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THE VIRTUOUS WOMAN
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
A sermon preached on Friday Evening, May 14, 2004
This passage of Scripture was written in the form of an acrostic. Each of the 22 verses began with a consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This was done to make it easier to memorize. Traditionally this poem was recited by husbands and children on the Sabbath, on Friday evening, at the dinner table. The opening verse in this section, verse 10, gives us the subject:
"Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies" (Proverbs 31:10).
This verse shows that a woman with a virtuous character is hard to find. The Hebrew word translated "virtuous" means "good, worthy" (Strong). A virtuous woman has a good, worthy and noble character. A wife with such a character is hard to find, she is a treasure of more value than rubies. The behavior of a virtuous woman is described in these verses.
Her husband trusts her.
"The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil [he shall have no lack of gain]. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life"
The husband of a virtuous woman trusts her. She will help him in his business and in the home. Her thriftiness and hard work will help him in all that he does.
She provides clothing and food for her family, as we see in verses 13 and 14.
"She seeketh wool, and flax [material to make clothing], and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar" (Proverbs 31:13-14).
The virtuous woman provides both clothing and good food for her family. She works hard in the home. She looks for bargains from distant places, rather than paying a bigger price on the spot.
She gets up early to fix food for her family, as we see in verse 15.
"She riseth also while it is yet night [before everyone else], and giveth meat [food] to her household, and a portion to her maidens" (Proverbs 31:15).
She gets up as early as necessary to prepare food for everyone in her family.
She is a hard-working woman. She thinks about saving money and making money for her family, as we see in verse 16.
"She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard" (Proverbs 31:16).
There is no foolish buying or indebtedness in her work. She saves money and makes more.
She works hard, and is strong, as we see in verse 17.
"She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms" (Proverbs 31:17).
She becomes strong by working hard.
She works late into the evening, as we see in verses 18 and 19.
"She perceiveth that her merchandise [gain] is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff" (Proverbs 31:18-19).
She is constantly working, even late at night. As an old poem put it, concerning the women who made America great,
Man works from dawn
'till the setting sun,
But a woman's work
is never done.
Her work at the "spindle" and "distaff" refer to spinning, providing clothing for her family.
Verse 20 tells us that the virtuous woman also provides for the poor. She literally "opens her hand" to the poor. This woman works hard, and she is also charitable.
"She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy" (Proverbs 31:20).
She is not merely concerned about her own family. She helps others who are less fortunate as well.
She prepares for cold weather by having warm clothing for her family, as we see in verses 21 and 22.
"She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple" (Proverbs 31:21-22).
Her family is clothed with scarlet in the winter. The red color suggests warmth and comfort. Her care for the family's clothing is also described in verse 24.
The virtuous woman helps her husband succeed, as we see in verse 23.
"Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land" (Proverbs 31:23).
"The gates" were the place in the city where the leaders, "the elders," sat to discuss local affairs. Her husband became a well-known leader because of the contribution of his wife. His comfort at home helped him to advance in the community.
"She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles [belts] unto the merchant. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come" (Proverbs 31:24-25).
With all of her other responsibilities, this woman makes items of clothing to sell. Because she is a hard worker, strength and honor come to her, and she has a solid financial position. This gives her confidence in facing the future. Look at verse 27,
"She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness" (Proverbs 31:27).
There is no question about it - the virtuous woman is not idle! She is a hard-worker. That is emphasized over and over in this chapter.
Then look at verse 26.
"She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness" (Proverbs 31:26).
The virtuous woman is wise and kind in her advice. The Bible teaches the discipline of children, but not through "crabbing." The virtuous woman does not tongue lash her children or "crab" in the home - or anywhere else!
A woman like this will be praised by her own family. Often praise comes from outside the home - from those who don't know you very well. But the virtuous woman is praised by those who know her best - her own husband and children. Look at verses 28 and 29.
"Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all" (Proverbs 31:28-29).
The great value of a virtuous woman lies in her ability to keep the home and in her godliness, rather than in charm and beauty. Her physical appearance is not discounted, but it simply isn't lasting. The godly character of the virtuous woman outlasts mere beauty. That's what verse 30 means.
"Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain [fleeting]: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised" (Proverbs 31:30).
A virtuous woman will be successful, and people will praise her, but the best praise she will get will be the honor of living a godly life. When people mention her name, they will automatically think of the godly life she lived. That is the way verse 31 puts it.
"Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates" (Proverbs 31:31).
Again, the city gates are mentioned, the place where the business of the city was conducted. When the leaders of the city gather, and mention her name, the virtuous woman's own hard work and godliness bring her praise.
"Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies" (Proverbs 31:10).
Her husband trusts her. She provides food and clothing for her family. She works hard. She is thrifty. She gets up early and goes to bed late, and works hard. She helps others who are less fortunate. She helps her husband succeed. She is wise and kind in giving advice. She is praised by her own family, who know her best. She is godly. The things of God are of great importance to her. The best praise she gets is from living a godly life.
"…her own works praise her in the gates" (Proverbs 31:31).
It is my hope that every mother here tonight will pray for God to help her live up to the standard of a virtuous woman, which is given to us in Proverbs, chapter thirty-one. Amen.
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