Cheryl, Happy Forty-Eighth Anniversary today.
There is more than meets the eye in Proverbs 31:10-12, and we may take it too casually and narrowly:
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.
First, these verses start a section (31:10-31) that has a life of its own. It is an acrostic, where each verse starts with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The famous verse 10 must be understood in its context.
Second, it is an inspired, intentional, poetical, illustrative, and a fitting conclusion to Proverbs as the book of wisdom for men and women. Does this surprise you? Its position at the end is purposeful. Proverbs often contrasts, actually and figuratively (here by personification), the immoral-adulterous unwise woman with a woman of wisdom and faith, e.g., “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised” (31:30). Allen Ross notes: “The poem certainly presents a pattern for women who want to develop a life of wisdom, but since it is essentially about wisdom, its lessons are for both men and women to develop. The passage teaches that the fear of the Lord [1:7] will inspire people to be faithful stewards of the time and talents that God has given, that wisdom is productive and beneficial for others…and that wisdom is balanced living, giving attention to domestic responsibilities as well as business enterprises and charitable service.”
I like the outline of 31:10-31 that describes wisdom in marriage (31:10-12), in behavior (31:13-24), in character (25-27), in her family life (31:28-29), and in spiritual life (31:30-31). Be brave to unearth the wisdom principles in these verses.
Proverbs has already introduced the “excellent wife” in 12:4, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband” (12:4b). As such, her noble character brings honor to her husband and family and community in contrast to shame and “rottenness” (12b). She is “worth far more than riches” (31:10). She is a treasure to be discovered, protected, cherished, and encouraged to flourish.
Single men, pray for and pursue a woman of wisdom according to Proverbs 31:10-31—one who, though not perfect, is seeking to be like and please Christ in character and practice. Nurture and praise this in her.
Single women, let the light of Christ in and from you become like a brilliant light in a night sky. Proverbs 31:10-31 can guide you and light the way. Such a light is pleasing to Christ and irresistible to others, including real men who are in Christ.
Happy Anniversary Cheryl. Wow, forty-eight years so far! You are my own resident Proverbs, excellent wife and crown, and my greatest treasure! The proof is in the pudding: All your children are daughter-wives. They imitate your “excellence,” and “rise up and call you blessed” (31:28a).