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).
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!”