The Excellent Wife!
We finished getting through the book of Proverbs at Proverbial Thought last month. Our church is almost done going through the book of Proverbs on Sunday mornings. I am preaching a sermon on the last chapter of Proverbs in my preaching class next month.
I thought it would be okay to give a relatively short post about that final passage of Proverbs (chapter 31, in the ESV)!
10 An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.
The entire book of Proverbs was written to a son, specifically Solomon’s son.
When we read Kings and Chronicles we see that his children did not really listen, but that is not the point here.
In 31:1, we read “The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him”. Lemuel, in Hebrew, means “For God” or “Devoted to God”. We can read this as “The words of a King devoted to God.” That makes it reasonable to assume it might be Solomon still sharing wisdom, especially since we never see the name Lemuel listed in any of the ancient kings.
Therefore, the last 22 verses of Proverbs are about how a godly and wise man can find a good wife.
- It takes diligence to find her, and she is worth more than all the wealth in the world. (vv. 10, 30-31)
- Her family is blessed by her work, and she by them. (vv. 11-12, 28-29)
- She is a diligent and hard worker. (vv. 13-19, 27)
- She helps the poor, financially and in wisdom. (vv. 20, 26)
- She does not fear the elements nor the future, because she has provided excellently for her family. (vv. 21, 25)
- She takes care of her home and is in the marketplace. (vv. 22, 24)
- Her husband is well-respected. (v. 23)
I think Ephesians 5 sums up what this means for the family. It is not really about the wife, at least not only. It is about the husband as well.
Both love and respect each other. They have trust in each other, and they express their love, respect, and trust through word and deed. Neither is lazy, nor do they allow anything to break their bond. They protect and nurture their relationship.
And this begins before they ever meet (or, at least, before they ever get married, for those who may live with arranged marriages), though it is never too late to begin fresh!
Ultimately, this is about Jesus Christ and His Church!
As Isaiah said in chapter 61 of his book, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
And John shows us in Revelation 18-22 how the Church is the Bride of Christ. Listen for the similarities from Proverbs 31 in Revelation 19:
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
And in chapter 22 we read:
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.
It is the Church that perfectly exemplifies the excellent wife! It does not mean all who call themselves Christians are part of the Church, and it does not mean that we will never make mistakes. By the power of the Holy Spirit to the glory of God, He makes even our mistakes work for His gospel!
We have an amazing God who loves us desperately, and I pray we come to a point of desperation for Him that pushes us to live out His commands of love with a lost and broken world!
Let us prepare ourselves, as Christ’s beautiful Bride, for His return by loving others as we pursue God in the power of the Holy Spirit!