The Excellent Wife of Proverbs 31 is part of an ongoing series, Portrait of a Godly Wife.
While on the campaign trail, George Bush and his wife, Barbara, stopped at a gas station to refuel. The First Lady recognized the gas station attendant as an old beau and stepped out to speak to him. When she returned to the limo President Bush remarked, “If you had married him, you would be the wife of a gas station attendant. But, instead, you are the wife of the most powerful man in the world!” Barbara, being quick witted, replied, “No, if I had married him, he would be President!”
That urban legend has circulated for decades. It speaks to the influence of an excellent wife. In Proverbs 31, we meet the most intimidating and excellent wife in the history of the world. This lady is the best parts of Martha Stewart, Eleanor Roosevelt, and June Cleaver all rolled into one.
Proverbs 31 is written by “King Lemuel” (Proverbs 31:1), which in Jewish tradition, is King Solomon’s pet name given by his mother. If that is true, Proverbs 31 is from the heart of Bathsheba. Bathsheba knew about grace, mercy, and restoration. She is speaking from a contrite heart; one that does not want the mistakes and pain in her own life to be repeated in her son’s life.
An excellent wife who can find? She is worth far more 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. Proverbs 31:10-12
What makes this wife excellent? We find four character traits to model in our efforts to be a most excellent wife.
The word excellent, or noble character, is translated from the word “chaylil” (Proverbs 31:10). It means strength and might. It is the same word used to describe Gideon as a mighty warrior in Judges 6:12. When the pressures of life press in all around him, the husband can rest in the assurance that the excellent wife is steadfast and strong.
A husband has full confidence in an excellent wife (Proverbs 31:11). He trust her both with his heart and his possessions. She acts in his best interest, implementing his heart into the home.
Your husband can have confidence in himself and in you when you are acting as his helper, his ezer. He can then do all that God has called him to do because you surround him with protection and support. One of the best ways to wield your strength as a wife is to provide encouragement. Let him know that you believe in him, that you will not give up on him even when things are not going well.
No wife can overestimate the influence she wields over her husband, or the measure in which his character, his career, and his very destiny is laid in her hands for shaping. J.R. Miller [i]
Heart of a Helper
We are fulfilling our created role when we serve God by serving our husbands (Proverbs 31:13-24). This excellent wife:
- gathered material for clothes (13)
- went far to secure the best food for her family (14)
- rose early to begin her work and stayed up late to complete it (15, 18)
- she is resourceful and entrepreneurial (16)
- her work is profitable (18)
- she has a heart of compassion (20).
These are all outward expressions of a heart fixed on God. Do not be intimidated by all she does. It all flows out of a heart for God (Proverbs 31:30). She fears and respects the Lord; therefore she strives for excellence in her home.
Because of her ability to care for and run her home, her husband can focus on his job and his ministry. He can succeed in the marketplace (Proverbs 31:23) as she cares for the home place. She is fulfilling Eve’s role as ezer
Whatever you do, work heartily, as working for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24
Honor and Respect
An excellent wife yields a successful husband (Proverbs 31:23). He is “known in the gates.” He is respected in the community, in part, because he is respected and esteemed at home.
The concept of respect is echoed in the epistles (Ephesians 5:33, 1 Peter 3:1-6). Peter speaks to the influence the respectful behavior of a wife can have on her husband: “…they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives” (1 Peter 3:1). There are no conditions placed on this respect; it is given, even when unearned.
Shaunti Feldhan, author of the groundbreaking For Women Only, says:
Just as you want the man in your life to love you unconditionally, even when you’re not particularly lovable, your man needs you to demonstrate your respect for him regardless of whether he’s meeting your expectations at the moment. What men need is unconditional respect–to be respected for who they are [i.e. our husbands], apart from how they do.
Fears the Lord
The ability to be the excellent wife comes from God (Philippians 2:13). If you want to know how to be an excellent wife and raise godly children it all begins with the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7).
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30
Fear of God is a reverence, a respect for who God is. Fear of God is developed through study and meditation of scripture. That is where we learn more of God’s character. As we learn more about him, we trust him more. We begin to mirror His character and make decisions based on the wisdom found in scripture.
Becoming the Proverbs 31 excellent wife is a process, one that God is continually working out in us as we walk with Him. We cannot become this woman overnight. We cannot read a book or hear a sermon and simply resolve to be this woman. This intimidating excellent wife sends us straight to God who gives us all we need for the strength to be the wife God calls us to be.
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