Day 31: A God-fearing woman (31:30)
“Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised”
Today we come to the second of our guest contributors in this the last chapter of Proverbs and it is appropriate in a book written by a father for his son and aimed firstly at men, that the ladies have the last word, and they do so in more ways than one. Like with Agur, we know little of today’s author, Lemuel, other than he was a king who had been taught well by his mother, evidenced by the words that follow. He goes over ground already well covered – stay away from wanton women and don’t get drunk and then makes a profound point that will no doubt please those concerned about social justice: “Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy” (31:8,9). We have noted already the key virtue of Proverbs – wisdom – is a lady. Along with the importance of the father’s teaching, on an equal footing is that of the mother.
But Proverbs ends (31:10-31) with reflecting on the subject of a wife of noble character. It does so by way of an acrostic poem (each line starting with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet) espousing some of the virtues discussed in earlier chapters. It attempts to answer the question, and at least suggests it is one any man looking for his partner in life should be asking: “Who can find a virtuous woman?” (31:10a) and then gives plenty of back up as to why he considers “her price is far above rubies” (31:10b). While we might wryly smile that women who get up early to organise the household servants may live on a different planet to the ones we are used to, yet have to agree she is pretty awesome and if those of us (who are unmarried men) find such a ruby, then we are blessed indeed. She is a hard worker and an astute, honest businesswoman. She is a good employer, gives generously to the poor, provides well for her household. Her husband has full confidence in her, her husband is respected at the “city gate” and her children arise and call her blessed (31:11,23,28). She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come; she speaks with wisdom, and gives faithful instruction (31:25-26). So Proverbs comes to an end, singing her praises and commending her virtues that far excel the mere outward show we too often see: “Many women have done wonderful things, but you’ve outclassed them all! Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God. Give her everything she deserves! Adorn her life with praises!” (31:29-31 MSG)
Prayer: We thank you Lord for the many wonderful lessons we have learned in Proverbs. We thank you for the noble woman whose price is far above rubies.