This is an acrostic poem where the 22 verses start with each of the letters of the Hebrew Alphabet which may signify an attempt at a complete A-Z description of the ideal wife.
A few things to consider (to read Proverbs 31, click here).
What stands out the most in this proverb is her diligence. She is busy providing for her family and breaks down cultural walls as she engages in many of the activities reserved for the males (buying fields and engaging in commerce). This is what we typically hear about in Mother’s Day sermons.
What is slightly more subtle but even more significant is her wisdom. You cannot conclude the ultimate book of wisdom in the Old Testament without mentioning wisdom in a significant way. This is primarily seen in two verses. The first is 31:26 – “She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” This verse has two of the most significant words in the Hebrew Old Testament. The first is “hesed” which is at the heart and soul of covenant loyalty. Hesed has overtones of covenant loyalty, faithfulness, and loving kindness. The second word is paired with hesed and it is Torah (law) which we tend to think goes totally against kindness as it imposses restrictions on people. For the Hebrews, these two were inextricably linked. The NIV translates this phrase “faithful instruction” but it could be translated many ways – “the law of loving kindness” or “instruction of loving kindness” are two possibilities.
The second place wisdom appears is in 31:30 – “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman/wife who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” What makes her most beautiful and noble is her respect for God. Out of that loyalty flows the rest of her noble character that makes her as beautiful as she is. That is the ultimate form of wisdom in a wife. The ultimate manifestation of wisdom for the husband is the selection of a wise wife who brings the family honor, is diligent, but most importantly has wisdom rooted in God.
Often we use this chapter to praise women for their diligence but miss the greater point. Women who love and respect God and speak the law of God’s loving kindness to others are worthy of even greater praise.
Matt writes: ” . . . on Mother’s Day you hear sermons about how great our mothers are but on Father’s Day you hear about how our fathers need to be better leaders.”
So true. And so wrong. Instead of affirming our fathers for who they are and what they do, we typically inform them only of what they aren’t and that they have no excuse for not doing any better. Hmmm, I wonder why our men haven’t come around. Let the beatings continue until morale improves.
I’m among the people I rebuke when I say,
Shame on you, preachers, for taking a page from your culture instead of a Word from your Bible. Your Scriptures say, “Honor your father and your mother.” But you teach only the second half of that. And then you have the audacity to say, “Isn’t it great that we can call God our father!” In the land of the Homers, who’d want a title like that?
Spending almost a lifetime in seeking to understand Hebrew and its influence on Scripture have given me a healthy respect for the power of a language with a fairly simply vocabulary, but a very complicated verb system.
Isn’t it amazing how reading a document in its original language often deeply changes our perspective on understanding that document.
Proverbs 31 is truly a powerful word from God!
I am who I am in part because of my father and my mother and I take every chance to tell them how grateful I am. My own children lost their father in their early teens and I have seen the void he left in their lives. Praise God on Mothers Day and every other day for giving us mothers and fathers.
PS sorry–one of my soapboxes–I love your take on Proverbs 31, too
Matt I really appreciated your post on Ps 119 and i really like your new title for your blog. Focus on kingdom and I don’t think we can go wrong.
I am preaching the last part of this passage tomorrow.
Cool looking “new” place!
I wish more people could have that experience.
Soapboxes are always welcome! Sorry to hear about your loss. Glad to hear your appreciation for how God blesses us with parents.
Glad you enjoyed that. Surely you haven’t studied about the kingdom all that hard, right?
God bless you in your message. I pray that God speaks through you very clearly and powerfully.
Good post brother! I also like the new look.
Can you drop me an email at email@example.com
I have something I want to talk to you about.
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