“The sayings of Ling Lemuel, an oracle his mother taught him.” Proverbs 31:1 King Lemuel’s mother is giving him advice on: what qualities to look for in a woman. It’s also a great guide for women, in giving us a description of the kind of character we should be working towards, whether we’re single or married. And, for the men, what qualities to look for in a woman, when you’re thinking about marriage.
“A wife of noble character who can find her? She is worth far more than rubies.” Prov.31:10 …What does “noble” mean? According to the dictionary: high morals, virtuous, honor, generous. Her noble character is not in her beauty, or her accomplishments, rather: “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30 “the woman who fears the Lord” that’s what makes her valuable and hard to find…and worth more than rubies. Rubies, a precious stone that is rare and expensive!
“Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.” Proverbs 31:11 Since she fears the Lord, her husband can trust her. Her character and her reputation are automatically a reflection that God lives in her! Her husband has complete confidence (trust) in her; she is absolutely trustworthy; that she will take care of everything that is under her responsibility.
“She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:12 She brings him good, not harm. She wants the best for him. Did you notice something very interesting in this verse? It doesn’t put conditions: If her husband is good to her, then she’ll be good to him… no, she wants the best for him. “all the days of her life” that means she loves him in the good times and the bad times. “All the days of her life” also means that this marriage is permanent. She’s not going to leave when things get “rough!” No. It’s forever.
“She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.” Proverbs 31:13 “She makes intelligent decisions, when she buys wool and flax (selects). After she buys it: she has to spin the wool and flax to get the thread, to make the clothes. Wool for winter clothes, and flax for summer time. … and she does this: with eager hands!
“She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.” Proverbs 31:14-15 What does it mean that “she’s like a merchant ship?” Merchant ships traveled to get spices, food, merchandise. Well, that’s exactly what this woman is doing. She goes a long way to get her food. She doesn’t “settle for ordinary food” no, she wants the very best for her family. She’s organized, she gets up early: Because her family is her top priority. She wants to make sure she has plenty of time, to make them a good, nourishing breakfast, and makes sure that the servant girls are fed, and ready to work.
“She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.” Proverbs 31:16 “She considers” that means that she doesn’t spend her money foolishly, no. She thinks about it, weighs the pros and cons. She has the capacity to know a “good deal” when she sees one. And, when she sees a good deal: she buys property and plants a vineyard out of her earnings. Where did she get the money? “She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.” Proverbs 31:24 She works. She’s a business woman: sells her products, then, buys a vineyard that will help the family economically.
“She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.” Proverbs 31:17 This woman is no slouch! She works vigorously, that’s why her arms are strong: “She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.” Proverbs 31:18 What trading? Perhaps grapes from her grapevines (v.16) or maybe she sells the thread that she makes from the wool (v. 13), we know she sells sashes, belts, and fine garments (24). Because she’s working late, she doesn’t turn off her lamp. So, she gets up early (v. 15) and goes to be late … a hard working woman.
“In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. Proverbs 31:19 Today, if we want clothes, we go buy them … or if you know how to sew, you purchase fabric, and make your own clothes. Aha, back then, you had to make your own thread, you used a distaff to hold the wool or flax with one hand, and a spindle with the other … that’s how you made your own thread to sew your clothes …
“She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.” Proverbs 31:20 This woman is not so busy, that she doesn’t notice that there are others less fortunate than her, and she helps the needy. “She extends her hands” that means that she’s personally involved in their life. She “opens her arms to the poor” She reaches out to them. She’s not so involved in her own affairs, that she doesn’t realize that God has blessed her abundantly, and she wants to bless others. I’d like for us to compare this noble, virtuous woman to the women of Samaria: “Hear this word, you cows of bashan on Mount Samaria, you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy…The Sovereign Lord has sworn by his holiness: “The time will surely come when you will be taken away with hooks, the last of you with fishhooks.” Amos 4:1-2 God’s anger against Samaria, was: that the women were oppressing the poor. Two very different women: one who not only gives to the poor, but extends her hands to them. The other type of women: selfish, greedy, oppressing and crushing the poor.
“When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.” Proverbs 31:21 With the wool and flax that she has selected, and the thread that she has made from the wool and flax, she makes clothes for her family … clothes that will keep them warm when it snows. But, not only does she make them clothes, she makes them pretty. She takes the time to dye them a pretty scarlet.. Red, the color of elegance … she took pride in her work. She wants her family to really enjoy the clothes that she makes for them.
“She makes coverings for her bed: she is clothed in fine linen and purple.” Proverbs 31:22 She makes blankets for her bed. Blankets to keep her family warm at night. Now this woman gets up early to make sure her family is fed, and burns the midnight oil, working late at night. So, you’d think she’d be too tired to even comb her hair, and would run around in dingy old dresses … no! “She is clothed in fine linen and purple.” She takes pride in her appearance. She had to dye her fabric, to get it purple, more work, but once again, she does it with eager hands (v. 13). Eager hands, that means that’s she excited, happy to do it. She takes satisfaction in doing it beautifully.
Purple was the color of royalty, the color of elegance. According to the Bible commentaries, linen was expensive, and the purple dye was the most expensive dye of all. We also see this virtuous woman has a great sense of self-worth; good self-esteem. She works hard and she enjoys luxuries like linen and purple dye that she can buy with her earnings . There’s a verse in Ecclesiastes that is quite remarkable: “Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work-this is a gift of God.” Ecclesiastes 5:19 This verse is telling us: to enjoy what God has provided, because it’s a gift from Him.
“Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.” Proverbs 31:23 According to the Bible commentaries, the king and his men would gather at the city gates, and decide on how to run the city, make decisions, war plans, etc.. Because this woman is her husband’s partner, working side by side with him, word has gotten out, that she is a virtuous wife, a noble wife worth far more than rubies … and because of her reputation, because of her character: he is respected. Her reputation has become a source of honor for her husband. He becomes known for whom he married: “A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown.” Proverbs 12:4
“She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.” Proverbs 31:24 This virtuous woman has merchandise worth selling to merchants. People in biblical times, would wear robes and used a sash to tie that robe. Well, this gal has a sewing business: she sells her sashes and linen garments to merchants. And with that money, she has the freedom to buy a vineyard. I want us to notice something very important: This woman isn’t locked up in her house, no. She’s buying food, flax and wool and vineyards. She’s selling sashes and linen garments.
“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” Proverbs 31:25 She doesn’t worry about getting old, at the days to come, because she is clothed with strength and dignity. Where does she get her strength and dignity? From God! That’s what makes her a virtuous woman! This woman isn’t just clothed in linen and purple, she’s clothed in strength and dignity. Strength has to do with spiritual character. Dignity means that she’s a woman of honor … that’s why she can do all of these things, because it’s a reflection of who she is. She smiles at the future, because God is in control of her life. Everything she is and does, is in God’s hands.
“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is in her tongue.” Proverbs 31:26 She speaks with wisdom, she’s careful with her words. Words that build up, not destroy. And faithful instruction is in her tongue: she teaches. What does she teach? First of all, I think she teaches by setting an example: her life. When she teaches, she teaches with love. This virtuous woman knows how to control, rule her tongue. That’s where we see her wisdom, her faithful instruction. “She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31:27 This woman is busy, takes pride in her work… her household is not just a house: it’s a home! She watches over the affairs of her household, makes sure that everyone is properly fed and clothed. Therefore: “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” Proverbs 31:28 That’s her reward: Her children arise and call her blessed. They see her devotion, her hard work … and they call her blessed. “Her husband praises her.” Brethren, women need to be praised! We need to be complemented. To be told, “Hey you’re doing a great job … thank you!”
“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Proverbs 31:29 I want you to notice something very interesting: “many women do noble things” in other words, she isn’t the only one doing good things, but King Lemuel is saying: “But honey, you’re the best!” … why is she the best? Why does she surpass them all?: “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is tobe praised.” Proverbs 31:30 What makes her the best, what makes her virtuous: is that she fears the Lord: that’s why she’s to be praised! King Lemuel’s mother wanted him to see that external beauty is fleeting … so you better look for inner beauty because that’s what’s important.
“Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” Proverbs 31:31 Not only do her children called her blessed, and her husband praises her, but publicly she should be rewarded and praised., for all that she is and does. Yes, we admire her skills, her intelligence, her abilities, but what we praise her for, is that she fears the Lord. Lemuel’s mother is saying: “Son this is the woman that I want you to spend the rest of your life with. A woman who fears God, a woman who is clothed in strength and dignity, a woman who has a heart of gold, who helps those in need. A woman who loves her family, her husband and children, they’re her joy and delight. A woman who is not afraid to work hard.
Now, not all of us are going to get up at 4:00 in the morning and shear sheep, or pluck feathers off a chicken, to make chicken soup! Not all of us are going to be making our own thread, or buying a vineyard … and that’s okay. Aha, but all of us, who have Jesus in our hearts, have this “inner beauty!” All of us are “virtuous women” because we fear the Lord. Because God is in control of our lives! And when God is in control of our lives, when we fear Him, we too: “can laugh at the days to come.” We don’t have to be stressed out, scared of the future, because Jesus is right there with us, every step of the way … and, that’s what makes us more valuable than rubies…