Proverbs 31:10-31 Wife

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The scriptures in Proverbs 31 relating to the virtuous wife remain an enigma to many people. The lady spoken of here to most represents only a lofty ideal that can never be reached in one’s personal daily life. A dedicated student of the Bible, whether male or female, will see the spiritual application of these scriptures. What few realize is that these verses, along with many more that God has inspired for women, also present a goal as wives and mothers that as this goal is prayerfully sought, will draw women, not only closer to God and His will, but to their own husbands and children.

The writer has only sought to show the application that can and should be made to our daily lives and help the sincere Christian woman understand how she can take these scriptures and find some practical value in them for her walk with God. Please understand that the writer realizes there are exceptions in this day of single parent families, combined families, etc. that will seemingly not fit the mold shown here, but hopefully you can glean from the model ‘fit words’ to help you in your goal to live as a godly woman no matter what your circumstances.

We will discuss each verse separately and add what scriptures elsewhere can expand the subject. By no means is this study limited to the scriptures given, but the reader in her study will undoubtably come across others that are relevant. The New King James version of the Bible was used for the most part with some quotes from the regular King James version included as well. Pro 18:22 tells us ‘He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.’ Strive to be the kind of wife that will aid your husband in obtaining favor from the Lord, and you will obtain the same favor yourself and the added benefit of a blessed, happy marriage.

Pro 31:10  Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. (NKJ)

Though unspoken in 18:22, one can only assume after reading so many of the Proverbs which deal with unvirtuous women, that the wife sought after and found there is obviously a virtuous woman. Even though diamonds are considered ‘a girl’s best friend’, a fine high quality ruby is actually much rarer than diamonds. [ and]

Pro 31:11-12  The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.

A book could be written on these two verses alone because they can cover so many areas. You say ‘Of course my husband can trust me!’

This spans far more than knowing you’re not going to flirt (or worse) with his friends. Isn’t a little harmless flirting okay? That’s not how God looks at it, and aren’t we attempting to improve our Godly walk?

Mat 5:28 “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

This applies just as much to women for God is not gender biased. (Jas 4:4 – Adulterers and adulteresses!…)

How trustworthy are you with the money? Are you drowning in debt because instead of paying bills, you’re out having lunch with ‘the girls’, buying unneccessary clothes (‘It was a bargain I just couldn’t pass up! I saved so much.’), lottery tickets (‘Hey, I could get lucky; it’s only a few dollars a week, besides it goes to education doesn’t it?’). Hope you are not grinding your teeth yet. We have a long way to go.

You say you’re ‘good’ to him? In your mind does that mean you grudgingly show him intimate affection when you can’t plead a headache? The marriage chapter, 1 Corinthians 7, is a good study for this part of your relationship. Verse 4 there tells us your bodies belong to each other, while verse 5 warns us “do not deprive one another…” without a good reason and not for lengthy periods of time. Ecc 9:10 applies here as well as every other facet of our lives. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might…” Your husband will be delighted to make love with his wife, not just to her.

The area in which most women are found lacking is their mouths. When did it become the ‘thing to do’ to badmouth your husband to your friends and relatives? Verse 26 of Pro 31 ties in here. It is not kind to give an up-to-the-minute monolog of your husband’s faults complete with rolling eyes and heavy sighs amid group tsk, tsks. I know it’s hard not to do it sometimes when the ‘girls’ are hard at it, and you don’t want to be left out! It’s a real conversation killer, isn’t it, if you don’t join in and offer up juicy tidbits on the altar of gossip, but choose to praise his good points instead. Remembering Pro 11:13 “A talebearer reveals secrets, but he (or she) who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter” will serve to deter you from ‘revealing all’.

Of course, controlling your tongue is important in any circumstance, but how much more so when it concerns the man you have married. You two have ‘become one’ (Gen 2:21), and since you would not tell embarrassing things about yourself (or want your husband to do so), why gossip and belittle your husband – your other half? Together you make up a Godly unit that shadows God’s relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. (1Co 11:3 – “… the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”)

Among the many exhortations Paul was inspired to write for us, 2Ti 2:16 ranks highly. As this verse urges us to “shun profane and idle (vain in KJV) babblings”, certainly this type of discourse falls into the ‘vain’ or ‘idle’ category since its purpose by no means ‘edifies’ anyone. If our true goal is to become more Godly in our walk, by all means pray for God’s help to cleanse yourself from such action that “will increase unto more ungodliness.” (2Ti 2:16)

In pursuing your Godly walk, it is wise to remember (with no apologies to women’s libbers and fair-weather Christians) woman was created FOR man. (1Co 11:9). Should that knowledge make you feel demeaned? In no way!! Nor should any husband get the idea he is ‘better’ than his wife because he is her ‘head’! It is a beautiful thing when the creation of an inventor works according to its design. To be subject to your husband (Eph 5:22 – “Wives, submit to your own husband” as to the Lord.) glorifies God and raises your worth, not only to your husband, but to God. In the great scheme of things, remember Mat 12:36-37 so your words will be judged well. (But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.)

As another facet of trusting in you, how often do you have to say to your husband “Oh, honey, I forgot!”? Trust covers many areas. If a wife cannot be entrusted to help her husband by remembering to make important phone calls, pick up a needed item, etc., there will be “lack of gain”. That call might have been to a client, boss, supplier, whatever, and could have “saved the day”, but you ‘forgot’. Naturally in our busy lives we ALL forget things, but I am speaking here of intent. We are not discussing here a wife who ‘willfully’ is trying to sabotage her husband out of spite. An attitude of “I’m mad at him, so I’ll just pretend I forgot; that’ll show him!” only portrays an ungodly attitude.

If the reason you forget habitually is because you are spending your spare time daily on the phone to Mother, gossiping with your girlfriend, watching time-wasting soap operas, out shopping for ‘bargains’, then you are not putting God first in your life! We are assuming you are striving to be part of a God-centered team; and a wagon would not only get nowhere, but would be in danger of tipping over if the oxen drawing it did not pull together. In putting your husband above all others, his requests should be the ones you remember. In these times, there are so many pulls on your valuable time. Keep an organizer with you if necessary so you won’t have to say ‘I forgot’ so often.

Pro 31:13 – She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands.

Granted these days with the glut of stores around us, it is no longer necessary to do our own knitting and sewing of the family wardrobe. In fact, we now have a couple of generations of women that for the most part can’t even maintain the family wardrobe by sewing on a lost button or skillfully mending tears. While spinning your own sheep’s wool for yarn is no longer a necessary part of life as it was in days gone by, “working willingly” will never go out of style. Obviously this prototype lady held up for consideration is not a lazy person. She sees what needs to be done and does it.

Pro 31:14 She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar.
Pro 31:15 She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants.

When one mentions food, a whole other discourse needs to be included if your idea of ‘food’ for your family is cold cereal with homogenized milk, hot dogs, hamburger ‘helped’ with white flour pasta, white bread and bologna sandwiches, TV dinners, french fries, etc. If so, you are not ‘feeding’ your family; you are poisoning them!! Strong language? Yes, but true. A book, or volume of books needs to be written on the subject of ‘real’ food alone. Thankfully, the information is out there for anyone who has “eyes to see and ears to hear”. It will take time and diligence to seek it out, but the physical health of you and your family hinges on what you feed them. If the preceding menu sounds like your daily fare, scour the internet for the much excellent advice which is out there for you to educate yourself on the subject. Don’t be “destroyed” (healthwise) for lack of knowledge. More importantly, she provides spiritual food for her children with a godly example of her life, discussing spiritual matters with them and showing the respect for her husband that we all should show to Christ.

For many of us, getting out of bed is the hardest part of the day. But consider:

Pro 6:10  A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep
Pro 6:11  so shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man. (NKS)

Snooze alarms are a curse to a lazy person because it encourages ‘just a few minutes more’. Of course, we all understand there are those times the baby’s sick, or you are ill yourself or company kept you up late. The scripture is speaking here of your overall habit, not the occasional upset in your schedule. Too often we let these ‘occasions’ become excuses for bad habits. Examine why you don’t want to get out of bed in time to “provide food for your household”. Do you habitually stay up late watching TV? Turn it off! Go to bed! Do you toss and turn all night not sleeping well, then need a nap to get through the afternoon? Skip the nap and you’ll soon find you’ll have no problem getting a good night’s sleep.

A diet lacking in necessary nutrients will also make for fitful, poor quality sleep and no energy. For the single mom who must work to provide for her children, it can be very difficult. That deserves a whole other article by someone more experienced in dealing with it than this author.

We are addressing here specifically married (and planning to marry) Godly women. This “virtuous woman” and her hubby aren’t “doing too shabby” if she has maidservants. These days our helpers are dishwashers, washers and dryers, vacuum cleaners, etc. She may be wealthy, but she didn’t expect the servants to wait hand and foot on her.  She wisely delegates duties to her servants, so she has managerial skills. The word which in the King James version is translated ‘portion’ is the Hebrew word chôq which means ‘statutes’, ‘decrees’ or ‘tasks’, among other similar meanings.

As one reads through this chapter carefully, it is apparent this is one energetic lady! Clues to her energy and obvious good health are scattered throughout the chapter. The word “portion” (Strong’s #2706) is more often translated “task” or “statute” in the original Hebrew language. This section of the verse is not dealing with a portion of the aforementioned food. The “portion” for the maidservants (maids in KJV) is their “tasks” for the day. Our wise lady has organized her day as to what tasks should be accomplished by day’s end.

Pro 31:16 She girds herself with strength and strengthens her arms.

Obviously, if she’s planting and doing the ordinary running of a household of that day, this is not a weak, sickly wife. Bear in mind this chapter is dealing with an ideal that is a goal in spirit and application for which we should all strive. There are many fine Christian wives that God has chosen for His reasons to be burdened with a disability or chronic sickness. If you are one of these, of course we don’t expect to see you out hoeing the garden. God has given us all different abilities and strengths and expects us to use what we are given (Mat 25:15). In verse 23 of Matthew 25, the servant that was given two talents and doubled them received “well done” the same as the one given five talents. Does it not sound like this lady purposefully ensures she has the strength to perform her tasks? It does not say “her arms are strong” as though it’s merely a natural attribute. She…strengthens her arms. We can strengthen our arms (and the rest of us, too!) by making sure we exercise properly. This is not a vain thing to make sure we look good. Exercise, especially nowadays with all our modern conveniences to help us, is necessary to maintain our health; to “gird ourselves with strength”.

While the whole thrust of our accomplishments should be to “exercise” Christ in us (1Ti 4:7), verse 8 points out that “bodily exercise profits little.” There are two reasons that come to mind as to why it “profits little”. (KJV) First, this chapter in Timothy is dealing with our spiritual growth which leads to permanent, heavenly rewards. Secondly, as physical beings, our physical bodies need exercise on a regular basis to maintain proper health and strength. Exercise does our bodies good for just a little while, then we must do it again as the previous exercise is good only for a short time and we weaken and degenerate.

Pro 31:18 She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night.
Pro 31:19. She stretches out her hand to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle.

She could afford the oil for her lamps because her merchandise was good. In those times, it was common for ladies of rank to weave beautiful fabrics. They were a source of income. Honest work is not demeaning. Applying the lesson spiritually, we know she was a good, godly woman as “her lamp does not go out.” Verse 20 of Proverbs 24 tells us “The lamp of the wicked will be put out.”

Pro 31:20 She extends her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.

Notice those in need do not have to come begging to her – she “reaches out” to them when she perceives a need. The fact that this charity follows closely on her labors confirms Eph 4:28 – … let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give to him who has need. For the elect we know as the ‘christ of Christ’ we are not here to minister to ‘the world’, but should be reaching out in prayer and service to each other in Christ. That is not to say we should not help friends and neighbors when we see a need and can help.

Gal 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Pro 31:21 She is not afraid of snow for her household; for all her household is clothed with scarlet.

According to the Jamison, Fausset and Brown “Commentary on the Whole Bible” (JFB), this scarlet is actually “purple, by reason of the dyes used, the best fabrics; as a matter of taste also; the color suits cold.”

Pro 31:22 She makes tapestry for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.

The ‘tapestry’ (coverings of tapestry – KJV) is bed coverings acording to JFB. (All you quilters, rejoice!) KJV says silk, but all other listings of this word use linen. Again, purple is indicative of “the most costly goods” again indicating her craftmanship was of excellent quality. (JFB)

Pro 31:23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.

He can confidently take his place among community leaders knowing his household is being looked after well.  He can leave for work knowing, trusting his wife to manage things well in his absence.

Pro 31:24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants.

Sales of these “fine linen” (KJV) for garments and girdles (sashes – which were often costly and highly valued [JFB – See 2Sa 18:15) no doubt assisted her in “buying a field” and “bringing food from afar.”

Pro 31:25 Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come.

Obviously the first of this verse is a metaphor for her strong moral character. Spiritually her reward for her integrity will be a heavenly one “in time to come.”

Pro 31:26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.

You won’t hear this fine lady wasting her time and character gossiping, cutting people down or acting shrewishly. Her advice is delivered gently with God’s word (true wisdom) backing her up. If you intend to live a lawful life, here is evidence of a law to which we can all adhere – kindness. Kindness is among the virtues we are admonished to add to our faith in 2Pe 1:7.

Pro 31:27 She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Tit 2:5 tells us that the older women should teach the younger women to be discreet (not loud or showing off childishly), chaste (in dress and action), homemakers (not an easy job granted, which some choose to escape by working outside the home, then use the job as an excuse for their lousy homemaking habits), good (a “pattern of good works” as in verse 7), obedient to their own husbands…” Whoa! Did that say obey?? Yes! We do not obey our husbands to necessarily please them, but to please God! Our submission to our husbands is not to belittle our position, but to point out the position of EVERY christian as it relates to Christ and God, the Father.

Eph 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

God does not look kindly upon a lazy nature be it man or woman. Time after time, God speaks to us His mind on the subject. We may not want ants in our home, but God advises us to look to their example of industry.

Pro 6:6 Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise.

And again in 10:4 He [or she] who has a slack hand becomes poor… and many more verses in Proverbs and elsewhere encourage us to be diligent and avoid slothfulness.

Pro 12:24 The hand of the diligent will rule, but the lazy will be put to forced labor.

Pro 31:28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
Pro 31:29  many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.

Those who know her the best know this is not a pretense or “show” of virtue their mother and wife put on as a “church act”, but as a part of her day-to-day Christian walk. She deserves the honor and praise they – and God – give to her. Can our spiritual husband, Christ, praise us?

Pro 31:30 Charm [JFB calls it “grace of personal manner”] is deceitful, and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
Pro 31:31. Give her of the fruit of her hands and let her own works praise her in the gates.

How is she praised in the gates? That’s where her husband can at times be found (vs 23), and he gladly “brags” on his wonderful wife. Don’t settle for slip-shod “wifesmanship”, but as Paul admonishes in Php 3:4 as God-led wives and mothers “press [strive] toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

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