"....Your children shall be like olive plants all around your table." Psalm 128:3

Thursday, January 5, 2017

New Year's Thoughts on the Proverbs 31 Woman

Happy belated New Year, friends!

The New Year has already been crazy busy for me, but I wanted to share these thoughts on the Proverbs 31 woman that I recently discovered.

We're all familiar with this passage aren't we?  But I decided to (for lack of time to type it all) copy paste it below (the AMP version) for easy reference:

An excellent woman [one who is spiritual, capable, intelligent, and virtuous], who is he who can find her?
Her value is more precious than jewels and her worth is far above rubies or pearls.
The heart of her husband trusts in her [with secure confidence],
And he will have no lack of gain.
She comforts, encourages, and does him only good and not evil
All the days of her life.
She looks for wool and flax
And works with willing hands in delight.
She is like the merchant ships [abounding with treasure];
She brings her [household’s] food from far away.
She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And assigns tasks to her maids.
She considers a field before she buys or accepts it [expanding her business prudently];
With her profits she plants fruitful vines in her vineyard.
She equips herself with strength [spiritual, mental, and physical fitness for her God-given task]
And makes her arms strong.
She sees that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out, but it burns continually through the night [she is prepared for whatever lies ahead].
She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hands hold the spindle [as she spins wool into thread for clothing].
She opens and extends her hand to the poor,
And she reaches out her filled hands to the needy.
She does not fear the snow for her household,
For all in her household are clothed in [expensive] scarlet [wool].
She makes for herself coverlets, cushions, and rugs of tapestry.
Her clothing is linen, pure and fine, and purple [wool].
Her husband is known in the [city’s] gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes [fine] linen garments and sells them;
And supplies sashes to the merchants.
Strength and dignity are her clothing and her position is strong and secure;
And she smiles at the future [knowing that she and her family are prepared].
She opens her mouth in [skillful and godly] wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue [giving counsel and instruction].
She looks well to how things go in her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed (happy, prosperous, to be admired);
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying,
“Many daughters have done nobly, and well [with the strength of character that is steadfast in goodness],
But you excel them all.”
Charm and grace are deceptive, and [superficial] beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the Lord [reverently worshiping, obeying, serving, and trusting Him with awe-filled respect], she shall be praised.
Give her of the product of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates [of the city].

Now, I have ready this passage so many times, but when I read it again last week, and read a commentary from the Amplified Version of the Bible,  it was such an eye-opener - and an encouragement! I pray that it encourages you, as well. 

The commentary says,
"It is most unfortunate that this description of God's ideal woman is usually confined in readers' minds merely to its literal sense - her ability as a homemaker, as in the picture of Martha of Bethany in Luke 10:38-42. But it is obvious that far more than that is meant. When the summary of what makes her value 'far above rubies' is given (Proverbs 30:31), it is her spiritual life only that is mentioned. One can almost hear Jesus saying, 'Mary has chosen the good portion...which shall not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:42)' ." (Emphasis mine.)

Imagine that! My spiritual life is what is precious to the Lord; that is what makes me of valuable to Him and my husband. Not if all of my dishes and washed. Not if my floors are spotless. Not if I have conquered that mountain of laundry in the laundry room. While those things are important to a certain degree, it's my heart that He wants! A heart that is 100% devoted to God is what makes the virtuous woman more valuable that precious gems!

 And referring to verse 29, the commentary says, "Many daughters have done...nobly and well...but you excel them all", the AMP commentary says, "What a glowing description here recorded of this woman in private life, this 'capable, intelligent, and virtuous woman' of Proverbs 31! It means she had done more than Miriam, the woman who led a nation's women in praise to God. (Exodus 15:20,21); Deborah, the patriotic military advisor (Judges 4:4-10); Ruth, the woman of constancy (Ruth 1:6); Hannah, the ideal mother (1 Samuel 1:20; 2:19); the Shunammite, the hospitable woman (2 Kings 4:8-10); Huldah, the woman who revealed God's secret message to national leaders (2 Kings 22:14); and even more than Queen Esther, the woman who risked sacrificing her life for her people (Esther 4:16). In what way did she 'excel them all'?
In her spiritual and practical devotion  to God. which permeated every area and relationship in her life. All seven of the Christian virtues (2 Peter 1:5) are there, like colored threads in a tapestry. Her secret, which is open to everyone, is the Holy Spirit's climax to the story, and to this book. In Proverbs 31:30, it becomes clear that the 'reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord', which is 'the beginning (the chief and choice part) of Wisdom' (Proverbs 9:10), is put forth as the true foundation for a life which is valued by God and her husband as 'far above rubies or pearls (Proverbs 31:10)' ".  (Emphasis mine.)

So this year, I am going to strive to remember what is precious to the Lord - and my husband. And may it be said of me that I have "chosen the good portion" and may my heart's desire be to be a woman who "reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord"!

May the Lord richly and abundantly bless your new year, friends.  :)