Keep on Swimming. . .

everyday life inside the fishbowl

Thursday Thoughts: Pattern of a Wise Woman

on February 20, 2014

{If you follow me, you may have noticed that I’ve taken quite a long blogging break. I’m pregnant–due in August–and I was hit quite hard with nausea and exhaustion this past trimester! Glad to be back for a while before baby comes! 🙂 }

mother-and-baby-in-parkLast time I posted, way back in mid-December, I wrote about the type of woman portrayed in Proverbs 7. Today, the focus will be on the woman portrayed in Proverbs 31.

The point of this post is not to burden women with another set of “do’s” that we must obey to be a godly woman. In fact, if we simply look at the Proverbs 31 woman as the ideal whom we are to mimic as closely as we can, we will either fail and be discouraged, or we may possibly succeed and feel pride in being able to check off another list on our “godliness profile.”

If this study is rather a character study, in a sense, of a woman who applied wisdom, then the first lesson should be the source of our wisdom, as found all throughout the book of Proverbs: the fear of the Lord. As we learn of the Lord through his Word and worship the Lord, we gain wisdom to practically apply in everyday life.

The Proverbs 31 woman is one example of a woman who feared the Lord and applied that wisdom in everyday life. Just as with many examples, we can learn from them without feeling the pressure to conform to every practical application of the wisdom principles behind each application. Clearly some applications, like her speech being characterized by kindness, is echoed in the New Testament as descriptors of a believer in Jesus Christ.

PASSAGE OVERVIEW

Proverbs 31:10-31 is a poem. In Hebrew, the poem is an acrostic—the first letter of each line began with the successive letters in the Hebrew alphabet. This poem was recited by Jewish husbands and children at the Sabbath dinner. The manner of the poem is also similar to a hymn written to extol a heroine, in this case the wise wife and mother.

However, the Proverbs 31 woman is more than just an ideal wife and mother. She personifies wisdom applied in daily living. One author states,

The poem certainly presents a pattern for women who want to develop a life of wisdom; but since it is essentially about wisdom, its lessons are for both men and women to develop. The passage teaches that the fear of the Lord will inspire people to be faithful stewards of the time and talents that God has given; that wisdom is productive and beneficial for others, requiring great industry in life’s endeavors; that wisdom is best taught and lived in the home—indeed, the success of the home demands wisdom—and that wisdom is balanced living (Allen Ross, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, p. 1130).

Although there are various ways this poem can be broken up, I  will study it as 8 stanzas, beginning and ending with praise for this wise woman.

1. GENERAL PRAISE (Prov 31:10-12)

She is a rarity (v 10).

Who can find an excellent woman? She is like a rare jewel.

She is excellent (v 10).

The Hebrew word for excellent often means “strength.” She has strength of character; she is fully-capable.

She is trustworthy (vv 11-12).

Her husband can fully trust her. According to a sermon I read by John MacArthur, it was common for a husband to lock up his valuables when he left his home, because he couldn’t trust his wife. Not so a wise woman! She increases his resources, rather than emptying them. He knows she will only do him good for her whole life.

2. WISDOM IN HOUSEHOLD PURSUITS (Prov 31:13-15)

She works willingly with her hands (v 13).

She works to provide food for her family (v 14).

Every area had a staple diet. In order to bring variety and creativity to the table, she had to travel elsewhere.

She wakes early to provide for and organize her home (v 15).

3. WISDOM IN FINANCES (Prov 31: 16-18)

She makes financially wise purchases (v 16).

She is a strong, tireless worker in making her merchandise profitable (vv17-18).

4. WISDOM IN PROVIDING FOR FAMILY/POOR (Prov 31:19-21)

She works to provide warm, beautiful clothing for her family, preparing ahead of time (vv 19,21a).

She carefully assesses and provides for the needs of her family.

She uses her hard work and financial wisdom to give liberally to the poor and needy (v 20).

She is not so focused on her family alone that she does not see and/or ignores the needs of others around her.

5. WISDOM IN REPUTATION (Prov 31:22-24)

She makes herself expensive clothing.

Her wise uses of money and resources allowed her to present herself and her home in an attractive manner (v22).

She promotes the reputation of her husband (v 23).

Her work was of such worth as to be able to be sold to merchants (v 24).

6. WISDOM IN CHARACTER (Prov 31: 25-27)

She is a strong, dignified woman who does not need to fear the future, because she has acted wisely (v 25).

Her speech is characterized by wisdom and kindness (v 26).

Imagine if we put the wise and kind filter on before we said anything?!

She is alert and careful in watching over her family, not giving in to laziness (v 27).

7. WISDOM RECOGNIZED (Prov 31:28-29)

Those who knew her besther children and husbandpraise her. In their eyes, she is the greatest of all women.

Do those who know us best praise us for our wisdom and godliness?

8. CONCLUDING PRAISE (Prov 31:30-31)

One’s physical beauty is nothing compared to the character of a woman who fears the Lord (v 30).

The woman’s hard work brings praise from others (v 31).

Think of one who has been an example of wisdom and godliness. Praise the Lord for that woman and thank her for her example!

CONCLUSION

None of us will ever measure up to the epitome of household wisdom as portrayed by the Proverbs 31 woman. Yet we can apply the wisdom exemplified to specific situations in our own lives. Take a look at your own finances, work ethic, reputation, and character. Her wisdom was applied in every area of life. There were no “freebies” in which she had a pass to live foolishly (although I’m sure she did at times, just as we do at times). Strive to live wisely with the time God has given you.

We women have a glorious opportunity to live out the Gospel every day in our homes. 1 Timothy 2:15 talks about women being “saved through childbearing.” We show the gloriousness of the saving grace of the Gospel (the “fear of the Lord” in Proverbs) through the normal activities of our lives, such as childbearing. We live out the Gospel, we are sanctified  through motherhood/womanhood as we are faithful to put Christ on display in all that we do. {For an excellent message on this topic on putting Christ on display in our everyday lives, I highly encourage you to listen to this sermon}

 **The above is part of First Baptist Church of Rockford’s Ladies Bible Study on Biblical Womanhood.**

{On Thursdays, I share some thoughts about what God is teaching me in my various roles as a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a pastor’s wife.}

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4 responses to “Thursday Thoughts: Pattern of a Wise Woman

  1. Linda Huffstutler says:

    Glad to see your blog again! Good thoughts.

  2. […] Thursday Thoughts: Pattern of a Wise Woman (keeponswimmingblog.wordpress.com) The Proverbs 31 woman is one example of a woman who feared the Lord and applied that wisdom in everyday life. Just as with many examples, we can learn from them without feeling the pressure to conform to every practical application of the wisdom principles behind each application. Clearly some applications, like her speech being characterized by kindness, is echoed in the New Testament as descriptors of a believer in Jesus Christ. […]

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