This is the last of the proverbs so we’ll start both another New and Old Testament book after this. A prophet from the OT and the book of Hebrews in the new NT.
10. An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31. Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.
Comment: In answering the question in the title – is this part of Lemuel’s mother’s oracle or his own thoughts? I can at least confidently comment on the last four lines. Charm and outward beauty are nice, but can be deceptive. Fear of God is always appropriate in both women and men. So let us say ‘Amen’ to that.
I know a number of women who don’t appreciate the rest of the portion as they think it is unobtainable and makes them feel failures. Personally I think the writer is highlighting all the good wifely attributes which are available and commonly seen even if rarely all in the one person. If men look for just a sex object and not an excellent wife they are fools! So the beginning talks about a trusting marriage relationship. What does she do?
- She provides clothing for the family.
- She is prepared to go beyond the corner shop to get supplies to feed her family and servants. This is so much easier in the day of supermarkets! My mother would never have an odd job man without seeing him fed while he was there.
- She sees a life beyond the home – in those agricultural days it was to buy a field. There are so many opportunities available these day both for unpaid service in the community and for financial gain.
- She dresses the family appropriately for the changing seasons.
- She’s wise and teaches (probably her children and neighbours) wisely and kindly.
- Her family honour her and her husband is able to be one of the wise elders sitting in judgement at the gate, as was the custom of the day.
In all of these the emphasis is on her home and her family. I think they are all honourable qualities and all or most are seen in many wives. Mine for one.
Prayer. We pray our Father for the wives and mothers in our land.