Tag: Proverbs

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!

SUMMARY

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

….Continued….

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…..as 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

Drunkenness and Stupor (Proverbs 20:1, 19-21, 29-35) (Part 2)

Consequences

Proverbs 23:29-35 shows that being continuously drunk (Proverbs 23:35), resulted in experience of:

  • Woe {Grief, Regret, Misfortune, or Grievous Distress};
  • Sorrow {Despised and Rejected}; Contentions {Quarrels, Arguments, Strife};
  • Babbling {Looseness of Tongue, Complainer};
  • Wounds {Falls, Accidents}; and
  • Redness of Eyes {Dimness of Eyes (Amp. Bible), Progressive Lost of Sight}.” Drunkenness may lead to immorality (Proverbs 23:31, 33 (c/f Proverbs 23:27-28).
  • “Habit-forming addiction”“When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?” (Proverbs 23:35b), that destroy families and selves. Being continuously intoxicated, that Person loses his judgement, affects his physical health, like “fatty-liver” which will result in liver-damage, in the long-term; it will also cause stomach inflammation, and the thickening of the stomach lining which reduces the stomach’s ability to absorb nutrients, etc. Usually, the Drunkard is engaged in foolish talk, fighting, loss of self-control (Proverbs 23:29-30). A confused judgement and impaired mental as well as physical vision (Proverbs 23:29), ending being self-deceived as that of being “bitten by the Serpent or Viper.” (Proverbs 23:32).

Examples of Consequences in Old Testament

  • Noah (Genesis 9:21-23) – Noah, being drunk, exposed himself in nakedness (Genesis 9:20-21), resulting in Ham’s Descendants (Canaanites) being cursed, because he (Ham), discussed his father’s (Noah’s) nakedness (Genesis 9:22), instead of covering up his father, “for love covers the multitudes of sins,” (Proverbs 10:12b; 1Peter 4:8b), of which Ham failed (Genesis 9:25). Shem and Japheth were blessed because they covered their father’s (Noah’s) nakedness (Genesis 9:23, 25-27).
  • Lot (Genesis 19:31-36) was drunk and fathered through his daughters, Moab (the father of Moabites) and Benammi (the father of Ammonites) – Enemies of Israel.
  • Isaac had been drinking when he was deceived into blessing Jacob, though God over-ruled in the situation (Genesis 27:25), because Esau sold his First-born Birth-right to Jacob (Genesis 25:29-34). – Hebrews 11:20 “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.”
  • Israel’s Princes – Hosea 7:5 “In the day of our King, Princes have made him sick, inflamed with wine; He stretched out his hand with Scoffers.”
  • Priests and Prophets – Isaiah 28:7 “But they also have erred through wine, and through intoxicating drink……the Priests and the Prophets have erred through intoxicating drink, they are swallowed up by wine, they are out of the way through intoxicating drink they err in vision, they stumble in judgement.”
  • Nabal, whose name means “Fool” was drunk and suffered heart-attack and died 10 days later, smitten of The LORD for his folly against David (1Samuel 25:2-38).
  • Elah, the King of the House of Israel was assassinated while drunk in Tirzah (1Kings 16:8-10).

What is Strong Drink in Biblical Times?

In like manner, “strong drink” (sekar) is raging. Whiskey and wine with high alcoholic content were not discovered until the Middle Ages, it is not appropriate to identify “strong drink” (sekar) as whiskey or similar “strong drink” of today. The “strong drink” in Proverbs 20:1 is “grain wine” or “fruit wine,” prepared from something other than grapes. As with wine (yayin), “strong drink” has the potential to produce drunkenness. When under the influence of “strong drink” (sekar), the Person can become “Raging” (or “Boisterous – Energetic”). The Person who comes under the influence of “strong drink” is “deceived” (who errs) and is not wise, that is the Drunkard fools himself.

Kings & Rulers of the Nation was not allowed to be given to wine or strong drink, lest they drink and forget God’s Law and pervert just judgements – Proverbs 31:4-5 “It is not for Kings, O Lemuel, it is not for Kings to drink wine, nor for Princes intoxicating drink; lest they drink and forget the law, and pervert justice of all the afflicted.”

Priests were Forbidden – Leviticus 10:9 (NIV) “You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the Tent of the Meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.”

Medicinal – Proverbs 31:6-7 “Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to those who are bitter of heart. Let him drink and forget his poverty and remember his misery no more.” Proverbs 31:6-7 is not encouraging drunkenness, or else the whole tenor of the teaching on drunkenness as shown above, from the Bible, would be contradicted. Proverbs 31:6-7 has to be studied contextually. The mother of King Lemuel has just taught his son to refrain from drinking wine and strong drink as it will pervert justice and violate God’s Law (Proverbs 31:4-5). With this context in mind, let us interpret Proverbs 31:6-7 – King Lemuel’s mother was teaching his son how to handle the Afflicted People in his (Lemuel’s) Kingdom:

  • Terminal Sickness – Proverbs 31:6a “Give strong drink to him who is perishing.” – The term “perishing” means to be lost or destroyed – it was understood as dealing with someone in his Kingdom who is suffering greatly with sickness – especially when that sickness is terminal, with great pain. It was a custom of that time to medicate to the dying person, who was in great pain, with strong drink, to help him to overcome his pain – as today, the Doctor administer morphine to the terminal ill Person, in great pain. Thus, it was not an evil act but a merciful act, as it was providing help to the terminal dying Person, in pain, a respite. In most cases, the wine is mixed with gall, which serves as “pain-killing-mixture.”
  • The Bitter Person – Proverbs 31:6b-7 “And wine to those who are bitter of heart, let him drink and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.” – The second usage of wine for medicinal purpose is for temporary relief for the Person “who is bitter of heart, who have lost something important (loved one) or something valuable,” – this instruction of King Lemuel’s mother is a bit dicey (risky) – it is easy to see the application for the Person who is suffering pain, at the point of death; whereas, for the “bitterness-of-soul,” the application should be weighted, in term of the context of Proverbs 31, as we are in a Section of the Scripture where King Lemuel’s mother has just warned him to refrain from drinking wine and strong drink, as it could cloud his judgement and the violation of God’s Law, in a moment of drunkenness (Proverbs 31:4-5). Therefore, we can be assured that when it comes to the afflicted Person with “bitterness-of-soul,” King Lemuel’s mother is not advocating drunkenness to alleviate the Afflicted Person’s Problem – thus, “NOT drowning One’s sorrows with wine or strong drink.” Rather, what is taught is that ONE {not continuous) drink could temporarily alleviate the Afflicted Person, as Psalm 104:15a states: “Wine makes man’s heart glad,” in the midst of the listing of things that God Himself provides including oil to make the face shine (Psalm 104:15b), food that sustains a man with strength (Psalm 104:15c).
  • Thus, the one drink of wine or strong drink is for medicinal purpose; to lift the afflicted spirit in the time of “bitterness-of-soul,” making the heart glad for a moment, helping the Afflicted Person in his (Lemuel’s) Kingdom. Whereas, today wine or strong drink, is drinking for partying, with the view of getting drunk.  
  • The teaching is Proverbs 31:6-7 is not an encouragement to get drunk, but at the time before the advance of medicinal science, wine or strong drink was used for the medicinal purposes as taught in Proverbs 31:6-7, and we should not read to much into the other interpretation of encouraging drunkenness, as “God puts gladness in our heart, more than in the season that their grain and wine increased.” (Psalm 4:7)

Drunkenness and Stupor (Proverbs 20:1, 19-21, 29-35) (Part 1)

The Statement

Most individual Proverbs contain two Parts, the Second contrasting with the First. Also, in the collection as a whole, one Proverb contrasts with another. Wisdom is the balanced discipline; Wisdom tells us what to avoid and what to seek. When we are advised to avoid something, this implies we should seek its opposite. For example, Proverbs 20:22 – “Do not say, I will pay you back for this wrong! Wait for the LORD, and He will deliver you” (NIV), both discourages vindictiveness and encourages patient and faith. So, some of these verses in chapter 20 belong to either or both Sections:

Things to Avoid

Proverbs chapter 20 teaches us 14 things to avoid: (1) Drunkenness (Proverbs 20:1); (2) Quarrelling (Proverbs 20:2); (3) Laziness (Proverbs 20:4); (4) Sleep and Poverty (Proverbs 20:13); (5) Cheating in Business (Proverbs 20:10); (6) Cheating in General (Proverbs 20:23); (7) Boasting in Bargain (Proverbs 20:14); (8) Deceitfulness (Proverbs 20:17); (9) Ill-Gotten-Gain (Proverbs 20:21); (10) Unsecured Loan (Proverbs 20:16); (11) Tale-Bearer (Proverbs 20:19); (12) Disrespect of Parents (Proverbs 20:20); (13) Vindictiveness (Proverbs 20:22); (14) Rash Commitments (Proverbs 20:25).

Important Point to Note

The teaching below on Drunkenness is not meant to be judgemental and critical of the Person who is struggling with “drink-problem,” but rather to create an awareness of “the consequences” of the “drink-problem.” We need to exercise Christ’s Love to understand and to provide help to the Person who is struggling, in this area.

Drunkenness

Proverbs 20:1 (NIV) “Wine is a Mocker and beer a Brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.” Proverbs 20:1 (KJV) “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

Justification in the drinking of wine, especially alcoholic wine in the New Testament:

  • Jesus turning the water into wine at the wedding at Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11).
  • The establishment of The Lord’s Supper with bread and wine (Matthew 26:26-29).
  • Paul’s exhortation to Timothy concerning the taking of a little wine, for his stomach’s sake (1Timothy 5:23).
  • The instructions concerning the Elders and Deacons “not being given to much wine” (1Timothy 3:3, 8).

In balance, the Writer, understands that the Bible does not teach total prohibition or total abstinence from wine, as passages shown above. However, intoxication and drunkenness are strongly condemned both in the O.T & N.T.

Warning against Drunkenness in the New Testament

  • Drunkenness is listed among the 17 Works of the Flesh – Galatians 5:19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication…..drunkenness, revelries….”
  • Drunkard shall not inherit the Kingdom of God – 1Corinthians 6:10 “Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilvers, nor extortioners will inherit the Kingdom of God.”
  • Drunkenness is listed alongside with rioting and other evil deeds – Romans 13:13 “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.”
  • Drunkenness is one of the Signs of the Last Day, before Jesus’ Second Coming – Luke 21:34 “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing (partying), drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly” (Matthew 24:48-51; Luke 12:45; 1Thessalonians 5:7).
  • Drunkenness separates the Believer from the Fellowship of other Believers – 1Corinthians 5:9-13 “I wrote to you in my epistles not to keep company with sexually immoral people…..or a drunkard….”
  • Drunkenness is forbidden to Spirit-filled Believers; and the “Wine of the World” is the counterfeit of the “Wine of the Spirit.” – Ephesians 5:18-19 “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Christian who is controlled by the “spirit of alcoholism” is not controlled by God’s Spirit at the same time, he must make the choice.

Warning against Drunkenness in the Old Testament

  • Drunkenness is associated with Violence – Proverbs 4:17 “For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.”
  • Drunkenness is linked with mocking, raging, and deception and lack of wisdom. The Drunkard is deceived about his condition by his rationalisation – Proverbs 20:1 (KJV) “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”
  • Drunkenness results in Poverty – Proverbs 21:17b “He who loves wine and oil will not be rich.”
  • Drunkenness is linked with Gluttony and will come to Poverty – Proverbs 23:21 “For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness (due to wine) will clothe a man with rags.”
  • Drunkenness leads to Immorality – Proverbs 23:31, 33 “Do not look on the wine when it red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly;…your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things (c/f Proverbs 23:27-28).
  • Drunkenness ends “liken being bitten by a Serpent” and “stung by an Viper” – This could be an indication of something evil about the end result of being Drunken – Proverbs 23:31, 32 “Do not look on the wine when it red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a Serpent, and stings like a Viper.”
  • Drunkenness is Addictive – Proverbs 23:34-35 “Yes, you will be like one, who lies down in the midst of the sea, or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: ‘They have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?”
  • The Final Verdict of Alcoholic-Addiction is that the Person is stricken, beyond feeling, and when he awakes, he seeks it yet again, to be intoxicated – He is bound by his addiction to alcoholic drinks! – “When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?” (Proverbs 23:35b)
  • Drunkard is warned with the Sixfold Questions: – Proverbs 23:29:
    • Who has Woe?
    • Who has Sorrow?
    • Who has Contentions?
    • Who has Babbling?
    • Who has Wounds without Cause?
    • Who has Redness of Eyes?
    • The Answer: Proverbs 23:30 “Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine.”
    • The Warning: Proverbs 20:31 “Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly.”
    • The Suffering: Proverbs 23:32 “At the last it bites like a Serpent and stings like a Viper.”
    • Separation Required: Proverbs 23:20 “Do not mix with Winebibbers {Drunkards}, or with gluttonous eaters of meat.” – Because “Evil company corrupts good habits.” (1Corinthians 15:33b).

To be continued…. Stay tuned….

The Importance of Words (Proverbs 18) (Part 2)

The Gossiper

Proverbs 18:8 (NIV) “The words of the gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s innermost parts.” Gossipers is worse than the Fool because he does not blunder into trouble with his eyes shut, he really means to cause it.

  • Gossip is forbidden by the Law – Leviticus 19:16 (NIV) “Do not go about spreading slander among the people.”
  • Gossip divides friendship – Proverbs 16:28 (NIV) “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separate close friends.”
  • The Listener to malicious gossip is as “wicked” as the person who speaks – Proverbs 17:4 (NIV) “A wicked man listens to evil lips; a liar pays attention to a malicious tongue.

The way rumours are received is graphically described in Proverbs 18:8 – they are like “choice morsels,” those titbits which do not need chewing or stick in the throat but slip easily “down into a man’s innermost parts” (“inner room”). A person finds no difficulty in concentrating on the gossip’s tale, he laps it up. Nor the person finds it hard to remember indeed the term (literally) “inner rooms” has the sense of storeroom where things are retained to be brought out later. In this way the Listener to gossip assists the Gossiper in carrying out his “trade.”

A Wise Man

Proverbs 18:4 (NIV) “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.” The two parts of Proverbs 18:4, as often with Book of Proverbs, are parallel, so that it is “the words of……wisdom” that are here in view throughout:

Verse 4a Speaks of the Source – It comes from the Depth of the Person’s heart and is therefore like “deep waters” – Proverbs 20:5a (NIV) “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters.” Wisdom is Deep (Job 28), it is what God is (Romans 11:33).The Person who is taught by God’s Word is admitted into His (God’s) Counsel which “No eye has seen, no ear has heard,” but which “God has revealed….to us by His Spirit” (1Corinthians 2:9).

Verse 4b Describes the “Communication” of this Wisdom, which is compared not to an Ocean or well but “the Fountain” from which flows a “bubbling brook.” This is how others come to benefit from “the Depth of the Wisdom and Knowledge” of God that the Wise Person has. This brings refreshing and revive those he speaks to:

  • Proverbs 10:11a (NIV) “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.”
  • Proverbs 13:14a (NIV) “The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.”

Apostle Paul exhorts: “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly” – meditate deeply upon it – then, “Let your conversation be always full of grace” (Colossians 3:16; 4:6).

The Wise Person Acquires WisdomProverbs 18:15 (NIV) “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.” Proverbs 18:15 tells us how this ability to speak wisely is acquired. It takes us back to the First Nine Chapters of Book of Proverbs, which are chiefly an encouragement to cultivate Wisdom. Proverbs 18:15 is the good summary of the teaching and exhortation of Proverbs Chapters 1 to 9:

  • Cultivates a discerning heart by appreciating the Value of Knowledge. This is what the Parents try to cultivate by their patient instruction, part of which is to praise wisdom above all else (Proverbs 3:13-18; Proverbs 4:5-7; Proverbs 7:21-27; 8; Proverbs 9:10).
  • Approaches it with earnestness, “seek it out,” do not wait for it to come to us. Knowledge lies deep down in the heart of the people and has to be carefully “surfaced” by being a Good Listener – “Ears of the wise seek it out.”
  • Gives it rapt attention – the heart will not acquire it unless the ears listen to it with concentration in order to understand and retain it.

Final Words…… Power of Words

Power of WordsProverbs 18:20-21 (NIV) “From the fruit of his mouth a man’s stomach is filled; with the harvest from his lips, he is satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” The Power of Words for good or evil has already been illustrated in the above Verses. Here it is shown forth as “the Fruit.” A person must realise the consequence (fruit) of his words. There is great satisfaction in speaking what is true, edifying, informative, understanding, instructive, sympathetic, comforting and even rebuking that brings forth life. Whereas lies, misinformation, cursing, boasting, vilifying (defamatory) beings forth death. Each person must give an account for every careless word spoken – Matthew 12:36 “But I say to you that for every idle word men speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgement.”

The Importance of Words (Proverbs 18) (Part 1)

The Statement

Wise and foolish words are one of the main themes in the Book of Proverbs. It receives further treatment in Proverbs chapter 18. It surveys the differing uses of tongue and their consequences:

A Foolish Person

Proverbs 18:2 (NIV) “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.” A person who “delights in airing his own opinions” can appear knowledgeable, wise, and even gain a great following, but he lacks understanding.”

  • This is because he cannot be bothered to go thoroughly into the matters on which he expresses his opinion – Proverbs 18:15 (NIV) “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge the ears of the wise seek it out.”
  • This is too much trouble and he “finds no pleasure in it” (Proverbs 18:2a, NIV). After all, if he does, he may discover he was wrong and have to eat his words, which the self-opinionated will never do.
  • He must be different in order to draw attention to himself. It is important for us to check our opinions against those of others and gleamed wisdom from interaction.
  • Foolish Person cannot be taught; he is critical and is in a danger of forming his clique.

Self-Opinionated Person

A Self-OpinionatedProverbs 18:6-7 (NIV) “A fool’s lips bring him strife, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool’s mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul.”  Self-opinionated Fool is trapped by his own words because he provokes disagreement, which leads to strife, but being a controversialist he enjoys this – Proverbs 18:20 (NIV) “From the fruit of his mouth a man’s stomach is filled; with the harvest from his lips he is satisfied.” However, provocative words can lead to blows: “His mouth invites a beating” (Proverbs 14:3). He may get the best of argument, but he comes off worse off because “his mouth is his undoing,” literally “ruin, destruction.” This may mean he is such a well-known nuisance that no person will take his part and he may be brought before for punishment – Proverbs 19:19 (NIV) “A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty; if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.” Whichever it is he has only himself to blame. No person sets out to get him, he himself laid the snare which brings “ruin” (“undoing”) to himself:

  • Proverbs 10:8b (NIV) “A chattering fool comes to ruin.”
  • Proverbs 12:13a (NIV) “An evil man is trapped by his sinful talk.”
  • Proverbs 13:3b (NIV) “He who speaks rashly will come to ruin.”

James put it in a nutshell: “What a great forest is set on fire by a small spark” (James 3:5). Ecclesiastes 10:12b (NIV) “A fool is consumed by his own lips.”

To be continued…… Stay Tuned.

Quarrelling (Proverbs 20:3)

Quarrelling

Proverbs 20:3 (NIV) “It is to a man’s honour to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” Proverbs 20:3 (KJV) “It is an honour for a man to cease from strife, but every fool will be meddling.”

Quarrelling is one of the commonest human weaknesses and has the most serious effects; it marks one of the clearest differences between Wise and Foolish Person. Every Foolish Person is quick to quarrel because the Person is “quick-tempered” and lacks understanding:

  • Proverbs 14:29 (NIV) “A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly (foolishness).”
  • Proverbs 16:32 (NIV) “Better is a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.”
  • Proverbs 17:14 (NIV) “Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so, drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.”
  • Proverbs 19:11 (NIV) “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”

It is honourable for the Person to avoid (“cease from” – KJV) strife. The phrase ceased from (KJV) means “a complete separation from strife.” The word avoid (NIV – “cease from” – KJV) has the idea of sitting still, remaining calm under a hail of insults. The world sees this as weakness and dishonour (James 3:14-16). But, as Bridges puts it, “An evil world is a fine theatre for the display of the Grace of God in the fruits of ‘the wisdom that is from above,’ that is, Peaceableness” (James 3:17). It takes far more strength to control your temper than to stand up for your right.

Strife begins when honour is impugned (call in question, challenged) and must be defended, however, honour does not come from defending it, but controlling oneself and forgiving the injury – Proverbs 19:11 (NIV) “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”

The Wise Person does not get entangled with the petty grievances that often characterize life. This does not mean that the Wise Person will completely avoid addressing an issue when Principle is involved. However, the Wise Person will not get involve with the many neutral matters that give ground for quarrelling and irritation. In contrast, the Foolish Person “will be meddling” (“starts a quarrel” – Proverbs 20:3), because his lack of self-control leads him to focus on matters that would be best forgotten.

The Wife from The LORD (Proverbs 18:22 & Proverbs 19:14) (Part 4)

Amusing Note

It is amusing that God puts Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof” and Proverbs 18:22 “Whosoever findeth a wife fineth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord” side by side in the Word of God. The tongue is used when the man proposes to the girl. He asks her to marry him, and that is the proper way for it to be done; and death and life are in the power of the tongue. It is like the story of the old bachelor who had never met a woman whom he wanted to marry because he thought they all talked too much. He found what society, using an unkind word, called an old maid, one who seemed very quiet. He fell in love with her and asked her to marry him. The minute she accepted the proposal, she started talking. She talked about where they would go and how they would fix their house and on and on. Suddenly after an hour or so she realised that she was doing all the talking and that he was quiet. “Why don’t you say something?” she asked. He answered, I’ve said too much already!” – I have proposed! – Proverbs 18:22 “Whosoever findeth a wife fineth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.”

From the Lord

Proverbs 19:14 “House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the Lord” (KJV). – Any man, worthy or not, may inherit the property from Progenitors; any man may bargain for a wife, or give a dowry to his son to further his matrimonial prospects. But a prudent wife is a gift of God, a proof of His gracious care for His people (Proverbs 18:22). Septuagint states: “It is by the Lord that a man is matched with a woman.” There is a special Providence that watches over wedlock (Malachi 2:13-17); as we say, “Marriages are made in Heaven.” But marriages of convenience, marriage made in consideration of worldly means, are a mere earthly arrangement, and cannot claim God’s Grace.

A prudent wife is from the LORD is emphatic. It implies that this gift is beyond both comparison and contriving. A good wife is necessary for the establishment of a happy home. She is not acquired, however, as are other possessions which may be worked for or inherited. She is always to be treasured as a Gift from The LORD.

The account of Ruth’s life beautifully illustrates God’s Providence in the Marriage. The Moabites married, contrary to all expectation, of that times, an Israelite. In this way she was brought into Naomi’s family. She had returned with Naomi to her (Naomi’s) land and then came to the attention of Boaz, who became Ruth’s husband. Often the wheels of the LORD’s working in this interesting matter constrain the admiration of men who are not used to observing spiritual matters (Genesis 24:50). And how much more endearing and secure is the Special Gift of God! – A Wife! Thus, a prudent wife is honoured as “a special blessing of God’s immediate choosing, and therefore to be obtained by our prayers at the hand of the Giver” (Bishop Hall).

Husband’s Crown

Proverbs 12:4a “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband.” A virtuous woman one whose portrait is beautifully traced in Proverbs 31:10-31. The term is applied to Ruth (Ruth 3:11). The Vulgate renders “diligent.” Virtuous (hayil), when relating to men, especially soldiers, means “strength.”  Referring to a wife, it designates the womanly virtues, effectualness in the home and nobility of character, viz:

  • Graciousness – Proverbs 11:16 “A gracious woman retaineth honour, and strong men retain riches.” The comparison intimates that what strength is to man in maintaining his wealth, grace is to woman for securing her position and influence. This is a “finger-post,” directing woman in her weakness to the place where her great strength lies. The winsome will win her way. The adaptation of the feminine character to be the companion and complement of man is one of the best-defined examples of that designing wisdom which pervades Creation.
  • Wisdom – Proverbs 14:1 “Ever wise woman buildeth her house, but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.
  • Virtuous – The root idea of strength and worth. The modern phrase, “she has a lot in her,” expresses something of the meaning.

The expression means one of power either in mind or body, or both. The same idea is contained in the virtue. Such woman is not simply loving and modest and loyal but is a crown to her husband; is an honour to him, adorns and beautifies his life, making, as it were, a joyous festival. Paul (1Thessalonians 2:19) calls his converts “a crown of glorying.” She delights in seeing her husband honoured, respected, and loved; prudent in the management of her family (Proverbs 31:10-31). She is immovable in affection (Titus 2:4); Conscientious in the carrying out of her domestic responsibilities (Proverbs 31:27-28); kind and considerate to all around her (Proverbs 31:20, 26), and as the root of all, Fearing the LORD (Proverbs 31:30). She is not the ring on her husband’s finger, or the chain of gold around his neck. That is far too low. She is his crown; his brightest ornament; drawing the eyes of all upon him, as eminently honoured and blessed – Proverbs 31:23 “Her husband is known in the gates, (place of honour in the city), when he sitteth among the elders of the land.” Her husband is honoured because of her.

The allusion is to the crown worn by the bridegroom at his marriage, or to the garlands worn at feasts. The Sons of the Sirach has much praise for the virtuous woman: “Blessed is the man that hath a good wife, for the number of his days shall be double. A virtuous woman rejoices her husband, and he shall fulfil their years of his life in peace” (Ecclus 26:1-2).

The virtuous wife is an important influence in the happiness in the home. The word is literally “a woman of power (character-positive aspect), and the idea of force lies in the word and idea of virtue (asset). Her moral character and influence make itself felt in all the life of her household. She is her husbands’ glory and pride. The central figure in wisdom’s home is the virtuous woman. She is possessed with a moral power that manifests itself in her godly character and domestic activity. The crown, or garland, is an emblem of renown. She bestows honour upon her husband!!! – Proverbs 18:22 “Whosoever findeth a wife fineth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.”  & Proverbs 19:14 “House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the LORD.”