Month: September 2021

The Overview of Conscience (Romans 2:14-15) (Part 1)

The Statement

Every human being on earth is born with a conscience – “something within the heart of every person approves when he does right and accuses when he does wrong; and that something is conscience” – Romans 2:14-15 “For when the Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them.”  No person can get rid of or escape from his conscience. A person can cause his conscience to malfunction (breakdown) when he:

  • Argues with his conscience
  • Defiles his conscience
  • Hardens his conscience

Charles Wesley wrote these words to express a truth concerning conscience: “I want a principle within/of watchful, godly fear.”

Immanuel Kant a German philosopher wrote: “Two things fill the mind with ever-increasing wonder and awe…….the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.

American Indian – An American Indian who was a Christian said: “In my heart there is an arrowhead with three points to it. If I do wrong, the arrowhead turns, and it cuts me. It I do wrong too much, I wear out the points and it does not hurt me quite so much. “But when the pain is gone, watch out!”

The word “conscience” is used 32 times in the New Testament (KJV).  It is used 21 times by the Apostle Paul in the Epistles. If a born-again Christian is going to be successful in his walk, he must understand what conscience is and how it functions.

The Definition

The word conscience in our English Language comes from two Latin words: “com” = “with or together,” “scio” = “I know.” From the Latin, our English word conscience means “to know with” or “to know together.” “To know with ourselves and to know within ourselves.”  Conscience is that inner knowledge that helps us to know ourselves

  • Greek – The Greek word used in the New Testament is “suneidesis” (“sun” = with; “oida” = to know). “To know;” “knowing of oneself” – the moral sense of what is right and wrong in-built in a human being.  In the New Testament, the word “conscience” is not a strange word. It is used by the Greek in their everyday conversations. It meant “the pain that you feel when you do wrong.” 
  • Oxford Dictionary – Moral sense of right and wrong; consciousness of moral quality of one’s actions or motives.
  • Webster’s Dictionary – Consciousness of the moral right and wrong of one’s own acts or motives.
  • ScripturalRomans 2:14-15 “For when the Gentiles, who have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, having not the law, are a law unto themselves. Who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another.”

The Description

Romans 2:14-15 “For when the Gentiles, who have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, having not the law, are a law unto themselves. Who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another.”

  • Conscience is man’s moral intuition, his moral self in the act of passing judgment upon his own state, emotions, and thoughts, and upon his own words and actions, whether there be viewed as past, present, or future.
  • Conscience is man’s moral self-echoing his cognitive (reasoning) self. It both approves or condemns (Romans 2:14-15).
  • Conscience is man’s inner voice repeating God’s voice, his own judgement endorsing God’s judgement, his own spirit bearing witness with God’s Spirit.
  • Conscience is the response of man’s moral consciousness to the Divine Revelation concerning himself, his attitudes, his words and actions.

The Gentiles are not given the Law; the Law is given to the Jews. But the Gentiles have the work of the Law written in their hearts. Paul does not say that the Gentiles have the Law written in their hearts.  When a person received the Lord Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour, the Holy Spirit begins to write God’s Law (Word) in his heart; the right and wrong is defined from God’s Word, God’s Principles and conscience. Whereas, an unbeliever knows the right or wrong as his conscience bears witness (Romans 2:15).  It is important to know how conscience is pictured in God’s Word. If the person understands what conscience is and how it functions, it will change his life. God’s Word reveals in Romans 2:14-15 the Seven Characteristics of conscience:

Stay tune… be continued.

Four Types of People (Proverbs 18:1-4) (Part 2)

The Wicked People

Proverbs 18:3 “When the Wicked cometh, then cometh also contempt and, with ignominy (humiliation), reproach (criticism).” (NIV) “When Wickedness comes, so does contempt, and with shame comes disgrace.” – Wicked Person keeps miserable company of: “Contempt {shame}, ignominy {humiliation}, and reproach {scandal}.

The two lines of Proverbs are arranged synthetically, the three term (contempt {shame}, ignominy {humiliation}, reproach {scandal}) telescoping out in a description of the ever-increasing ignominy {humiliation} that befalls the “Wicked-Person.

  • Wickedness brings “contempt” (shame).
  • Wickedness leads to “ignominy” (humiliation).
  • Wickedness leads to “reproach” (scandal).

When the Wicked Person comes, all these evils (contempt {shame}, ignominy {humiliation}, reproach {scandal}) followed him (Perowne). Wickedness is both a contemptible (disgraceful) and a contemptuous (scornful) thing (Thomas). Wickedness brings with it “contempt” {shame}, “ignominy” {humiliation} and “reproach” {scandal}.

Pride and Selfishness are the characteristic of the Wicked, as the Wicked Person comes, he is apt to cast contempt (shame), ignominy (humiliation) and reproach (scandal) on every man’s face (Bishop Hall). His neighbour’s circumstances or illnesses provides him with an opportunity to ridicule (mock) his (Wicked) neighbour; and God’s Word finds no favour in his (Wicked Person’s) sight. God’s people are the object of his (Wicked) contempt.

When the Wicked Person comes, he is accompanied by “contempt” (buz). The attitude of contempt characterizes the Wicked Person, we may say that “contempt” is with him wherever he goes. “Ignominy” (qalon – humiliation) parallels “wicked,” indicating that the Wicked Person is the Person without grace, thus, bringing humiliation to himself. He is accompanied by “reproach” (herep – scandal), the lack of honour that he directs toward those who are around him.

The Wise Man

Proverbs 18:4 (KJV) “The words of a man’s mouth are like deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom like a flowing brook.” (NIV) “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.” –  The description of the Wise-man of Proverbs 18:4 expresses the depth, the abundance, the clearness, and the force of the thoughts of the Wise-man, which is “the spring of life,” honest and revealing truth:

  • The “wellspring of wisdom” is parallel to the “deep waters.” – that is, there is “depth” in the Wise-Person thoughts and attitude, and the things he does
  • The Wise Person is full of useful things and is always able to contribute profitably on many matters. His deep insight (“deep waters”) is drawn from “the Fountain of Living Water” – John 7:38-39 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of Living Waters……of the Holy Spirit”
  • The Wise-Person’s Word flows like a spring brook, clear, clean, and cleansing that edify, exhort, and comfort, and encourage and refresh the Hearers.  
  • When the Person has immersed himself in God’s Wisdom, his words in themselves deep waters, and as he speaks, he become a fruitful as “a bubbling brook.”   This is a picturesque description of the value of wisdom.

The parallelism requires that the “words of a man’s mouth” be wise words. These are “deep-waters” (Proverbs 20:5), profound and providing an inexhaustible supply of counsel and blessing. Verse 4b explains verse 4a, the “Well-spring” (or “Fountain”) of Wisdom “being an emblematic (symbolic) portrayed of wise speech. This is “a bubbling brook,” a limitless source of God’s Wisdom. 

Four Types of People (Proverbs 18:1-4) (Part 1)

The Statement

Proverbs Chapter 18 has no single theme, but underlying it is the whole subject of the Character and Conduct of the Wise. No Person can get far in life before coming up against the issues touched on in Proverbs Chapter 18: Companionship, Depravity, Words, Fairness, Security. There are some profound observations on these points:

The Conceited Person –

Proverbs 18:1 (KJV) “Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom.” (NIV) “An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends; he defiles all sound judgement.” The Phrase: “one who separates himself?” (KJV) refers to dividing people. Thus, Proverbs 18:1 has been taken both in a negative sense and in a positive sense (Matthew Henry) – The negative sense, however, fits the text of Proverbs 18:1, better (Matthew Henry).

  • Conceited – Proverbs 18:1, taken in the right context, speaks of the Person who is conceited and a lone-Ranger, the anti-social Individualist, who will not listen to others. The Conceited Person finds his identity in his non-conformity and obstinately sets himself apart, independently, from those around him. In simple term, the Conceited Person is a Selfish-Person, all this thoughts and actions lead to himself. He measures everything by his thoughts and his wishes, his comfort, his perspective.
  • Quarrelsome – The word “intermeddleth” (KJV, “Gala” {Proverbs 17:14}) is better translated “quarrel.” Conceited Person “quarrels” against all sound wisdom. The word “intermeddleth” comes from a root meaning: “To show one’s teeth” or “to break forth in hostilities.” – This root “quarrel {intermeddleth}” is found three times in the Book of Proverbs (Proverbs 17:14 {starting quarrel, NIV}; Proverbs 18:1 {intermeddleth = quarrel, KJV}; Proverbs 20:3 {quick to quarrel, NIV}). Fierce independence snarls and growls at all attempts from others to counsel or guide him. In the end, the doggedly self-willed Conceited Person may get “his desire,” but lose “sound wisdom.” Conceited Person forfeited God’s treasure of Wisdom.  
  • Sound-Wisdom – Conceited Person lacks sound wisdom. The term “sound-wisdom” has the idea of “sound-judgement” and that which flows from it, that is, abiding success in the practical affairs of life – Proverbs 2:7a “He (God) stores up sound wisdom for the upright.”
  • Isolationist – The Conceited Person is “a quarrelsome Isolationist.” (Perowne) opts for the RV rendering where “desire” is taken to mean “his own self-indulgent” desire.
  • Versions we consulted have followed this lead. The Conceited Person is “a boorish {rude} irresponsibility” (Perowne).

Versions give “rages against quarrels with, or shows contempt,” and say it is about “the evil of isolation,” showing forth “a self-conceited, hair-brained Person seeking to satisfy his fancy” (Schultens). The Conceited Person who separates himself from conventional wisdom, following his own self desires, puts himself in the position of warring against sound wisdom. Proverbs 18:1 warns against headstrong, self-centred decision (“Zockler, pg.166). As Proverbs 15:22 says, “a multitude of Counsellors” help to establish the Individual’s Plan.

The Foolish Person

Proverbs 18:2 (KJV) “A Fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.” (NIV) “A Fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinion.” This antithetical (adversative) Proverbs (Proverbs 18:2), The Fool is not intellectual deficient but attitudinal deficient. Thus, a Fool lays bare the unteachable, and arrogant Person (Fool).

  • The first line Proverbs 18:2a, makes its point by stating the opposite – “A Fool hath no delight in understanding” (Proverbs 18:2a) – that is, he despises understanding – that is, the Fool has no interest in listening or learning.
  • The second line, Proverbs 18:2b reveals, the Fool only interest is to expose what is on his mind – “But delights in airing his own opinion.” (NIV). The root of the verb “revealing” (discover) mean to uncover, to reveal, to be away or to go away. The form shown here is found only one other time in the O.T. in Genesis 9:21, where Noah got drunk and uncovered himself, sleeping naked in his tent.

Thus, it would not be a stretch to understand that the Fool of Proverbs 18:2, is descriptive of the Person (Fool) who has the tendency of an exhibitionist = show-off – the Fool, to his own shame, of his thoughts, opinions, musings, and vaunted (overhyped) insights. As a Fool, he lives in a delusional world of his own making.

The Book of Proverbs has often underscored the inability of the Fool to constrain his speech, and thus, his tendency to make public display of his Folly:

  • Proverbs 12:23b “The heart of the Fools proclaim s foolishness.”
  • Proverbs 13:16b “But a Fool lays open his folly.”
  • Proverbs 15:2b “But the mouth of the Fools pours forth foolishness.”   

Proverbs teaches that “He who restrains his words has knowledge…Even a Fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is counted prudent” (Proverbs 17:27a, 28). However, the Foolish Person has “a close mind but open mouth” in which he puts both feet, thus discovering, exposing his heart, pouring out his ignorance.

  • The disposition of the Fool is entirely opposite to that of the Wise-Person, for he has no pleasure in understanding – Proverbs 18:2a “A Fool hath no delight in understanding.”
  • The Foolish Person does not “delight” (hapes) in those matter that will give him greater understanding of life. The word “hapes” describes a deep emotional involvement, as his whole desire is to pour out his own frivolity {triviality}.

The Fool’s antipathy {opposition} toward understanding, then, comes from his emotional preoccupation with less important matters (trivialities). Fool has no concern for wisdom. In particular, he concerns himself “that his heart may discover itself.” = He wants to reveal his own opinions. His own thoughts are all more important to him that others’ views. – Proverbs 18:13 (KJV) “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” (NIV) “He who answers before listening – that is folly and his shame.”  

Stay Tuned….. To be continued

The Virtuous Woman – Wife and Mother (Proverbs 31:10-31) (Part 4)

7. Her Attitude & Deeds

n. Supplement Family Income

Proverbs 31:24 (NIV) “She makes linen garments and sells them and supplies the merchants with sashes.” Proverbs reverts to describing the virtuous woman. She contributes to the household expenses by holding a job (“making garments and sell”). She is able to help her husband increase the family’s income through her extra sewing at home (in today’s context, “holding a paid job, whether part-time or full-time”). Her trading (earning the extra income) is not carried out at the expense of her household responsibility; it is important but not her top priority. Her trading is carried out without neglect to the needs of her household.   

o. Strength of Character

Proverbs 31:25 (NIV) “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”

  • Strength of character is virtuous woman’s clothing, that is, she is not easily shattered, moved or tossed about by circumstances. This strength of character keeps her stable, and her household in good shape.
  • Dignity is also her clothing – she is composed in situations, even when provoked, as she is assured of her position and station in life, and she is contended with her lot.
  • Joyous – With strength and dignity in character, the virtuous woman could be joyous, even during the time of adversities – Proverbs 31:25b (NIV) “She can laugh at the days to come.” She knows the right thing to do this gives her a certain calmness and strength to bear with difficulties. Her joy remains with her “the days to come,” that is, her joy is not a fleeting emotion in her life that is dependent on her life situation or station. It is a stable constant part and throughout her life.  

p. Speech of Wisdom

Proverbs 31:26 (KJV) “She openeth her mouth (speak) with wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness.” Verse 26 switches the focus from the deeds of the virtuous woman to her speech.

She is not only thrifty, industrious, forward-looking woman who looks well after her household but also her speech is filled with wisdom and kindness. Wisdom and kindness in her speech is not just an occasional flash but the hall mark of her life.

As the source of wisdom is God and His Word, her wise words show that she loves God’s Word, is knowledgeable of God’s Word and has allowed God’s Word to work in her life affecting her speech – Colossians 4:6 (KJV) “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” Her speech shows her spiritual maturity. She is not the person to engage in foolish talks. Her speech shows her godliness and a heart that is in tune with her God.

In all her communication, she regulates her tongue with the law or teaching of kindness as found in God’s Word. She does not allow herself to speak any evil or untruths about any person, by controlling her tongue. Kind words, loving words, encouraging words, words of comfort, words that heal the wounded and the hurting were dispensed from her mouth. She is not harsh with her words, gossipy or slanderous, causing disharmony in or outside the home. Even when she has to discipline, chide or rebuke, the law of kindness guides her words. The words of her mouth are testimonies of the law of kindness in her heart.  

Proverbs 31:26 implies that the virtuous woman is a woman of few words – Proverbs 10:19 (NIV) “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he (she) who holds his tongue is wise.”

q. Well-Organised Home

Proverbs 31:27 (NIV) “She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” The virtuous woman manages over the affairs of her household with care, with their interests always before her, for example, she is aware of her husband’s needs and meets them because she “looks well” to his ways. She responds to her children with words and deeds of encouragement or correction as and when the occasion calls for it. She relates to her servants to ensure that work is done and at the same time that their needs are also met.

She is not the woman that “eats the bread of idleness” (Proverbs 31:27b). She is not a woman to while away her time by idle talks or idle activities. She spends her time serving her household members and ministering to their needs, with the best of her ability – “She watches over the affairs of her household” (Proverbs 31:27a) – The needs of her family are her priority and main concern of her life, not even her work to supplement the family income (Proverbs 31:24). She is single-minded in this aspect!  

r. Appreciative & Praise

Proverbs 31:28 (NIV) “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” The result of her dedication to her family is seen in her family’s appreciation:

  • Children – Her children, called her “blessed” – They appreciated her tender care and discipline. This is a great testimony of godly motherhood. The children are appreciative of their mother’s labour of love. Children who are appreciative of mother’s love are usually also appreciative of God’s love. Her children turned out to be filial and godly ones. On the other hand, ungrateful always leads to unholy (2Timothy 3:2).
  • Husband – Her husband praises her is a demonstration of his pride of her as his wife and mother of his children. Speaking well of his wife indicates his love and appreciation as well as approval of all that she had done and is doing. Her husband has in his wife all that any man can desire in a wife!
  • The word “arise” carries with it the idea of reverence, respect or honour as one would arise from one’s seat when a person of honour enters. Her husband and children bless her in such a reverential or respectful manner, that her lifelong devotion to them bears fruit by the testimonies of her loved ones!!

s. Excel Above All

Proverbs 31:29 (NIV) “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” The switch to the second personal pronoun indicates that Proverbs 31:29 is the continuation of appreciation and praise of the virtuous woman, she stands above many women in her godly character, deeds, family devotion and self-sacrifices that are described in Proverbs 31:10-28.

The term “surpass them all” indicates that her courage, energy, and the ability that goes beyond the mere ability to do or accomplish things. It is the ability that includes soundness of her moral judgement, which is reflected in her daily decision-making, devotion to her family in all aspects of her life. 

t. Reverence (Fear) God

Proverbs 31:30 (NIV) “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” The switch back to the third personal pronoun as seen in “she shall be praised” (KJV) indicates that her virtuous character, deeds, family devotion and self-sacrifices are seen and praised by those outside her household. Thus, not only her family recognises her virtues but others as well.

  • Proverbs 31:30 does not denounce personal charm and physical beauty but rather points out that personal charm and physical beauty are great to have in a woman, but they are insufficient to make a woman virtuous.
  • By her personal charm, a woman is able to set forth an impression of herself, but it will not hold up over time and under pressure of real life. Thus, charm is “deceptive” = “Without foundation in fact or reality.”
  • Physical beauty is good, but it will not last because a woman grows old. Thus, physical beauty is “vain” (KJV), literally means “breath,” “vapour,” or “fleeting” (NIV), it is here today and gone tomorrow.
  • It is the Reverence (Fear) of God that motivates the character, life, and work of the virtuous (excellent, noble) woman. She lives in accordance to God’s Word. The emphasis on the Reverential Fear of the LORD (Proverbs 1:7) at the beginning of the Book of Proverbs, and here, at the end.
  • Matthew Henry describes it as “the Fear of God reigning in the heart is the beauty of the soul” (Matthew Henry, “Commentary of the Whole Bible”). The truly God-Fearing Heart behind the woman’s exterior is the true measure of her worth. It is her spiritual attributes which give her strength and beauty in her personality.
  • The Book of Proverbs begins with “the Fear of the LORD” (Proverbs 1:7) and ends with the “Fear of the LORD” (Proverbs 31:30).

u. Rewards

Proverbs 31:31 (NIV) “Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”  Her virtuous life and works not only bring total confidence from her husband (Proverbs 31:11), respect of the Elders of the land for her husband (Proverbs 31:23), but also praises from her family (Proverbs 31:28) and those outside her household (Proverbs 31:30b – “she shall be praised,” KJV).

Her life and works also bear fruits. Good comes out of her virtuous life, benefitting her family and others. She also enjoys “the fruit of her life and labour” (“the reward she has earned”):   

  • In the O.T., it would be unusual in Jewish culture for a woman to be praised “at the city gate” for her works (Proverbs 31:31b), but she is no ordinary woman but a virtuous woman of substance – “A kind-hearted woman gains respect” (Proverbs 11:16a, NIV). In Proverbs 31:23 we are reminded of her husband at the city gate. 
  • Her life itself is a testimony of her godliness and she does not have to exalt herself of her virtues. She receives public recognition and acknowledgement for her character and deeds.
  • The Book of Proverbs opens with “Woman Wisdom” raising her voice “At the head of the noisy streets…….At the entrance of the gates in the city” (Proverbs 1:21). As the Book of Proverbs closes, she has found a hearing, has been embraced, and is now being “praised at the city gate” (Proverbs 31:31b).
  • Ruth reflects the qualities of the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31:10-31, as Boaz says: “And now, my daughter, do not fear, I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence” (Ruth 3:11).
  • The wise person was introduced to the “Woman Wisdom” in Proverbs chapters 1-9, and now, he has wedded her (Proverbs 31:10-31). He has rejected the adulteress and harlot (Proverbs 2:16-19; 5:1-6; 7:1-23) and has found delight in a woman of true integrity and substance, the virtuous wife of Proverbs 31:10-31!


From the above Principles, we can see that the virtuous woman does not only accept her husband’s leadership, but also affirms his leadership through her attitudes and deeds. Her submission to her husband is a heart attitude rather than the mere following of a list of dos and don’ts. Her right heart attitude leads her to decide as to what actions or responses are considered appropriate in different situations and in different cultural context – Proverbs 31:10 (NIV) “A wife of noble (virtuous, excellent) character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies!”

The Virtuous Woman – Wife and Mother (Proverbs 31:10-31) (Part 3)

7. Her Attitude & Deeds


e. Industrious

Proverbs 31:17a (NIV) “She sets about her work vigorously.” This reinforces that the virtuous woman is an extremely hardworking and committed person. The term “she has girded her loins with strength” (KJV) is the physical act of gathering up the loose, flowing robes of her tunic and tucking them into her belt. This is done to grant freedom of movement for physical labour.

This is an expression typically used of men and women and warriors (1Kings 18:46; 2Kings 4:29). It means she literally and physically, “roll up her sleeves and gets dirt under her fingernails” by helping her servants to plant the vineyard (Proverbs 31:16), or “she sets about her work vigorously” (NIV).

Though she had servants at her bidding (Proverbs 31:15b), she is not above working alongside of them. She ensures her physical fitness and hardiness in order to take on the many tasks ahead of her. She knows how to work hard but yet looks after her health.

f. Health Conscious

Proverbs 31:17 (KJV) “She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.”  She does not take her health for granted. Her dedication and preparedness indicate a woman of foresight and balance. She does not work so hard that she neglects her health and allows her own body to run down. While she is industrious, she sees to it that her “loins” and “arms” (KJV) are kept strong so that she can continue to be productive and useful to her family, thereby able to fulfil her responsibilities.

The term “she makes her arms strong” (Proverbs 31:17b), the same word for strength is used to describe the military power of the soldier to stand his ground (Nahum 2:1) and of the political might to secure the Kingdom under Rehoboam (2Chronicles 11:17). Here, it means not that she is a body builder, but that she applies herself to her work and is thereby fit and capable for it.

g. Business Acumen

Proverbs 31:18 (NIV) “She sees (senses) that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.” Here we gain an understanding of that which motivates such an excellent woman. The verb translated “she senses (sees)” means, basically, to taste or sample food or beverage. It is used of discerning or sensing something (c/f “O taste and see that the Lord is good” – Psalm 34:8a).   The virtuous woman has business acumen and has been making profit out of her investment (trading).

She has ensured that her buys are all good buys, that she obtains value for money or that she makes a profit from it. This further reinforces her frugal and careful character (Proverbs 31:14 & 15).

Her success, however, does not lead her to rest on her laurels.  Instead, it spurs her on to work even harder by working into the night – “Her lamp does not go out at night” (Proverbs 31:18, NIV). It does not mean that she literally forgoes sleep, as it would be unrealistic and to miss the point, because “Wisdom” realises that “it is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labour; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep” (Psalm 127:2). It means that she is able to adjust her times and priorities, wisely!

h. Family’s Priority

Proverbs 31:19 (NIV) “In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.” This describes her reaching out to take a piece of work and the instrument of work, a description of the distaff spinning technique that was used during biblical times before the spinning-wheel was invented in Germany in the 16th century. The woman of biblical times would “attach wool or flax to the distaff (a rod or stick), and then use a spindle to twist the fibres into threads.” She is skilful and successful, is implies, in whatever she does, with the term “in her hands.”

She does not only purchase wool and flax (Proverbs 31:13), she personally works on them, even late into the night, to produce what her family needs. She does this herself despite the fact that she has servants. It is an indication that she does not find it a chore but rather a joy to be able to spin and weave clothing for her loved ones. It is no wonder that her husband safely trusts in her (Proverbs 31:11), as caring for her loved ones is a joy to her. He knows that they will be well looked after by her, that she will not neglect the family needs.

i. Compassionate

Proverbs 31:20 (NIV) “She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.” Beyond her immediate family, the virtuous woman is equally caring and kind to those outside of her household, in particular, the poor and the needy. Her hands laboured to provide for her loved ones but extended to the poor and needy:

  • She “opens her hands” to the poor and needy. This speaks of her compassion and generosity. She reaches out to these people.
  • She “extends her arms” to the poor and needy. The words “extends her hands” indicates that she takes the initiative with the earnest intent to care for these people. 

Her compassionate spirit calls her to take initiative to reach out to these people willingly and cheerfully. She does not only serve those who are around and close by, perhaps her neighbours, she also extends her hands of help to those who may not be nearby. She will stretch and reach out to them. Distance is no barrier to her good works. The love of God is expressed through her!

Delitzsch (“Proverbs”) points out that the use of “her palm (hand)” is not to be taken to merely mean the giving of gifts or alms. Rather, it means the offer of “sympathy and readiness to help… if saying: place confidence in me, I shall do whatever I can…..there thou has my hand!” 

The use of plural: “her hands” points to virtuous woman reaching out with both her hands to the poor and needy, getting herself physically near enough to the poor and needy that they will be able to take hold of her outstretched hands in theirs to experience her warmth and sympathy. This kind of giving goes beyond the giving of gifts or money but the warm and personal touch, as portrayed by the outstretched hands. 

j. Well-Prepared

Proverbs 31:21 (NIV) “When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.” Her love and care for her household makes her think ahead and plan for the family’s need during the time of winter (“when it snows”). She always has the welfare of the whole family in her heart. Such thoughtfulness on her part leads her husband to safely trust her (Proverbs 31:11).    

The clothing is described as “scarlet,” a colour that is supposed to absorb and retain heat during winter. Such clothing is functional and appropriate for winter. The physical needs of her household are well looked into. Scarlet clothing is not only functional for use in winter the clothing is attractively coloured, making her family beautiful and smart looking.

In the Old Testament, the colour scarlet is often mentioned together with fine linen or gold. It is a colour that signifies richness and good taste. Therefore, the virtuous woman is a woman of good sense and taste. She ensures that her household is smartly attired and looks presentable in public.

k. Woman of Purpose

Proverbs 31:22a (NIV) “She makes coverings for her bed.”  Coverings (bed sheets) or coverlets have the dual function of making the bed soft as well as to add to their aesthetics. The virtuous woman’s home is not only functional but also tastefully done up and decorated, making it an attractive, restful and comfortable place for everyone in her family. The bed’s coverings (bed sheets) could be purchased or made by herself, because that is not the major emphasis but on her taste. 

l. Well-Dressed

Proverbs 31:22b (NIV) “She is clothed in fine linen and purple.” In her care for others, she does not neglect herself – she is well-dressed because her clothing is “fine linen and purple” which are both of quality and expensive fabrics.

  • Linen fabrics made from flax are quality material.
  • Purple coloured fabrics shows forth good taste of colour.

In the times of the Old Testament, Tyre, the Phoenician City, was known to export these expensive purple fabrics. The virtuous woman takes care of her own physical appearance and does not bring shame or embarrassment to her husband and her children by being properly dressed and in appearance. Her physical appearance must have been neat and pleasant, but not ostentatious (showy) nor unduly over-dressed (“over-killed”). 

Despite her thrifty nature (Proverbs 31:13 &14), she is not a miser nor is she a penny-pincher. She has good sense and taste and is willing to pay for things of good quality, beauty or aesthetical valued. Her husband must be proud to be seen with her in public.Despite her thrifty nature (Proverbs 31:13 &14), she is not a miser nor is she a penny-pincher. She has good sense and taste and is willing to pay for things of good quality, beauty or aesthetical valued. Her husband must be proud to be seen with her in public.

m. Husband’s Reputation

Proverbs 31:23 (NIV) “Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.” The virtuous woman’s good character, deeds, management of her household and her being personally well- groomed (Proverbs 31:12-22) has contributed to her husband’s good reputation among the leaders (elders) of the land.  

  • Her husband has a Seat of Leadership “at the gate.” The city gates were centres for conversations and commerce…….because the Elders often transacted business at the gate, so “sit at the gate” meant to attain a certain social eminence.” (Parker and Tenney, “Illustrated Manners,” 412).
  • The virtuous woman’s role in the home has great influenced and impacted on her husband’s career and reputation outside the home. The way she managed her household has resulted in her husband having full confidence in her (Proverbs 31:11) and therefore he is able to fully concentrate on his work without any worries as to household matters.
  • The way she takes care of his physical needs in the home (which includes dressing him decently, appropriately and tastefully) is reflected in his physical appearance outside the home.
  • Her husband trusts in her gives him a relaxed and peaceful demeanour. His whole outlook and appearance indicated to others that he has a caring, loving and supportive wife at home.
  • In helping to promote her husband’s good standing outside the home, the virtuous woman does not strive to obtain that seat of reputation outside the home for herself. It is satisfying for her just to know that her husband has that respect and position outside.

Stay Tuned….. To be continued

The Virtuous Woman – Wife and Mother (Proverbs 31:10-31) (Part 2)

6. Wife’s Attitude

Proverbs 31:12 (NIV) “She brings him good not harm, all the days of her life.” The trust (full confidence) of her husband has placed in her (Proverbs 31:11) is, at first, a gift and then, a reward, because, time and again, she provides “good” for him. This “good” is not only relational but is viewed in terms of what she accomplishes for her husband:

  • Despite her far-flung entrepreneurial ways, her focus is upon her home, family, and her husband. She spends her life accomplishing, that is doing and succeeding in doing, what is good for him. She is first “Keeper of the Home” (Proverbs 31:27a) and only secondarily a career woman.  
  • She does not abuse her husband’s trust (Proverbs 31:11). She responds to his trust positively. Her concern is not with her own self; how best she can fulfil her own needs or satisfy her own desires. Her role and responsibility are that of doing him good and not evil, living in submission, not passively but actively seeking to fulfil his desires and to meet his needs for good.
  • “All the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:12b) implies that she does well to her husband consistently, constantly and faithfully. It is not dependent on her emotional state or on her husband’s. It requires her to have a heart attitude of love and understanding in order for her to be able to “do him good……all the days of her life.” Without that proper heart attitude, she will not be able to sustain her effort.
  • Her right heart attitude allows her to derive from it the strength and consistency to accomplish that which is good for her husband. This requires her to be a woman of perception, anticipation, thought, initiatives, and wisdom.

7. Her Attitude & Deeds

What is considered good, follows in the next few verses (Proverbs 31:13-27) – are descriptions of the good that this virtuous wife does for her husband:

a. Thrifty

Proverbs 31:13 (NIV) “She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.” The Jews used sheep’s wool as the chief material for making clothes for winter. Flax, which is harvested in March and April, is used to make linen cloth and rope:

  • This virtuous wife is on the lookout for these raw materials not that they are difficult to find but that she looks out for the quality and best buy because the word “seek” (KJV) does not denote the outward action of seeking but the seeking that comes from a purposeful mind focused on the intention of find the best quality at the best price. This is an indication of her diligence and her desire to do a good job. She is not a miser, neither is she careless with her money.
  • Then she works on the wool and flax with her hands willingly – “with delight and pleasure” (literal translation). Her work to her is a delight or pleasure, not done grudgingly or considered a chore. Such a work attitude is a good indicator of results of high quality. 
  • Proverbs 31:13 paints the picture of a wife who is frugal (thrifty), industrious and happy with what she is doing. She is not careless with her money and she is not afraid of hard work, going about her home cheerfully and happily, not grudgingly or in a complaining manner. 
  • Much of the material of wool and flax will be used to clothe her family (Proverbs 31:21), but some of the materials will be personal use (Proverbs 31:22b), and still others will be sold for a profit (Proverbs 31:24). She is industrious, conscientious, and unselfish in her labours of love.
  • Charles Bridges (“Proverbs,” 623) points out that working with one’s hands “in olden times was the employment of females in the highest ranks.” He cites the cases of Sarah (Genesis 18:6-8), Rebekah (Genesis 24:18-20), Rachel (Genesis 29:9-10), and the daughters of the Prince of Midian (Exodus 2:16), and the daughter of a King (2Samuel 13:5-9). The point, however, is not the station of the woman or the association of the work involved, but rather the point to be learned is the character traits that are being shown: “the good traits of cheerful industriousness and of thrift.”

b. Resourceful

Proverbs 31:14 (NIV) “She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.” A merchant’s ship has the capacity to go to a faraway land in order to bring back produce that are cheaper or that are not available in the home country. The virtuous woman is likened to a merchant’s ship in that she goes out of her way, beyond her immediate neighbourhood, to look for items that are “value for money” that her household needs.

This reinforces the teaching of her as a frugal (thrifty) and hardworking woman who cares so much for her household that she is willing to take the trouble to do more than expected in order to satisfy the needs of her household. In addition, it shows that she is a woman full of initiatives, courage, and enterprise.

c. Good House Manager

Proverbs 31:15 (NIV) “She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.” Not only does the excellent woman carefully, and broadly, shop for her household (Proverbs 31:14), but she takes charge personally of the meal preparation. She gets up early in order to prepare breakfasts as well as food for the rest of the day for her household and her servant girls.

  • It seems odd, in modern day context and to some that a woman wealthy enough to afford household servants is up early, preparing food. However, she views having servants not as license for personal ease, but as a gift demanding personal responsibility. We all would do well to learn from her!
  • She is seen as a self-sacrificing attitude. She puts the needs of her household and servants above her own need of sleep and rest. She ensures that her family and servants start the day right.
  • She has a heart not only for her family but also for her servants – “Portions for her servant girls” (Proverbs 31:15b). The term “portions” are used in two ways:
    • As “portions” of food, the virtuous woman does not mistreat her servants because she gives her servants equal amount of food as to her family. This is an indication of a heart that is just, full of love and care for the people around her regardless of whether they are her family or servants.
    • As “portions” of work, she rises up early to plan her servants’ work for the day. She is an organised and meticulous woman.
  • The virtuous woman is not the person to be tardy just because she has servants. She has a strong work ethic and ensures that she can do even more as a result of having household help (servants).
  • She is a woman of propriety as the mention, “servant girls” (NIV), “maidens” (KJV). During the Old Testament period, male servants are handled by the husband and female servants by the wife. There is a clear separation. However, in our day, this separation does not exist as a female boss could have responsibility and oversight over both male and female employees.
  • Proverbs 31:15 show that it is not wrong to employ household servants when the person has the means to do so. The virtuous woman has certain housework delegated to servants; however, she does not abdicate all her responsibilities. Instead, she uses the servants to allow herself to better fulfil her responsibilities as a wife and mother.  

d. Businesswoman

Proverbs 31:16 (NIV) “She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.” The virtuous woman manages the household finance and investments – buys a piece of land (investment) and there is no mention of her reselling it, indicates that her purchase is for the family’s use:

  • Her purchase is not done at the spur of the moment – “considers” before purchase, with much though (discern, plan and strategy) into the matter before purchase. She weighs out not only the wisdom of investing in land, generally, but she also evaluates the worth of the particular field which she is considering. In the end, she is convinced of this financial venture and buys it. This attitude is consistent with Proverbs 31:14 & 15 in that she is frugal (thrifty) and careful with her money. She is not a compulsive and impulsive woman.  
  • That this kind of liberty with household finance was not the norm for women of the Ancient Near East only underscores that “the heart of her husband trusts (full confidence) in her” (Proverbs 31:11a). He trusted her enough to let her handle the finance and investments, letting her decide on the purchase of this large expensive item. She must have consistently made good judgements and could be relied upon, her husband safely trusted in her (= full confidence – Verse 11).
  • She then decisively turns the land into a vineyard. She plants a vineyard with “the fruit of her hands” – she had laboured and obtained some profit and put it to good use (investment) by purchasing vines and planting them on the land she had purchased. Both the land and the vineyard become an asset to the family.
  • In addition to her sound judgement and decisiveness, her work on the vineyard shows that she is hardworking and willing to work with her hands that her household may benefit from her labour.

Stay Tuned….. To be continued

The Virtuous Woman – Wife and Mother (Proverbs 31:10-31) (Part 1)

General Observation

Proverbs 31:1 (KJV) “The words of King Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.” The description of the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31:10-31 comes from the teaching of King Lemuel, as he was taught by his mother. His mother laid down the General Principles of a model wife, not necessarily the wife of the King but a wife of a man “known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land” (Proverbs 31:23), that is, a wife of “the man-in-the street.”

We now come to the climatic, and concluding, section of the entire Book of Proverbs: the well-know treatise on the “virtuous” (excellent, noble) wife. Proverbs 31:10-31 serves not only as an outline of the individual qualities and cumulative worth of the excellent wife, but also as a fitting literary conclusion to the whole of Proverbs.

1. The Virtuous Wife

Proverbs 31:10 (NIV) “A wife of noble (virtuous, excellent) character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. The “virtuous wife” character traits laid down in Proverbs 31:10-31 transcend time, culture, social and economic standing. These godly traits laid down in God’s Word are for learning, emulation, and instruction. Thus, the study of Proverbs 31:10-31 is therefore of practical value to both the men and women, even in the 21st Century: 

  • Her CharacterProverbs 31:10a (NIV) “A wife of noble character (virtuous).” The woman is of “virtuous (noble, excellent) character,” this speaks not so much of nobility in status, but it speaks of a woman who is “able” and whose worth is beyond the worth of rubies (precious stones).
  • The “excellent character” (“virtuous” – KJV; “noble” – NIV) carries with it the meaning of “ability,” “efficiency,” and “moral worth.” It does not just refer to the ability to do things efficiently but also the idea of strength of character and integrity. The KJV translates as “virtuous.” The connotation of “an able woman” is a woman who has the ability to accomplish, and is actively accomplishing, many things and yet has high moral standard.
  • This term “excellent wife” is used of Ruth (Ruth 3:11) and of her husband, Boaz as “a man of great wealth” (same term).
  • The same word, “excellent” (“noble” – NIV) is used in Proverbs 31:29. Proverbs 12:4a states that “an excellent wife is the crown of her husband.”   

2. Rarity

Her RarityProverbs 31:10b (NIV) “Who can find?” – The statement: “who can find?” (Proverbs 31:10b) does not imply impossibility, but rather rarity, because the Book of Proverbs holds up “wisdom” as the ideal of life and setting forth in such practical portals does not in the end tells us to throw up our hands and give up pursuing it. This statement implies that the woman of excellent (noble, virtuous) character is a rarity and therefore difficult but not impossible to find.

  • Such a wife is “a gift from the Lord” (Proverbs 19:14) and “a sign of His favour” (Proverbs 18:22).
  • The model wife taught in Proverbs 31:10-31 is therefore a model that can be followed by any wife and a model that can be used by any man in his search for the life-Partner.
  • Charles Bridges suggests the possible reason for her rarity: that she is “so seldom sought. Too often is the search made for accomplishment, not for virtues, for external and adventitious recommendations, rather than for moral internal godly worth.” (Charles Bridges, “Proverbs” Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1968, 620).

3. Her Worth

Woman of WorthProverbs 31:10c (NIV) “She is worth far more than rubies.” The word “worth” is a commercial term that normally refers to the price of something. The point is that no dowry, no matter how large, can balance the worth of such a Gift from God.

  • The description of the virtuous (excellent, noble) woman in Proverbs 31:10-31 is not according to world’s standard but the Word of God and is to be studied, by both men and woman, to gleam the precious truth stated. Her attributes, character and works are excellent testimonies of a woman who walks in Reverential Fear of God and of His Word – “Proverbs 31:30b (NIV) “A woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”
  • The woman of excellent (noble, virtuous) character value is far above rubies (precious stones), that is, priced above the most precious gems and therefore worth every effort by the man to search for her, as his wife.

4. Trusted By Husband

Proverbs 31:11a (NIV) “Her husband has full confidence in her.” Her husband trusts her fully and completely. This mean that she looks after his needs well and in a responsible manner and has therefore earned his trust.

  • The statement: “The heart of her husband doeth safely trust in her” (KJV) is a remarkable statement, for this verb is almost exclusively used for trust in God. Only twice in the Old Testament is it used of trust in another human being (Proverbs 31:11a; Judges 20:36). (Waltke, Bruce K., “The Role of the ‘Valiant Wife’ in the Marketplace,” Pg.26).
  • The husband is seldom seen in this ode to the woman of valour, except as a husband free from domestic worries, so that he can give himself to civic leadership (Proverbs 31:23), or as turning from his preoccupation to blessing and praising her (Proverbs 31:28).
  • The virtuous woman’s major concern therefore is the needs of her husband and how best she can meet them to minister to him. She does this so well and contributes so much to his well-being that the result is that he has full confidence (“safely trust” – KJV) in her.

5. Husband Don’t Need “Spoilt”

Proverbs 31:11b (NIV) “And lacks nothing of value (spoil).”  The result of her attention to her husband: “he shall have no need of spoil (gain.)” The word “spoil” (gain) comes from the root verb “to spoil, to plunder,” therefore carries the connotation of gain (spoil) obtained through unjust means. Her husband need not resolve to unjust mean or something inferior to meet his unsatisfied needs as he already is fully satisfied.     

In order to satisfy her husband, she displays a loving, caring, giving and selfless woman. The husband’s state of no lack or spoil or gain does not come from his mere possession of a virtuous wife but stems from his virtuous wife’s own doing in creating that state for her husband. This is the extension of the teaching in Proverbs 31:10 that she is an able woman, a woman of accomplishments. Her accomplishments are not for self neither are they at the expense of her husband but are of benefit to her husband.

To be continued….. Stay tuned