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Introduction: Proverbs 31 is really intriguing, but here are some things you may not know about it: 1) These were words spoken by King Lemuel's mother to help him find the right woman, and 2) The 10th to 31st verses are actually an alphabetic acrostic in Hebrew. Now, let's talk some more about this priceless woman.
#1: An Excellent Spirit:
Verse 10: "Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies."
The word "virtuous" is translated from the Hebrew word "Chavil" which in English literally means "a woman of valor- in the sense of all forms of excellence." It is also translated as "army, strength, power, or might." Now, you may ask, "Is it even possible to have all forms of excellence?" And I say, "Yes, it is." Being virtuous means exhibiting strength with a spirit of excellence. The spirit of excellence does not eliminate our imperfections. Rather it is a phenomenom that describes a one hundred percent push in the right direction. Even without getting to the final destination one can still show "excellence" by giving one hundred percent of one's energy to get to that destination. The virtuous wife is someone who selectively picks her areas of focus in life and gives those areas one hundred percent of her effort. She does not dilly dally or jump from one thing to another. She selects something and goes all the way to see it to completion. If you've seen a woman who struggles despite all odds to achieve a single extraordinary feat, she is a virtuous woman- exhibiting a form (or several forms) of excellence.
#2: Trust Is Never An Issue With Her:
Verse 11: "The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain."
Trust is the basis of every important relationship. Let's look at ordinary friendships for instance: you would not share the most important incident of your life with someone you don't trust. You would worry over whether a thousand people would find it out from the lips of this person, or whether the person would get jealous of your dreams and desires. You would also be concerned as to whether the person would put you down, or lift you up. Trust is very important in friendships. Now, in a marriage trust is one of the most important elements. A Proverbs 31 woman can be trusted by her husband because she is a BUILDER. She will never put him down or cause him to feel shameful. He will have no lack of gain because she will complete him in such a way that his weaknesses will never be seen in public. His finances are safe in her hands because she is very careful about spending money; rather than be wreckless in spending, she causes the money to increase by trading/investing in business ideas.
#3: A Selective Entrepreneur:
Verses 13-14, 16, 24: "She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands. She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar. She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants."
An entrepreneur is a person who has the posession of an enterprise, venture, or idea and assumes accountability for the risks and the outcome (wikipedia). In reading about this woman, I observed that she always has an idea. Verse 13 tells us that she is never afraid to work with her hands. The bible says, "whatever your hands find to do, do it with your might" (Ecclesiastes 9:10). The proverbs 31 woman does not grumble when no one assigns her a task. She goes out of her way to look for ways to make herself valuable.
She brings her food from afar. This means that her ideas are not confined to ideas of women in her locality- she thinks BIG. She studies foreign cultures and selects the ones she can use. Many times, we have to go out of our comfort zones to look for ideas that have not been done in our local regions or cultures.
She considers a field and buys it. This is where her "selectiveness" comes in. Many people think entrepreneurs are those who take any risks whatsoever to accomplish a certain goal. The Proverbs 31 woman is not just an entrepreneur, she is a 'selective' one. She just doesn't pounce on any idea, she thinks about the pros and cons first. I believe her family is always her priority. If it does not benefit her husband or children, she doesn't consider the idea to be necessary. She considered the field first because she wanted to know whether it would be enough to plant a vineyard (and whether the vineyard would sell its fruits so that she could buy materials to sew linen garments and sell them to merchants travelling to other parts of the world). If you notice, it's about a chain reaction. She never ventured into a business that was a dead end. Every idea was a means to another one. Really smart, if I may say.
#4: Her Borrowed Strength:
Verse 17: "She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms."
If you've been reading about this woman with your heart in your mouth, it is time to heave a sigh of relief and breathe in and out. This woman is not always strong, she is weak sometimes. Let me tell you why: she had to put on a girdle of strength. The word "gird" means to "equip, encircle, fasten, or secure" with something such as a belt. Why do I say she borrowed her strength? I say this because just like a belt is not an internal property of the human body, so also is strength that is girded. When she did not have her own strength, she had to equip herself with an "external" strength. To us who know the One to whom ALL POWER belongs, we know for a fact that this "external" strength that the woman has to gird herself with comes from God. The strength to do rare unimaginable things. The strength to achieve things that are deemed greater than an ordinary woman's strength. A Proverbs 31 woman equips herself so much with the word of God that she begins to achieve great exploits that have never been achieved before.
#5: Never A Moment of Darkness:
Verse 18b: "Her lamp does not go out by night."
Many times, a very observant person will notice the signs of an economic downslide. Before the economic recession, many observant people could tell and they quickly did what they could to secure themselves and possibly their families. The Proverbs 31 woman is a sign-watcher. She watches for the sign of darkness and then she quickly prepares for it. She goes to the store and buys all the necessary tools: the lamp, the lighter, many barrels of oil, and the stand (she probably would get the tallest stand that will help the lamp shine brightest in a large room). I smiled when I was thinking about this. Here's the reason why her lamp never goes out: before the oil in the lamp finishes, she opens the oil compartment and refills it. She never leaves any space for the oil to run dry. A Proverbs 31 woman recharges her battery. She refills her bucket of water. And she knows the very place to get all the necessary recharging tools. To me, this place is the word of God.
#6: Those Around Her are Happy People:
Verses 20: "She extends her hand to the poor, yes she reaches out her hand to the needy."
First, let's define what being poor means. When we see that word we want to point our fingers to those begging on desolate streets for a morsel of bread or just a coin. Yes, that's part of it...but that's not the entire meaning. To be poor in something is to be lacking in that specific area. Someone can be poor in joy or happiness, for instance. Now, no matter the level of poorness of the people around her, the Proverbs 31 woman does not stand for it. Instead, she does something about the situation...in many cases she takes charge. She tells people what she knows about certain circumstances, and she helps them in winning their small or big battles. I suspect that there wouldn't be a sad person around her then, or don't you think?
#7: Her Husband is a Popular Man:
Verse 23: "Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land."
This one is her most romantic quality. There's a reason why her husband is known. They say, "Behind every great man is a great woman." If a woman despises and disrespects her husband, it will show in public. But if she treats him as her king and priest, it will also show in public. Everything that is done in darkness will be brought to light. Love is something that can't be hidden. Many times, if a husband trusts his wife he will reveal certain problems to her- for instance certain difficulties at work. And a Proverbs 31 woman will sit down patiently with her husband to analyze those problems before the night takes over. When morning comes, the husband will go back to face his problem with renewed ideas spoken of by his wife. He will be confident knowing that someone supports him 100%. This is why he is known and respected among the men in the same community.
Conclusion: Through all these characteristics, we can already tell that she would be careful about how she talks to people (verse 26 "she opens her mouth with wisdom"), that her children and husband will praise her at every instant (verse 28: "Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her"), and that her own works will speak for her, i.e. she does not need to boast about her own deeds (verse 31: "And let her works praise her in the gates.")
Yes, it is possible to find such a woman. Especially because I know she does not do it by her own strength. I will never forget the verse that says she "girded" herself with strength. By God's grace, I will be a Proverbs 31 woman. And I pray the same for any woman reading this.
Question for the Day: Which characteristic stands out to you? And do you think you can find such a woman on earth?
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