Proverbs 31 gives a mother’s advice to her son, King Lemuel, about finding a virtuous woman to marry. Both young women who desire to be virtuous and young men who seek a virtuous wife can be helped in this study.
Who is Lemuel?
So let’s get started in our study of Proverbs 31 as we learn more about this wise woman and her beloved son, Lemuel. Most conservative scholars agree that Lemuel was a mother’s pet name for her son, Solomon. The name Lemuel means devoted to God. So if Lemuel is actually Solomon, then the mother is Bathsheba.
You, no doubt, remember the sordid story of David and Bathsheba and their adulterous relationship recorded in II Samuel 11. David not only committed adultery with this beautiful wife of one of his military officers, Uriah; but when he discovered Bathsheba was pregnant, he arranged for Uriah to be put in the heat of the battle and then withdraw military support for him so that he would be killed. Then he could be free to marry Bathsheba and cover up his sin of adultery. It worked. Uriah was killed in battle and David, who plotted his death, immediately married his widow.
What is genuine confession of sin?
No sooner had David committed this dastardly sin, when God sent the prophet Nathan to point his bony finger in his face and declare, “Thou art the man!” I encourage you to read the story in II Samuel 12:1-23 of how God through Nathan dealt with self-righteous King David. Although David confessed his sin as recorded in Psalm 51 and God forgave him; nevertheless, he suffered repeated family tragedies and heartaches because of his sin, God forgave Him and graciously worked out His will in the whole situation.
I also encourage you to stop now and read Psalm 51 for an example of a genuine, heart-felt confession of sin. This is a far cry from a flippant, meaningless “Sorry God! I goofed!” When we confess our sins from broken contrite hearts, God is quick to forgive. Read I John 1:5-10 to understand how you can be forgiven of your sins. There is no Biblical ground for “doing penance”. There are only two choices you have. You either die for your sins and go to hell, or you trust in Christ who shed His blood as the payment in full for your sins and gave you the gift of eternal life. That sacrifice of Jesus’ shed blood is your only grounds for being forgiven and cleansed. Understand that when you trust Christ and confess your sins; God not only forgives, but cleanses your heart from all unrighteousness.
You can’t beat the game of sin!
But understand also that sin always carries negative consequences. Though you are forgiven there are scars and consequences that follow you for the rest of your life and sometimes for generations to come. We can never live victorious lives until we have learned to hate sin as God hates it.
Now if you’ve already read the first 23 verses of II Samuel 12, continue reading verse 24-25 for the story of the birth of Solomon, the second child of David and Bathsheba. Note that God loved him. That is, God had a special plan for Solomon to be the king of Israel after his father David died. Through David and Solomon’s progeny, the Lord Jesus Christ would one day be born to the virgin Mary. That’s another story that you can read on this site under the link, Virgin Birth.
Bathsheba’s desire for her son
Note that the prophet Nathan called baby Solomon Jedediah which means “beloved of the Lord”. That must have been a great comfort to David and Bathsheba. It would not be unreasonable to think that Bathsheba would give her baby son her pet name for him, Lemuel which means “devoted to God”.
In the birth of little Solomon (Jedediah, Lemuel), we see the grace of God on David and Bathsheba, whose union had begun so shamefully in adultery and murder. If God can do that for them, He can forgive and cleanse you and give you a new start in life, regardless of your past.
And so returning to Proverbs 31 we see in verse 2 that King Lemuel is the son of his mother’s vows. As all godly mothers and fathers love their children enough to dedicate them to the Lord and instruct them in the knowledge of God, so Bathsheba trained little Lemuel to be a man of God and the future king of Israel. So here in Proverbs 31 we have the teachings of King Lemuel as he passes on to generations to come the instruction of his mother.
Proverbs 1:5-9 tells us that a wise son or daughter will listen to and value the instructions of their parents, but fools will despise and reject that instruction. For more information on Fools, go to our link on Fools on this web site.
Watch this link for more messages describing a virtuous woman and reread Proverbs 31 for background on that which is to come.
Lemuel begins rehearsing the warnings of his mother Bathsheba, recorded in Proverbs 31:2-3, with the dangers of sexual sins. Young men are given repeated warnings concerning this powerful temptation in Proverbs 2:10-22, 5:1-23, 6:20-36, and 7:1-27. I encourage you to take time now to read those passages.
Sex is a beautiful gift of God
Sex is a beautiful gift of God given to men and women to enjoy within the holy bonds of matrimony. In the beautiful Song of Solomon, a short book of the Bible that follows Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, the bride and her bridegroom sing of the delights of sexual intimacy. All of this is a picture of the spiritual intimacy we have with Christ, our Bridegroom.
Taking a joy ride in the mountains
Sexual sins can be likened to taking a joy ride in the mountains in a car that is in need of repairs. Driving up the mountain and maneuvering the winding mountain roads is fun, but as you start down the mountain, you suddenly discover that your brakes have failed. As the car speeds up careening back and forth, you eventually fly over the cliff to your destruction.
How well Bathsheba was aware of this danger as she warned her son, Lemuel, of this danger.
Sexual temptations everywhere
Temptations to sexual sin are everywhere: on the streets, in your classroom, in your office at work, even in church, as lewd women dress to entice men to see what they shouldn’t. Men are taught in God’s Word not to lust after women. Of course, it is just as much a sin for a woman to dress seductively to tempt men.
Job made a covenant with his eyes not to think (lust) upon a maiden. That is recorded in Job 31:1. This is a good covenant for each of us men to make asking God for His help.
Beware of pornography. It’s everywhere today: on the internet, on TV, videos and in the movies. Treat pornography as you would treat deadly radiation. Don’t ever play with sexual sin. It will always take you further than you plan to go. It will lead to pre-marital pregnancies, to venereal disease, including AIDS. For certain, it will leave a scar in your mind that will haunt you for years to come.
The only solution to sin
Psalm 119:9 gives the only solution. “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy Word.” If your mind has been contaminated with memories of sexual sins of the past; the more you spend time reading and meditating on God’s Word, the sooner those mental images and memories will begin to disappear.
In Proverbs 31:4-7 Lemuel passes on the warnings of his mother concerning the importance of kings and others in authority to avoid drinking alcoholic beverages, lest in a state of intoxication their ability to make right decisions be impaired.
There’s no question that alcoholic beverages have deceived and destroyed many lives; but what’s so dangerous about drinking wine in moderation? After all, Jesus miraculously changed water into wine at a wedding feast. He instructs us to use bread and wine in observing the Lord’s Supper. I don’t deny that many Christians around the world drink wine responsibly and in moderation. I am also aware that health studies show that red wine is good for our health. Nevertheless we must not ignore the plain warnings of Scripture of the deceitfulness and danger of intoxicating beverages, including wine. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” Proverbs 20:1
Reasons why I do not drink wine and other alcoholic beverages.
Before I give my reasons, please understand that my total abstinence does not make me a better Christian than those who drink wine in moderation. Though beer and wine are not temptations to me, I have my struggles with ice cream and certain pastries that can be more harmful to my health than wine. I am an ongoing recovering addict from some of those rich foods.
Nevertheless, I will give you my reasons for avoiding wine and strong drink for your own consideration.
1. Although Israel drank wine and used it in their feasts, I am not an Israelite. I am a born again Christian and have an intimate relationship with Christ as part of His bride. In The Song of Solomon 1:1-2 the bride says of her husband, that His love is better than wine. In 4:10 the Husband, says of His spouse, that our love is better to Him than wine. Whereas Old Testament Israel perhaps needed a little wine to give them cheer and help make life bearable; as a Christian, wine is something I do not need to give me cheer, nor do I need rich foods and entertainment to brighten my day. With Christ I enjoy a continual feast.
2. I enjoy grape juice. If I started drinking wine, I imagine I could acquire a taste for it and thoroughly enjoy it. If that happened, I might have as much trouble drinking in moderation as I have trouble eating chocolate or certain flavors and brands of ice cream in moderation. I don’t want to take that chance. I do not trust my sinful flesh nature, nor should any Christian. Read the warnings about this in Romans 7:14-25
3. As Paul said in I Corinthians 6:12, so I refuse to allow my body to come under the control of anything, good or bad. If I crave anything, that is a caution flag warning me to bring it under control. If I crave something, I try to avoid it. This is what Paul is talking about in I Corinthians 9:24-27. Be warned of those things you MUST have in order to be happy and content. If your meal is ruined because you cannot have a cup of coffee or a can of soda or anything else, than perhaps you have a craving that needs to come under control. If you or I have a certain TV program we just MUST see or our day is ruined, that is a sinful craving. If you or I MUST have a glass of wine with a meal or the meal is ruined, that is an inordinate affection or desire and Colossians 3:5 warns about allowing that to rule our lives.
ANYTHING THAT WE MUST HAVE IN OUR LIVES IN ORDER TO BE HAPPY AND SATISIFED, HAS BECOME A LUST. THAT IS A SIN!
When Israel was traveling through the wilderness on their way to Canaan, they lusted after the cucumbers, leeks and garlic of Egypt and despised the manna God was providing them. Read Number 11:4-10 and see how this attitude displeased God.
II Samuel 23:14-17 tells the story of how David, while in battle with the Philistines, sinfully craved a drink of water from a certain well in Bethlehem, his home town. Three of his brave soldiers jeopardized their lives to bring him a cup of that water. He became so convicted of this that he refused to drink it, but poured the water on the ground as a sacrifice to God.
4. If some people in Old Testament times took a Nazarite vow, which included abstaining from wine and even grapes, in order to please God; it seems to me that as a Christian, I ought to abstain from wine and other alcoholic beverages.
5. Aaron and his sons as priests were forbidden to drink wine. We as Christians are a kingdom of priests. See I Peter 2:9-11. It seems to me it would be right for us to also avoid wine.
6. Kings and judges were commanded to avoid wine lest they should forget God’s Law and pervert judgment. Remember, that was Bathsheba’s warning to her kingly son Lemuel, n Proverbs 31:4-5.
7. Pastors, elders and deacons are all warned to not be given to wine. II Timothy 3
8. I am free as a Christian to drink wine, but I refuse to enjoy that freedom lest by my example I should cause a weaker brother to stumble. Romans 14
9. Personally I cannot think of one good reason to try to acquire a taste for wine and start drinking it, so I won’t.
10. I expect in Christ’s Kingdom in my glorified body, I will feel free to enjoy drinking wine with Christ, but until then I choose to abstain. Luke 22:18
As I hold these standards for myself, I refuse to condemn or think less of my brother in Christ who does not see it my way. Romans 14:21-23
In Proverbs 31:8-9 Bathsheba gives further instruction to her son, Lemuel, concerning his responsibilities as king towards the helpless, the poor and the needy.
Our Financial Mess is a Character Issue
America has certainly been a nation that has taken this responsibility seriously. We have all sorts of government funded programs and safety nets for genuinely needy people. No one need go hungry. The problem is that many able bodied, lazy people have taken advantage of the system. Whether we have the character as a nation to solve the problem before we go bankrupt remains to be seen.
I have recoiled in disgust as I have seen our government welfare system expand over the past fifty years spawning generation after generation of people who are too lazy to work, making them feel like victims who are entitled to government support. Over the past fifty years as a pastor, I have personally dealt with able-bodied men who have been offered jobs, but have refused to work because they would lose their welfare checks.
God is Our Source of Supply
Though in the past, I could have qualified at times for government assistance, I have always refused to even apply. God has always met out needs as I have worked at even minimum wage jobs at times to get us over some tight spots financially.
Of course, now that I am a senior citizen, I am blessed with Social Security and I gratefully receive my monthly checks as a return on the investment that I paid into it throughout my working years.
Responsible Charitable Giving
In the meantime, we Christians have an obligation to the genuinely poor and needy. The Church cannot afford to be a “money tree” that hands out money to every lazy person and every con artist, nor should we as Christians be made to feel guilty when we reject many who would try to take advantage of us.
When someone comes to our church asking for financial help I or one of our church members visit them in their home. Lovingly and patiently we teach them how to cut unnecessary expenses such as liquor, cigarettes, sodas, junk food, lottery tickets, etc. from their lives. We teach them the importance of being clean and we help them learn how to apply for jobs. Any able-bodied man who refuses to work at a minimum wage job has no business asking others to help him financially. See II Thessalonians 3:10-12.
We give them the Gospel and invite them to know Christ as their Saviour and Shepherd. When one trusts Christ as Saviour its not long before he has learned to depend on the Shepherd of the 23rd Psalm. His needs are supplied. I have personally found to be true the promises of Psalm 34:6-22 Psalm 37:25.
Back in the summer of 1949, I visited the island of Haiti where my mother and step-father ministered as missionaries. As I traveled around the island I was struck by the sharp contrast in the appearance and the homes of those who were Christians and those who were not. Consistently I found that the Christians were clean, happy, well fed and lived in clean houses. Many of the non-Christians were dirty, living in poverty and filth. I have found that to generally be true in America also, though there may be exceptions.
Next time we will get into the major theme of Proverbs 31 as we learn about the virtuous woman.
What are you Looking for in a Spouse?
The average young person seeking a wife or a husband does not even consider the importance and value of virtue and character. They and their parents are more concerned about appearance, social standing and money. Parents directly or indirectly teach these values to their children.
Instead, we should be teaching morality and character to our children, primarily by exemplifying these virtues in our own lives as parents; then drawing those lessons from the Bible stories and Bible doctrine that we teach them. We need to teach our children to not settle for anything less than a virtuous, charactered, godly spouse; one who loves the Lord supremely.
What is Character?
Character is doing what is right, regardless of the consequences. Character is doing what we said we would do, even when it is inconvenient or when we don’t feel like doing it.
The lack of character, even among Christians, is the reason why in this age there are so many marital problems, including: divorces, business failures and bankruptcies.
Are Romantic Feelings Enough?
Romance is beautiful and wonderful. I’m all for romance in marriage; but a marriage that is built on romance alone will probably fail. On the other hand, a marriage that is built on Christ in which both husband and wife are men and women of character is bound to succeed and God will throw in romance as a bonus.
So let’s look now at a woman’s virtue, her value and the fact that she is a vanishing breed, or endangered species.
First let’s look at her virtue. Virtue is moral excellence, including sexual purity. Such a woman has an attractive personality which results in a genuine inner beauty that is expressed through her eyes and her smile. Jesus, as a young boy, was virtuous. Luke 2:51-52 tells us that He increased in stature and in favor with God, and with man. That is, people liked Him and enjoyed being around Him.
II Peter 1:1-3 tells us that virtue comes from God. He gives us everything we need that pertains to life and godliness and that it all comes to us through the knowledge of His Word. We are called to a life of glory and virtue. It is total devotedness to Him, whether He gives us a mate or not. It is finding our joy and delight in Him. It is living in the Heavenlies in fellowship with Him while at the same time living with our feet on the ground.
I encourage you young people to memorize Proverbs 31:30. Hide it in your heart as you seek God’s will concerning college, a career and a mate. That verse does not teach you to be careless about your appearance, but understand that true beauty comes from within you as you develop Christian character and become more like Jesus.
A reputation for virtue takes time to develop, but it’s a young person’s most valuable asset. There were many virtuous men and women in the Bible, including the following. Joseph was sold into slavery and ended up as Prime Minister of Egypt. Daniel was captured and taken into Babylon, becoming an influential advisor to Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and later to Darius of Persia. Esther, a virtuous Jewish maiden became Persian Emperor Ahasuerus’ queen, using her influence to protect her people from being massacred. Mary, a virtuous young virgin of Nazareth was given the blessed privilege of supernaturally conceiving and bearing the body of Jesus, who was God come down to earth in human flesh. Ruth is specifically mentioned in Ruth 3:11 as a virtuous woman. She was a young Moabitess who eventually married Boaz. From his lineage Jesus was born.
Parents, beware of ungodly influences in the lives of your children if you want them to grow up to be beautiful, polished and successful young men and women in the eyes of God. Psalm 144:7-12
What makes something valuable? It’s quality, it’s importance to you and its scarcity. There are lots of ravishingly beautiful women in this world, but few women of character, virtue and purity. The same goes with men. Handsome men (I hear women call them “hunks”) should not be the first quality a young woman seeks in a husband. Rather she should be asking God to give her a man of virtue and character; a man who will love God first, her second and will be a godly example to her children and leader to her family.
We cherish, protect and care for that which is precious, rare and fragile; including china, crystal, pottery, valuable paintings and antique furniture. Most importantly, should we husbands cherish our virtuous wives by caring for their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Don’t ever take your wife for granted. Be patient with her flaws and weaknesses. You have them also. God is patient and gentle with you.
As a pastor is not to lord it over his flock, but be an example to them, as Peter teaches in I Peter 5:1-4; so a husband is not to force submission on his wife. Rather, she offers glad submission to her husband by first submitting herself to Christ.
HER VANISHING BREED
Seeking a virtuous wife is as important as seeking for God’s wisdom and seeking His will for your life. Where are you seeking? How earnestly are you seeking? It ought to be your daily prayer that in God’s time He will bring the right mate to you. God gives His wisdom to those who diligently seek Him. That includes wisdom to recognize His spouse for you.
Rebekah found her husband Isaac by faithfully doing her duties at home. Read their inspiring love story in Genesis 24. The secret was that she was faithfully fulfilling her duties at home, including drawing water from the well. In so doing, she met an aged man who led her to her husband. Abraham’s faithful servant rejoiced when he found a bride for his master’s son, ” I being in the way, the Lord led me.”
God’s way is perfect Psalm 18:30 teaches us. Have you learned that yet? A wife is a precious gift from the Lord Proverbs 19:14 says. Psalm 127 teaches that a husband is also a gift from God, as are your children. As God tailor made Eve for Adam, so He is tailor making your spouse.
Girls, though God did not say, “It is not good that a woman should be alone” He did say that “It is not good that man should be alone.” He who made you and knows you best knows whether you need a husband or not. If you do, He will bring His man into your life in His time. Believe me, girls, a life of singleness is a thousand times better than being married to the wrong man who will end up breaking your heart.
Don’t jump ahead of God and ruin your life. Read and meditate on Psalm 37:1-5 and the rest of those wonderful Psalms. Concentrate on being a man or woman of God. Delight in knowing and surrendering yourself to Him and He will bring your dreams to pass.
Next time, Lord willing, we will talk about a virtuous wife’s mystical union with her husband.
Virtue is Practical
Interestingly, the description of a virtuous woman as we find it in Proverbs 31 does not say anything about her relationship with God, except in verse 30 that “she fears God”; that is, that she has a reverential fear of God. It’s expected that she spends time reading and meditating in the Law of God, as does the blessed man of Psalm 1, but it doesn’t say so. It’s expected that she spends time in prayer and communion with God, but it doesn’t say so. Instead, her virtue is described practically by the way she cares for the needs of her family and home. These practical expressions reveal her virtue.
I wonder why her relationship with God is not mentioned. Could it be that women by nature, perhaps more than men, tend to give themselves exclusively to prayer and the reading of God’s Word to the exclusion of their mundane tasks and household responsibilities as wives and mothers?
I’m not discounting the importance and even the necessity of a wife and mother’s quiet time with the Lord each day. She needs that time with the Lord, even in the midst of pressing duties, as do men.
Rare is the woman, who like Mary, sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to Him teach and who like Martha, kept up on all her household chores. We all tend to go to one extreme or the other.
II Peter 1:1-3 teaches us that virtue comes from God through the knowledge of His Word. Time in fellowship with Him provides us with the practical wisdom and strength to get through each day. It says in verse 3 that we have been called to glory and virtue. Glory is living with Christ in the Heavenlies. Virtue is living that life and accomplishing what needs to be done in the daily hum-drum of carrying out responsibilities in the home, In other words, a virtuous woman is not so heavenly-minded that she is of no earthly good. Rather, true heavenly-mindedness results in a practical living out of the Christian life in loving service to both her family and to others.
Oneness in Marriage
Note now, how her godly virtuous life is lived out in her relationship with her husband. She is no longer an individual woman living out her personal life and doing as she pleases. She is now her husband’s wife. Theirs is a mystical union, a personal relationship with one another built on total love and trust. She accepts his name and her identity is in him. She gladly submits herself to him for his good and best interests. Girls, if you have not yet found such a man, you’ve not yet found the right husband.
As a wife, you enjoy your husband’s love, protection and provision. Your husband has total trust and confidence in you. He can share his heart freely with you and you can share your heart freely with him. There are absolutely no secrets between the two of you, except perhaps the secret gifts you give to one another.
As physical nakedness is not something to be ashamed of between a husband and wife, so your hearts can be naked and totally open to one another. See Genesis 2:25.
The Family Circle in Heaven
This union as husband and wife lasts until death parts you. Regardless of the sentimental song, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” there will be no family circles in Heaven. In fact Jesus said in Matthew 22:24-30 that there will be no marriages in Heaven. Some have the sentimental hope that our marriages on earth will continue in Heaven for eternity, but there is no scriptural evidence for that.
Will we know one another in Heaven? Absolutely! but not in the relationships of this earth. Our relationship with Christ and with one another as part of His Bride, will be more intimate and pure and joyful than our minds can conceive now. We will have eternity to get acquainted and to know one another as we are known. In Heaven we will not be focused on our husband or wife (the Gift), but rather on Christ, (the Giver).
For now on this earth, regardless of whether we are married or single, Christians are in an indissoluble eternal union with Christ. If you are married, you are bound in an indissoluble temporal union with your spouse for as long as you live. Be aware as Ephesians 5:31-32 teaches that our earthly marriage to our spouse is a constant illustration of the mystery of our Heavenly marriage to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Our union with Christ is an indissoluble union which began with our new birth as Christians and will continue throughout eternity.
How to Hurt Yourself in Marriage – If You Really Want To
Returning to our earthly marital union, a virtuous wife spends her life doing her husband good and not evil. Proverbs 31:12 She cares for his physical and emotional needs as he cares for her physical and emotional needs. She guards his name, his reputation and his credit. Ephesians 5:28-29 teaches that she can’t hurt him without hurting herself; just as a husband can’t hurt his wife without hurting himself.
Because of a virtuous wife’s loyalty and support, her husband has a good reputation in his community. Ephesians 5:31 shows us that he becomes a man of influence and respect. His wife encourages him to reach his full potential. They are not living individual lives in competition with each other, but they are living each for the other and both for God.
Finally, Proverbs 31:28 says that a virtuous wife is well rewarded. Her husband appreciates her and he is glad to let the world know it. Her children also continue to walk with God as they grow older. We parents can say with John in III John 4, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”
We are continuing our study of the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31. A virtuous woman, surrendered to Christ and obedient to His Word, not only makes her husband her first priority and thus has a solid, happy marriage; but she also expresses her love and devotion to her children by caring for all their needs.
A woman can only be the right kind of mother as she is the right kind of wife. She can only be the right kind of wife as she is a charactered woman of principle. The power and the ability to be such a woman comes through a saving relationship with Christ.
Though the Western woman of the 21st century does not have the same duties as a Mid-Eastern woman of Bible times, she still has the responsibility to manage and care for the domestic responsibilities of her home.
This virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 stands for everything the modern women’s liberation movement opposes and yet she alone is the truly liberated joyful woman. Why is that? Psalm 113:9 declares that God Himself “makes a barren woman to keep house and be a joyful mother of children.”
Husbands and fathers, I encourage you to take a good look at the hands of your wife and mother of your children. As a pastor who has my study in my home, I have seen up closely the burdens that a mother bears and the hard work she accomplishes with her hands each day.
A virtuous woman cares for her babies and toddlers all day long and sometimes most of the night; holding them and comforting them when they have pain they cannot explain and rocking them to sleep.
A virtuous woman lovingly prepares nutritious meals for her family three times a day, She keeps her home clean and keeps up on the never-ending piles of laundry.
A virtuous mother does not do all the household chores by herself. As the children grow older, she teaches them to work in the home, gradually transferring some of the household chores to them. Whether you pay them for their chores or not, is up to you. Personally, I don’t think it is necessary. They are already blessed to be part of the family with all its rights and privileges. It’s good for them to learn the values of responsibility, self-sacrifice and unselfishness. As they grow older they can take jobs outside the home and earn extra money.
In Proverbs 31:13 we learn that the virtuous woman works willingly. Most of us could never begin to pay our wives the money they deserve for the various jobs they do in the home. For my wife it has included: cooking baking- mostly from scratch, canning and freezing food directly from our garden, cleaning the house, cutting hair (she has been my barber for 55 years as well as cutting our children’s hair, making clothes, taking care of sick children, home schooling; and the list goes on.
Proverbs 31:14 tells how the virtuous woman seeks out bargains and quality merchandise. Today she not only combs the papers, but the internet for the best buys. Her husband trusts her with the check book and credit cards. I encourage couples to always discuss major purchases together.
I can’t leave this topic without speaking of romantic hands. I will never forget the first time I ever held Pat’s hands. Prior to that time the only times I had held girl’s hands was when playing games. Hers were the only hands I had ever held romantically and mine were the only hands she had ever held romantically. The occasion was on a Saturday evening in May of 1954 and the place was on the 6th Street bridge in Pittsburgh, Pa.
We had met in December of 1953 and I started writing letters to her. I was a student at Bob Jones University and she was a student at Columbia Bible College (now Columbia International University) At the close of the school year I traveled to Pittsburgh with some fellow students to work at a rescue mission on the North Side of Pittsburgh, which incidentally was her home town. I played the piano and slept in a tiny room at the back of the mission and worked washing and sanitizing rooms at Allegheny General Hospital a few blocks away.
Each Saturday night at the mission there was a youth rally. With some encouragement from a friend and fellow-worker at the Mission, I called Pat and let her know I was in town and invited her to the rally. She was shocked to know I was there, for as the school year came to an end I did not know what I was going to do nor where I would be for the summer. So it seemed to both of us as though our correspondence was drying up and we would probably never see each other again.
Pat showed up that evening with her girl friend and husband and two single ladies from her church. We met and re-established our friendship that night. One or two weeks later following the Saturday night youth rally we decided to walk across the bridge into town for some ice cream. As we walked in the twilight with the two single ladies behind us, I was compelled to reach for her hand. She did not pull away and I have been holding on ever since. That was over fifty-five years ago and the fire works still go off when we hold hands just as they did that May evening on the bridge. In August that summer we were engaged and a year later married.
It is not a sin for a boy and girl to hold hands, but I would encourage young people to reserve hand holding and certainly kissing only for the one you are engaged to marry and sexual intimacy only for marriage. Those intimacies will mean so much more to you if you reserve them for the one you marry. Yes, believe it or not, that hand holding was a first for both us and now over fifty-five years later, we still find it thrilling to hold hands.
Men, take a fresh look at your wife’s hands and let her know how much you appreciate all she has done for you and your children down through the years. Rejoice that you have a godly, virtuous wife who exercises that godliness and expresses her unselfish, unsparing love in practical ways.
The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 is an example of virtue for women in every age, including the present age. She was counted righteous through her faith in God just as all men and women of every age have attained that righteousness through faith alone. I encourage you to read Romans 1-5 and make sure you are trusting in Christ’s imputed righteousness (the only righteousness that saves) and not your own self-righteousness that leaves you lost and condemned to hell.
Faith in the saving righteousness of Christ alone, saves; but that righteousness produces a virtuous life, as exemplified by this virtuous woman of Proverbs 31. This woman adorns her godliness with good works, as I Timothy 2:9-10 teaches. Note from Proverbs 31 four areas of her adornment.
1. She is trustworthy. Proverbs 31:11=12
Her husband can trust her with his reputation, with his check book and credit cards, and with running the household. If she handles the finances, she sees to it that the bills are paid on time. He can trust her to hold to the Biblical principles they discussed when courting. She will not be a gossip nor share personal family matters with her prayer sisters. Her chief prayer partner is her husband. The two of them can be totally honest and open with one another.
She will be his chief encourager and cheer leader; as well as his gentle critic. Without being a shrew or nag, she will encourage him to be his best at work, in the community and in their church.
She will put her own personal interests and ambitions on hold during the years they are raising their children. No personal goal is more important than that.
To summarize, she is an asset to her husband and not a liability.
2. She is an industrious, hard worker. Proverbs 31:13-19
She is not a self-indulgent slob who lies in bed or on her couch all day, allowing their homes and families to fall apart while she allows other slobs and self-important worldy philosophers on television to mold her philosophy of life with their Satanic-inspired, anti-biblical garbage.
She is not like the foolish woman of Proverbs 14:1, who is destroying her own family. Satan is very smart and cunning. He knows that if he can control the thinking and values of the mothers of this generation, he has already conquered the next generation in his war against God.
And so the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 works from morning till night planning and preparing hundreds of nutritious meals each year, washing tons of dirty clothes, cleaning up messes, repairing broken things or getting them repaired, shops within a budget that she and her husband have set, teaches, encourages and disciplines her children according to God’s Word and not some latest psychological fad in opposition to the Bible.
She gladly makes personal sacrifices for her husband and children, serving her family. In the early years of marriage it may involve living on a very tight budget and doing without a lot of things their parents have. The wise couple will avoid going into debt for things that depreciate. They will carefully shop for bargains. She will not waste food nor allow her children to waste it.
As a mother of small children, she will sacrifice hours of badly needed sleep at night as she cares for them in times of sickness. Her working hours are from very early in the morning until late at night. All of this is for no pay but the smile of God and hopefully the appreciation of her husband and one day the appreciation of her grown children.
She looks for wise investments and financial opportunities; whether it is stocks, real estate or a home business. She is not afraid of hard work.
3. She has a tender heart for the needy. Proverbs 31:20
Very much aware of God’s grace and blessing on her and her family, her heart is tender to the needs of others. Through her time, effort and resources, she sets an example of unselfish giving for her children.
4. Her clothing Proverbs 31:21-25
She is primarily clothed with the virtues of moral strength and honor. That is, she is clothed in character. If that is missing, outer clothing do not make the woman. If character and modesty are missing, all other efforts to make herself beautiful are in vain.
There is no contradiction between Proverbs 31:22 and I Timothy 2:9-10 which teaches modesty and inner beauty. With these inner qualities there is no reason why a woman should not be clothed with beautiful, quality garments, if she can afford them. Often it is wiser and more economical to buy a $120 dress on sale for $30 than it is to spend money on cheap, poorly made clothing.
It is glorifying to God to look your best and call attention to Christ by the way you dress. It is carnal to dress in such a way that you call attention to yourself by dressing as a slob or dressing to show off your wealth as well as your body.
In addition, a virtuous woman sees to it that her children are well clothed and prepared for the weather. Proverbs 31:23 could also teach that this mother has won her children to Christ and they are clothed in the righteousness provided through the shed blood of Christ.
No man or woman is perfect.
Women, don’t feel discouraged if you know you do not measure up to the ideal virtuous woman. None of us men or women are perfect. We are all sinners and we all have our flaws. Our salvation is in Christ alone who died to pay the penalty for our sins.
Husbands, it’s your responsibility and privilege to love your imperfect wife unconditionally, just as she is, with all her blemishes. Remember, God loves you in your blemishes and faults. Be patient with her. I Corinthians 13 teaches that genuine love is patient and kind and long-suffering. She has her cycles of depression and discouragement. Always be there for her and love her sacrificially. Don’t focus on your sacrificial love for her, but on her sacrificial love for you.
She made some great sacrifices when she married you.
1. She sacrificed her family name to take on your name. She gladly did it for herself and for the children that would come.
2. She sacrificed her own personal career and dreams to help you fulfill your hopes and dreams.
3. She daily sacrifices her life and energy , pouring it out as a sacrifice to God for you and your children.
4. She passes through the valley of the shadow of death to have your children.
For these and other sacrifices she makes, she deserves your sacrificial love for her happiness and blessing. Thank God continually for your wife and take time to thank her daily for all she does for you. You thank God for the food each day. Do you thank her for her preparation of your meals each day, as well as for sewing buttons on your shirts.
How can you be a virtuous woman? Make sure you have trusted in Christ as your Saviour. II Peter 1:1-8 teaches that virtue comes from Him.
Surrender to Christ and allow His Holy Spirit to fill and control you.
Like Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, spend time in the Word. Jesus said in Luke 10:42 that this is needful if you are to accomplish all your household tasks
Warnings to young people
Young men, don’t settle for anything less than a virtuous woman when seeking a wife.
Girls, right now you are becoming the wife and mother you will one day be. Seek to know God as you read His Word and ask God to make you a virtuous woman and to lead you to a virtuous, godly husband. Don’t even consider settling for anything less than one who loves God more than he loves you.
Far better to be a virtuous woman and single than to compromise your Biblical principles and live with a broken heart the rest of your life!
As we continue to study the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31, we learn in verse 26 that whenever she opens her mouth to her husband, or children or to anyone else, the law or principle of kindness controls everything she says and the tone in which she says it. There is not a hint of harshness or rudeness. There is not a hint of judgmental spirit or superiority.
No matter what her situation, she is controlled by the Holy Spirit and consistently speaks quietly and with kindness.
If your response is, “No one can be that perfect”, you’re right. None of us are perfect. We all offend at times, James 3:2 tells us. That’s why we need a Saviour, That’s why Jesus died and rose again to save us and forgive us when we sin against Him and others.
Though we are imperfect, our desire as Christians should be to never offend with our tongue and to always be controlled by the Spirit when we speak to others. The Fruit of the Spirit includes gentleness and kindness. Galatians 5:14-16.
In this article I want to deal with three needs in our lives.
1. The need for spiritual wisdom when we speak.
2. The need for instilling the laws and principles of God’s Word in our children.
3. The need to always speak with kindness.
I. THE NEED FOR SPIRITUAL WISDOM WHEN WE SPEAK
Christian parents need to be so saturated in the Word of God that whenever we open our mouths to give instruction, advice, direction or correction, it is always from a biblical perspective. Why?
Because in God’s Word alone is found wisdom. Proverbs 2:1-6 James 1:5 Wisdom does not come with college degrees, nor from the study of psychology. It does not come from radio or TV talk shows, nor from parenting books and magazines. Wisdom only comes from the Bible.
The reason we do not go to the Bible is because we think we know it all and have all the answers. The world’s answers seem to our carnal minds to be more reasonable, more intelligent and more loving than what the Bible says.
Christian mothers and dads need to know each of their children as individuals; each with different strengths, weaknesses, capabilities with physical and mental limitations. Never compare one child with another. That is cruel and serves no positive purpose.
Parents need to know how best to motivate each child to reach his or her potential. They need wisdom to set boundaries for their children and be firm about it.
The modern philosophy of child rearing is that we show love and kindness to our young children by allowing them to make their own decisions about what they eat, what they watch on television; and as they grow older, where they go and when they come home at night. Surely it is a wise goal to encourage our children to think for themselves and learn to live with their decisions. We do that by allowing our small children to make decisions on small inconsequential matters. Then as they mature, we give them increasing freedom to make more important decisions and to learn to live with the consequences of those decisions.
In the meantime, we parents are responsible for our minor children and their actions. If we allow our children to run in a china or antique shop, we must be prepared to pay for any damage they cause. If they spray graffiti on buildings, it is our responsibility to pay for the damages. If our children are arrested for harming others or doing property damage, we should allow them to feel the full weight of the punishment. It’s a false kindness that bails them out and teaches them that one can do wrong and get away with it.
Why should we restrain our child by saying NO to him and enforcing it when moral issues are at stake? Because it is a sin for us to ignore that responsibility. The Priest Eli did, as recorded in I Samuel 3, and he ended up rejected as a priest and losing his family. I Timothy 3 teaches that a pastor, elder or deacon must set the example by seeing to it that their children are under control; otherwise they are disqualified for their office.
God chose to bless Abraham and make him a blessing to the world because, as it is recorded in Genesis 18:18-19, He knew He could trust him to lead his children to follow the Lord. Certainly his son Isaac is a wonderful example of one who was submissive to his father and to God.
The secret of training children is to start while they are young and there is hope. Proverbs 19:18 says, “Chasten thy son while there is hope and let not thy soul spare for his crying.” That’s showing firm, loving, consistent discipline. I deal with this at greater length in my series on the FAMILY on this web site. Not only do we need spiritual wisdom when we speak, but
II WE NEED TO TEACH THEM GOD’S WORD
We need to teach them Bible doctrine and principles of right and wrong from the Bible. When do we start? Isaiah 28:9-10 and Deuteronomy 6:4-9 teach that we should start from early childhood, even from infancy. We teach them God’s Word from our hearts to their hearts in every appropriate situation. Bedtime, playtime, after being punished for doing wrong, when taking walks. If we are walking with God, we will be aware of those teachable moments in the lives of our children. Mothers probably have the most impact on their children simply because they are with them 24 / 7. It is essential that Moms and Dads be together on principles of child rearing. Those principles should have been discussed together at length during their courtship.
WRONG ATTITUDES OF SOME PARENTS
CONCERN “I don’t want to teach him what I believe is right and wrong. I want him to decide for himself.”
ANSWER It is the responsibility of parents to teach children what the Bible says about right and wrong.
CONCERN “I think teaching law is too negative. I only teach grace.”
ANSWER You need to teach your children right from wrong. You will have many opportunities to show grace to your children, but not by withholding punishment when they have done wrong.
CONCERN “I don’t want to squelch their individuality and their creativity.”
ANSWER You need not squelch their individuality or creativity. Rather, their individuality and creativity is enhanced by knowing God’s standards of right and wrong.
If we fail to teach our children right from wrong, they are doomed for failure and eventually a life of heartache.
If we don’t want to tell our child what to do, it probably stems from the fact that we don’t want anyone telling us what to do. That attitude is highly contagious. We must first deal with the rebellion in our heart before we can deal with it in our children. If there is anything that children despise in their parents, teachers and pastor, it is hypocrisy.
Willing obedience from the heart must be enforced from early childhood with these expectations:
You will cheerfully obey when you are told the first time.
You will not lie. To lie about your disobedience doubles the pain.
You will not fight your brothers, unless it is parent-sanctioned wrestling
You will not cheat.
You will not shout in defiance and anger when you don’t get your own way.
You will not pout about it.
You will be still in church and not disturb others from hearing God’s Word.
Perhaps you are thinking, but I want my children to grow up in an atmosphere of love and freedom. That brings us to the final point.
III. GOD’S LAW IS INTRINSICALLY LOVING AND KIND
Yes, parents must always be filled with love for their children and speak kindly to them. They must also understand that God’s Law is loving and kind because it protects from evil and from painful consequences.
It is not cruel and unkind to refuse to allow your small children to play with electric sockets or with sharp knives. To be firm about this is kind and loving.
It is not cruel to forbid your young child to ride his bicycle on a busy street.
There’s a cold, cruel harsh world outside the door of your home waiting to force your children into submission. You do not show love to your children by refusing to teach them obedience and a submissive spirit. Such a child is not really loved by his parents. According to Proverbs 13:23, 23:13-14, Hebrews 12:5-7 and Romans 1:31.
Be firm with your children, but in your firmness, ask God to control your spirit, your voice and your actions by the law or principle of kindness in every situation. That, in summary, is a virtuous woman and a virtuous man.
None of us parents were wise, wonderful parents when we were young. As we grew older, we regret the way we handled some situations. However, young parents can learn from the mistakes of older parents. It’s much wiser to learn from other’s mistakes than the hard way from your own mistakes.
Go to God’s Word for wisdom to raise your children. Test every child rearing idea by the Word of God. Ask God for wisdom for He has promised to give it to you. You have only one chance to be good parents. The most important child rearing years are from birth to about 5 years old. By that time 90% of your training is done. If you miss those first five years, it grows increasingly more difficult to make up for that loss. Remember your parenting will have lasting consequences for generations to come.
For the virtuous woman or man, Christ must be the first priority. Jesus taught us in Matthew 6:33 to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” and all our other concerns will take their proper place and our needs will be provided. In Colossians 1:18 Paul shows us that Christ must be preeminent in our lives as Christians.
If Christ is not first in your life, you are in no condition to be thinking about a boy friend or girl friend, or getting married. Such a relationship would be flawed from the start. You would make a terrible mistake just like every young person who refuses to surrender to Christ.
Mary, the sister of Martha made the right choice, as recorded in Luke 10:38-42. The virgin Mary made the right choice when she surrendered her body to God and was given the high privilege and honor of becoming the mother of Jesus when He came in his earthly body to this earth. If Mary had not been surrendered, God could not have used her.
Wives and Mothers, next to Christ, your husband is your first earthly priority. Once you’ve committed to a man as your husband, your priorities shift from yourself to your husband and his plans. Your life ceases to revolve around you and it begins to revolve around your husband.
It is part of God’s plan for you under the curse as recorded in Genesis 3:16. “To the woman God said, I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children, yet your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.”
Though a husband must never force his wife to submit to him, a Christian woman surrendered to Christ, offers glad submission to her husband and that very curse becomes a blessing to her.
Your life as a virtuous woman centers on living for and pleasing your husband; and you, a virtuous wife, become a joyful woman.
Remove from your mind the false concept that marriage is a 50/50 proposition in which you get your way half the time and your husband gets his way half the time. A marriage built on this proposition will end up in endless fights over whether you are being treated fairly.
Rather, marriage is a 100% surrender of a wife to her husband and a 100% surrender of a husband to the needs and happiness of his wife. You had better choose wisely and you had better make sure you are first surrendered to Christ, or it will be impossible for you to be surrendered to your husband.
You, as a virtuous mother, spend your life providing for all the needs of you children. You and your husband together train and discipline them. From the beginning you teach and prepare them for the day they will leave home and make all their own decisions. From their early childhood you see to it that they are clothed with the righteousness of Christ.
You pray for them from conception. You teach them daily. You model Christ for them daily. You teach them marriage and family values as they observe how you relate to their father daily.
As a virtuous woman you take seriously your responsibilities with your husband to discipline your children biblically. For more information on this, go to my article on DISCIPLINE under the FAMILY link.
Not only will your children observe your beautiful, loving, submissive relationship with your husband, their father; but they will learn as your relate to them. Daily they will learn as they observe your wisdom, kindness and consistency. Kindness and integrity must be central principles of your life as they observe you even when you disagree with your husband and as they observe you even when you are worn to a frazzle and don’t feel well.
Remember, if you fail your husband or your children, you fail the Lord. Do you see the importance of your relationship with God? Without Him you have no desire nor ability to fulfill your other priorities of life.
YOUR OWN APPEARANCE
Your own appearance must not be priority #1. That’s the way it is with the natural, unconverted woman. Her appearance and personal preferences come first. Her hair her nails, her clothing and pampering herself all come before her husband or her children.
A virtuous woman sacrifices her life and energy for her family. Many mothers sacrifice their youthful figures when they have children. Some recover it, but many cannot.
When we speak of sacrificing for your children, we are not implying that you should give in to the whims of your children. You need to learn to say NO kindly but decisively to some of their desires, especially when they are demanded.
Though your appearance is not priority # 1, you do not become careless about your appearance. You discipline yourself as far as eating and exercise are concerned. My wife got plenty of exercise just keeping after three little ones and cleaning our two story parsonage.
Though you dress modestly, you dress as nicely as you can afford. Stylish? Perhaps, but only if those styles are modest and reflect the beauty of being a Christian. If ugliness is in style, then ignore that style. Basically, dress to please your husband.
YOUR OWN INTERESTS
Someone has said, ” Man’s work is sun to sun, but woman’s work is never done.” Men tend to focus on one job at a time; whereas women seem to be able to handle a dozen things at the same time. Ask you husband to baby-sit for the afternoon while you go out, and chances are he will get nothing else accomplished. For him it is a full time job.
The virtuous woman will no doubt find time, perhaps while the baby is napping, or after the children are tucked in bed and asleep to have a little down time to pamper herself with a bubble bath, or do some personal reading or spend time with her hobbies. But even then, she is always on call to the needs of her little children.
Not until the nest is empty will she finally have time to devote some of her time to her personal interests and hobbies. Until then, her work is never done. Mothering is a full time responsibility twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?
Girls, is this the life you desire? Are you ready to become a full time wife and mother if God gives you children? If you cannot respect and admire the young man who is to become the father of your children, and if you are not mature enough to take on all the duties and responsibilities of a wife and mother, you are not yet ready for marriage. You had better slow down or cut off your romantic relationship with that guy.
No woman and no man is perfect. But if in your heart you long to be a virtuous wife and mother and if you have found the man who, in spite of his flaws, you can love and respect and submit to his spiritual leadership, then and only then are you ready for marriage.
In all of Jesus’ dealings with women, He taught them and treated them as equal with men. Wherever Christianity goes and wherever the Bible is preached and taught, women are elevated and honored in a way not seen in non-Christian societies. In fact, some Satanic-inspired religions teach that women are simply sexual objects to satisfy the lusts of men now and in the after-life.
Paul taught in Galatians 3:28 that in Christ there is no distinction between men and women as far as their ability to understand and appreciate Biblical truth. There is no distinction in capacity to serve the Lord; only in the matter of our roles. Paul teaches by inspiration of God in I Timothy 2:12 that because of God’s order in creation and because of Eve’s deception by Satan, women are not to usurp authority over men nor teach them. That would rule out women pastors and evangelists, but it would not rule out women teaching women and children. I have listened on the radio to some women teaching women and have rejoiced as they have dealt practically with the spiritual needs of women, perhaps better than a man could. Certainly women generally are better able to connect with children than men can. As a child, I was led to Christ by a woman and most of my Sunday School teachers were women.
But when it comes to our relationship with Christ, men are in no way superior to women. I Peter 3:7 teaches that men and women are heirs together of the blessings of life and the blessings of eternity. Husbands and wives ought to be praying together and sharing together as they read and discuss God’s Word.
In this article we conclude our study of the Virtuous Woman, as we see her rewards, both now and in eternity.
Her Present Rewards
The very activities and accomplishments of motherhood are rewarding in themselves. Being able to make a beautiful loaf of home-made bread, preparing a nutritious, delicious meal and watching your family eat and enjoy it is a reward in itself. Picking produce from our garden and canning or freezing it for the winter was a family project in our home where our children grew up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
Finding and taking advantage of good bargains has been one way my wife has made our budget stretch. If the husband is the money earner, the wife can contribute to the family budget by learning how to find bargains and save money. A dollar saved is even more valuable than a dollar earned, when you consider the tax savings.
But beyond the inherent rewards of these mundane tasks, are even more wonderful rewards. What greater reward could you have than that your husband is pleased and proud of you? Husband, are you daily showing that love and appreciation to your wife?
Holding your new born infant close to you and gazing into his or her eyes and seeing you and your husband reflected in those eyes is an unspeakable privilege and reward. No high-powered, executive position in the market place can begin to match it.
Being able to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of your children because you are home with them and watching them grow to adulthood is a joyous privilege and opportunity of 6,000 to 7,000 days that can never be repeated. If you lose those days, they are lost forever! You have only one opportunity to raise a child. You must do it right the first time. There are no second chances. We must get it right the first time!
Oh, you wish it could go on forever, but God’s plan is for little children to grow up into independent, responsible adults who do not need to depend on their parents anymore.
Helping and watching your infant learn are precious opportunities that last only a few months.
Helping your toddler take his first steps and learn to feed himself are precious opportunities that will be enjoyed by your baby-sitter or by you. It’s your choice.
Will you be at home when your first grader runs home from school waving a picture he has just drawn or to show Mommy an A on a test he just took that day?
Will you have the time to watch your son or daughter play sports on the school team?
Think of the opportunity that can be yours to taxi your children all over town to school, to the dentist, to music lessons or shopping for clothes.
Will you enjoy the privilege of helping to educate your children and seeing their eyes brighten as they learn new concepts?
Will you experience the joy of watching and listening to your children sing or play in a church or school program or recital?
Are you sitting with your children in church teaching them reverence and making yourself available afterwards to deal with issues or questions the pastor or Sunday School teacher raised?
What an awesome opportunity you have to help your children understand the Gospel and lead them to Christ!
God gives you the blessed opportunity of counseling and praying with your children when they have problems and concerns and watching them mature in the Lord.
Are all these experiences worth giving up for a measly job?
Now a word to you precious single girls who teach and work with children and love them as big sisters.
God does not forget you. As Hagar, you can know that “Thou God seest me.”
God is aware of the time and loving care you pour into the lives of the children He has given you to teach and nurture. “God is not unrighteous to forget your labor of love.” Hebrews 6:10
Her Future Rewards
After your children are raised and married and having their own children, there are new relationships to be learned and enjoyed. The new relationship is no longer mother telling child what to do and expecting immediate obedience. Now it’s a mature relationship of equal adults showing mutual respect and love to each other. In this new relationship, mothers and fathers do well to stay out of the personal affairs of their married children. How they should decorate their homes, raise their children and spend their money is no longer any of your business. Stay out of their affairs or they will shut you out of their lives. You are still there to give unconditional love and emotional support. Financial support? No. Let them learn to grow up, budget their money and stand on their own feet.
These are the years you have the pleasure of enjoying your grandchildren without the responsibility of raising them. You will always have the opportunity of being a godly example to your children and grandchildren.
Not only will you have the joy of the hearing words of praise and encouragement from your husband, but as the children grow up and begin to experience what you experienced as parents of growing children; they will express appreciation and love to you for all you mean to them. Husbands and wives, when will we ever learn that we best motivate our spouses by expressing our love and appreciation for them and not by speaking harshly to them?
This 31st chapter of Proverbs also speaks of the praise you will receive for your own works. This can include not only your own handiwork and hobbies, but more importantly, both married and single women as well as men, can experience the joy of seeing lives changed for God’s glory because of your influence, perhaps years ago. Revelation 14:13 speaks of how our works follow us when we die. Perhaps that is referring to our godly influence on future generations long after we have left this earth and gone to Heaven.
The entire book of Proverbs, of which this 31st is the final chapter, is an intensely practical book. Parents should teach it verse by verse to their children. It’s all about wisdom and prudence in our relationships with one another.
If one is not able to interact in wisdom and tact with others, he or she is not prepared for adulthood, much less marriage. Marriage is all about intense interaction on a deeply personal level. We can’t do that by giving our spouse the silent treatment or exploding in anger. If we’re growing in the Lord, we are also growing in our interpersonal relationships with one another.
Mystery of mysteries, Jesus, God in human flesh, as a child “increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52 So it is our responsibility as parents to lead our children to Christ and teach them, primarily by our example, to become mature Christian adults who love the Lord and can interact with others in spiritual maturity.
As we come to verses 28-30 of Proverbs 31, we learn that the virtuous wife or mother is to be praised. Although we all appreciate praise and admiration; a woman especially needs and appreciates if from her husband and children. Why does the Scripture make a point of encouraging women with the promise of praise? Is that a worthy desire or goal, or it sinful?
God deserves and desires praise, as Psalm 33:1 and 147:1 along with dozens of other verses teach us. They tell us that praise is good and comely for the upright to offer God. If praise is a good thing to offer God, we are not satisfying a sinful emotion. Husbands do well to praise their wives. Children do well to praise their mothers. Cards and sweet expressions of praise should be showered on our wives and mothers; not just on Mother’s Day, but throughout the year.
Having said that, let me be quick to inform you that there are wrong ways and right ways for a wife and mother to gain attention and praise.
The wrong way for women to seek attention and praise.
Let’s look, first of all, at the wrong ways for a woman to seek attention and praise. One wrong way for a wife and mother to seek praise is to ignore her God-given responsibilities and live a self-centered life.
When you marry, your life no longer centers on you and your preferences and desires. It centers on pleasing and blessing your husband and a godly husband takes time and attention from his personal concerns to devote himself to his wife. A pastor can be more selfless and godly by devoting himself to the needs of his wife. So marriage is not really a hindrance to our devotion to God nor to our effectiveness in serving Him.
In the same way, it was not a distraction from Jesus’ devotion to His Father to come down to this earth to seek and purchase a Bride for Himself by shedding His precious blood for our sins.
It is not good for man to be alone without a wife, just as it is not good for God to be alone. If God is love, and He is; then He must have others upon whom He can pour out His love. We cannot be loving if we are the center of our universe. Whether married or single, to be the Christians that God intends us to be, we need to have others than ourselves on which to pour our love.
If God gives you children, that takes even more of your time and attention upon which to focus your love. A godly mother just can’t afford the luxury of living a selfish life just as a man with a wife cannot afford the luxury of living a selfish life, ignoring her needs.
So Proverbs 31 describes a virtuous woman as one who devotes almost 100% of her time and attention and energy on her husband, children and others in her life. In carrying out these selfless responsibilities, she shows her love for God and she becomes a virtuous, God-centered woman.
Another wrong way for a woman to gain the attention and praise she desires is to flaunt her sexuality.
Don’t be ashamed that you are a woman. You are the final, the highest and most beautiful of all of God’s creation. You have nothing to be ashamed of as a woman. It is not sinful for you to take time and effort to be and look your best. Note the attention the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 give to her clothing. She is not dressed in burlap bags, nor does she dress like a slob. Regardless of her financial situation, she is careful to look for bargains and does the best she can with what she has. She dresses beautifully and at the same time, modestly. She is feminine and proud of it.
The Bible warns women to dress in feminine attire and wear her hair in a feminine hair style. I Corinthians 11:14-15 and Deuteronomy 22:5 warn of the sin of attempting to be masculine in dress and hair style. God calls such behavior abominable. That is, He hates it.
On the other hand, girls and women need to beware of trying to dress and act sexy in public. Matthew 5:27-28 warns men to avoid the sin of lusting after women. If it’s sinful for a man to lust after a woman, then it’s just as much a sin for a woman to provoke that lust by her dress and actions in the presence of anyone but her husband.
Another wrong way for a woman to gain attention to herself is to flaunt herself in public. For example, a woman ought not try to make a grand entrance when she goes to church. She ought not try to outdo the others in her appearance. She is not going to gain respect and praise by being loud and boisterous. Proverbs 9:13
Contentious women are miserable company, Proverbs 21:9 affirms. She ought not try to flaunt her authority. I Timothy 2:12 That is, she will never gain respect and praise by throwing her weight around and showing others that she is boss. It’s bad enough for men to do that; but it is even more unseemly in a woman. In fact, it is a shame to her. It is the very opposite of a meek and quiet spirit that I Peter 3:4 describes as an ornament of great price in a woman.
Such attitudes as I have been describing distort her beauty, hinder the growth of a church, and distract from the glory of God.
What is the right way for a woman to gain attention and praise?
Be a Proverbs 31 virtuous woman by being devoted to your husband and children. In other words, be other-centered. Such a woman does not even give a thought to her own desire for praise. There’s not a selfish bone in her body.
She cares for the needs of her family and keeps her home clean.
She is personally clean and well dressed,
She is thrifty and careful with the family finances.
She sees to it that her children are well behaved.
Bible reading and her private prayer life are not a substitute for taking care of her personal and household responsibilities. At the same time, she will find time each day to spend time alone with God in prayer and Bible reading.
Note, that her works praise her. She doesn’t need to scheme and connive for praise. Her reverential fear of God will cause her to do right and thus bring her the praise she desires according to Proverbs 31:30. Her major motivation is that God be glorified and not blasphemed by her life. Titus 2:3-5
Who is to bring her praise? Don’t be too concerned about it, for much praise is deceitful. Proverbs 31:30
Get this! The success of your husband and children, as well as all the lives you have touched through the years are the results of a selfless life. Their success is your praise.
On Mother’s Day, it is gratifying and comforting to receive cards, flowers and other tokens of love and appreciation from your family. Hopefully, they will remember you with these things. But remember this. Your family living for the Lord is your continual Mother’s Day card and flowers 365 days a year. Don’t forget this! Your family growing in spiritual maturity will be your ongoing reward in this life.
Not only are you rewarded in this life, but I Corinthians 4:5 teaches us that faithful wives and mothers are going to be rewarded also at the Bema Judgment Seat of Christ when He returns.
I encourage you to faithfully be the wife and mother that you ought to be and leave the results and the rewards in God’s hands.