Proverbs 31: 10-31: May 11—More precious than jewels
May 4, 2014

Mark Rathel is a professor of theology at The Baptist College of Florida in Graceville.

Headline News had an interesting piece the morning I wrote this commentary. A company advertised for a position labeled Director of Operations. The requirements for the job included degrees in finance and culinary arts. The job required a minimum of one 135 hours of work a week with no vacations, and no breaks. During holiday seasons, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, the workload actually increased. Furthermore, the job paid zero. The Director of Operations opening was for a mother. Indeed, a godly wife and mother are more valuable than jewels (Prov. 31:10).

Women are a major theme of God’s Book of Wisdom. Proverbs discusses the continuous woman, “Better to live on the corner of a root than to share a house with a nagging wife” (Prov. 21:9). The parents warn their son about the dangers of the adulterous woman whose path results in folly and death for her paramours (Prov. 5:1-23; 6:20-7:27). The conclusion of Proverbs, however, expresses lavish praise for the godly woman. In the Hebrew Bible, each verse begins with a different letter of the alphabet. Proverbs praises the godly woman from Aleph to Taw (A to Z). This acrostic format served the purpose to assist in memorizing the teaching about a woman of worth. In Jewish tradition, husband recited this passage to his wife on the evening of the Sabbath.

What are the facets of a jewel of a godly wife and mother?

First, a godly woman manifests the facet of the jewel of faithful diligence (Prov. 31:10-19). 

She is a partner with her husband (vv. 11-12). This is the only place the Bible commends trust in someone other than God. The husband can trust the wife because she trusts the Lord. Throughout her life, she remains faithful, true, constant, reliable and a blessing. The love between the couple is pure, passionate and permanent.

She manages well. The virtuous woman personifies an activist approach to life. Reading this description makes me tired. She is a weaver (13), importer (14), manager (v. 15), realtor (v. 16), wise shopper (v. 18), and viticulturist (v. 16). She is never lazy; therefore, she is a blessing to her family and community.

Second, a godly woman exhibits the facet of the jewel of compassionate action (Prov. 31:20). Rather than a life attitude of “get,” the godly woman has the attitude of “give.” Proverbs focuses on her hands. The godly woman demonstrates her faith with her hands. She extends her hands to work (v. 19), and opens her palms to the poor and needy (v. 20). 

Third, a godly woman lives out the facet of the jewel of faith by dedication to her family (Prov. 31:21-29). First, the woman expresses her dedication to her family through household management. She prepares clothing for winter (v. 21), decorates the house (v. 22), demonstrates strength during difficult days (v. 25), and watches over key responsibilities (v. 27). Her character and diligence allow her husband to succeed (v. 23). She herself is a successful businesswoman helping to provide for her family (v. 24).

Her most important responsibility is her loving teaching ministry to the family (v. 26). She diligently teaches by example and precept the importance of morals and spiritual commitment. Like the mother of King Lemuel, a godly woman specifically warns her children about the danger of impurity (v. 3) and alcohol (v. 4). She encourages the positive advocacy of fair treatment of all people (v. 8-9).

Fourth, a godly woman finds the strength for being a jewel in her relationship with God (Prov. 31:30-31). Her beauty is an enduring inner beauty developed from a lifetime of faithfulness to God. 

The godly woman demonstrates the theme of the book of Proverbs (1:7).

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