Monday, August 31, 2009

Proverbs 31: 10-31

10A capable, intelligent, and virtuous woman--who is he who can find her? She is far more precious than jewels and her value is far above rubies or pearls.

11The heart of her husband trusts in her confidently and relies on and believes in her securely, so that he has no lack of [honest] gain or need of [dishonest] spoil.

12She comforts, encourages, and does him only good as long as there is life within her.

13She seeks out wool and flax and works with willing hands [to develop it].

14She is like the merchant ships loaded with foodstuffs; she brings her household's food from a far [country].

15She rises while it is yet night and gets [spiritual] food for her household and assigns her maids their tasks.

16She considers a [new] field before she buys or accepts it [expanding prudently and not courting neglect of her present duties by assuming other duties]; with her savings [of time and strength] she plants fruitful vines in her vineyard. [S. of Sol. 8:12.]

17She girds herself with strength [spiritual, mental, and physical fitness for her God-given task] and makes her arms strong and firm.

18She tastes and sees that her gain from work [with and for God] is good; her lamp goes not out, but it burns on continually through the night [of trouble, privation, or sorrow, warning away fear, doubt, and distrust].

19She lays her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.

20She opens her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her filled hands to the needy [whether in body, mind, or spirit].

21She fears not the snow for her family, for all her household are doubly clothed in scarlet.

22She makes for herself coverlets, cushions, and rugs of tapestry. Her clothing is of linen, pure and fine, and of purple [such as that of which the clothing of the priests and the hallowed cloths of the temple were made].

23Her husband is known in the [city's] gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.

24She makes fine linen garments and leads others to buy them; she delivers to the merchants girdles [or sashes that free one up for service].

25Strength and dignity are her clothing and her position is strong and secure; she rejoices over the future [the latter day or time to come, knowing that she and her family are in readiness for it]!

26She opens her mouth in skillful and godly Wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness [giving counsel and instruction].

27She looks well to how things go in her household, and the bread of idleness (gossip, discontent, and self-pity) she will not eat.

28Her children rise up and call her blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied); and her husband boasts of and praises her, [saying],

29Many daughters have done virtuously, nobly, and well [with the strength of character that is steadfast in goodness], but you excel them all.

30Charm and grace are deceptive, and beauty is vain [because it is not lasting], but a woman who reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord, she shall be praised!

31Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates [of the city]!

--from the Amplified Bible



Today's Thought Question:
  1. What proverb in today's passage spoke to you and why?

Can't believe we close out the Book of Proverbs today! Such a journey!! Have learned so much, and I hope you have also. I have learned much from your comments as well--it's as if we were sharing around a table! Thank you, friends....

I have no idea what to post today. This is one of those passages of Scripture that is so well studied. So many books (am reading one now!). I had not read the Amplified Bible's translation before, and I decided to feature that today, because it truly adds some exceptional points about this woman.

I like the expansion on verse 15: "She rises while it is yet night and gets [spiritual] food for her household..." One of the footnotes in the AMP stresses that the description we read is not just about a woman who is great with things about the house (i.e., Martha stuff), but her life is full because she is spiritually full. God gives her the power to do the about the house things (and more) because she prepares first to spend time with her Lord.

Verse 16 spoke loudly to me: "She considers a [new] field before she buys or accepts it [expanding prudently and not courting neglect of her present duties by assuming other duties]...." When new "fields" make themselves available, do I really consider--plan, imagine, state the purpose--if I need one and what will happen if I accept one? What happens when I take on good thing after good thing (oh, they're all good!!), is what this verse says: The present duties don't go away. Logically, I should know this, but being wooed as I am by a "good field," I forget the consequences that come with too much of too many good things! Then, I go back and plug in verse 11...ask if a husband's heart is reconsidering his confident trust on one who buys (and expects to maintain) too many new fields?




Look at 18b: "...her lamp goes not out, but it burns on continually through the night [of trouble, privation, or sorrow, warning away fear, doubt, and distrust]." I have not read this verse any other way except that her light stays on through the night--while she's working! She's up early and works; she's doing well or isn't done, so she stays up late. No...her Light stays on, warning away fear, doubt and distrust. I know those times when I am up in the middle of the night, I am so grateful that God is there--because all of those things can cause one's mind to get too busy at a time when it needs rest. This was a huge blessing today for me!

"She opens her hand to the poor...." (vs. 20) and "She opens her mouth in skillful and godly Wisdom..." (vs. 26) Do you remember what we were reading yesterday about the king and what he should do: "Open your mouth for the mute...Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy." As kings were challenged to mediate the compassion of God, I would suggest that the Proverbs 31 woman, likewise, shows compassion in her service and in her words.

Verse 27: "...the bread of idleness (gossip, discontent, and self-pity) she will not eat." Again, I have always just breezed through this verse taking the most literal translation of idleness. She works all the time, or, at least, doesn't sit still for the trivial. I think the AMP's expansion on this is noteworthy and valid.

Verse 29: "Many daughters have done virtuously, nobly, and well [with the strength of character that is steadfast in goodness], but you excel them all." The AMP has an extensive footnote on this verse, part of which I will quote here. In comparison to other great women of the Bible--Deborah, Ruth, Esther, Hannah, among others--how does this woman "excel them all"?

"In her spiritual and practical devotion to God, which permeated every area and relationship of her life. All seven of the Christian virtues (II Pet. 1:5) are there, like colored threads in a tapestry. Her secret, which is open to everyone, is the Holy Spirit's climax to the story, and to this book. In Prov. 31:30, it becomes clear that the 'reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord,' which is 'the beginning (the chief and choice part) of Wisdom' (Prov. 9:10), is put forth as the true foundation for a life which is valued by God and her husband as 'far above rubies or pearls' (Prov. 31:10)."

One last thought on this incredible passage (I have to get Matthew Henry in here one more time!). Again, truly expanded my thinking:

"This passage is to be applied to individuals, but may it not also be applied to the church of God, which is described as a virtuous spouse? God by his grace has formed from among sinful men a church of true believers, to possess all the excellences here described."

Wow.... So much to think about. And that's a good place to be--even after learning so much! "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" to "a woman who reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord, she shall be praised!" AMEN

P.S. Join me tomorrow for "the epilogue" as we revisit the idea behind burning, heaping coals.





Photo: http://web.ncf.ca/ek867/rmw.midnight.snowlight.jpg



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Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation, specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB). I will quote other sources if used in a post.
I also use Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (with notes from the King James Version).

3 comments:

Kelly Combs said...

Wow - you really covered everything great. I loved the amplified version, and the doors it opened as well.

From the expanded I really liked verse 15, because of the spiritual food. Like I keep getting nudged to get up early and do my Bible/God/Devotion time. Okay, okay. Starting next week!

But the verse that sticks out to me in general is v30 "Charm and grace are deceptive, and beauty is vain [because it is not lasting], but a woman who reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord, she shall be praised!" I tend to lean on my charm & beauty (LOL! - well, decent looks anyway). That is what was "important" when I was raised, how you look, how you act, with little emphasis on the inside. So as I continue to study the Bible and find out the inside is ALL that matters, that is the verse I always think of. It's one of my little favorites.

TAHNK YOU for being faithful to your readers and to yourself and mainly to GOD and completing this study. YOU ROCK!!!! (Or should I say you are a living stone of the Cornerstone! Amen.)

KelliGirl said...

Hooray! You did it! I am so proud of you and impressed, not only at your perseverance, but at your wisdom. I thought you were wise before, now after a summer of studying "wisdom," you are the go-to-girl, at least in my book! (Although if I'm in a jam and you're not available, I might ask Kelly :-)

As you said, there's been so much written on these verses. Thank you for bringing in some new thoughts. I have at times been equally impressed with and discouraged by the P31 woman. Your insights through the AMP help me relate to her better than I ever have (although I fall so far short!).

I'm not sure which verse stands out the most, but I love the fact that she doesn't have to be a domestic diva (thank goodness), but that "her life is full because she is spiritually full." From where I sit, that's a goal I want to strive for.

I always thought the idea of a 50s housewife clad in high heels and an apron, with a clean house, clean kids and dinner on the table at 5:00 was a model of a good wife. The Proverbs 31 woman blows that picture to smithereens! She is busy, industrious, capable, entrepreneurial, domestic, wise, financially astute and more. A powerful model of a woman, indeed!

I will try to check back tomorrow for your epilogue. I'm sure you're relieved to wrap up this adventure, but know that your efforts have blessed me and all of your readers. (I haven't finished Proverbs yet, but I continue reading it until the very last verse.)

Blessings, my (wise) friend,
Kelli

Carmen said...

Thank you for a wonderful journey Sue! I really enjoyed this bible study immensely. I absolutely love Proverbs, and spent the first three years (after re-dedicating my life in 1983)reading one chapter each day. Even so, I still learned a great deal from your expositions. I will miss this! I have to agree with Kelly...I really love the Amplified version. My Counselling teacher turned me on to it years ago and I've never looked back.
Hope to see more from you soon!