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Friday, December 13, 2013

The Proverbs 31 Woman


For the past year or so I've been blessed beyond measure to be part of an AWESOME women's bible study on Wednesday night at my church (locals...come visit with us at Central Avenue Church of Christ Wednesday nights at 7 - we'd love to have you!). Mrs. Myra gave an amazing lesson one Wednesday night about a modern spin on the Proverbs 31 Woman. 

If you're like me, then reading Proverbs 31 totally makes you feel like a complete failure of a woman. I mean that chick makes us all look bad, am I right? Hearing Mrs. Myra's lesson completely changed my view of Proverbs 31. It brought a new light to this woman and to the characteristics I DO share with her. It really stuck with me so I asked Mrs. Myra to please share it with all of you! I hope this lesson brings as much joy to your lives as it has to mine and gives us all a fresh look at this woman we all share qualities with :)

Mrs. Myra is actually teaching our class now each week and we're going over material the SHE wrote about women of the bible. It is SO awesome and is something I hope some of you can be part of with us! 





The Ideal Wife - from a Mother-in-Law's Perspective
By Myra Anderson

            Proverbs 31 is a passage that many women have resented because it's often presented as a guaranteed guilt trip for women.  However, it wasn't originally presented to women at all!  The mother of young king Lemuel, identified as Solomon by many scholars, taught him the qualities he should be seeking in a wife.  We have no evidence that Solomon ever followed the advice, but it was good advice just the same!   If Lemuel was really Solomon, then Bathsheba was the human author of this description, which improves our estimation of her considerably.

            Proverbs 31:10-31 describes an ideal wife in terms of the culture of ancient Israel; but we can generalize the ideas to describe similar behavior applicable to our own culture.  The passage is so relevant to an understanding of a wife's role as manager of her household that we will consider it verse by verse.  The passage describes the characteristic qualities of a "strong woman."  10 An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.  The word translated "excellent" in the New American Standard version or "virtuous" in the King James Version, is the same word that is translated "strength" in verse 3 of the same chapter.  “Her worth" refers to the price a man would pay for his bride.

            She earns her husband's complete trust.  11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.  She doesn't deceive or attempt to manipulate her husband; so he is able to trust her.  "He will have no lack of gain" could also be stated "he will have no need for booty (spoils of battle)."  She seeks her husband's greatest benefit, which may sometimes result in her disagreeing with him.  She has made a lifetime commitment to her husband.

            She seeks out and enjoys profitable work.  13 She looks for wool and flax, and works with her hands in delight.  She doesn't limit her thinking to local opportunities. 14 She is like merchant ships; she brings her food from afar.  She runs her life and manages her household in an organized way.  15 She rises also while it is still night, and gives food to her household, and portions to her maidens.  She understands investments and makes them wisely.  16 She considers a field and buys it; from her earnings she plants a vineyard.  She is confident of her own abilities.  17 She girds herself with strength, and makes her arms strong. 18a She senses that her gain is good. 
            In today's terms, she plans well, and her household runs smoothly.  In Old Testament terms, her lamp doesn't run out of oil and go out during the night, which would have been a serious problem in a house with no electricity and no matches! 18b her lamp does not go out at night.  She develops marketable skills; she doesn't disdain to do menial tasks.  19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hands grasp the spindle.

            She manages her family's resources well.  She generously shares with the less fortunate.  20 She extends her hand to the poor; and she stretches out her hands to the needy.  She plans
ahead so that her family's needs are met during predictable changes.  21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household are clothed with scarlet.  She doesn't neglect herself and her own needs.  22 She makes coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.
            She and her family have a good reputation in the community.  Her husband is respected for his good judgment.  After all, he was smart enough to marry her!  23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.  Her work is recognized for its high quality.  24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies belts to the tradesmen.  People think of her as strong and dignified.  25a Strength and dignity are her clothing.  How does she establish that sort of reputation?  She acts strong and dignified, even when she doesn't feel that way, and she respects the dignity of others.

            She is secure.  25b and she smiles at the future.  Will she have troubles?  Yes, of course; and she knows that she will.  She also knows that God will provide the strength she will need to overcome or to live through whatever happens.   She is socially secure, because she knows what to say and how to say it.  26 She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.  Her family is secure, because she manages well and works hard.  27 She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.
            The strong woman gets wonderful rewards.  Her family loves her.  28 Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her, saying: 29 "Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all."  People continue to respect her after her youthful beauty is gone.  30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.  She has a sense of personal accomplishment.  31 Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
            The basis of the strong woman's strength, the foundation of the way she manages her life, the central fact of her character is that she "fears the Lord."  The meaning of fear in this
context means "hold in reverence."   Her relationship with God is her first priority and determines the personal philosophy that causes her to serve her family so well.

Note:  Quotations from the Bible are from the New American Standard version and are in italics to set them apart from the explanatory text.

Wouldn't we ALL want our sons to marry a woman like the Proverbs 31 woman? And isn't she someone we all aspire to be? I don't know about you but after Mrs. Myra's lesson I felt so much hope about myself and my abilities to BE that woman. I felt inspired and able to see her in a totally new way.  And as a mama I totally do see how another mother would describe her hopes for a daughter-in-law in such a way. I pray that I am that daughter-in-law for my husbands mama and that my son (and future potential sons someday) do marry women like her as well and that my daughter (and future potential daughters someday too) will also be such women for their husbands!

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