Posted by: Ety W. | October 29, 2008

The Excellent Woman – A Summary of Proverbs 31:10-31

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This is part 21 in a series on the Proverbs 31 Woman. To start at the beginning, click here.

Was the Proverbs 31 Woman a “real” woman?  No, not as a biblical, historical character. Rather she is an ideal, a standard to measure by, a role model to follow, a goal to work toward.

Her Character:

Confident – v 25

Courage – v 17

Dignified – v 25

Diligent – v 14

Early Riser – v 15

Faithful – 21

Generous – v 20

Industrious – v 13

Influential – v 10

Kind – v 26

Moral – v 30

Not lazy – v 27

Observant – v 27

Organized – v 15

Prudent – v 16

Reverential – v 30

Sensible – v 18

Strength – v 17

Trustworthy – v 11

Well groomed – v 22

Wise – v 16

Her Skills:

Textile Arts –

Creative – v 13

Handspinning – v 19

Knowledgeable – v 13

Sewing skills – v 22

Culinary Arts –

Purchaser of choice foods – 14

Supervises meals – v 15

Management Skills

Attention to detail – v 27

Common Sensev 18

Home business – v 24

Investor – v 16

Observant – v 27

Organized – v 15

Overseer – v 15

Philanthropist – v 20

Prepared – v 21

Realistic – v 18

Stewardship – v 18

Successful – v 24

Teaches – v 26

Wise – v 26

Her relationship with her husband:

Appreciation – v 10

Has his best interests at heart – v 10

One of trust – v 11

Praise – v 28

Unity – v 23

Posted by: Ety W. | October 25, 2008

Prov. 31:30-31 – Eternally Motivated

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This is part 20 in a series on the Proverbs 31 Woman.
To start at the beginning, click here.

I’ll never forget how shocked I was after my 51st birthday.  I was checking out at the grocery store when the cashier (a woman who appeared to be about my age), asked me if I qualified for the 65 and older discount.  In that nanosecond I realized something startling about myself.

Ever since I had come to know the Lord, I’d been telling myself that everything I did was for the Lord and that I didn’t care what other people thought. A simple question concerning my age revealed something else. In the flustering minutes which followed that incident, I jumped to the conclusion that I needed to get rid of my gray hairs!  Soon though, my initial emotional reaction dissipated, and I had to ask myself question, which I’m going to turn around and ask you.

What motivates you?  I mean at the barest, most basic level, what motivates you?  Is it what others think?   I have to admit that I’m constantly struggling with worry about how the house looks, how I look, and whether or not I’ve just said something stupid.  Now, I’m not saying that keeping the house clean and myself well groomed aren’t important.  The problem is, who I am doing it for?

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.  Prov. 31:30-31

Verse 30 contains a contrast (notice that little word “but”?)  It contrasts the way we behave and look (charm and beauty), with the condition of our hearts toward God.

Charm – Strong’s 2580 – חן – chen = favor, grace, charm, elegance, acceptance

Being funny, clever, or charming is something that comes naturally for some people. It can also be learned to some degree. But beauty fades with age.  Popularity is based on other people’s perceptions, which are easily swayed.  Prov. 31:30 tells us these things are vain.

Vain – Strong’s 1892 – הבל – hebel = vapor, breath, empty, transitory, unsatisfactory

Beauty, charm, and popularity never last, which is why they are ultimately empty and unsatisfactory. We, however, are eternal beings who crave something of eternal worth.  If we want to have a sense of lasting value in who we are and what we do, we should consider what qualities can withstand the test of time.  What was it for the Excellent Woman?

But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.  Prov. 31:31b

That word “fears” can mean to be afraid, but in this case, it does not.

Fears – Strong’s 3373 – ירא – yare’ = morally reverent, afraid

This verse reveals the Proverbs 31 Woman’s true source of motivation for everything she does in verses 11 through 27.  It explains why the heart of her husband trusts in her. It explains why she is willing to rise early and stay up late.  It explains why she is not afraid, why she smiles at the future, and why her children bless her and her husband praises her.

Everything the Excellent Woman does is for the Lord.  Why?  Because she respects and trusts Him.  She understands that her sense of security and personal worth are not based on anyone else, nor on anything she can do.  They are based solely on who the Lord is and what He can do.  Consequently, she is free to live her life and enjoy her family, without the burden of worry and fear of failure.

What motivates you?  Is it what others might think?  What others might say?  Do you find yourself reacting to a litany of “buts” and  “what ifs” that continually parade themselves through your mind?

One day each one of us will receive the fruit of our hands.

Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.  2 Cor. 5:9-10

As Christians this is not a judgment for sin, but a receiving of the fruit of how we lived our lives.  It is something that each and every Believer will be required to do.

When eternity comes, what will you have to show for your life?  Will you be known to have been like the Proverbs 31 Woman?  I encourage you to take her example to heart.

Posted by: Ety W. | October 21, 2008

Prov. 31:27-29 – Cause & Effect

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This is part 19 in a series on the Proverbs 31 Woman.
To start at the beginning, click here.

The next several verses begin the conclusion to this passage.

She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
“Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.” Prov. 31:27-29

We see two things here: what the Excellent Woman does, and what her family has to say about it.

What does she do?

Looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness. Prov. 31:27

Looks well – Strong’s 6822 – צפה  – tsaphah = lit. to lean forward; by implication to look out or about,  keep watch, observe, watch

This definition points to something we learned from studying Titus 2:5; that a woman’s domestic work is not being a mere housekeeper, but rather being a manager and guardian of one’s household.

Idleness – Strong’s 6104 – עצלוּת – `atsluwth = indolence, idleness, sluggishness, laziness

We already know this to be true.  We can look back over the verses we have been studying, and make a list of the action words which describe her.  She:
Does – verse 12
Looks – verse13
Works – verse13
Brings – verse14
Rises – verse 15
Gives – verse 15
Considers – verse16
Buys – verse 16
Plants – verse 16
Girds – verse 17
Makes – verses 17, 24
Senses – verse 18
Stretches – verses 19, 20
Grasps – verse 19
Extends – verse 20
Makes – verse 22
Sells – verse 22
Supplies – verse 22
Smiles – verse 25
Opens – verse 26
Teaches – verse 26
Looks – verse 27

These are not the verbs which describe an idle woman.

What does her family have to say about it?

Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
“Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.” Prov. 31:28-29

Nobly – Strong’s 2428 – חיל  – chayil = valiantly, virtuously, powerfully, efficiently, worthily; with strength, might, excellence

This is the same word that was used in verse 10 to first describe the Proverbs 31 Woman:

An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.  Prov. 31:10

The Proverbs 31 Woman’s deeds and words have an impact on her family.  She has been diligent in her ministry to them, and the results are blessings and praise.

We should not be surprised.  Cause and effect is a biblical principle:

In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matt. 7:12

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Gal. 6:7-8

Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 2 Cor. 9:6

To apply these verses, we have to ask the question, “what does my family say about me?” Do they praise me behind my back or complain about me?  Do they see me as diligent, hard-working, and responsive to their needs?  Or do I leave a lot undone, always making excuses for it?

As one whose children have now left the nest, I can heartily attest that the effort toward family and home is well worth it.  The tendency is to grow weary with the responsibilities, so we need to keep in mind that it is only for a season.  The physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual investment we make in our families today, will reap an eternal fruit.

Posted by: Ety W. | October 16, 2008

Prov. 31:26 – Wise Teacher

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This is part 18 in a series on the Proverbs 31 Woman.
To start at the beginning, click here.

What do successful, powerful women talk about?

She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Prov. 31:26

The Proverbs 31 Woman could use her position to promote herself, but she doesn’t.  She uses it to promote something else.  Let’s take a closer look.

Wisdom – Strong’s 2451 – חכמה – chokmah = skillful (in war), shrewdness, wisely, wit, prudence, wisdom (in administration, religion, or ethics).

The book of Proverbs has much to say on the subject of wisdom.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.  Prov. 9:10

The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom ….. Prov. 10:32a

When pride comes, then comes dishonor,
But with the humble is wisdom.  Prov. 11:2

On the lips of the discerning, wisdom is found….. Prov. 10:13a

We see that what what a woman says, reveals much about her character.  The Excellent Woman fears the Lord, is righteous, discerning, and humble.

Teaching – Strong’s 8451 – תּרה or תּורה – torah = a precept, law, instruction, custom, or statute, especially the Decalogue or Pentateuch

Not only is the Proverbs 31 Woman wise, but she imparts that wisdom to others.

The lips of the wise spread knowledge …. Prov. 15:7a

The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom
And before honor comes humility.  Prov. 15:33

Older women likewise are to be …. teaching what is good, that they may encourage the young women … that the word of God may not be dishonored. Titus 2:3-5

Kindness – Strong’s 2617 – חסד – checed = goodness, kindness, faithfulness, mercy

We studied the word “kind” when we looked at Titus 2:5.  There, we learned how influential kindness can be.  (See “Influencing Others”)

Tongue – Strong’s 3956 – לשׁנה ,לשׁן ,לשׁון – lashown or lashon = tongue.  Used both literally, as the instrument of speech; and figuratively for speech, language, speaker

There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword,
But the tongue of the wise brings healing.  Prov. 12:18

For every species of beasts and birds ….. is tamed, and has been tamed by the human race.  But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.  With it we bless our Lord and Father; and with it we curse men …. from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing.  My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.  James 3:7-10

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Eph. 4:29

Who controls the tongue?  We do.  And we have a choice not only in what we say, but in how we say it.  The Proverbs 31 Woman exercises self control with what she says.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.  Phil. 2:14-15

The Excellent Woman does not engage in gossip, complaining, or self promotion. Rather, she honors the Lord with the words of her mouth.

Time for reflection:

~ What do I like to talk about?

~ Who do I like to talk about?

~ Am I in the habit of complaining?

~ Do I enjoy arguing and taking issue with others?

~ Am I quick to point out the faults of others?

~ Am I quick to criticize?

~ Do I like to make sure that my opinion is heard?

~ Am I quick to talk about my own experiences on any given subject?

~ Do I really listen while others speak, or am I too busy thinking about what I’m going to say next?

~ Am I comfortable being quiet?  Or am I constantly running my mouth.

~ Would others describe me as understanding?

~ Would others describe me as kind?

~ Do others seek out my advice?

~ Would others describe me as wise?

Posted by: Ety W. | October 12, 2008

Prov. 31:25 – No Fear

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This is part 17 in a series on the Proverbs 31 Woman.
To start at the beginning, click here.

Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.  Prov. 31:25

Even though the Proverbs 31 Woman dresses well and takes care of her appearance (see verse 22), we learn here that the important things about her appearance are inner qualities.

Strength – Strong’s 5759 – עוז or עז – oze = boldness, loud, might, power, strength, strong.  Can refer to material, physical, social, or political strength.

We studied this word previously, in Prov. 31:17, where we learned that it also implies strength of character.

Dignity – Strong’s 1926 – הדר – hadar = magnificence, that is, ornament or splendor: beauty, comeliness, excellency, glorious, glory, goodly, honor, majesty

When we studied Titus 2:3-5, we took a close look at theh word “dignity“.  We learned that in the Greek, “dignity” is a quality which inspires reverence and awe  It refers to a self-respect, not to stoically never cracking a smile.  From the Hebrew word above, we get a much broader sense of how that applies to the Proverbs 31 Woman.

Clothing – Strong’s 3830 – לבשׁ  or  לבוּשׁ – lebush’ = clothing, garment, apparel, raiment

We took a look at this word also, when we studied Prov. 31:22.  At that time we learned that the word  “clothing” can be symbolic as well as literal.

The New Testament makes similar allusions.  Consider these verses:

And let not your adornment be merely external — braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.  1 Peter 3:2-3 (NASB)

But can a person have dignity and strength and be gentle and quiet?  Absolutely.  How is that?  Because true self confidence doesn’t need to prove itself to anyone.  It’s not what comes out of a woman’s mouth that commends her, it’s her attitude.

Even though we know that the Proverbs 31 Woman dresses expensively, we see that biblically, it’s not what’s on the outside that makes her excellent, it’s what’s on the inside.  The Excellent Woman wears her self confidence and self respect like a suit of clothes.  They are obvious to everyone who sees her.

What else does the verse tell us about her?

And she smiles at the future.  Prov. 31:25b

Smiles – Strong’s 7832 – שׂחק – sachaq = to laugh, rejoice, play, mock

According to The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, it’s use in this verse means “…..of laughing in achievement…. The able and virtuous woman can live without concern and ‘smile [rejoice, KJV] at the future’ (Prov. 31:25, NASB)”1

“Future” is actually a two word phrase in the Hebrew:

In time – Strong’s 3117 – יום – yowm =  literally a day, figuratively a time period defined by an associated term (in Prov. 31:25, “to come”).

To come – Strong’s 314 – אחרן  or  אחרין – ‘acharown or ‘acharon = behind, following, subsequent, western

Putting those two together, we might say “a time period following the present.” In other words, the future.  In fact, the King James Version words it, “And she shall rejoice in time to come.”

In this light, see this as an extension of her self confidence. She has been faithful to work hard and the reward of this is freedom from worry and fear about the future.

1The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Laird, Archer, & Waltke, (Moody Press, Chicago, 1980) Vol II, p.763

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