Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Truth about the Proverbs 31 Woman

Anyone who has spent any time here at my Bible blog knows of my affinity for this lovely wife of noble character.  I love her, I adore her, and she inspires me constantly.  Any time I feel a bit discouraged or have a lack of initiative, I refresh my memory and dive into these verses in Proverbs.  She's been so good to me over the years, showing me ways to be a good wife to my husband, and a good mother to my children.  But I've always felt that she was still hiding somthing, that there was something elusive about her that I had yet to discover.

Well, a few weeks back, while sitting in church listening to an unrelated sermon, the Proverbs 31 woman leaped into my mind.  And I saw something new, something I'd never considered before.  I purposed to think on it later, to give it my attention, and to blog about it, because this was something everyone needed to know.  Those thoughts have been coming and going ever since, and today I finally sat down with a few spare moments to read the truth in these verses, and I knew right off the bat that my hunch was right, and it is my hope today that this woman will bring more encouragement than you ever thought possible.

If there was one thing that I would despair about when reading these verses, it was that while I could use them to inspire my everyday living, the fact was that being this particular wife was literally impossible.  That bothered me, that this ideal that we all look up to was showing us a way to live that no human being could sustain.  There is just no physical way that one person could accomplish all of these tasks that this wife of noble character seems to be able to.  The fact is, the truth hidden within, is that I don't think this wife of noble character is actually speaking to us wives and encouraging us in our everyday tasks.  In fact, I believe these verses are not speaking to any one of us individually, but corporately.  It is my thought today that this wife of noble character is speaking to the greatest wife it could be: to the Bride of Christ.  These verses are written to the church, to show us how the Bride of Christ can work together to accomplish everything under the sun.  It shows us how unity and working together can accomplish much.  Read these verses again with that thought in mind, I am going to share them below in the Amplified version.

A capable, intelligent, and virtuous woman—who is he who can find her? She is far more precious than jewels and her value is far above rubies or pearls.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her confidently and relies on and believes in her securely, so that he has no lack of [honest] gain or need of [dishonest] spoil.
12 She comforts, encourages, and does him only good as long as there is life within her.
13 She seeks out wool and flax and works with willing hands [to develop it].
14 She is like the merchant ships loaded with foodstuffs; she brings her household’s food from a far [country].
15 She rises while it is yet night and gets [spiritual] food for her household and assigns her maids their tasks.
16 She considers a [new] field before she buys or accepts it [expanding prudently and not courting neglect of her present duties by assuming other duties]; with her savings [of time and strength] she plants fruitful vines in her vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength [spiritual, mental, and physical fitness for her God-given task] and makes her arms strong and firm.
18 She tastes and sees that her gain from work [with and for God] is good; her lamp goes not out, but it burns on continually through the night [of trouble, privation, or sorrow, warning away fear, doubt, and distrust].
19 She lays her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
20 She opens her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her filled hands to the needy [whether in body, mind, or spirit].
21 She fears not the snow for her family, for all her household are doubly clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes for herself coverlets, cushions, and rugs of tapestry. Her clothing is of linen, pure and fine, and of purple [such as that of which the clothing of the priests and the hallowed cloths of the temple were made].
23 Her husband is known in the [city’s] gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes fine linen garments and leads others to buy them; she delivers to the merchants girdles [or sashes that free one up for service].
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing and her position is strong and secure; she rejoices over the future [the latter day or time to come, knowing that she and her family are in readiness for it]!
26 She opens her mouth in skillful and godly Wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness [giving counsel and instruction].
27 She looks well to how things go in her household, and the bread of idleness (gossip, discontent, and self-pity) she will not eat.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied); and her husband boasts of and praises her, [saying],
29 Many daughters have done virtuously, nobly, and well [with the strength of character that is steadfast in goodness], but you excel them all.
30 Charm and grace are deceptive, and beauty is vain [because it is not lasting], but a woman who reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord, she shall be praised!
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates [of the city]!
When I read that, with my mind turned to the thought that these verses are actually speaking to the church as a whole, I get filled with so much excitement!  Especially, look at verse eleven up there:  "The heart of her husband trusts in her confidently and relies on and believes in her securely", if these verses are speaking to The Bride, this verse is talking about Jesus.  And, oh, what warmth here in this verse! Jesus trusts His Bride completely, in full confidence.  He's relying on us to share what He has freely given us- and He believes that we can indeed to that.  Wow.  I admit, I want to go verse by verse here, and show how these verse apply in a corporate sense.  I won't do that today, but may in the future.  Today, I look at them all together and I see how the different pieces of the body can come together, and when they come together in such a perfect way, look at all we can accomplish for the Kingdom of God!

It's amazing! Every once in a while I would read these verses and get discouraged, because while I could purpose to do my best, my absolute best cannot even come close to all this woman accomplishes.  But now, now I see that what I need to do is do my absolute best with the tasks that I have been given- and the tasks I will be given in the future.  And while my task may be to consider the field and plant fruitful vines, another person's task may be to seek out the wool and flax and work with eager hands. Together we can accomplish much- but it's going to take a body that's united in purpose, not divided under many different banners.

And then, when we skip to the end and verse 28, where that beautiful husband comes back in, we see that He boasts of his wife and praises her... Just think church, think what we can do if we work together for the good of the Kingdom.  These verses tell us flat out that if we will come together in unity then our children will be clothed, fed, happy and full of expectation for the future.  If we will come together for God's Purposes, then Jesus, our precious husband, will boast of His Bride and praise her.

Gosh, that's surely what I want!  I want Jesus to return for His Bride and find that she has excelled in all the tasks that have been set before her.  I want Jesus to come to claim His Bride and find a church that has unified under the banner of Heaven and taken the world in a furious, loving way.  Together may we be more precious than jewels, rubies or pearls.  May we BE the Bride of Christ in truth, and be the wife that He will be proud to call His.