Proverbs 31:10-31 (NIV)
A worthy woman who can find? For her price is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband trusteth in her, And he shall have no lack of gain.
She doeth him good and not evil All the days of her life.
She seeketh wool and flax, And worketh willingly with her hands.
She is like the merchant-ships; She bringeth her bread from afar.
She riseth also while it is yet night;
And giveth food to her household, And their task to her maidens.
She considereth a field, and buyeth it; With the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
She girdeth her loins with strength, And maketh strong her arms.
She perceiveth that her merchandise is profitable: Her lamp goeth not out by night. IShe layeth her hands to the distaff, And her hands hold the spindle.
She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; Yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of the snow for her household;
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
She maketh for herself carpets of tapestry; Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sitteth among the elders of the land.
She maketh linen garments and selleth them,
And delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
Strength and dignity are her clothing; And she laugheth at the time to come.
She openeth her mouth with wisdom; And the law of kindness is on her tongue.
She looketh well to the ways of her household
And eateth not the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up, and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praiseth her, saying: “Many daughters have done worthily, But thou excellest them all.
Grace is deceitful, and beauty is vain;
But a woman that feareth Jehovah, she shall be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.
The Proverbs 31 woman has been misunderstood and misrepresented throughout the ages, leaving most women afraid to even attempt to become like her.We think about the age of the 1980’s when women were trying to be everything – corporate executive, Super mom, great lover, volunteer of the year.She was expected to do it all, and this was even impressed upon women through television commercials.Remember that old favourite for perfume?“She brings home the bacon, fries it up in a pan and she’ll never let you forget you’re a man.Cuz she’s a woman!”In the process she often got burnt out, sick, depressed.
The Proverbs 31 woman is like the ‘Martha Stewart of King David’s Court’, an unattainable ideal.Let’s look at Martha Stewart.She runs her own business and is still able to create a magnificent dinner party for 20.I love the email that circulates with letters between Martha Stewart and Erma Bombeck.Martha tells Erma that she has gotten up early to make her own placemats to set under the breakfast of fresh eggs she got from the chicken coop which she carried using her homemade sled, or something like that.Erma counters with how she tried to make her own paper but when it became a ball of mush, she just used the back of the phone bill.
It is difficult to believe that any woman can do all she does.After all, she chooses her own flax, makes her own cloth, clothing and bedding.She’s up at 5 am cooking for her family and her servants.She’s the corporate executive of the family, trades her homemade goods and buys the land on which she produces a vineyard.She’s intelligent and is well spoken, able to share the wisdom she possesses.She is hardworking, well loved, joyful and respected not only by those closest to her but also in the community.
Many people have said to me, “I could be a Proverbs 31 woman if only I had a few servants.”This is where the great misunderstanding lies.I laugh when I see some of the ideas that come from Martha Stewart Living – great ideas, but completely impractical for most women.After all, Martha has 42 sets of china; she can create the perfect table for any occasion.But how many of us look in our cabinets and find it difficult to find 8 dishes that match?
As I searched the web for information on the Proverbs 31 woman, the websites were dedicated to making women domestic goddesses, beauty queens, perfect wives submissive to their husband’s every whim.Yet, the scripture about this woman says nothing of the kind.Her husband trusts her to run the household affairs while he serves as a senator. Her physical attributes are not mentioned, because that sort of beauty only runs skin deep, but her beauty is deep within her heart and spirit.
Another difficulty with the Proverbs 31 woman is the emphasis on the word wife.Verse 10 says, “A worthy woman who can find? For her price is far above rubies.”Can someone be a Proverbs 31 woman without a husband?
The book of Proverbs is a book of wisdom.We learn how to handle our money, and how to work.We learn how to treat our parents, children and friends.We learn the differences between wisdom and folly, between the righteous and the wicked.Most of the Proverbs are attributed to Solomon, a man who sought wisdom above all else and because of it received everything he could ever desire.
We read in the first chapter of Proverbs,“The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction; To discern the words of understanding; To receive instruction in wise dealing, In righteousness and justice and equity; To give prudence to the simple, To the young man knowledge and discretion: That the wise man may hear, and increase in learning; And that the man of understanding may attain unto sound counsels: To understand a proverb, and a figure, The words of the wise, and their dark sayings. The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge; But the foolish despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:1-7
Throughout the scriptures, particularly the book of Proverbs, we are told to embrace wisdom, to seek God, to learn and understand His ways.Though we are human and cannot possibly understand the fullness of our One True and living God, we can seek His face, and are even commanded to do so.As it says in verse seven, “The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge.” (1:7)With this knowledge, the wisdom that comes from knowing God, we can truly live a godly life.As we look at the Proverbs 31 woman, we will see that she is more than just an earth bound perfectionist, but we also see that her success comes because she has that fear of the LORD.She is first and foremost a spiritual being who loves the LORD.31:30 sums it up by saying, “Grace is deceitful, and beauty is vain; But a woman that feareth Jehovah, she shall be praised.”She loves God and uses to her best ability the gifts He has given to her.
As I read through some commentaries about this scripture, I found that perhaps the Proverbs 31 woman is not the description of one woman, but rather a compilation of many women.There are certain virtues that are displayed in her life that we will discuss to help us to lead that godly life as we walk in the light of our Lord Jesus.For the sake of this class, she is the compilation of six different biblical women, some from the Old Testament, some from the New, but all with a direct connection to Jesus Christ.
In the first chapter of Matthew, we hear the genealogy of our Lord Jesus.There are five women listed.This is rather unusual for Hebrew genealogy since women were regarded as unimportant, like property.However, these women played key roles in the lineage of our Lord.First, we hear in vs. 3 about Tamar.Tamar was the daughter-in-law of Judah.Her husband died before she was able to conceive, and she shrewdly made Judah fulfill the law.In vs. 5 we hear about Rahab, who was a prostitute, but whose actions showed her to be trustworthy.Also in verse 5 we see Ruth, one truly virtuous woman in the Bible, who is known for her generosity.Next in vs. 6 we hear about Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, who slept with the king and then married him when her husband was dead.She shows herself to be competent when dealing with King David.Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus, is mentioned in vs. 16, and is a perfect example of a woman who is spiritually confident.(Matthew 1:3,5,6,16) We will also discuss Mary of Bethany who was a dear friend of Jesus.(Luke 10:42) She was a seeker of wisdom.
These six women were imperfect, some quite sinful in the way they lived their life, but God was still able to use them and their gifts to His glory.
Turn your Bible to the book of Joshua, chapter two.Prostitution was an accepted practice in patriarchal society.Men were allowed to have sexual relations with women outside marriage while preserving exclusive rights of access to their spouses.In Leviticus and Deuteronomy there are many laws against prostitution.In Proverbs, men are warned about the waste of prostitutes.The word in Hebrew is specifically female and describes promiscuous sexual behavior or fornication by an unmarried female.It is punishable by death.Despite the acceptance in society of the practice, prostitutes were scum, lowlife.(Levitucus 21:7, 19:29, Proverbs 29:3, 7:10, 23:27, Luke 21:7, Deuteronomy 23:18, Genesis 38:24, Deuteronomy 22:20-21, Leviticus 21:9)
The Exodus out of Egypt was an incredible event.Word spread rather quickly that a very powerful god was with the Hebrews.After Moses died, Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land.Joshua sent spies into the land ahead of the army.The two spies stayed at the home of Rahab the prostitute.When they were discovered, she hid them on her roof and told the men of the city they had left.Why would she do this?These two spies could do nothing to hurt her – particularly if they were arrested – but the king could have her killed.
In Joshua 2:9-13, she said to the spies, “I know that Jehovah hath given you the land, and that the fear of you is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how Jehovah dried up the water of the Red Sea before you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were beyond the Jordan, unto Sihon and to Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard it, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more spirit in any man, because of you: for Jehovah your God, he is God in heaven above, and on earth beneath. Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by Jehovah, since I have dealt kindly with you, that ye also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a true token; and that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and will deliver our lives from death.”
This woman, a lowlife in her community – a community that did not know the God of Moses – believed what she heard about Him and promised to help His people.”Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business; and it shall be, when Jehovah giveth us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee.” (Joshua 2:14)They trusted her, and followed her instructions to escape.
Proverbs 31:12 says, “She doeth him good and not evil All the days of her life.”The Proverbs 31 woman provides a safe haven for her husband.She is trustworthy and reliable.We can have total confidence in her integrity, ability and good character.Rahab was all those things, because she heard the word of God and believed what He could accomplish.She displayed the disciplined and prudent life from Proverbs 1.This comes from the wisdom she received from the Lord.Seems strange to say that about a prostitute from a pagan land.Yet, God used her in a powerful way.She not only helped the Israelites win the land God had promised to them, but she was also the mother of Boaz and an ancestor of our Lord Jesus.
Jesus Himself was trustworthy.In John 9, we hear the story of a man who was blind from birth. The disciples wondered who was sinful that the man was blind, but Jesus said it was for God’s glory.He then made mud and put it on the man’s eyes and gave him specific instructions.He told the man to go and wash at the pool at Siloam.The man trusted Jesus at His word and followed Jesus’ instructions without question.
Another word for trustworthy is faithful.Who is more faithful than God Himself?Paul writes to the Corinthians “God is faithful, through whom ye were called into the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:9) We can trust the words of Jesus, the Word of God.
On August 4, 1900, Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon was born.We know her today as Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mum. Her ancestral home is Glamis Castle, and she spent much of her childhood there.When the first World War began, her home became a hospital, and though she was only 14 years old and could not be a nurse, she did help in the care of the patients. In April 1926, she became the wife of HRH the Duke of York.After the death of his father and the abdication of his brother Edward, Elizabeth’s husband became King George VI.Together they ruled an empire that spanned to the Four Corners of the world.During World War II, it was suggested that Queen Elizabeth take her children to the safety of North America, however she preferred to stay in London to share in the difficulties with her people.She was in Buckingham Palace when it was bombed.
When King George died in 1952, Princess Elizabeth became the reigning monarch, and Elizabeth became the dowager queen.The Queen Mother has continued to serve the people of Britain.She is a beloved member of the Royal family because of her integrity, ability and good character.The people love her because they can trust her.
How about you?Are you trustworthy?Do you keep your promises?Are you a woman who is reliable?Do your friends have confidence in your integrity, ability and good character?Rahab the prostitute heard the word of God and her faith showed in her actions. In 1 Timothy 3:11 we read, “Women in like manner must be grave, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things.“As Christian women we walk in the light of our Lord Jesus and we should be like the Proverbs 31 woman who brings good, not harm, to those around her.
Turn to Genesis 38.Judah was the patriarch of one of the twelve tribes of Israel.He had three sons – Er, Onan and Shelah.Er was married to Tamar but he was wicked in the eyes of the LORD and was put to death.According to the law, it was then necessary for Onan to take Tamar as his wife, to produce a child to be Er’s heir.Onan was greedy and knew that a child would impact his future wealth.So, whenever Onan slept with Tamar, he masturbated to deplete his sperm count and reduce the risk of pregnancy.Masturbation is often called “Onan’s sin” but the sin here is not the method of birth control, but rather his disobedience to his duty.Onan’s disobedience was wicked in God’s sight, so Onan was also put to death.This left Tamar a childless widow once again.
Judah’s two sons were dead and his last son is still young.He blamed Tamar and did not want to risk losing Shelah.He sent her to live as a widow in her father’s house until Shelah was of age, but he never called her back.A long time passed and Judah, now a widower, went to the place where Tamar lived. She learned of his visit and took off her widow’s clothes and appeared to be a prostitute.Judah offered to send her a goat as payment for her services, but she wanted a pledge from him.He agreed to give her his seal, cord and staff.These items were probably of little value, since she was not found when Judah sent payment, and he just let it go.
Three months later, Judah was told that Tamar had been guilty of prostitution and was pregnant as a result.She was brought before him to be stoned.Tamar told Judah that she could prove the identity of the father.When Judah saw his objects, he said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” (Genesis 38:26)Tamar was shrewd in the way she caused Judah to fulfill the heritage law, and in such a sordid way, Judah and Tamar became ancestors of our Lord Jesus.
A woman with godly shrewdness is one who is astute and has a clever awareness and resourcefulness, which is used to accomplish God’s purpose.Imagine what it would have been like for Tamar.According to Hebrew law, women were the property of their husband’s family.When a man died childless, she was passed on within the family to provide a blood heir to his estate.If the family did not want her, she was sold off, as we will see in the story of Ruth.In the case of Tamar, she was sent away to live with her father.Though she was a widow, she was unable to remarry, because she belonged to Judah’s family.It was her duty to provide an heir, yet she had no means to do so.Also, children provided for their parents in old age.What would become of her when her father died?Tamar acted with godly shrewdness by requesting the three items that would identify the father of her twins.
Proverbs 31:14,16,18 say, “She is like the merchant-ships; She bringeth her bread from afar… She considereth a field, and buyeth it; With the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard…She perceiveth that her merchandise is profitable: Her lamp goeth not out by night.”In Proverbs 1, we hear that wisdom gives knowledge and discretion to the young. This wisdom is from God.The Proverbs 31 woman is a shrewd businesswoman, bringing in the things that sustain her family with a little extra.
Shrewd is defined as having keen insight.In John, we see how Jesus displays godly shrewdness.As His ministry grew, Jesus knew what the people expected from Him.John 6:15 says, “Jesus therefore perceiving that they were about to come and take him by force, to make him king, withdrew again into the mountain himself alone.”Then in John 7:1-13, Jesus’ brothers told Him to go to the Feast in Jerusalem and become a very public figure.Jesus knew this was not God’s plan, so He told His brothers to go without Him.Yet, the Feast was important for Jews.So later, Jesus went to Jerusalem in secret.People were there waiting and looking for Him, but he kept his visit private and undisturbed until the right time.Jesus was keenly aware of the intent of those around him and did what was necessary.
In Matthew 10, Jesus sent His disciples out into the world to teach and heal.This was their first experience of sharing the Kingdom of God. Jesus carefully instructed them in what to do and how to act in each town, relying upon the hospitality of strangers and recognizing when they are unwelcome.He told them they would face opposition.In Matthew 10:16 Jesus says, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”In other words, Jesus is warning His disciples to know about the actions of the enemy, but to act against it in a way that does not break God’s commands.
In the book of James, we hear, “Who is wise and understanding among you? let him show by his good life his works in meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter jealousy and faction in your heart, glory not and lie not against the truth. This wisdom is not a wisdom that cometh down from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where jealousy and faction are, there is confusion and every vile deed. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without variance, without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for them that make peace.” (3:13-18)
Harriet Tubman lived during the 19th century.She was greatly respected by many because of her great courage and wisdom.Harriet was also known as “Moses” because she delivered hundreds of slaves into freedom.Born a slave, her master hired her out to other people.She met a freeman, fell in love and got married.In time her master’s family was forced to sell her.Since she had been seriously injured and her health was failing, no buyer could be found and her future was uncertain.She escaped to the North and freedom.Eventually she earned enough money to rent a room, furnish it, and buy clothes for her husband.She went back to convince him to join her in Philadelphia, but he refused because he had remarried.
During the days of the Underground Railroad, Harriet made at least 19 trips into the south at great risk to her life.Using cunning and astute awareness of her situation she helped 300 slaves escape.On one occasion, she hopped aboard a southbound train to fool her pursuers.On another, she was close enough to a former master that he would have recognized her, but she dropped the chickens she had just purchased and chased them around to hide her identity.There was a $40,000 reward posted for her capture, though she managed to remain free.She used wisdom to accomplish a great work, never turning away from God’s laws.She always prayed to God, “make me strong and able to fight.”
A Proverbs 31 woman exhibits godly shrewdness in every aspect of her life – how she deals with family, her business affairs and her spirituality.She is wise, accomplishing great things in a manner that is beyond reproach.As Christian women we walk in the light of our Lord Jesus and should be like Tamar, a woman who exhibits godly shrewdness.
The next story comes from the book of Ruth.Things were not great in Bethlehem.In the days of the Judges, there was famine.Elimelech took his family, wife Naomi and two sons, to the land of Moab where they could live comfortably for a time.Though Moab was a pagan nation and they were Jews, they had little choice.The two sons married Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth.In time, Elimelech and his two sons died, leaving Naomi and her daughters-in-law widows.Naomi could not provide more sons so she sent them home to their families to remarry and begin a new life.They both refused to leave, weeping because they loved Naomi.She insisted and Orpah finally agreed to return home to her family.Ruth, however, stood strong.She said, “Entreat me not to leave thee, and to return from following after thee, for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God; where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: Jehovah do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17)
Things grew better in Bethlehem, so Naomi and Ruth traveled home and the people were excited by their return.“Can this be Naomi?” they said.Naomi told them to call her Mara, which means bitter. (Ruth 1:20-21)She was an elderly woman who was left with nothing and she blamed God.
Ruth set out quickly to glean the fields to find enough grain to sustain them.Ruth happened upon the field of Boaz, who was a relative of Elimelech.Leviticus 19:9-10 states a law that provides for the poor and foreigners by requiring the harvester to leave a portion on the field for them to glean.Ruth did not simply intrude on the field, but asked permission and worked steadily throughout the day.When Boaz heard of her kindness to Naomi, he invited her to continue to work in his fields, with his own servants.She was given water when she was thirsty and food at mealtime.She gleaned from the choicest grain.Boaz even ordered his reapers to lay sheaves before her to ease the task.She went home that day with a large quantity of grain.
Naomi was amazed at how much Ruth brought home and asked whose field she had gleaned.She was pleased to discover that Boaz, one of their kinsman-redeemers, had not forgotten them and showed such favour to Ruth.Ruth stayed in the fields of Boaz throughout the harvest.One day, Naomi told Ruth that she should go seek the kindness of Boaz in a more intimate manner.Boaz was greatly pleased that such a woman of noble character would seek marriage to him.However, there was a kinsman-redeemer who was a closer relative to Elimelech, and Boaz had to seek his permission to marry Ruth.He had to buy her.
Boaz went to the town gate, and told the man of a plot of land that Naomi wanted to sell from the estate of Elimelech.He told the man that as the closest kinsman-redeemer, he had first choice on whether or not to purchase the property.Boaz also told the man that the land comes with the widow Ruth.The man did not want to endanger his own estate with the possibility of another child heir through Ruth.So, in front of witnesses, Boaz purchased the property and the right to have Ruth as his wife. Ruth became the mother of Obed, an ancestor of our Lord Jesus.
Ruth gave up everything to bring comfort to her mother-in-law and provide for her future.She left her home, her family, and her gods. She left a life she knew for a life of uncertainty and no hope for the future.She was generous with her very life.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not.” (John 1:1-5)These are the words that begin the book of John.Jesus was the Word and He had it all.Then in vs. 14 we hear, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)He gave it all up to take on the flesh of a man, so that we might be reconciled to Him.He came knowing that He would face hatred, persecution, suffering, pain and death. He came for us.“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)There is no greater love than the love of God and when we love we are to be like Him.
Ruth loved Naomi so much that she gave up a life of comfort to provide comfort to her.Even her marriage to Boaz brought hope to Naomi for the future.Proverbs 31:20 says, “She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.”A Proverbs 31 woman provides for the needs of those less fortunate than herself.Proverbs 1 shows us that the wisdom we get from God’s word helps us to do what is right, just and fair.
Peter writes, “Above all things being fervent in your love among yourselves; for love covereth a multitude of sins: using hospitality one to another without murmuring: according as each hath received a gift, ministering it among yourselves, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God; if any man speaketh, speaking as it were oracles of God; is any man ministereth, ministering as of the strength which God supplieth: that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, whose is the glory and the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:8-11)
Ruth was a foreigner who gave up her own beliefs and followed the word of God.We are just like Ruth.We are foreigners who despite our imperfections are accepted into the kingdom of God.We hear God’s Word and with the faith we receive, we leave our old lives and begin life anew as a child of the Living God.
Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu was born early in the 20th century.She was born to a working class Albanian family, but eventually sailed to India where she became a nun.We know her better as Mother Teresa.She taught history and geography at a girl’s school and became an Indian citizen.She obtained permission to leave the convent, studied nursing and ministered among the poor in Calcutta.She founded an order called Missionaries of Charity.Despite all the obstacles – the Indian government that did not trust her and the conservative Roman Catholic Church felt that she belonged in a convent – Mother Teresa expanded the work of the order to those who needed them most.They ministered to the dying, the lepers, children and elderly.She received many awards over the years, including the Nobel Peace Prize for her kindness and generosity.Though our impression of her is one of a quiet nun, she used her fame as a platform to speak out about her faith and God’s Word.She strongly opposed divorce, abortion and other women’s issues.When she died in 1997, the Indian government gave this woman, who was once an outsider, a full state funeral.She was known as “the saint of the gutter” because she gave up everything to help those who could not help themselves.
How much are you willing to give for another?Many would say it was easy for the Proverbs 31 woman to give generously because she had great wealth, yet Ruth had nothing and she still gave everything.Everything we have comes from God, and as we walk in His light we will be like Ruth, and the Proverbs 31 woman, and be generous with all He has given to us.
The next story comes from several places in the Bible, 2 Samuel chapters 11-12 and 1 Kings 1.David was king over all of Israel, anointed by God to lead His chosen people.One spring, David sent Joab and the king’s men to defeat the Ammonites, while he stayed home in the comfort of his palace in Jerusalem.The city of Jerusalem was small and crowded, with little space for gardens.They used the flat roofs of their homes as a retreat.David went to the roof one evening, perhaps to enjoy the cool spring air.He saw a very beautiful woman bathing and inquired about her.It was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.Uriah was at war with Joab besieging Rabbah.David sent for her, and she came willingly. David slept with her, and she soon found that she was pregnant with his child.It could not have been Uriah’s child because Bathsheba had just finished the postmenstrual cleansing ritual.
David was a man close to God.He was chosen to replace Saul.Saul sought to kill David. On the other hand, David continued to seek God’s blessings, in prayer and sacrifice.As a matter of fact, David had opportunities to kill Saul, but did not because Saul was God’s anointed king (1 Samuel 26:9).He waited patiently for God’s timing.
But when it came to beautiful women, David was very much a man.He also thought the best way to deal with his sin was to cover it up.He sent word to Joab to send Uriah home to Jerusalem.When Uriah arrived, he reported about the events at Rabbah to the king.David thanked Uriah and told him to go home to his wife for a day, then return to camp.David hoped that Uriah would think that Bathsheba became pregnant during that encounter.Uriah did not return home, however.He could not spend time in a warm bed surrounded by the arms of his beautiful wife when his comrades were in tents at war.
During times of conflict, when troops are deployed, those left behind fight a sort of sympathy war.They are happy to be home and safe, and yet they know they belong on the battlefield.After all, that is what they are trained to do.When members of a company or squadron die in some way, those who could have been there often feel guilt.The commander takes it particularly hard, because he gave the order for the men to be there.This is what Uriah felt.How could he laugh and enjoy himself when men were dying on the field?
The next day, David got Uriah drunk, hoping that in a state of intoxication he would go home and make love with his wife.But once again, Uriah refused to go home.David sent word to Joab to attack Rabbah, and to put Uriah at the front lines.Some of Joab’s men fell under the swords of the Ammonites, including Uriah the Hittite.
Bathsheba mourned for seven days, then moved in with David.Nathan the prophet came to David with a story. “And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him, but took the poor man’s lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him.” (2 Samuel 12:4) David was incensed and said the man deserved to die. Nathan said, “You are that man.”David saw the error of his ways and repented. But God’s righteousness demanded justice and the child born of Bathsheba died.
Bathsheba stayed with David and bore him another son, Solomon.Solomon was not David’s first born, but he was the chosen heir to the throne of Israel.Time passed and David grew older.When the time neared for David’s death, Adonijah usurped the throne. (1 Kings 1:5)Adonijah was David’s fourth born, probably the oldest living child, so he felt had a right to the throne.Royal succession at this time was not based on birthright, but rather on the king’s choice for successor.David promised the throne to Solomon, the son of his beloved Bathsheba.
Nathan the prophet learned of Adonijah’s attempt and went to Bathsheba.He told her to approach David and tell him to bless the new king.Bathsheba approached her husband David with dignity and respect, showing competence in the way she carried out the counsel of Nathan.She explained the situation, gave her recommendation then stepped aside to allow Nathan to verify everything she said.(1 Kings 1:15-22)David saw the seriousness of the event and did what was necessary to guarantee Solomon’s place on the throne. (1 Kings 1:32-35)Solomon was the one chosen by God, to be the king of Israel and from whose seed would come the Messiah.Bathsheba accomplished the stipulated purpose.
Proverbs 31:25 says, “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”God gives us many gifts such as strength and dignity, which we use to accomplish the tasks set before us.A Proverbs 31 woman is properly qualified.This quality is not something that we can get for ourselves, it comes from God.According to Proverbs 1, God gives prudence to the simple.Prudence is good judgment in practical matters, and this good judgment comes from wisdom and discipline from God.
Jesus displayed competence in everything He did.He taught about God’s love in a way that the people could understand.He healed the sick and raised the dead.He could stand against the most intelligent and highly trained men of the age.He was gifted from heaven with all that was necessary to carry out His work.Very early in His life, Jesus showed that He knew His heritage.In Luke 2 we read the story of the boy Jesus in the temple.
Luke 2:43-49,”And when they had fulfilled the days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not; but supposing him to be in the company, they went a day’s journey; and they sought for him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance: and when they found him not, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking for him. And it came to pass, after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both hearing them, and asking them questions: and all that heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when they saw him, they were astonished; and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? knew ye not that I must be in my Father’s house?“
Jesus knew where He got His power and wisdom.He demonstrated to the teachers in the Temple that He could use those gifts.A Proverbs 31 woman recognizes the source of her gifts and uses them to His glory.
Paul writes to the Corinthians, “Ye are our epistle, written in our hearts, known and read of all men; being made manifest that ye are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in tables that are hearts of flesh. And such confidence have we through Christ to God-ward: not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to account anything as from ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God; who also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” (2 Corinthians 3:2-6)
Florence Nightingale was born in Florence, Italy in 1820 to an English couple who traveled extensively.Though she was expected to marry well, she had a different goal in mind.When she was just seventeen years old – while wandering the gardens at Embly, her home in Hampshire – Florence heard the voice of God calling her to do His work.Though she did not understand her calling at that time, she became interested in the issues of the day.She began to spend time with the sick.She was well educated, and in those days nursing was beneath her, so her family refused to allow her to follow that path.She became a nurse anyway.She was placed in good positions, including the job of overseeing the first female nurses in military hospitals in Turkey.
In that position, she had a positive impact on the military hospitals.After the Crimean War, she continued to work toward creating better health care standards in the British Army.The British people were grateful to her for all her work and established a fund that would enable her to continue.With that money, she built a training school for nurses, which raised the level of professionalism in that career field.Florence believed that poor health had something to do with cleanliness and she advocated the modern practice of regularly washing hands.
Florence Nightingale had a positive impact on many aspects of the health care system.It was because of her competence that she was able to do these things.She recognized from the beginning that she received those gifts from God for a purpose, one she carried out with strength and dignity.
What gifts have you been given and how do you use them today?As Christian women, we walk in the light of our Lord using the gifts we have been given to the best of our ability.We are to be just like Bathsheba, knowing that we are capable and adequate to accomplish every task God sets before us, because He clothes us with all we need.
Mary of Bethany’s story comes from John and Luke.Let’s turn to Luke 10.Jesus was approximately thirty years old when He began His ministry.He was surrounded by a core group of friends, His disciples, which He specially chose to follow Him in preaching the Kingdom of God.There was His inner circle, the Twelve also known as the Apostles (Mark 3:13-18). They represented the tribes of Israel, and each was unique in personality and ability.Thomas doubted.Judas was greedy.James and John sought power.Matthew was a tax collector.Peter wavered between overconfidence and his own sense of worthlessness.
Why would Jesus choose such a mishmash of miscreants to be the future leaders of His Kingdom on earth?He did that because He knew that we would be doubtful, greedy, power hungry, misguided and every other human attribute that makes us less than perfect.If the twelve men selected had been perfect, we would not have learned about forgiveness, transformation or humility.Most of all, if those men had been perfect, we would never have learned to rely on God.
Jesus had other friends.In the village of Bethany lived a woman named Martha who welcomed Jesus and His disciples.She had a sister named Mary and a brother named Lazarus.In John 11, we learn how close Jesus was to this family.As Lazarus lay sick and dying, his sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.”Verse 5 says, “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.”Lazarus died before Jesus arrived, and when Jesus heard their loud expression of grief He took on their pain and wept.
We are all familiar with the story in Luke of Martha and Mary. “Now as they went on their way, he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at the Lord’s feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving; and she came up to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister did leave me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. But the Lord answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art anxious and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: for Mary hath chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)
Martha and Mary had the Saviour in their living room and Martha was too busy to realize it.How often have you been so involved in the preparation for some church activity that you missed seeing the Saviour?Have you ever left a service early to go set up for the coffee fellowship afterwards, and missed a touch from God?Jesus certainly did not fault Martha for serving the disciples.As a matter of fact, hospitality is a gift of the Holy Spirit.But Martha was too concerned about the fulfillment of physical needs to seek out the fulfillment of her spiritual needs.
A Proverbs 31 woman is a seeker of wisdom.She seeks to discover an understanding of what is true.In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus tells us, “But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”(Matthew 6:33-34)
Mary sought the wisdom of God’s Kingdom, knowledge of life that can only be found in our Lord Jesus.She found it by sitting at His feet, listening to His words.Perhaps we cannot have Jesus sitting in our living rooms today, but we have Him in our hearts, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and we have His words in our Bible.Proverbs 31:26 says, “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; And the law of kindness is on her tongue.”That wisdom comes from God and we find it by taking time to talk to God in prayer and to listen to Him in the study of the scriptures.Proverbs 1 tells us that wisdom will help us to understand proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.It is in these mysteries that we find the truth of God’s Kingdom.The Proverbs 31 woman lives in that knowledge and shares it with others.
In the book of James we read “But if any of you lacketh wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”James 1:5
Ruth Bell was born on June 10, 1920, the daughter of Christian missionaries in China.When she was thirteen, she was sent to a boarding school in what is now North Korea.She did not want to leave her parents, and on the night before she was set to leave, she earnestly prayed for death.God did not answer that prayer, because He had better plans for her.She suffered terribly from homesickness and cried herself to sleep each night.Finally, she asked her sister for help.Her sister told her to take a bit of scripture and put her own name on it, to grasp for herself in a very personal way.Ruth picked up her Bible and chose Isaiah 53:5.“He was pierced for Ruth’s transgressions, he was crushed for my iniquities; the punishment that brought Ruth peace was upon him, and by his wounds I am healed.”Ruth says, “I claimed that verse and knew then that I would make it.”
Ruth spent her college years at Wheaton in Illinois.She planned to travel to Tibet to be a missionary.However, she met a young man named Billy Graham, and in 1943, she became his wife.Ruth raised five children while Billy spent many weeks each year traveling around the world with his Crusades.She stood beside her husband in body, mind and spirit and has been an important part of his ministry.Today she is a Christian writer in her own right, sharing the love of Christ that she has found as she has prayed and studied God’s word.
Ruth writes, “The missionaries among whom I grew up were highly trained, thoroughly qualified and deeply committed. They worked hard. At the same time, they knew that one essential part of hard work was recreation.But while relaxation is one thing, refreshment is another. We need to drink frequently and at length from God’s fresh springs, to spend time in the Scriptures, time in fellowship with Him, time in worshipping Him. Blaise Pascal wrote, ‘The sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.’”
Do you spend time resting at the feet of our Lord, listening to His Word and seeking knowledge of His Kingdom?As Christian women, we should be like the Proverbs 31 woman, who speaks with wisdom and shares her faith.We should be just like Mary, choosing the better thing, which is Him.It is with His wisdom that we can walk in His light.
Mary’s story comes from Luke chapter 1
“My soul doth magnify the Lord
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath looked upon the low estate of his handmaid.
For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; And holy is his name.
And his mercy is unto generations and generations on them that fear him.
He hath showed strength with his arm;
He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their heart.
He hath put down princes from their thrones, And hath exalted them of low degree.
The hungry he hath filled with good things; And the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath given help to Israel his servant, That he might remember mercy
(As he spake unto our fathers) Toward Abraham and his seed for ever.”
These are the words of woman of great faith.She knows who she is, whose she is and what He has done for her.She rejoices in serving Him with all she is, to the very depths of her soul and spirit.This is the song of Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, a simple teenage girl facing an incredible situation.
Throughout the scriptures, God promised to send a deliverer, to save His people from oppression.The people had been scattered away from Jerusalem and their spiritual life changed from Temple worship to local synagogues.They continued to study the scriptures, and they knew the law.In those days they faced many problems.By the closing years before Christ was born, the Romans had invaded the land.They established puppet rulers, local people who had been trained by the Romans to rule for Rome’s best interest.The tax collectors were taking the people for all they were worth, leaving the people poor and frustrated. They cried out to God, “Save us!”When the time was right, God answered their prayers.
Sometime around the year 4 BC, the angel Gabriel visited this young woman named Mary.She was betrothed to a man named Joseph who was a carpenter in Nazareth.She was probably no more than fifteen years old, and the angel came with an incredible message. “And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” (Luke 1:30-33)
Mary was a young girl living in a very strict society facing this incredible blessing from God. But was it a blessing?When she was found to be pregnant, her fiancée wanted to cancel the marriage.The community would look down on her as a fallen woman, even as a prostitute.They were praying for the Messiah, but they did not believe her story.The news from the angel was not good news.Yet, Mary did not complain.In verse 38 she answered, “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.”Mary was spiritually confident.
Proverbs 31:30 says, “Grace is deceitful, and beauty is vain; But a woman that feareth Jehovah, she shall be praised.” It seems odd to equate fear with confidence.Yet, God is not terrifying.The fear of the Lord does not bring panic, alarm or dread. Fear of the Lord is an extreme awe or reverence for who He is and what He can do.The Proverbs 31 woman knows her position in God’s kingdom, and walks in faith and trust.Her faith shows in her actions.Mary knew that she faced a life of difficulty, yet she praised God for His blessing.She did not boast, instead she was humble before the greatness of the Lord, and it is from this point that she understands her place in His Kingdom.As we heard in Proverbs 1, “The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge.”
Confidence is defined in Webster’s as ‘trust or faith’.In whom should we have trust or faith? The world teaches self-confidence.But spiritual confidence is trust in God.There is a story in Matthew 20 about two disciples who wanted to sit in power with Jesus in His kingdom.Jesus told them that they did not know what they were asking. They had a worldly confidence in their own selves, in their abilities.Jesus told them the truth.They would suffer, and still not receive what they desire because it was not made for them.
“But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Not so shall it be among you: but whosoever would become great among you shall be your minister; and whosoever would be first among you shall be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28) In this story, Jesus shows His disciples that confidence in God’s kingdom is not about raising ourselves into positions of authority, but rather humbling ourselves.Jesus had everything, and gave it up to become our sin and die so that we would be delivered from the true oppressor.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest unto God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences. We are not again commending ourselves unto you, but speak as giving you occasion of glorying on our behalf, that ye may have wherewith to answer them that glory in appearance, and not in heart. For whether we are beside ourselves, it is unto God; or whether we are of sober mind, it is unto you. For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that one died for all, therefore all died; and he died for all, that they that live should no longer live unto themselves, but unto him who for their sakes died and rose again..” (2 Corinthians 5:11-15)Proverbs 31 says, “A woman who fears the Lord should be praised.”How can a woman be praised for something that is not visible?Mary praised God for His blessings in song.Jesus not only spoke to the disciples about being servants; He lived the life and died the death that set us free.Our own fear of the Lord should be visible in the way we live our life.
In 1499, Katherine von Bora was born.Her mother died when she was just a child and her stepmother sent her to a convent.When she was sixteen she chose to stay in the convent and become a nun.In 1517, a monk named Martin Luther posted a list of 95 grievances against the Church at Rome on the door of Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany.He simply wanted to kick up a rousing theological debate with his fellow professors.Unfortunately for Dr. Luther, the times were changing.Other people around Europe were questioning the Pope and the church, which had become powerful in every aspect of life.The peasants were restless and were rebelling.The printing press had been invented, so flyers could easily be reproduced and passed to large numbers of people.The simple debate intended by Martin exploded into the Protestant Reformation.
The nuns in Katie’s convent knew about Martin.Katie had acquired some of his works and was learning by the Spirit that grace alone saves. One of the biggest issues that Martin Luther discussed was the marriage of priests.He felt that it was unnecessary for people to be completely removed from society to serve the Lord, and that priests should marry.Katie and some other nuns wanted to escape the nunnery so contacted Martin for help.They hid in empty herring barrels that were in a truck driven by a friend of Dr. Luther.Some of these women returned to their homes, but Martin found husbands or jobs for the others.He found a mate for Katie, but she refused, saying she would only marry Martin or Dr. Amsdorf, another theologian.Martin finally gave in and they were married within two years.
Martin was a male chauvinist, believing women belonged barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, yet he recognized the incredible faith of his wife and often called her “Master Kate”.He needed a wife – someone to take care of him, to run his household and business and to support his ministry.She was intelligent, and took part in the theological discussions that happened frequently in their home.They hosted many students, for dinner or even overnight.The life they lived was quite radical for the age, and they faced many problems.They had both committed their lives to serving the Lord and made lifelong vows when they joined their orders.The powers in Rome criticized them for their life together.Martin was often in danger, and he traveled frequently.Katie was often left home alone to care for their six children.Through it all, it was Katie’s faith in God that saw her through those times.She had strong spiritual convictions, a reverent fear of the Lord, and lived accordingly.
What sort of confidence do you have?Do you trust in yourself and your own abilities, or do you trust in God.As Christian women, we walk in the light of our Lord Jesus and should have spiritual confidence – trust and faith in God our Father almighty. Mary did not doubt the message she received and rejoiced in the knowledge that God was blessing His people.Katie stepped out in faith not knowing what the future would hold, but she believed in God’s faithfulness.We should be like the Proverbs 31 woman whose fear in the Lord is a visible part of her life.We should have that spiritual confidence that is shown in every aspect of our life.Trusting in God, rather than ourselves, we will walk in the light of Christ and be trustworthy, generous, and competent.We will show godly shrewdness and seek the wisdom of our Lord.The final virtue, spiritual confidence, is the one virtue upon which all the others rest.In Christ, we can do all things.
We have seen throughout this study that the Proverbs 31 woman is far more than an earthbound perfectionist that we cannot even hope to emulate.As a matter of fact, we discovered that the women God used for His plan were exactly like us!They were imperfect, disobedient to the law.They were foolish, foreign, adulterous or lazy.Yet, in each story God was with her and she acted accordingly.Rahab heard the word of God and did what was necessary.Tamar knew the law of God, and did what was necessary. Ruth followed the word of God and did what was necessary.Bathsheba knew the promise of God and did what was necessary.Mary desired the word of God and did what was necessary.Mary received the word of God and did what was necessary.They each began with fear of the Lord and exhibited that faith in the way that they lived their life.
The Proverbs 31 woman is spiritually strong and her life exhibits the Word of God.She begins with faith, seeks His wisdom, and everything else falls into place as she builds upon that solid foundation. She is trustworthy, generous, competent and shrewd, and it is by those traits that the world knows her faith.
Proverbs 31 is an oracle, or prophetic statement made to King Lemuel by his mother.In the first verses, Lemuel’s mother warns him against the ways that ruin kings – wine and women.She tells him to be a righteous king, just and fair, defending the rights of the poor and needy.
Man is not an island.God has created us male and female to join together and become complete.As it says in Genesis 2:24, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”So, Lemuel’s mother goes on in this chapter to tell him the sort of woman he should marry.The Proverbs 31 woman is a woman fit for a king, the sort of woman any mother-in-law would be proud to call daughter.
There is more to these verses than just a mother’s desire for her son.As we saw in Proverbs 1, the proverbs are meant to for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young. (Proverbs 1:1-4)
The Proverbs 31 woman is the personification of wisdom.She is not simply the perfect wife, but she is what we should attain to be – whether we are married or not.We are Christian women, we have the fear of the Lord and our life should exhibit that faith because we have received the wisdom that comes from life with our Saviour.We are His brides.It starts with spiritual confidence.Do you know who you are in Christ?Do you recognize what He has done for you?Do you live your life in a way that the world sees your faith?Paul writes to the Colossians, “Whatsoever ye do, work heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that from the Lord ye shall receive the recompense of the inheritance: ye serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)
I asked earlier in the study if a Proverbs 31 woman had to be a wife.The answer is no.Every Christian woman should be like her, because she is the bride of Christ.As a matter of fact, every Christian man should also be like her.Those of us who profess belief in the Lord Jesus Christ should be trustworthy, generous and competent.We should display godly shrewdness and seek His wisdom.Most of all, every man and woman should begin with the foundation that is spiritual confidence. “The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge.”
Now, we must apply this knowledge to our lives, and walk in the light of our Lord Jesus Christ, displaying these virtues for all to see.You are married to the King.Be the wife He deserves.