Acts 17:11 Archives

A Virtuous Wife

Commentary by Dean VanDruff on Prov 31:10-31

The idea of the "virtuous woman" is an interesting one for both men and women, married and unmarried. For we are all female as concerns God, and we all hope to be virtuous in His sight. So we can learn from Proverbs 31:10-31 as we consider the description of a wife that is to be praised.

Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.

First is a statement of value. She is loved, respected, admired, etc. because she is like winning the lottery for those around her.

The heart of her husband safely trusts her...

She is someone who does what she says and so her husband can have full confidence both in her work and in her integrity and faithfulness in the marriage. (1 Peter 3:1-6) This can apply to a husband as well.

Trust is earned, and should never be given.

So he will have no lack of gain.

The virtuous woman is rich in the Spirit of grace. She is a source of wealth, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. She, like Christ, has a servant mentality and thus enriches all around her and "stores up treasure in heaven" as well. (Again, this can just as well apply to a man, but in this verse it is extolled as an especial virtue in a woman.) She gives and gives and gives, and yet finds the "rivers of living water" that never run dry. (See Gen 24:17-20 for a typological example)

She does him good and not evil All the days of her life.

Pr 14:1 (NAS) The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish tears it down with her own hands.

Again, this is equally true for a man, and we likely can think of more men who have destroyed their own houses than women and in more dramatic ways, but still the admonition is clear.

If you have ever been around people going through a divorce, all they want to talk about is what a jerk the other person is to justify themselves. Whether you want to hear it or not, they have to convince you they are in the right and the other person is to blame. On the other hand, how do people in love speak? This shows the continuum very starkly. Are we using our relationships outside the marriage to vent and "tear down"--a custom very popular in woman's (and men's) groups even in churches? If we are, we are headed for divorce--either emotionally or actually.

Beyond this one example, there are many subtle ways a woman can destroy her own house. Let the Spirit teach you this in the days to come.

She seeks wool and flax...

I take this to mean that she is discriminating and knows what she is looking for. As much as I hate to play to the carnal "shopping" mentality of women today (by which I mean "cruising" by letting the eye linger over material goods not needed in the hopes that something will really get the lust glands going... that you weren't looking for in the first place or shouldn't have--sort of like a man going to a strip joint!) I must admit that this verse implies she "knows where to get things". So, perhaps this is not "shopping" in the sinful modern sense, but rather the opposite. She knows right where to go, and is not a fashion victim or Madison avenue lackey or otherwise distracted.

And willingly works with her hands.

She is willing to jump into labor related tasks, not being a prima-donna princess who does not want to "get her hands dirty". You will notice that our modern notions of femininity do not map in every case very well into God's perspective of what makes a woman truly desirable and valuable, here, and as we go on. In the case above, think of the agrarian economy back then, with hard physical labor and chores.

She is like the merchant ships, She brings her food from afar.

The connotation here is that she is not insular or a "home body", but eclectic in breadth and creative in borrowing from other people and cultures. She has "connections" and knows quality. She is a "trader". Again, she "shops" with a goal--not looking to get hooked by something spurious or illicit. But she knows where to go and knows the right supply lines.

I trust that the spiritual meaning of this will be obvious to you, especially if you have downloaded this from the internet. <smiles>

She also rises while it is yet night, And provides food for her household, And a portion for her maidservants.

This again shows her strength and servant heart. She is not trying to please herself, but God and those God loves. Thus, she puts herself last.

Mr 10:31 (NIV) "But many who are now first will be last, and many who are last now will then be first."

But this has more to do with than just good long-term investing. It is something God delights in now and is an obedient imitation of Christ and the Gospel in this life. That God will reward it so greatly later only is just, but it has its own rewards in the here and now as well.

She considers a field and buys it; From her profits she plants a vineyard.

She is an investor. She speculates and takes risks. She is a businesswoman. No one can do this and always win, but in the whole (remember) her husband trusts her judgement. This is a fascinating text as it skewers our modern division of labor male/female. The wife here is mentioned as the investor and profit maker and business builder. Again, this could just as well apply to a man who is "virtuous". But let us have no idea that a "woman's place is only in the home". You have to get out into the "business world" to "consider a field" and "plant a vineyard". One of the chief virtues of the "excellent wife" is that she has interests outside the home to the general benefit of the family and community at large.

She girds herself with strength, And strengthens her arms.

Eph 6:10 (NAS) ...Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.

Jer 17:5-8 (NAS) Thus says the LORD, "Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind And makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the Lord. For he will be like a bush in the desert And will not see when prosperity comes, But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, A land of salt without inhabitant. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord And whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit."

Eph 6:11 (NAS) Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm...

Lu 12:35 (NRS) "Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit."

Ps 18:31-33 (NAS) For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God, The God who girds me with strength And makes my way blameless? He makes my feet like hinds' feet, And sets me upon my high places.

She perceives that her merchandise is good...

She is not looking for empty compliments and shallow praise. She knows when she has done well, and has the inner satisfaction of the right kind of pride--pleasing God and not men.

Gal 6:3-5 (NIV) If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.

Gal 1:10 (NAS) For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

So, she is not trying to please men (even herself) but God. In so doing, she truly pleases both with her unpredictability (John 3:8) and uncanny creativity and quality of workmanship and art.

And her lamp does not go out by night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hand holds the spindle.

Many commentators think this means she works late into the night-- I suppose by candlelight back then. But I suspect this might be a "song of solomon" type of sexual reference. For otherwise she would be rather overworked, and we will have neglected a rather important part of the life of the virtuous wife.

She extends her hand to the poor, Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.

She is not greedy, but generous. She is not just looking to build her position in society, but looking to build others up with the grace God has imparted to her.

She is not afraid of snow for her household, For all her household is clothed with scarlet.

Of interest here is that she is not given to fear or worrying. And she achieves this not by psychological tricks to change her mood. No, she cures her fearful nature by planning and preparation. She has reason not to fear.

She makes tapestry for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple.

She dresses well and is not a "servant in rags". She is a "joint heir" after all, so she presents herself in the best possible light.

Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land.

I find this interesting. One of her virtues is the success of her husband. She has truly "built her house", rather than tear it down.

She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies sashes for the merchants.

She produces. She takes raw materials and turns them into things that other people want. The merchants seek her out (just like she did them, earlier) because they know she does good work.

Strength and honor are her clothing...

She is not a wimpy daffodil nor a cheat. She is tough and resilient and worthy of respect and admiration. All this, we must keep in mind, is not of human origin--or it will be of fading glory only--like the wildflowers. It is of Christ and His life, welling up as a fountain within and lasting forever in increasing glory.

She shall rejoice in time to come.

...As will those who might have been "first" around her in this fleeting life. They will rejoice with her in her mansions in glory, forever.

She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness.

She is well conversed and read, and knows what God wants and how to impart this to others. She is not shrill or judgmental or gossipy, but rather kind and gracious.

She watches over the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness.

Cain said "Am I my brother's keeper?" just before he gravely sinned. The virtuous woman looks out for her husband, his temptations and potential moral lapses as well as her own and her children. This might be via prayer, but also might be through verbal rebuke. She is not lazy concerning her role as intercessor and watchman (watchwoman?).

Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her:

Not in the way of flattery, but in honest praise that is endorsed by God and sinks into the bones as joy and exultation.

Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all.

Special love and admiration is lavished on her by her husband, who sees her as a most excellent channel of grace.

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.

We have two Bible Studies: The Fear of the Lord and Glory concerning this.

Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Mark 14:9 (NIV) "I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."

1Ti 5:25 (NIV) In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden.

Mt 5:16 (NIV) "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

Ps 37:5-6 (NIV) Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

Phil 2:12-13 (Wey) Therefore, my dearly-loved friends... labour earnestly with fear and trembling--not merely as though I were present with you, but much more since I am absent from you--labour earnestly, to make sure of your own salvation. For it is God who is at work within you, giving you the will and the power to achieve his purpose.

A Tribute to Eleanor Vandruff

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