Proverbs 31 Wife: Loved
“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.
Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate”
As a holiday gift from her husband and children, a friend of mine opened a jewelry box to find a beautiful silver bracelet. Engraved on the bracelet was the verse, “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all'” (Proverbs 31:28-29).
Of course my friend was deeply touched by this gift of honor. I too was profoundly moved when I heard of it. My first thought was, “How did they know that a wife longs to hear this particular praise?” So many of us wives strive to be a Proverbs 31 Wife and never quite feel like we’ve made it.
My second thought was, “I wonder how my husband sees me?” I know the answer in the sense that he respects me utterly and, as a half-glass full guy, always represents me honorably in public. But I wonder in the sense that my worst comes out at home. Home is my refuge, my fueling station, my release. Because my husband does such a great job of creating a safe place for me to express my hurt, my frustrations, my fatigue, and my stress, that also means that he usually gets the brunt of it. He could easily speak of me (quite honestly) in a light that is unfavorable because he knows the worst of me.
I see this same truth with parents. They are worn out physically and crumbling under challenges emotionally. And because their children are with them for much of the day, their children witness (and often bear the brunt of) their short-comings. They have the ammunition to speak unfavorably of their parents.
So how truly awesome it is that those who know her best give her the deepest praise!1
How does one become loved and esteemed in this way? This is tricky because we cannot command another to love us. All we can do is model love such that it would be contagious, spread by the Spirit of God.
Modeling this love has little to do with beauty. In our society, however, there is merit in being stunningly beautiful. Trophy wives generate esteem among those who seek vanity. They contribute to the reputation of their husbands in the eyes of those who jealously pursue success. Our society fosters this external merit, so it’s fruitless to say that beauty is irrelevant.
But what society doesn’t lend credit to is that external beauty fades. It takes a lot of money to keep from feeling ashamed in the media’s critical eye when a man or woman enters into the beauty pageant of society. Not only does beauty fade, but also “there may be an impure deformed soul lodged in a comely and beautiful body.”2
And modeling contagious love has little to do with putting on the charm. Demonstrating the fruit of the spirit, yes, but putting our best feet forward for the sake of maintaining a good reputation or for the sake of manipulating an outcome will not merit lasting praise.
When we stand before Jesus, He will not judge us on whether our outward appearance remained beautiful in society’s eyes or whether we were able to keep people liking us. He will judge us on our faithfulness to Him during the course of our lives. A major part of this is how we fulfill the mission He gave us of being a wife.
We might be tempted to think that if we check off the list of all the Proverbs 31 Wife’s practical to-do’s, then we will have succeeded in fulfilling that mission. As Gary Thomas puts it, however, “mission includes not just what we do, but what we become.”3
The reason why her children called her blessed and her husband praised her was because of verse 30: “A woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” When we love the Lord faithfully and transparently, praise will be bestowed on us. Hopefully that comes from our family members, but again, we cannot force them to love us. If it does not come from them, then the merit of the fruit we bear (again, not just in deed, but even more so in heart) will speak praise on its own because it is marked by the Spirit of God.
The goodness that she has poured into her family and community undeniably spills out in that “the most honourable are clad in the apparel that she made”4 (whether literally or figuratively). And as Jesus said on Palm Sunday, “If these [His disciples] were silent, the stones would shout out”(Luke 19:40) giving God the praise He is due. God’s merit will always reap praise, even if we are not alive to witness it.
Therefore, when we act in God’s merit, we are surely to be praised, not for our own worth, but for God’s to whom we have been faithful and willing to obey. Because we might not reap the rewards for our faithfulness in this lifetime, our self-worth must be rooted in Christ, in whom we can trust it to last even after our lifetime.
This last passage, although the hardest to “achieve” is the key to understanding any of the Proverbs 31 Wife. It is because she fears the Lord, or in other words that she is rooted in Christ and is faithful to obey Him and hope for His reward in due time, that she can endure in her hard work and in her sacrifice with cheer in her heart. Her children and husband speak just a whispered echo of what her Heavenly Father will say when she stands before Him to account for the mission of wife that He has given her.
1 Brown, Jamieson Fausset. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Accessed 9 April 2012. http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/jamieson-fausset-brown/proverbs/proverbs-31.html
2. Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry Critical Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete). Accessed 9 April 2012. http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/proverbs/31.html?p=4
3. Thomas, Gary. Sacred Marriage. Zondervan. Grand Rapids, MI. 2000, Pg. 254
4. Geneva Study Bible. Accessed 9 April 2012. http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/geneva-study-bible/proverbs/proverbs-31.html