I found out something new today. I was reading along in Proverbs 31 for the second day in a row and thinking about the virtuous woman or excellent wife described there. She never ceases to amaze me. Believe me, I have a long way to go to fill her high-quality handmade sandals, but I love her and pray to be like her. I love the way she always does her husband good, the way she gives, the way she opens her mouth with wisdom, and the way she fears the Lord. Not to mention that there isn’t a lazy bone in her body, unlike mine.
I’m also very intrigued at the suggestion that her husband’s renown in the gates (as a counselor of the people) has been assisted by her own excellence. Yes, as such a good home manager, she has freed him up to be there, to pursue his vocation without obstacles, but even more, knowing her seems to have given him more to say than he might otherwise have had. She seems to have deepened and added to his resources of wisdom. Why else would his renown in the gates be listed as one of the fruits of having her as his wife?
But the new thing I learned today, (from Tremper Longman III’s “How to Read Proverbs,”) adds yet more richness to the picture of this multi-dimensional lady and reminded me that I am a woman at war. He says that the Hebrew word translated ‘virtuous’ [in verse 10] is actually military terminology. It means military might or prowess. And the word ‘gain’ in verse 11 can mean plunder. So the Proverbs 31 lady now stands in my mind, not only apron-clad and fragrant with chocolate chip cookies, but also as a warrior, whose savvy and strength in the things that matter most aid her husband in vanquishing and plundering the enemy.
Where does her strength come from? In the context of proverbs, it comes from finding true wisdom, from knowing the fear of the Lord, from knowing her covenant God. And that leads to this wonderful quote from Carolyn Custis James, “A wife’s theology should be what her husband prizes most about her. He may always enjoy her cooking and cherish her gentle ways, but in the intensity of battle, when adversity flattens him, or he faces an insurmountable challenge, she is the soldier nearest him, and it is her theology that he will hear. A woman’s theology suddenly matters when a man is facing a crisis and she is the only one around to him encouragement.”
But, what do I do with newly discovered facet of the Proverb’s 31 lady’s character? If I can’t live up to her domestic side, and I can’t, the spiritual side is even more formidable. I fail more often than not to be the warrior my husband needs by his side. I’m lucky if I don’t trip him with my sword—or stab him!
I fail. I am not the Proverbs 31 lady. Still I know there is One who is perfect wisdom and perfect warrior, who lived and died in my place, who washes away my failures with his blood. He has won all the plunder already and at the same time by his risen life enables me to fight on at my husband’s side. He is my hope.
To think on:
“And I saw heaven opened and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.” Revelation 19:11-14
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” Ephesians 6:18;