Monday, May 11, 2009

A Proverbs 31 Woman: Part 6

The final characteristic of a virtuous woman is her excellence as person. Proverbs 31:30-31 "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." She is a God-fearing woman. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, for the recognition of His power and might and overwhelming, and as man was created in His image, so was woman the apple of His eye. Crafted by God as an image of beauty and purity, a godly woman is a force that can be trusted throughout the most difficult time for she will endure. Her strength is tied to her love and support, just as she supports and loves her husband, so the two of them succeed together. Therefore she is to be praised above all others, for a virtuous woman demonstrates the love and compassion of God; displaying the best qualities that He has enabled a wife with and should be recognized for her efforts.

A Proverbs 31 Woman: Part 5

Through Proverbs 31:25-29, the virtuous woman is praised her role as teacher and a mother. These two roles will play a tremendous role in the development of her children, as is evidenced for the author is re-calling the words that his mother taught him. Her role as a teacher is shown in 25-26 for she is described as poised and wise. "Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." I would call attention to "smiling at the future," for it seems all to often that people worry about what the future may hold; today the economy, wars and other things far beyond the control of the common individual. By remaining calm and optimistic she enables her household to feel the same way and draw from the same strength that she possesses. She is then described as a teacher with kindness and wisdom on her lips. I believe this verse requires little explanation outside of remembering your favorite elementary school teacher, and why years down the road you can still remember her that well. Virtues on display for all to see, and it makes a lasting impact. The 5th characteristic of a virtuous woman is the wonderful role of a mother. The smile of loving mother has served as a source of inspiration for artists, poets and sculptures throughout the ages. The ability to give birth and raise children has served as a mark of a woman's worth since the beginning of mankind, thus it should surprise none that it falls highest of the virtues save her love for God. Proverbs 31:27 "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." The virtuous woman is praise-worthy and distinguished by her actions for she has served her family with love and compassion and therefore deserves to be recognized and loved for her efforts.

A Proverbs 31 Woman: Part 4

The Bible breaks in praise of the virtue of the wife as home-make to give praise to her virtue as a neighbor before returning again to her praise as home-maker. This continuation of recognition of a wife as a home-maker is important, for all to often in marriages a husband will lose focus on the efforts of his wife and the care that she provides for him; often one's he does not even see. In the 20th verse is the praise of her efforts as a neighbor, for she does not hold back from the poor or needy, rather providing what she can without asking for return. She extends a hand of love for God has blessed her and her family with more so that they can provide for others in their times of need. The author than returns to the praise of the wife in her role as a homemaker with verse 21 "She is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household re clothed with scarlet. She makes coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies belts to the tradesmen." The virtuous wife is described as prudent in her care of her family, refined and elegant, respected and industrious.

A Proverbs 31 Woman: Part 3

In continuation of the second virtue of the virtuous woman: her role as a home-maker Proverbs 31:16 "She considers a field and buys it; from her earnings she plants a vineyard." The first part of this verse discusses the care that a wife will make before using the families income to make a large purchase. Weighing the value of the purchase before opting either to turn down the offer or buy it. Far to often, large purchases are made irrationally and without proper consideration given. Than from this purchase the planting of a vineyard represents that she uses her purchase to the benefit of the family. Again, the focus is not on herself, but rather the family. In order for a marriage and a family to succeed the attention needs to be on the welfare of the family, not the individual. Proverbs 31:17 "She girds herself with strength, and makes her arms strong." This verse is in praise of the energy and enthusiasm of the virtuous wife, for it is through repetition and stress that strength is born. Therefore, to gird herself with strength, signifies how she accepts the struggles of the family and marriage and excels at them for she is made strong. Proverbs 31:18 "She senses that her gain is good; her lamp does not go out at night." A prelude to the parable of the 7 virgins who did not have lamp oil for the arrival of the groom that Christ will later tell. However, the message still bears true of the service as a good steward; taking proper care of that which has been entrusted to you to see its gain. Proverbs 31:19 "She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hands grasp the spindle." The diligence that is required to operate a spinning wheel is the message here that is the final verse in relation to the home-maker, the level of attention and care that is necessary to take care of a home and a family.

A Proverbs 31 Woman: Part 2

In continuation of the study of the Proverbs 31, we will continue to explore the qualities of the virtous woman having last one identified where the narration comes from followed by an analysis of her qualities as a wife. Now we transition into the second quality that the Bible devotes a large amount of time for it is the role of the woman, as the home-maker. I feel the need to again give pause and explain that these studies are not intended to be patronizing or sexist, rather I am writing as I understand the material, agree or disagree however much you wish. Proverbs 31:13 "She looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight." The virtuous wife takes the time and care to prepare the clothing of the day for her loved ones as an act of service not out of requirement, but out of love she provides for her family. Proverbs 31:14 "She is like merchant ships; she brings her food from afar." The gathering of food, modern day grocery shopping, is indeed another errand required for a family to function, however, the simile to a merchant ship implies certain charatersitics about the way she performs this task. A merchant is the in the business of trade to profit themselves, therefore they must be very careful and precise about the material that they select to sell, else it be their ruin. It is with this same level of care that a wife provides for her family, in selecting the better options for consumption and preparation. Proverbs 31:15 "She rises also while it is still night and gives food to her household, and portions to her maidens." The opening part of this verse describes the love and care that a wife provides while nursing her young. For with infants, feeding during the night is a common part of life that cannot be neglected. The second portion of this verse discusses that she gives portions to her maidens. With servants their livelihood was entrusted to the master during Biblical times, and fell upon the wife to ensure that the servants portions were allocated to them. Not to mother them, but to ensure they were taken care of per their rank.

A Proverbs 31 Woman: Part 1

As we have established in earlier posts, the author of this particular chapter of the Bible is up for debate. Regardless of the identity behind the author, the truth behind the author's words are rather specific and still hold true today. The words are being rehashed as to the virtues that the author was taught by his mother, focusing on alcohol and the finding of a virtuous wife. We shall now begin to look into the mother's advice on the makings of a Godly woman and the qualities to be sought in a wife. I realize that some readers may find these "virtues" to be old fashioned or bonds upon the equality of the sexes, and if you happen to feel that way, one my apologies, and two that's unfortunate. In this 3 part series we shall look at the 6 characteristics of a Godly wife: her virtue as woman and a wife, her devotion as a homemaker, her generosity as a neighbor, her influence as a teacher, her influence as a mother and finally her excellence as a person. Proverbs 31:10-12 Address the character of the wife. Praising her as with worth far beyond jewels, a rarity that is a blessing from God as described in Proverbs 18:22 "He who finds a wife, receives a blessing from God." She is meant to be found, a woman is meant to be pursued and therefore it is the man's responsibility to begin the courtship and romance; yes, to work to win her favor. For it is by pouring his time and energy into pursuing her that "the heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil, all the days of her life." A virtuous wife stands by her husband in love and supports him throughout all things. Providing a safety and security that cannot be found elsewhere; becoming an essential part of the home. The husband entrusts his wife with his material possessions and household for she has demonstrated her ability as a good steward throughout the courtship.

The Danger of a Strong Drink

The mother of King Lemuel is speaking on dangers of alcohol is the first matter addressed in Proverbs 31. Specifically it is addressed in Proverbs 31:5-7 as reads: "For they will drink and forget what is decreed, and pervert the rights of all the afflicted. Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to him whose life is bitter. Let him drink and forget his poverty and remember his trouble no more." Lets take these verses one at a time. Understand that King Lemuel was placed in a position of authority with the power to use to rule so the perspective is written as one who is in authority. To drink and forget what is decreed and pervert the rights of the afflicted, lends itself to the idea of the destruction of the law and those under your charge. Expand on that thought; the destruction of the home and the family that you have. Same principle. How many times do we hear of abusive spouses, who commit crimes they later regret due to their lust for alcohol. It truly is a vile drink that does destroy even the most righteous man. It is said to let alcohol be given to those who are perishing and distressed; drinking away their sorrows. What this means is that finding your hope at the bottom of a whiskey bottle, is a trait that has been around for thousands of years. This does provide the benefit of forgetting one's misery and sorrow, but a at a cost for it wreaks complete destruction on the body. For in order to reach a point of forgetfulness, you have to consume far beyond what you should have.