Monday, May 10

A Mother's Day Postscript - Part 1

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. (Proverbs 31:10-12)
Don't Be Intimidated!
Many a woman has been intimidated by Proverbs 31, and with good reason. When the chapter is delivered as if it were a law demanding absolute adherence, it becomes either overwhelming on the one hand or a means of self-exaltation on the other. C'mon! Who really can be such a "superwoman?" 

Remember that these were words spoken by King Lemuel's mother! She knew, right? Of course, they are the inspired word of God, and for that reason alone they breathe life! Chiefly, we must see them as proverbs, wisdom writings meant to guide, not cajole. And they apply to more than women. Just as the words of Solomon to his "son" apply to a large degree to daughters, so these to men and children, where appropriate.

Proverbs 31 Counters 3 Wrong Views of Women
This sort of heroic poem also sets the story straight regarding three overreactions to the role of women. 1) It offsets the prevailing anti-female sentiment that still pervades all non-Christian cultures. I heard Ravi Zacharias, from a Hindu background, insist that only Christianity treats women with proper respect. All other religions abuse them in one way or another! That’s one. 2) Secondly, these verses counter the abuse of women by those who’d treat them only as erotic, sexual objects. In fact, King Lemuel’s mother debunks physical beauty as praiseworthy (v. 30, “beauty is vain”). Also, 3) this poem offsets a third misunderstanding of the role of women often found in Greek literature that prizes women when they are silent, or “homebodies.” Contrary to these misconceptions, the Hebrew picture here is of an ideal woman, who is marked by diligence, a “take charge” mentality, one who engages in profit-making who is also a wise teacher and a philanthropist

A Thumbnail Sketch of A Godly Woman (vv. 10-12)
1)  She is an excellent wife. This word “excellent” (“virtuous”) is the same word in verse three, “strength.” So, King Lemuel’s mother urges him, “Don’t give your excellence or virtue away to women.” But in verse 10, find an excellent woman, a woman of strength. The same word is used of valiant warriors. Obviously, the “weaker sex” is not weaker in every sense! Such a woman is rare and is a gift from the Lord (18:22; 19:14). His Mom is exhorting him not to settle for anything less, but to look for and wait for such a gift from God. Young ladies, it is your call in life to be like this. You CAN be. And if you’ve failed so far, confess your sin and commit yourself to God’s wonderfully freeing standards.

2)  She is invaluable. “More precious than jewels.” This is not referring to cost, but to her being a treasure. Listen, one of the most important decisions you can make is the one whom you will marry. Oh, please don’t take this lightly. It can bring you endless heartache or unending joy. Seriously!

3)  She is trustworthy. “Her husband trusts her.” She does not lead him to doubt her intentions are anything but good and right. She is not selfish, or self-absorbed. How many use manipulation to get their way? This is so displeasing to the Lord. Where is the integrity in our relationships? Where are those who live as if they were right in front of God! Oh, please be this kind of godly woman. Praise God for those who are. So live that your husband has confidence in you.

4)  She is resourceful. “He will have no lack of gain.”  In other words, she so orders the household that her husband and her household will be provided for. Her husband on the negative side, never has to be concerned with her spending money recklessly. She knows how to stretch a dollar. (See vv. 13-27 for the body of her activities). But there’s something far more important bound up in this word. . .  

5)  She is good. “She does him good and not harm all the days of her life.” Hebrew means she provides “moral satisfaction, an aesthetically attractive,” comfortable home, that is a place of peace and love. Further, the virtuous woman devotes herself to assisting her husband in every way she can, particularly in the domestic realm. Such a husband is richly blessed. Many a man has been greatly improved by marriage to the right woman. She consistently does him good ‘all the days of her life’ (v. 12b). She doesn’t let difficult circumstances or her ‘time of the month’ prevent her from doing good. She treats her husband better than he deserves because she does it ultimately for the Lord. An O.T. scholar puts it this way, “Her commitment to her husband’s well-being is true, not false; constant, not temperamental; reliable, not fickle; and discerning” (Waltke, 2:522). God ordained that we men are completed by our wives, and that wives seek to help their husbands succeed in their callings. They form a team; they do not battle for first place!

Tomorrow-Part 2

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