An Ode to Women

An Ode to Women

WHAT:     READ THE TEXT:  Proverbs 31:10-31

SO WHAT:     REFLECT ON THE TEXT:

1. An Excellent Woman
The calling upon every woman’s life is to one of excellence in the Lord. To the married woman, be a faithful spouse. To the businesswoman, be a reliable partner or boss at work. To the friend, be a trustworthy confidante in conversation. To those in need, be a grace-filled servant who extends a helping hand. Be a woman of noble character.

Even though Proverbs 31 emphasizes the place of mothers in the context of their families, the principles within this text extend to all persons in general (even to men:  just read Psalm 112).
2. Diligent, Thoughtful Woman
     My mom and her siblings did not come from a family of means. So whenever they saw an item of clothing that they wanted in a store, my Mamaw would make a mental note of the fabric and the style. Then, she would stay up late into the night to stitch an almost identical outfit for her children.
That’s what Proverbs 31 describes as a diligent, thoughtful woman. The simile of merchant ships in verse 14 conveys a woman who engages in the battle of life on behalf of her family.
Take a mental snapshot of the single mother who works two jobs to provide for her kids; or of that mother who wakes at dawn to open her Bible, gets out her prayer journal, and lifts up her children in prayer.
We also learn in Proverbs 31 that a woman is definitely not limited to the home. She works hard in the market place, putting all her talents to good use. Plus, more than just the financial well-being of her family, she also looks out for the needs of others.
Verses 19 and 20 indicate the hands that work so hard for her family are the same hands that open up to those in need. The image strikes me as one who not only prays for others but who seeks to be part of the answer to the very prayers that she prays.
3. A Confident Woman
     Verse 22 points out that the Proverbs 31 woman is concerned with presenting herself well. She takes care of herself, and she clothes herself in fine linen and purple. Although this fabric suggests royalty, I would make two observations this reference.
The words “when it snows” at the beginning of verse 21 reflect the winter of life. It symbolizes difficult, unpredictable times, not unlike the days in which we presently find ourselves.
The Proverbs 31 woman remains confident during hard times because she is thrifty. She doesn’t go out spending money on the latest fads. She doesn’t have to own that Gucci bag. She is not worried about keeping up with the Jones’s. Yes, she takes care to look nice, but she spends money wisely.
Therefore, the real royalty that she clothes herself in is her faith (31:25-26). She does not fear the days ahead, but she lives in a calm assurance. She rests on and she proclaims the goodness of the gospel of God.
4. A Praiseworthy, Godly Woman
     The author of this proverb clearly understands the tireless demands that a woman faces in her daily life. Chef, Dishwasher,  Launderer, Housecleaner, Shopper on a limited budget, Teacher, Referee between children, Confidante to children, Cheerleader for her husband. Oh yeah, and that doesn’t include the work she does outside the home.
Think about the lofty standards as well as the weighty expectations that our society places upon women. Let me say it plainly:  Blessed are mothers.
     At the core of a Proverbs 31 woman is “the fear of the Lord.” She recognizes that she is nothing apart from God.
The book of Proverbs thus runs full circle — it begins with “the fear of the Lord” as the key principle for wisdom in chapter 1, and it ends with “the fear of the Lord” as the key principle in chapter 31.
John Kitchen concludes:  “The wise man is introduced to the Woman Wisdom in chapters 1-9, and, now, he weds her. He has rejected the adulteress and the harlot, and has found delight in a woman of true integrity and substance.”
I hope it is not too far of a stretch for you to see a connection to Jesus in such a conclusion. When introduced to Christ, wise individuals will receive Him as their Bridegroom. We will reject the lies and allures of the harlotry of this world, choosing instead to find our delight in the Lord.
Keep in mind the words of Proverbs 18:22 that, “He who finds a good wife, finds a good thing.” So much more, He who finds Christ finds eternal life.

NOW WHAT:     RESPOND TO THE TEXT:

The words “who can find” in v. 10 communicate difficulty, but not impossibility. It has a similar ring to Jesus’ teaching about the way to eternal life in Matthew 7:14 — “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Choose the narrow road. Pursue the One who fulfills all wisdom — Jesus Christ — rather than to find satisfaction in the fleeting follies of this world.

If we count our blessings for the wives and for the mothers that we have, let us make sure to affirm them privately as well as to praise them publicly.