This week, we are publishing the sermons preached at our church during May. Today, the message preached by Pastor Davis on Mother’s Day regarding the woman described in Proverbs 31
1. Got your Bibles? Open them up to Proverbs 31:10-31
2. Today is Mother’s Day and in keeping with the occasion we depart from our study of the church to consider a text of Scripture related to wife and mother.
3. There is more that can be said about marriage and family and working moms (which the woman of Proverbs 31 appears to have been, in some respects) than I can say in one message.
4. This is an incredible piece of Scripture.
a. This is not about earning favour with God. Lot of mothers I have spoken to in my time would quote such behaviours as are listed here with understanding that God should welcome them into heaven because of their life of struggles and perseverance etc.
b. This is what grace produces. There is no reason in the world if you are saved that you cannot fit the description of these verses. Many women read this and role their eyes as if the writer didn’t have a clue what being a wife and mother was about. But this is not about beating people who don’t match up. It is about demonstrating what the powerful grace of God can do.
c. It is a message to today’s world that neither the “barefoot pregnant in the kitchen” view of women nor the “there is no difference between men and women” are right. For you will find neither one defended in this text.
5. Advice from a mother to a son
a. Just in case you are prone to write this off as the fanciful dream of some man who just wants the perfect woman, look at verse 1. King Lemuel is writing what his mother taught him. Verses 10-31 are the writings of a woman. Important to remember that the advice given in this section of Proverbs is from a mother to a son. King Lemuel wrote it, but he is writing what his mother taught him.
(1) Who is King Lemuel? [Probably Solomon, although we cannot be sure] The word means “belonging to God” and could be a nickname for Solomon. It may not and it doesn’t much matter.
ii. This is a message from a woman to the King. There is never a time when you can’t receive good advice from Mom. And it doesn’t matter what you are, how high up the ladder you have climbed or how great your responsibilities have become.
iii. See 1:8 – Proverbs 1-10 are instructions to a son from his father and these verses are instructions to a son from a mother. A wise son will listen to both.
(1) Are you a parent? Make sure you give nothing, absolutely nothing but sound, good, biblical instruction to your children.
iv. Remember that this is the mother of the king giving instructions to her son. Verses 21-22 do not teach that if you live like this you will be rich. … It is teaching that her children are properly cared for by their mom.
v. Also remember that while the woman of verses 10-31 is the wife of the king, she does not leave everything to her servants to do.
(1) Verse 13 – could not the king’s wife have servants go out and find the flax and wool?
(2) Verse 14 – could she not have sent out the servants to find the foods from around the world?
(3) Verse 15 – Could she not have simply instructed her servants to get up early? In fact, in this verse she does the caring for them!
(4) These are duties given by God and they do not disappear simply because one is wealthy. Well, that is not something we will have to concern ourselves with is it?
6. The general structure of these verses
a. This whole section is bracketed between two comments about this woman
i. Verse 10 – she is “virtuous/excellent/powerful” and in verse 30 she is the woman who fears the Lord. What happens in between is a description of that power and fear. In fact, the two comments are the same. The excellent woman is the one who will fear the Lord.
(1) Get this right off the bat. You may have your children turn out to be the world’s next Albert Schweitzer, but if you have not shown and taught the fear of God through faith in Jesus Christ you have robbed your child of the most important teaching of all. This is not to say that this guarantees the conversion of your children. But you can raise them in such a way that you can almost guarantee that they will not believe.
(2) So, as we look at some things from these verses do not conclude that the goal of parenting is just to produce hard working, compassionate, praiseworthy adults. This is a woman who fears God. That is your first priority and it is the first priority in your parenting. Real God fearing will result in this.
ii. This is an acrostic poem. It follows the Hebrew alphabet. Each verse starts with a succeeding verse from the Hebrew alphabet. 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet – 22 verses from 10-31.
II A Woman of Power
1. The woman of verses 10-31 is in contrast to the women of verse 3. Lemuel’s mom may be telling Lemuel that he should not be interested in women – plural, but rather in a woman – singular. Consider that in comparison to what we know of Solomon’s dealings with women.
a. 1st application – Let’s begin with a word to the men. Gentlemen – This text is telling men to be faithful to one woman. You married her and you promised to be faithful to her and love her more than any other woman on the planet. If you repeated the traditional vows you looked her in the eye and said “I will” to this:
i. _________ will you have ________ to be your wedded wife, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, honour and keep her; and, forsaking all others, keep to her alone, so long as you both shall live?
ii. This faithfulness to one woman is not just shown in NOT running around or NOT keeping her hemmed up in the home or NOT talking nasty to her. It is remembering that she has helped make you and if you have any good qualities she is responsible for more of them than you know – see verse 23. See also verses 28 and 29.
2. ESV – Excellent; NIV – noble character; New Living – virtuous and capable; God’s Word translation – strong character; American Standard – worthy …
a. The word means – a force, an army, wealth, virtue, valour, strength , ability, activity whether of Strong, powerful – It takes real strength to be this kind of woman/wife/mother. Where does the idea come from that real strength is found in career women, independent women who don’t want or need a man… And where does the idea come from that strength and femininity are opposed to one another? And where does the idea come from that “weaker” in I Peter 3 when he is talking about women means weak willed or weak minded or weak spiritually? Not in the Bible. Certainly not here.
i. Ladies – be a woman of such power.
b. See this strength in verses 12, 13, 15, 17, 21, 25a, 25b,
i. She will not be frightened. This list is not meant to depress us or anger us or terrify us. It is meant to encourage us to see what God, by His grace can do in people who truly live for Him. Ladies – do not be afraid to live like a Christian as the Bible says a Christian ought to live. Do not be afraid to be seen as odd or different. Do not value the welcome and the popularity and the money more than the smile of God. Live transformed by God non conformed to the world lives. Be a man. Live in the truth of Romans 8:18-39
ii. Fearlessness – You know what that takes? It takes the power of the Holy Spirit in a life that is committed to not grieving His work, who is committed to living to please God no matter what. And that “no matter what” might mean being seen as old fashioned, or a religious fanatic. It will most certainly mean not going out on a date with a non believer. It will mean that you value Christian commitment in a man more than money or popularity or compatibility on a thousand other areas because the area of compatibility is commitment to Jesus Christ. Dear one – can you be that fearless?
(1) Application – Dear ones see in this a call for Christian women not to get their ideas of wives and mothers from uninspired sources. Where do you get your ideas about what it means to be a man, a woman?
III A Woman of Rare Character
1. Verse 10 – Who can find?
a. Cf. 20:6
b. One of the reasons that it is so hard to find is that it is so rarely sought.
c. You young unmarried ladies, answer me this : “What are young men of marriable age with whom you are acquainted looking for in a potential girl friend or wife?”
i. Perhaps one of the reasons why this word gets translated “virtuous” is because real virtue takes real power. When men are looking for all kinds of things and it seems that virtue is not one of them, then it takes real power to maintain one’s virtue and not give what they are looking for.
ii. Young men, what are you looking for? Look for that which you cannot look at. Look at these verses and see what it says about this woman’s appearance. What does it say about her shape? What does it say about her beauty. Well, it does talk about her character as her dress – (verse 17) before it talks about her clothing (verse 22) but then reverts back to the character again.
1. There is a scene in “Oceans Eleven” where the lady starring in the movie is watching a video of her guy tell others that he would surrender up her if he could get the millions just stolen from him, back. She leaves him.
a. Ladies and gentlemen. What does our culture value. It will value some of these things. It will trash others of them. But we will treasure them and we will not allow ourselves to be influenced by what the world says is valuable. This woman is of greater treasure than priceless jewelry. And therefore she should be treated like it. Period. How do you treat that which is of most value to you? Period again.
1. Verse 11
a. she and her husband are united in their life together. He trusts her. There is no
competition. There are no hidden jealousies. There is no need to spy or question each other. There is no “my money”. There is only one bank account and that is theirs.
b. See 11b. What is the gain here? Lit – he has no need of spoil. He does not need to steal in order to manage. She does not squander the money on needless or frivolous things.
VI Her Work
1. Verse 13 – 27
a. She is not bound to the house. Don’t allow people to get away with “Christianity is about being barefoot pregnant in the kitchen”. That is not what you see here. But what we do see is a woman/wife/mother who uses her abilities for the good of the home. There is not a hint here of this being demeaning or slavery. This is a woman who knows the blessing of devoting her life to a role that God has called her to and she will not allow anything to detract her from it. See this in verses 13-27.
b. She seeks wool and flax … This is not some business trip. But it is not in the home. She ensures that her family is well cared for. She uses her gifts outside the home to benefit her home. See verses 14, 15, 16, 18,
i. This is the fruit of the Spirit which is self denial. This is cross bearing. Do you see that here? This is someone called by God to a work and she has committed herself to do it, and nothing is going to stop her. And God will enable her.
1. Verse 31
a. Such a woman is to benefit from her life of giving and sacrifice. How shall we make sure she does?
i. Let her have the fruit of her work. She should be rewarded for her labour.
ii. Let the world know what a treasure she is
iii. Thank God for her openly
b. Ladies, especially those of you with most of your years ahead of you. Pray this in. Be this woman. Do not let the world convince you that this is old fashioned and self damaging. This is the Word of God.
c. Pray this in. Believe that God can and will do this for you. Because He can. And He will.
d. If you have not – repent.
e. Live for the smile of God.
f. Show the world that this is what God bhas called you to and do it with great joy.