugh” is the same word found in Proverbs 31:25. The LORD will laugh because He knows that all the armies of the world are not able to hurt Him or defeat Him. Likewise, the godly woman can laugh at the future because she knows that the future cannot hurt her. She has made provision for the future, to the best of her ability (as we studied in Proverbs 31:21), and because of her trust in God, she knows that she can face the future with great confidence and optimism. It is the privilege of every believer in Christ to confidently laugh at the future. We have been guaranteed a bright, eternal future. We have been guaranteed eternal security (John 6:37-40; 10:27-30). We have the sure promise of God that the future (“things to come“) cannot separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38). In fact, in 1 Corinthians 3:22 we learn that we possess the future! It is ours! The future belongs to us. God has marked out a glorious future for every child of God, that we should be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). This is what predestination is all about. Never does the New Testament teaches that a person is predestined to hell. The term “predestination” is used to teach us that God has marked out a glorious future for every believer. Unsaved people dread the future and they have good cause to do so. They have nothing to look forward to but eternal punishment and an eternity without Christ (Matthew 25:41,46). Their future promises that, unless they repent, they will perish (Luke 13:3,5). Unless they repent they will someday hear these frightening words, “I never knew you; depart from Me, ye that work iniquity (lawlessness)” (Matthew 7:23 and compare Matthew 25:41). But the saved person can thankfully laugh at the future, knowing that someday he will hear God’s invitation to enter eternal bliss (see Matthew 25:34). How confident we can be! We do not know what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future. We know that everything that happens to us in the future is for God’s glory and for our good (Romans 8:28). We are fully persuaded that the God who began a good work in us will complete that good work in the future (Philippians 1:6).
V.26 – ‘She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness.‘ This is the only verse in this passage which speaks of the godly woman’s tongue and the words of her mouth. Our Lord taught that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). What comes out of the mouth is an indication of what is in the heart. Our speech reveals our heart. Out of a wise heart come wise words. Out of a kind heart come kind words. Out of a loving heart come loving words. Be careful when you speak because your heart is showing. The word “kindness” is the commonly used Hebrew word ‘hesed’. It occurs about 200 times in the Old Testament. It is found in the following familiar passages:
Exodus 20:6–“shewing mercy unto thousands”
Ruth 1:8–“the Lord deal kindly with you”
Psalm 23:6–“surely goodness and mercy shall follow me”
Psalm 100:5–“His mercy is everlasting”
Psalm 107:8,15,21,31–“Oh that men would praise the LORD for His goodness”
Psalm 107:43–“The loving-kindness of the LORD”
Psalm 136 (every verse)–“for His mercy endureth forever”
Lamentations 3:22–“it is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed”
Jonah 4:2–“slow to anger, and of great kindness“
The King James Version usually renders this word as “mercy.” Other versions use “loving-kindness,” “love,” or “steadfast love.” William Wilson in his Old Testament Word Studies gives this definition: The law of kindness [hesed] is in her tongue. The term “law” [torah] refers to instruction. The term is used in Isaiah 2:3 of the teaching ministry of the Messiah during the millennial kingdom: “…for out of Zion shall go forth the law [instruction], and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” The teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (ESV). The instruction of the virtuous woman will be characterized by kindness and steadfast love. It will be kindly, faithful, loving and gracious instruction. We assume that the primary beneficiaries of her loving instruction are her children and perhaps her household servants. “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law [instruction] of thy mother” (Proverbs 1:8; see also Proverbs 6:20,23). The godly mother is a teacher. In love she wants God’s highest and best for her children. Women have a valuable and essential teaching ministry according to Titus 2:3-5.
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 27 to 31. God Bless and we’ll see you next week!