The Psalm writer wrote: Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. As we come before a Holy God and hear his word, may we have eyes open to the wonderful and fearful things from his law. May it move us to repent and seek forgiveness, fear disobedience, and live in light of the grace we have received. This is the word of God. It is eternally true and applicable for all of life.
Proverbs 31:10-20 An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil All the days of her life. She looks for wool and flax And works with her hands in delight. She is like merchant ships; She brings her food from afar. She rises also while it is still night And gives food to her household And portions to her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength And makes her arms strong. She senses that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hands grasp the spindle. She extends her hand to the poor, And she stretches out her hands to the needy.
What man wouldn't want a wife like the excellent wife described in these verses?
Worthy of trust.
Productive for her household.
Giving to those in need.
All of these traits are things which God- fearing, prospective wives ought to strive for and characteristics which men should be looking for in a potential bride. When we consider commands in Scripture such as "examine yourself", for young ladies and seasoned wives alike, this passage is an excellent example of how God's word acts as a mirror to reveal who you are in contrast to the high, perfect standards of God.
This passage can also be a chain which drags a woman to the lowest depths of despair, and one which hardens the hearts of men toward their own wives, if God's grace is not at the foundation of the application of this passage. In other words ladies, if you are attempting to make yourself into the image of the Proverbs 31 woman, relying solely upon your strength, comparing yourself to other wives in the Church who are likely in a different season of life than you: you will wind up bitter, heartbroken, and hating your femininity because to reach this standard in your own strength is impossible.
Likewise men, if you look at your wife, see all the areas where she falls short of this mountain peak standard, and forget that she needs God's grace, your love, patience, and godly example, coupled with faith, here is what will happen: you will grow bitter toward your wife, compare her to other wives in the church who in your opinion, meet the standard, and will wind up coveting other men's wives.
As with all Scripture, problems arise when we approach the Proverbs in a formulaic fashion, thinking to ourselves "If I do "A", then "B" is sure to follow". While it is certainly true that one's standard of living and outward virtue would be heads and shoulders above that of others who were not applying the truths of Scripture to their lives, however: rote, wooden, faithless, ridgid, application is not a recipe for success. Applying a passage of Scripture like Proverbs 31 robotically will certainly clean the outside of the cup, yet issues of the heart will still remain. Ladies constantly comparing themselves to other ladies in the Church, men trying to help their wives along by saying things like "why can't you be more like so and so?", all the while neglecting the fact that apart from God's grace, His Spirit working in your life, all of your efforts to conform to His Word will be vain and fruitless.
Perhaps a helpful reminder for us is in order.
When speaking of marriage, we must remember that a man's relationship to his wife is a picture of Christ's relationship to His bride, the Church. Husbands, just as Christ showed His love for us in that while we were still yet sinners, He died for us: you too are to love your wife and lay your life down for her, even though she likely falls far short of the characteristics of the "virtuous wife". You say "my wife is stubborn, she refuses, she doesn't even try, therefore….". So, what? Do you throw in the towel? Stop loving your wife? Cut her off from the emotional and physical affection that God commands you give her? Resign to simply throw up your hands and write her off as a lost cause?
Thank God that our Lord Jesus does not treat His bride the Church in that way when we fall short of His glory, which is virtually every second. Young ladies and married women, don't lose heart. Just as Christ sanctifies the church through the washing of His Word, your growth as a wife will happen, as you persevere in faith, remembering that God gives the increase in its due season. If you look around at the older women of the Church who may embody many of the traits of the excellent wife, rather than grow bitter or jealous, praise God instead, because if you were to ask any of those women, they could surely tell you stories from a time when they weren't so virtuous, when they didn't look a thing like the woman described in the Proverb today. This should encourage you in that God does not save us and then walks away: He Who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).
If you are able, please kneel as we lift up our petitions before the throne of God.
For the natural man, Your high and lofty standards are unattainable. For one walking in the flesh, the mountain top is impossible to reach. Father, please forgive us when we toil in the flesh.
Please forgive the wives and young ladies for taking their eyes off of Your Son, and instead seeking to conform to Your standards in their own strength. Please forgive the husbands for not showing grace to their wives by loving them the way Christ loves His Church. Please be with the young men, and give them a desire for a virtuous wife, and please protect them from the adulterous woman. Please be with the young single ladies, and grant them patient resolve to strive for this high, lofty standard. Help them to not be tempted to compromise and go down the path of so many other young ladies who believe harlotry to be the only way to attract a young man.
Please forgive us of our sins, and help us to delight in Jesus.
It's in His name we pray, amen.
Please stand and listen to the comforting assurance of the grace of God, promised in the gospel to his church:
Psalm 103:1-5 Bless the Lord, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lift up your hearts!
(From the 05/02/2021 liturgy of Sovereign King Church written by Aaron Sabie.)