The following is part 2 of a brief summary of this past Sunday's sermon. It is, in part, an attempt on my part to recapture this beautiful summary of a virtuous woman from those who would hi-jack it's meaning, turning it into a legalistic litmus test for the "superwoman." By God's rich grace, a woman can be super, but super in what? That's really the question. We turn in this second part to the ending of both Proverbs 31 as well as the ending of the entire book of Proverbs. It is fitting to end this way, for it points to our dependency on God's wisdom in order to live life well, which is to say, to God's superior glory.
Let us see that the woman God puts forth is one whom we all admire for her spiritual focus.
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.
1) Her Beauty Is Unfading. (v 30). I’m going to tell you young men something that you’ll likely not take seriously. Looks go only so far. The bee is certainly attracted to the flower, but watch out or you’ll find some to be more like a Venus-flytrap! Charm is deceitful in that it promises something it can’t deliver. A flirtatious woman will likely get many guys to surround her, but underneath you will often find rotten character. Note further that King Lemuel's (see v.1) mother warns, physical beauty is vain. It is short-lived & without deeper character. Look for a woman with character, godly character. It’s better not to get married at all than to settle for beauty or physical attraction only! But the woman who is to be praised, what’s she like?
2) Her Secret for Success Is That She Fears God (v. 30). Godly women do not succeed in their own strength. They rely on God. Proverbs ends the way it began, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (1:7). Because of the Fall, because of sinful tendencies, virtue does not come naturally. A woman may be tempted to abandon her role as a helper suitable to her husband, and choose rather to try to dominate him (Gen. 3:16b). The forgiven woman has the Spirit to enable her to live victoriously. A common complaint you hear from women is, “I might be an excellent wife if he were a better husband.” Yet, the wise woman’s service to her husband is not based on his worthiness, but Christ’s! The virtuous woman does not put her ultimate trust in any man including her husband (Jer. 17:5). She loves her husband, but loves God first, and foremost. Results? . . .
3) Her Family Readily Praise Her (vv. 28-29). What a blessing when a mother's children so see her worth that they praise her instead of, say, taking her for granted! She does not constrain them to do so. They willingly, readily, happily lift her up. They lift her up because she is not so busy puffing up herself! Proverbs 27:2 says, "Let another praise you and not your own lips." It is one of the marks of a true woman of God that they are not self-absorbed, even in their heart. They really do think of others. They appreciate the praise they receive, but they really do not live for it. Big difference!
4) Her Very Works Will Praise Her If None Else Do (v. 31). The last verse puts it this way. Let her own works praise her in the gates (out where the wise people meet and judge life issues). It may be that family or husband will not say much in favor of the good woman. They seem to have grown dull to them. In such a case, God will reward them in due time. If one's love is God, and they live in the fear of the Lord, then HIS approval is what they esteem most. Truly! This is critical. She marches to the beat of the heavenly Drummer. As such she is never out of step with God.
This is the essence of wisdom and of the whole of the book of Proverbs. Oh, that we would see the wisdom in such a life. So much heartache would be avoided if we honestly pursued this kind of love of God.