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.27 – ‘She watches over the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness.‘ Four words that you need to know the definition of before we begin on the important subject in this verse. (1) Ways ‘haliykah ‘ meaning going, doing, travelling company, way. (2) Household ‘bayith ‘ meaning home, house as containing a family, those belonging to the same household, or household affairs. (3) Bread ‘lechem‘ meaning bread, food, grain, or food in general. (4)Idleness ‘`atsluwth‘ meaning sluggishness or laziness. A watchman looks for enemies and for anything that may endanger the city. So does the godly woman; who is alertly watching over the ways of her household. Looking at their doings, their traveling, the company they keep, their going about, and most importantly their “ways“. Psalm 1:6 says ‘For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the ungodly shall perish….‘ referencing to the “way” people chose to live out their lives and the life journey and path that they are upon. Proverbs 2:20 reiterates the following wisdom, “So you may walk in the way of goodness, And keep to the paths of righteousness….” Later in the New Testament the following in Matthew 7, “..Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it….” then later we read in John 14 that Jesus says, ‘..I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me…‘ So this woman’s other job is to be the watchman of her household and to keep her household and kin on the righteous way and path of Life, she watches out for; evil companions, vile entertainment, dangers from the internet, etc… As a spy seeks to gather information about the enemy, so the godly woman seeks to find out what is going on with her children, husband, and household (anyone living underneath the roof of your humble abode), in order to keep it uncontentious and away from unrighteous behavior. Some parents do not keep any watch in this manner whatsoever. They don’t know what their children (or spouses) do, where they go, what they watch on television, or what music they listen to. Parents need to be more involved, interactive, and aware of what is really taking place in their homes. Reason being is so you can best help your children by; disciplining them, restricting them as needed, then channeling them into a more wholesome and profitable way of living. Mind you, don’t be overbearing and overly cautious either, children pick up on that, but as parents it’s our job to make sure our children understand the differences between the World view and the Lord view. Parents should be looking well to their OWN moral habits as well as their children’s. Hold each other accountable as responsible adults and leaders of the home. Secondly idleness is not on her diet. This woman of noble character avoids the carbohydrates and saturated fats of idleness by not indulging herself in slothful unprofitable activities. Anyone who reads the description of the godly woman in Proverbs 31 knows very well that she is anything but lazy and unproductive. She is actually the contrary; making one wonder how she has enough hours in the day to do all that she does. Her hours are characterized by diligent industry and laborious involvement in wholesome activities; (part 1/4) She seeks wool and flax, willingly works with her hands, She brings her food from afar, provides food for her household, She considers a field and buys it, her profits she plants a vineyard, (part 2/4) her lamp does not go out by night, She stretches out her hands to the distaff, extends her hand to the poor, she reaches out her hands to the needy, (part 3/4) all her household is clothed with scarlet, She makes tapestry for herself, She makes linen garments and sells them, supplies sashes for the merchants, She opens her mouth with wisdom, etc…We need to start being the opposite of our current selves and start taking action of how we live out our lives and our days. Like i have said in an earlier post; we have 24 hours, 1440 minutes, or 86,400 seconds in ONE DAY….. how are you spending yours?
V.28 – ‘Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her‘ So not many people know there thee is a difference between praising and blessing someone, so one again let me break down the words and their usage. The word for blessed is ‘‘ashar’ which means to be made happy, or be blessed OR to go straight, walk, go on, advance, or make progress. Then the word for praise is ‘halal ‘ meaning to shine, be boastful, be commended, or figuratively speaking to shine of God’s favor. So this wonderful woman is praised and blessed by those who love her the most because they see that she has invested every inch and minute of her day to be profitable to her children, husband, and household. They recognize and show respectful reverence for her due diligence and industrious profits (physically and spiritually) by bestowing blessings and praises upon her. Godliness and happiness meld together, the godly woman is the happy woman. The virtuous woman seeks first the kingdom of God, and all these things (including happiness) are added unto her (Matthew 6:33). Happiness is a byproduct of honoring the Lord and putting Him first. It is not an end in itself, and those who seek happiness and who make that their goal, never find it. Those who seek the Lord find in Him their true happiness, for He satisfies the heart that is devoted to Him. Her children call her blessed; they see that she is happy, but they also see that she walks a straight path (meaning a righteous path) and she makes progress by doing so, and that it’s only by her seeking the Lord that she has been able to produce this ‘good fruit’. Caught and Taught is a term used for how children learn to become who they are and the differences between right and wrong, they ‘caught’ with their eyes this godly mother’s actions, then they are ‘taught’ the ways of righteousness when ‘…She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness….‘ (verse 26). Now her Husband also praises her; he sees the godly glow about her that shines, as said in Matthew 5:16 ‘..Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven…‘. By this her husband, who is respected at the city gates (he’s probably a judge of some sort), is able to boast about this and commend her for being the godly, noble, and virtuous woman/wife that she is to him and their family Certainly God’s favor upon them has shined through her and produced the ‘good fruit’ in which the Lord has provided on behalf of her righteousness.
V.29 – ‘Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all.‘ This verse is different from all the others in this section. All of the other verses speak about the virtuous woman in the third person. Yet this verse speaks of the virtuous woman in the the second person pronoun is used for the first time, ‘..But you excel them all..‘, it is more personal, familiar, and intimate. So it is apparent that her husband is speaking these words of commendation. This is something that a husband would say to his godly wife to show her praise and appreciation for all her diligent works and industry which had produced blessings from above. The strange thing is that her husband references her as a ‘daughter’ in this verse. The word for daughter is ‘bath‘ meaning daughter, girl, adopted daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, granddaughters, female child, or cousin OR it could be a polite address (as we now say; mam’, miss, misses, etc). This husband knew his wife was not the only godly, virtuous woman on the planet. He knew that there were other God-fearing women of moral strength and of virtuous character, but such women were rare (seen in verse 10) but not extinct. The KJV translates this verse as this, “Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all….” the word virtuously is the same found in verse 10 of Proverbs 31, meaning power, strength, vigor, wealth, and ability. Here as her husband praises his noble wife he is commending her strength of character, her industrious abilities, and her wealth of spirit. Oh how we should thank God for all women who live upright lives in Christ Jesus, who reflect the Person of their Savior in their walk and talk. So may the beauty of the LORD our God be upon them all, Amen! The husband in the last part of the verse then directs his attention and praise to his wife by stating, “..But you excel them all..” No need for much translation on this last half for it is obvious he is saying that she Surpasses all others. You are excellent and incomparable. There is no other woman in the whole world that is better than you. God gave me the best gift this side of heaven. When a man has found a priceless gem, he considers his treasure better than all others. To him, she is the most precious wife anyone could ever have. He lavishes praise upon her, and she does not mind his exaggerations.
V.30 –‘Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.’ Here are some other translations to help make this explanation go smoother… (1) NKJV – ‘…Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised…‘ (2) Amplified ‘…Charm and grace are deceptive, and beauty is vain [because it is not lasting], but a woman who reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord, she shall be praised…‘ (3) Young’s Literal Translation – ‘…The grace [is] false, and the beauty [is] vain, A woman fearing Jehovah, she may boast herself…‘ The word here for Favor or Charm is ‘chen ‘ meaning grace, pleasant, precious, or elegance. Here in this scripture verse it is referring to the gracefulness and elegance of a woman, i.e. her outward beauty. This verse says that charm is deceitful, meaning that it’s a lie, a falsehood, a vain thing, or it’s lying words. See references for Exodus 5:9 ‘…Let more work be laid on the men, that they may labor in it, and let them not regard false words….” and Proverbs 25:14 ‘…Whoever falsely boasts of giving Is like clouds and wind without rain…‘ This first half is coupled with the actual word beauty, or ‘yophiy‘ meaning splendor, brightness, or gracefulness. This verse says that the splendor and brightness of a woman’s face and her skin and her outward look fades away, becoming useless, compare Ecclesiastes 11:10 ‘ …Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, And put away evil from your flesh, For childhood and youth are vanity…‘ and Job 7:16 ‘…I loathe my life; I would not live forever. Let me alone, For my days are but a breath…‘External beauty includes your appearance and your speech. What you say is different from what you do behind closed doors, and the clothes you wear and the make-up you put on is different from what you look like when you first wake up in the morning with a bad hair day. The point in this first part is that external beauty is deceitful which in the end fades away, vanishing like a breath, not profiting anyone – including yourself. There is great emphasis in our day on external beauty. Makeup is used in such abundance that Jezebel would feel right at home in our society. All kinds of supplements and health products are offered to try to help people look young, attractive, and slow down nature’s natural deterioration. Surgical procedures are offered which can change and improve a person’s outward appearance. Diet programs, exercises, and pills garner millions of dollars from people who want to look beautiful and feel good about themselves. Television shows are devoted to showing how a plain or unattractive person can be transformed into an outwardly attractive sex symbol by means of makeup, hair styling, weight loss, surgery, etc. There is no end to the attempts of mankind to beautify the body and to try to preserve the external. For the full second half, it reads, ‘…But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised…’ Inner beauty comes from a right relationship with the Lord. True beauty is impossible apart from the fear of the Lord. When the Lord is written upon our hearts and spoken from our lips, His glory will shine light within and outwardly upon the world around us. Fear can be a bad thing, but can also be a good and healthy response. If I meet a bear in the woods, I should have a healthy respect for the animal, knowing something of its power and potential ferocity. This is a healthy fear that could save my life. If we are afraid of going outside, of talking to people, or etc… that is an unhealthy retrospect of fear that will later on withhold us and take us captive. We are to fear and respect God in the right way, knowing that He is a loving, caring Heavenly Father, who bids us to cast all of our care upon Him, and come boldly to His throne of grace to obtain mercy, to find grace which helps in time of need. Fallen Adam feared God in the wrong way and hid from Him in Genesis 3:10. The right kind of fear of God causes us to draw near and close to Him, strengthening our faith and causing us to endure and prosper. The one who fears God believes that God is great, being deserving of the utmost respect and reverence of His glorious majesty. This virtuous woman is afraid to do anything that would displease such an awe-some God, thet genuinely loves us with no conditions other then to love. Abraham feared God, that is, he believed that God was so great that to disobey Him was unthinkable! Real beauty in the sight of God is not the product of cosmetics, but the outshining of the indwelling Christ. A lady was once asked the secret of her beautiful complexion. She said, “I use truth for my lips; for my voice, prayer; for my eyes, pity; for my hands, charity; for my figure, uprightness; and for my heart, LOVE.” These heavenly cosmetics are worthy of trial and are supplied free to every applicant at the Throne of Grace.
V.31 – ‘Give her of the fruit of her hands, And let her own works praise her in the gates.‘ A godly and virtuous woman will be rewarded. What she gives out she will get back. It is the boomerang effect; she hurls out many a good deeds, and they are all going to come back to her. In devotion to her God, and in love for her household, she is willing to expend herself. As she steadfastly labors and abounds in the work of the Lord, she knows that her labor will not be in vain 1 Corinthians 15:58, ‘Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord…’. God is very generous with His rewards and blessings of those who diligently seek Him Hebrews 11:6, ‘…But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him‘ and Ephesians 6:8, ‘…knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free…‘. The Lord who knows all our works will faithfully reward all that is done in His Name and for His glory. It pays to live in a right manner, and it pays to fear the Lord. The “fruit of her hands” indicates the result of her labor. In this passage we have seen that her hands have been very busy for good (seen in verses 16, 19, 20). What is the significance of the phrase “in the gates“? In ancient cities, the space inside the gate was a public meeting place, where all manner of business was conducted (like our city hall). As we saw her husband works in the gates – and we see here that her own works, and her own deeds, will praise her in the gates. That is, she will be publicly recognized for her good works and accomplishments. The idea of the verse is simply this; Give her the praises which she so richly merits. “Say to the righteous, that it shall be well with them; for they shall eat the fruit of their doings” (Isaiah 3:10). Today may Christian women adorn the doctrine of God our Savior by their good works – compare Titus 2:10, for God’s people should be “zealous of good works [fervently seeking to please God in all we do]” Titus 2:14, and ‘May our light shine before men, that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father who is in heaven‘ Matthew 5:16.
This concludes the section on how to be a Proverbs 31 woman. BUT you might want to stick around, guys, because we will be continuing the study with a look into how to be a Proverbs 31 man. Thanks and God Bless, see you next post!