Friday, March 9, 2012

Blessed and Noble (Again)

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 brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet...She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." (Proverbs 31:10-21; 25-29 NIV)

We are almost done with the Proverbs 31 Woman - that paragon of womanhood who baffles many of us with her long list of accomplishments. Lately my to do lists have been winning, so being told there is more yet for me to DO is not what I want to hear. Instead, I keep reminding myself that the real goal is to BE, to have a character that is pleasing and honoring to God. This penultimate study initiates the postscript to this woman's to do list. We've read her activities and now we get to see what other people think...

First we hear from her children, and they call her blessed. This word in the Hebrew is ashar - a primary root that means to be straight, level, right, and happy. It can also mean to go forward, to be honest, or to prosper. It is similar to the wording Jesus uses in The Beattitudes (Matthew 5). This praise is perhaps especially meaningful given its source. It's pretty easy under any culture and family for children to find fault with their parents. In their view we are too strict, too busy, or too [insert complaint here]. These children recognize and boast about their mom's happiness, honesty, and prosperity. It is my prayer that my children will have the same response someday. What a sweet reward that will be.

Her husband echoes the children, and adds his own commentary that her actions are noble. Remember noble? It's how we started off this study, and so we come full circle. This is the same Hebrew word (chayil) from verse10 that talked about her character. Here it describes her work. Chayil (khah'-yil) refers to a force (of means, men or other resources) producing virtue, valor, and strength. This woman possesses an internal force (from some resource) that causes her to bring forth virtue (goodness), valor (courage), and strength in all of her actions. What's amazing is that what started off as a force of character (being) has become a force of work (doing). So maybe by being what God desires we can also do what He desires.

Our next study will review all of the qualities of the Proverbs 31 Woman and see her end reward. Thanks for joining me in this journey. 


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