Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
The words in Proverbs 31:10-31 form an acrostic hymn. The passage summarizes—from A to Z—the attributes of a woman of wisdom.
This great woman applies wisdom to every aspect of life. She is an entrepreneur who buys fields, plants vineyards, and decides what merchandise is profitable. She is a household leader who directs the servants. She makes and provides clothes for the poor and her household. She is not caught off guard by challenges such as weather, for she is prepared for all situations. She is not easily distracted, working late into the night.
Unlike other proverbs, these thoughts are not Solomon’s. Instead they come from King Lemuel’s mother who advised her son, “Speak for those who cannot speak … Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy” (31:8-9). A righteous king with such honorable marching orders might then become a suitable partner for an equally upright woman. A woman like the one King Lemuel’s mother describes in Proverbs 31:10-31.
She is indeed wise.
She is also strong.
Her strength is the Hebrew word chayil and is a reference to military might and power. The same word is used in verse three when Lemuel is warned not to give his strength (chayil) away. This wise woman is clearly his equal, using strength to lead righteously and care for the poor, just as her husband is advised.
Wisdom is more than knowledge. It is knowledge put into positive action. Proverbs is a book of wise sayings, and this passage is a call to action for all who read it.
FOR FURTHER REFLECTION:
What common aspects of your life need more wisdom? Do you have a partner of equal strength who stands with you?
Lord Jesus, help me become more like this woman of wisdom. Help me be the partner of equal strength others need me to be. May I become the type of person who willingly and lovingly lives a life of righteousness and wisdom through my actions. Amen.
READ THE SCRIPTURE IN CONTEXT:
A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
Thanks to everyone who has invested in the Theology of Work Project! Thanks to your generosity, we were able to meet all our needs for 2017! We ask that you continue to keep us in your prayers and charitable giving in 2018 as we equip Christians to connect to God's purposes for work.