From Proverbs 31:10-31
The Mighty Wife, Part 1
<Groan> Here. We go. Again. ANOTHER exhortation from Proverbs 31. Prepare heads for sound thumping!
Ladies, raise your hand if you have ever felt this way about this particular passage of Scripture. <raises both hands>
All right, I may err on the dramatic side. But seriously, though, I have heard SO many sermons and read SO many articles and SO many books and even gone to SO MANY classes about this FREAKING PROVERBS 31…woman, I was going to say woman. <Ahem>. And every time I do I get about. Six. Inches. Smaller. <Thump> <Thump> <Thump>
Here’s the thing that gets me: that’s not what it’s for. I mean the Word of God – that’s not what it’s for!
Yes, God’s Word is “for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16), but not so we can feel fit for nothing but the trash pile before God’s hardly even begun His great work in us! (See God’s Trash, Part 1). No, no. What does that verse say? “so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:17)
So, before we even talk about what Proverbs 31 says, let’s talk about what it’s for. What is this passage – what is any of Scripture – for? According to Timothy, it’s for equipping. Well, what does that mean?
Militarily, it means not sending your troops out to meet gunfire with pitchforks.
Astronautically, it means not sending your astronaut to walk on the moon in a swimsuit.
Antarctically, it means you stinkin’ BUNDLE UP.
My dear, Scripture is God putting the tools in your hands for the job you have to do. He’s not sending you out to life to meet defeat, all right? (Sidenote: We’re talking about His plan, not yours…big difference sometimes. HUGE. More on that some other time.) He’s not throwing you – you who trust Him alone to save you – to the sharks so He can watch them tear you apart for the fun of it. That’s NOT God. God does not desire your defeat in the tasks He’s given you. Enjoy that truth.
God’s Words are for building us up, strengthening us, making us feel His love for us, feel His strength and His joy and His power by which we “soar on wings like eagles!” (Isaiah 40:31) And yes, sometimes His words tell us we’ve done it wrong (again) and that hurts – but it should hurt in the growing kind of way, not the shrinking.
Because ultimately, God’s Word is a tool – God’s tool – for building. Building us, to be specific – building us up into all He has planned for us to be: “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32)
Now you see why it gets me when I’m taught about a passage of Scripture in a way that makes me feel defeated. And not just defeated in one small way – defeated as a woman, as the very essence of who – of what – I am. No, no, no! That is NOT what it’s for.
Well, then, what is Proverbs 31 for?
My husband told me something very interesting a while back, which I have been steeping in my mind ever since; he told me that he’d discussed this passage with a Jewish rabbi, who told him that in Jewish teaching, this passage is not considered a “thou shalt” list for women, but rather considered an exhortation to husbands to praise their wives. <psh> Where on earth did they get THAT idea?
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” Proverbs 31:30-31.
So in other words, “Hey husbands! Appreciate your wives! Tell her you love her and think she’s just dandy!”
So, ladies, you know all those things you’ve done for others that you thought no one saw because no one ever bothered to say thank you? All the underwear you washed and nasty refrigerators you cleaned out and invisible ‘ow’ies you kissed and toys you picked up – several times a day – and healthy dinners you carefully made that EVERYONE complained about and all this even though you’ve got other stuff you could do with your time?
You know how no one ever seems to see what you do?
In Proverbs 31, He says thank you. He even nudges your husband and kids, too, and is like, “Hey, say thank you to your amazing wife and mom ‘cuz she DESERVES it.”
WHOA NELLY, that BUILDS. ME. UP.
Go ahead and read the passage again in the light of someone telling a woman how amazing she is. Does that change it for you? Good. Now we have somewhere to start.