Thursday, February 02, 2006

A Strong Woman

“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.” Proverbs 31:10

I was surprised to find that the word our Bibles translate as “excellent,” “noble,” or “virtuous” is actually a word concerning strength. So this could read: “A strong wife (or woman) who can find?” And this is fitting, because the woman described here is a diligent, energetic woman: “She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household…” (31:15)

Yet she is strong in more ways than one. “She opens her hands to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy.” (31:20). To exhibit such Christlike compassion and healing requires strength of character – a personal confidence and contentment that can freely give to others. Like Christ, this strong woman is also a teacher: “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (31:26).

To see the entire description of this wonder woman, click here.

I can imagine that many women must read this chapter with frustration and shame. “Who can live up to this? I always wanted the Bible to say more about women, but couldn’t it have set a more obtainable standard?” This is why men and women alike need Jesus Christ. Only he fulfilled God’s law perfectly. If your faith is in him, you are married to him and will be counted as perfect in God’s sight.

Furthermore, what is set forth in this chapter is not gained simply by hard work. A woman becomes more and more spiritually beautiful as she does one thing: fears the Lord.

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain. But a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)

John MacArthur once asked the question: “If our society and our culture could design a woman, what would that woman be like?” She would certainly be beautiful. She might be charming. She might even be strong, that is, aggressive and self-assertive. But would she fear the Lord, and thereby possess the life giving strength seen here?


Wartburg said...

In Proverbs 31:10-31 we have a description of a virtuous woman, many of the details of which are appropriate to Rahab.

"Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. . . . She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. . . . She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant" (Prov. 31:10, 13, 24). Rahab dealt in flax and linen.
"She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy" (Prov. 31:20). So Rahab stretched forth her hands to the needy spies
"She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet" (Prov. 31:21) Because of the cost of the scarlet dye, clothing of scarlet was reserved for durable and warm fabrics, indicative of the kind of clothing which Rahab may have made.
"Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land" (Prov. 31:23). Salmon, Rahab’s husband, was one of the elders of the tribe of Judah.
"Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her" (Prov. 31:28). How blessed has been the memory of Rahab, a memory blessed by the royal line of children which came from her faith and conversion to the God of Israel.
"Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised" (Prov. 31:30).. The Jewish rabbis hold that Rahab was one of the four most beautiful women in the world. Whether the tradition is so or not we do not know; but it is not for her beauty that she is remembered, rather she is praised because she feareth the LORD.
"Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates."—Proverbs 31:31
By Carl Hagensick

Stephanie Koehler said...

My friend and I were just discussing this topic last night so I can't help but think God especially wanted me to read this article today. :) "To exhibit such Christlike compassion and healing requires strength of character - a personal confidence and contentment that can freely give to others." I need to remember this as I strive to grow in the knowledge of what God desires of me.