Friday, March 30, 2012

Wrapping up Proverbs 31

After over a year of slowly delving into the character of the Proverbs 31 woman, I am almost sad to bid farewell to this daunting friend. I pray the lessons I have learned from her will truly become a part of my character, and that God will bring her to mind whenever I need it...One last time read with me about who this woman is [linked to and yet separable from all that she does...]
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)
First I think it is important to recall, briefly, all that this woman is. She is...

  • Noble - She has an internal force of strength and virtue, from an external source.
  • Precious - She is deemed more valuable than rubies (the rarest of gems) by her husband.
  • Eager - She sets about her work with a feeling of great desire, pleasure, or expectancy.
  • Vigorous - She takes care of her own physical needs so she can be strong for her tasks.
  • Profitable - She earns income, but also has a spiritual profit of wisdom.
  • Prepared  - Her lamp doesn't go out, so she is ready for anything.
  • Giving - She takes care of the needy in some way.
  • Confident - Because she is prepared, she does not fear for her family.
  • Dignified - Her character is always evident.
  • Laughing -  She faces the future without worry and with humor.
  • Wise - She chooses her words and her actions carefully.
  • Kind - Her words follow the law of kindness.
Second I wanted to highlight the source and the results of her character.
"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate." {Proverbs 31:30-31, NIV)
The source of all of these qualities is her accurate view of God. In verse 30 this is referred to as 'fearing the LORD.' This fear is not the stark terror kind of fear we usually think of, but an overwhelming awe and worship of God. It is recognizing who He is (perfect, holy, loving, powerful, personal) and that I have no right to be in His presence, yet here I am, and so I must worship. With this attitude toward God, and a desire to please Him, the character traits listed above will be a natural outcome.

The result of her character is "praise at the city gate." That doesn't mean much to us these days, but the city gate is where all the men of a city would go to conduct business, hold court, make deals, and brag. So her husband is going to go to the city gate and tell everyone what a wonderful woman she is. It's the equivalent of a modern day husband going on Facebook (or twitter or...) and telling everyone what a great wife he has. It's the warm feeling of a mate giving public acknowledgement that their partner is a true blessing to them. What a gift.

I hope this study has been encouraging to you, too. You can review earlier passages by clicking on the links in the first quote above. Leave me a comment below about which character trait you're working on at the moment. I think I'm working on eager and vigorous...


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