There are thirty-one chapters in the Book of Proverbs, one for every day of the month. This fact means that Proverbs makes great daily reading, and many women participate in this reading plan. However, once these women get to Proverbs 31:10-31 they tend have one of several reactions.
They either skip right over it entirely (why read something that brings about feelings of failure?) or they plunge ahead and read it, shuddering at all they need to do to measure up, or they shake their heads and think, “That was for Bible times and has nothing to do with today”.
If the Proverbs 31 woman was to step out of the pages of King Solomon’s book and into today’s culture to sit down with a modern woman over a cup of Starbucks coffee, what would she say to her?
Let’s take a look at the first three verses of the passage in question:
10 Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.
11The heart of her husband safely trusts her
So he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
Going back to our two women over coffee, let’s listen in on the conversation as the Proverbs 31 woman shares what she knows.
Although today’s world is vastly different than the world during which Proverbs was written, a woman still has the ability to live as a virtuous wife. A virtuous wife is simply one that is full of virtue.
So what is virtue? According to Merriam–Webster’s online dictionary, virtue is defined as: “conformity to a standard of right; morality; a particular moral excellence.” A woman who lives like this has more worth and value than precious stones.
She is also rarer than precious stones. Sound a bit extreme? Perhaps. Step back and think for a moment, however. Do we have a world full of women that are walking around as living examples of moral excellence and right living?
The reality is that every day we are assaulted by TV shows and magazines full of women that are living lives based on their version of right. Women who are leaving little to the imagination in how they dress, who go through relationships as if they are today’s fad of clothing, only to be given to Goodwill tomorrow, and who are acting and living in a way that is a downright slap in the face to any sense of morality we may once have held to.
“But”, you hear the modern day woman argue, “what is right for you may not be right for me. And what may be right for me may not be right for another woman.”
To an extent you are correct in that statement; we are all personally accountable before God for the way He asks us to live. However, the Word of God does clearly outline right and wrong in several areas of life that leaves little room for questions. The Bible is very clear on issues such as premarital sex, the roles of a wife and mother, and even a standard of living that is based on “Be ye holy for I am holy” (I Peter 1:16).
How do the regularly watched TV shows, the ways women dress, and the conversations that take place on a daily basis measure up to God’s holiness and His command to live it out? It is in living in light of Jesus’ death on the cross, which bought our purity, and God’s command to live holy lives that a woman can begin to grasp what it means to be a virtuous wife.
If a woman does live out a life of moral excellence, purity, and godliness, how does this help her husband? In verse 11 we read that this type of living lets her husband safely trust in his wife and have no need of spoil. This woman will interact with other men in an appropriate and discreet manner. A woman who behaves appropriately with other men does so in such a way that they know her heart belongs solely to her husband.
This means she does not share her dreams and frustrations with another man instead of her spouse. It involves having the discretion to not carry on private message conversations with the opposite sex, as well as not talking for extended periods of time on the phone unless for business-type purposes.
It means using great discretion when having to email another man and actively avoiding situations that require being alone with man who is not her husband. Arguments abound that it is ok to have a best friend of the opposite sex, but time has repeatedly proven the danger of this set-up. It may be true that the friendship can be one of integrity initially, but the fact remains that friendships such as this only create room for potential downfalls that are nothing short of disastrous.
Many times, when friendships of the opposite sex exist, it is all too easy for deep heart emotions to be poured out at some point that should have been reserved for the husband’s ears only. This usually occurs in a moment of vulnerability, such as a period of time following a fight or a family crisis or a financial loss.
This situation sets up both parties for an affair. The affair may not always turn into a sexual encounter, but emotional affairs can be just as damaging to a marriage. Once begun, it is usually easier to continue going to the male best friend for emotional support than it is the husband.
Both the wife and the friend derive mutual satisfaction from the situation. Usually the man will feel very masculine because he is needed emotionally by this woman (something he may very well not be feeling from his own wife) and the woman will feel that, finally, here is a man who hears her heart and “truly understands her, unlike her husband” (which only serves to distance her even more from her husband).
A husband can also fully trust his wife who, although she dresses in a feminine way, reserves her body and sexuality for her husband. She does not share what rightfully belongs to her husband’s hands and eyes with other men.
As the years have passed, walking into a church on a summer day has become no different than walking into a mall, as far as women’s dress goes. Women of God are dressing just as indecently as women who don’t claim to be God followers. “It doesn’t matter. How I dress is my business. If a man looks at me and has a lust problem, that’s his issue, not mine.” So the argument goes. Here’s the problem with that argument: Men are visual. They are going to notice cleavage and legs and tightly fitting clothes without even having to think about it.
These visuals are going to trigger their brain to go to a place of battle, where they will either dwell on the thoughts in a sinful manner or will fight them and struggle to maintain their purity mentally. Just as a man should not be giving gifts and physical caresses to a woman who is not his wife, so a woman should not be giving visual and sexual glimpses to a man not her husband!
A wife that can be trusted closely guards her husband’s heart and dignity. She does not share private matters with other people that should remain only between her and her husband, and she never betrays his confidence.
In public, the trustworthy wife builds her husband up and praises him for the man he is instead of complaining about him, his faults, and the habits that drive her nuts. Along the same lines, a trustworthy wife is not just responsible with her husband’s ego and feelings in public, but she also guards them in the privacy of their home. Her husband can walk through the door of his home each night, not dreading a verbal assault of complaints, criticism, and nagging.
Instead, the closer her husband draws toward home, the more he will be looking forward to the fact that his wife that will greet him with love, thank him for the work he puts in to support her and the children, and will work at affirming him and listening to his thoughts and feelings as he shares them. When a man has a trustworthy wife, he does not need to go in search for emotional and mental security elsewhere, not to mention sexual satisfaction.
The King James Version sates that, “he has no need of spoil” which when put back into the original Hebrew is translated to mean, “He has no need to make himself prey”. This is a sobering thought. Not being a wife whose husband can fully rely on and trust emotionally, sets him up for a potential downfall of sin.
In his need for emotional safety the husband of an untrustworthy wife may lose himself in other outlets as a means of escape.
These outlets may be workaholism, constant TV watching, drinking, and/or pornography. This is not to say that we, as wives, are fully responsible for our husband’s spiritual life, but the part we play as wives is definitely a crucial one, and something that should not be taken lightly! Proverbs 31 is relevant to today’s woman.
It may take different forms than it took when Proverbs was written, but the truths remain the same. Men needed women with virtue and integrity who were trustworthy and safe during Solomon’s time, and they still need, and long for, women like that today.
Pic of the Day: Kitten enjoying a bath