The Sweet Christian Bride

Proverbs 31 Wife: Strong

by admin on March 22, 2012 in Faith, Purpose, Relationship with No Comments

“She girds herself with strength, and makes her arms strong” (Proverbs 31:17).

Through today’s lens, this passage seems like it’s instructing a Proverbs 31 Wife to master P90X and join a Cross Fit gym, or at least to bench press more than just the bar.  Cringe.  How can we possibly have time to exercise consistently in addition to all this getting up while it’s dark stuff?

Do not fear.

It is true that we need to be good stewards of our bodies as worship to God.  And it is true that staying healthy and making an effort to keep our bodies fit makes a huge difference to our husbands: “Almost every man cares if his wife is out of shape and doesn’t make a true effort to change.  For some it’s merely a wistful ‘Oh, for the good old days’ sigh, while for others it’s a relationship wrecker” (160).1

But what I believe this passage is really illustrating is the importance of our eager and committed contribution to the tough stuff in our marriages, families, and homes.  Girding ourselves with strength is derived from the notion of men girding up their long robes around their loins (symbolizing a source of strength3) when they were embarking on a task that was particularly difficult work.2  In other words, we are to put strength, commitment, and focus into our tasks.

This is different from the assiduous nature of a Proverbs 31 Wife.  The implication here is that beyond her domestic employment and beyond her craft, the Proverbs 31 Wife is willing to get down and dirty, doing the tough jobs that require strength.4  Maybe cleaning toilets?  Changing diapers?  Gardening?  Changing the oil?  Unpacking?  Unloading groceries? Disciplining children?

It’s not just physical strength that we gird ourselves with; it’s also mental fortitude.  Or perhaps utter humility, which depends on a strength of spirit.  Think of the jobs you love to do that come easily to you.  Now think of everything outside of that box.  When you are called upon to do those tasks, you will need to gird yourself up with strength.

Before you reject this call upon a wife and decide to seek out a sugar daddy who will hire someone to do all the grunt work, remember Jesus.  He Who is God humbled Himself to be man and to experience all of the junk that humans go through.  His tasks required epic proportions of physical endurance (can you imagine being able to pray in the mornings while its still dark after spending your days walking from town to town?), mental fortitude, and spiritual strength.  And He considered it an honor because of the joy that would come after all the toil and pain.  What an exquisite model for a wife!

The beauty is, we are not without reward for our toils.  Out of this arduous, challenging work comes a character marked by endurance.  A James 1:2-4 opportunity, if you will.  God will work out of us a lot of junk and into us a lot of character as we accept the tough jobs with commitment and execute them with strength.

“And makes her arms strong” seems to be another outflow of the strength poured into the work she does.  Doing physical labor certainly helps to train our bodies, making us stronger.  Keeping mental placidity through agonizing tasks helps to train our wills to handle that which is more chaotic, more humiliating, and more stressful.  And of course, relying on the strength of Jesus to carry us through tasks that seem monumental and beyond our capacities will strengthen our faiths so we can call on Him in even greater moments of uncertainty or despair.

I also think that keeping our “arms strong” alludes to the importance of preparing us to be the head of the family if our husbands are to die before we do.  Much of a family’s livelihood in Biblical times came from agricultural, textiles, or other trades that required physical labor.  A wife who was only used to sitting at her spindle and distaff during her days would have had a very difficult time managing the reaping of her farms and the like.  One who had already practiced the tougher jobs, however, would cultivate a strength of mind, body, and spirit such that she could weave the pieces back together if her husband were no longer able to provide.

In our day and age, that translates to creating and maintaining an infrastructure on which we can lean when we our hearts are broken and we don’t have the strength to forge the way for our families.

That might mean learning a trade of our own, keeping our credentials current if we have left our careers, staying knowledgeable about the family finances, buying life insurance policies, or pursuing any other act or system that will help keep us strong if we are put in positions to take over for our husbands.

1 Feldhahn, Shaunti.  For Women Only: What You Need To Know about the Inner Lives of Men. Multnomah Publishers, Atlanta. 2004

2 Wesley, John. Wesley’s Explanatory Notes. Accessed 21 March 2012.

3 Gill, John. John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible. Accessed 21 March 2012.

4 Henry, Matthew.  Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible. Accessed 21 March 2012.

By Lindsay

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