Proverbs 31                                                       

We Love to Hate Her, Part 3
In the last devotional we talked about how the Proverbs 31 woman worked out her faith in the way she lived her daily life, where the rubber meets the road. All of her virtues flowed out from under the umbrella of fear of the LORD. By the way Jewish women lived out their daily life is how the godly culture of the home and nation were preserved. Their work was more than important to growth of God’s kingdom, it was vital!
 
The fragrance of this chapter just fills the air with things God loves so I wanted to compare them to what we as Christians affectionately call The Seven Deadly Sins. Rightly, there are things the bible warns us about that we humans are so prone to fall prey to, like the Seven Deadly Sins.
 
Let’s look at 1 John 5:17, which tells us, “All wrongdoing is sin,” so with that in mind, let’s take a look at seven sins that we are going to discuss. But more than that, let’s look at them against the backdrop of Proverbs 31. In the fear of the LORD, like the Proverbs 31 woman has, these seven things have no room to take root. This is one of the things I love about Proverbs 31 and one of the reasons I believe we should not treat this chapter so recklessly as to peg her as someone we love to hate.
 
Pride. This is an exaggerated and puffy opinion of yourself and doesn’t allow for reflection of your own flaws. Proverbs 8:13 says, “The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.” (ESV). In this verse we learn that God hates pride and the opposite of that is to fear the LORD. Proverbs 31:10 tells us that she fears the LORD. These two things do not go together in our hearts, it is one or the other and she has the LORD. Pride will not take root in her.
 
Envy. This is a longing or wanting for possessions, status, skills, etc. that are unhealthy. James 3:16, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” (KJV). Confusion causes disorder. When we read through Proverbs 31 we do not get a picture of disorder at all! I would also like to address the word work. In this verse it is a noun, a thing that exists. We understand this to be evil work because the verse states it. This is a matter of the heart rather than an action lived out. Proverbs 14:30 states, “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.” (ESV). The opposite of envy is a tranquil heart, which is translated as healing, health, or sound mind. It is safe to say that there is no room in her heart for envy either because she displays a tranquil heart in that She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. It is also evident that she looks to her household and herself without considering that others around her may have it better.
 
Gluttony. Gluttony is excessive indulgence. We usually think of it in terms of food or drink, but it can be any excessive pleasure that we want from something above and beyond what it was created for. Philippians 3:18-19, “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” The Proverbs 31 woman is very much in control. She plans her meals and we know this because she is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar (verse 14). There is some discipline in gathering food from afar in order to have and prepare it for a family. What this verse does not imply is that she greedily over indulges in anything. Everything she does for the LORD is beneficial to her and her family.
 
Lust. This is an extreme desire for sensual gratification. Matthew 5:28, “But, I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman (or man) with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (ESV, emphasis mine). It is clear to us when the Bible says “The heart of her husband trusts in her” and “She does him good and not harm,” (verses 11 and 12) that she does not have lust in her. If she did, he may not trust her and she would bring harm to him and their marriage.
 
Lust can be more than sensual desires; it can be strong desires for having the best looking car, house, clothes, etc. It’s when we try to make life so good that we lust after the things of the world and make people and things objects to meet our needs. This is the kind of attitude of the heart that denies our spiritual nature. And, when we compare this to Proverbs 31, we see it’s opposite. She considers a field before she buys it, she doesn’t just have to have it for the sake of self. Also, she clothes herself with strength and dignity are her clothing.
 
So, let’s address verse 22, “She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.” She does this because it is well within her means to do so. It does not imply a lustful heart or having to have the best. There is nothing wrong with having nice things, only with having a heart that is not in check with God. The overall nature of the Proverbs 31 woman is that she loves God and He is the only master she serves in her heart.
 
Anger or wrath. It’s manifested in rage because of intolerance of others. Jesus got angry when He tipped money changers tables in the temple courts, so anger in and of itself is not wrong. His anger aligned with God. When we are angry for reasons of self, personal conflict, and lack of compassion then we are not aligned with God and it is not OK. Did you catch the difference? She, however, always spoke with wisdom and kindness (verse 26.) Clearly, she was in control and displayed the love of God in her through her speech. Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
 
Greed. This is the unsatisfied desire to get more material goods. The beginning of Psalms 23 states, “The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want…” and these words always grab my attention. The LORD does not leave us in a position of wanting because He takes care of everything we need. Verse 21, “She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet.” (ESV) and verse 14-15, “She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.” (ESV). She is not in want for food or clothes now or in the future because she has worked hard out of obedience to the LORD and she has provisions from God. She has all she needs and wants for nothing else; she is not greedy but simply living under the provision of God and living out her good works.
 
Slothfulness. This is more than being a couch potato for an evening but is a pathological laziness that affects daily life every day. “Through sloth the roof sinks in, and through indolence the house leaks,” (ESV). “She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness,” verse 27. She is obviously not slothful and because she works so hard for her family we can reason with assurance that the structure of the house is taken as good of care of as everything else.
 
Well, there you have it! The Proverbs 31 woman is the opposite of the seven deadly sins and many other sins if we cared to name them and measure them against this passage. The whole point of this is to find something that we could learn, love, and apply from Proverbs 31. I wanted to take a few days to consider why this chapter was in the Bible. I am sure if we did an inductive study of the chapter we would unveil many amazing truths that would bless us in big ways! God does not disappoint those who seek Him!
 
I hope you have learned to love this chapter and the idea of this woman as I have. It has spurred me on to the point of change in my daily life. I am so thankful to God for the inspiration and love that flows from Proverbs 31. Do I hear a little amen? It is my prayer that you, too, will consider this chapter and how it can apply to your own life.
 
By Andrea Simmons
 
Proverbs 31
We Love to Hate Her, Part 2
Annah went to preschool with little rows of dirt under her fingernails. Then I wonder what the teachers thought. Her white tennis shoes are dirty and many pairs of her pants have a hole in the leg somewhere. And today, I hope she doesn’t lift her shirt enough to show her tummy because she drew a big blue square just above her belly button because she wanted to and we didn’t have time for a bath.

My sink has dishes and my laundry room floor has clothes. I try to be a blessing to my husband, but let’s face it, he’s often the first one to stay calm and to forgive. Sometimes, I say too much and with a little too much spice. Just cover my mouth- no, my whole face before I’ve gone too far, please.

I try, but sometimes I fall short.

It appears I am so not a Proverbs 31 woman.

Sigh.

Or, am I looking at her all wrong?

First of all, she loves the LORD, Proverbs 31:30b, “but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” It is out of this, her love for the LORD, that all of her good virtues flow. It is not in all the do’s and don’ts of being a good wife and mom that she is praised at all. It is in her obedience to the LORD and her faith in Him. This is where the rubber meets the road. What does it look like to be a God follower in our daily routine? Well, here it is displayed in the Proverbs 31 woman. It is also evident in this chapter that all things God hates are not present in her.

In the Jewish times of the Old Testament women worked hard for their families and two of the great purposes for this was to preserve the families heritage as well as surviving in that time period. They didn’t have grocery stores, they had to work hard and plan ahead to make sure they had the things they needed to eat, drink, wear, and use. And their children learned about their rich history and how to survive through daily teachings.

In fact, education was very important to the Jewish culture. Their heritage and ways of life were usually passed down by storytelling. Just like our kids know Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and who Grandma and Grandpa are like the back of their hands, the Hebrew children knew the stories of Moses and Abraham and that God was their God.

It was through the wife’s hard work and training that her family’s daily life and heritage were preserved. She did not count her work to be useless (Proverbs 31:27-2  but eagerly went at it every day because she knew the value she added to the present and to the future. Her family counted on her and she did not let them down.

She is the opposite of the things God hates and the seven deadly sins that we have come to know in our own Christian culture. Next we will discuss these opposites and how this woman first and foremost serves the LORD in her work. And that is truest thing we should love about her.

Proverbs 31
We Love to Hate Her, Part 1
For five and a half years my husband left the house at 6:15 am to go to work. Like clockwork, I could count on him waking me up at this time to tell me good-bye, give me a kiss, and very often whisper how wonderful he thought I was. Who wouldn’t love waking up to hearing whispers of things like, “You are the best wife, and I love you so much,”? You can rest assured I didn’t mind that at all!
 
I take my role as wife and mom very seriously, which is not a stretch since most of us do. The woman depicted in Proverbs 31 obviously took her roles seriously, too. Yet, so many times women find this perfectly depicted woman as flawless, never having a bad day, well dressed, and altogether having it all together. She sure does seem like the perfect woman we would just love to hate, doesn’t she?
 
I have heard many women from many different places the past few months bash the ‘trophy-wife-of-a-woman’ idea perceived from Proverbs 31. It is with conviction that I challenge the negative vibe of Proverbs 31. Since I am still in the process of studying this chapter I will only offer a thought or two.
 
First, the chapter starts with a mom correcting her son’s obvious misbehavior, who happens to be the king. The chapter also ends with its only command, “Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates,” Proverbs 31:31. This command is also given to a man, the king. The conclusion is that this chapter was written to men. The meat of Proverbs 31 is a poem and each line of the poem starts with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet descending in alphabetical order. It was thought to be memorized by Hebrew men to teach them what to look for in a wife (not what the young king was obviously looking for in women to hang out with at the time) and it was used by the men who memorized it to praise their wives.
 
If you were, and you probably are, a woman who works hard to keep your family going, wouldn’t you deeply appreciate your man reciting a poem to you out of love, adoration, and appreciation for you? I am sure this poem was a gift from God to those women who were in a strong male driven society where women usually didn’t have much of a voice. It gave great significance to their daily work and named their efforts with great value.
 
I’m just soaking it all in and really starting to love this chapter and its purpose!
 
My second thought is that those who are frustrated with this chapter should take a second to step back and consider that God does not waste words. If He put this chapter is in the Bible it is because it comes with a truth He wants us to have. Let’s not treat any scripture so recklessly that we would love to hate it. Let’s trust God and consider what He wants to teach us. 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.” Proverbs 31 is included in the words “all Scripture” from 2 Timothy 3:16.
 
So, to all beautiful women reading this today, I will leave with this concluding thought. The Proverbs 31 woman may not have been an actual woman, but the kind of woman the king should be seeking to marry because she would bring great happiness to him. She is not one of the Joneses we need to keep up with. She is not a mold to fit. Her greatest claim was fear of the LORD and from that all her good virtues flowed. If we try to model any part of this woman, it would be the fear the LORD we need to grasp.
 
In the next devotionals I will go over her virtues, cultural impact of the time, and how to apply it to modern day. It is my prayer that as we walk through this chapter together we will be spurred on- not only love this chapter- but to fall in love with God and His wonderful ways. Do I hear a little amen on this one?

by Andrea Simmons
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Proverbs 31