Proverbs 31

Intro

1 The sayings of King Lemuel contain this message, which his mother taught him…

This chapter was adapted from a guy named King Lemuel

One of only a few chapters in Scripture we know was written by a woman (Granny Lemuel)

We’re going to focus on the poem starting in v. 10…

 

10 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?

She is more precious than rubies.

 

Acrostic, composed of 22 rhyming couplets

Intended to help her son find a good wife. But I can’t see anything in here that wouldn’t also be good advice for a woman looking for a good husband. I’d feel good about anything here being said about me.

Background: The Bible’s View of Marriage

According to Scripture, picking a spouse is a very significant choice. And that’s because of what Scripture teaches about marriage. So before we look at the wisdom of how to pick a spouse, we need to think about two important points that the Bible teaches about marriage.

1. In marriage, the two become one flesh (Gen 2:24)

  • That’s why Jesus said it needs to be a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman. There’s a unity so deep that the only way out is for one of the spouses to die.
  • Scripture teaches that when you have sex with a person you become one with them at a deep level. But this unity plays out in a lot of other areas as well.
    • Q: What are some other ways in which this “one-ness” plays out in marriage?
      • Finances, logistics (like standard of living, where to live, etc), emotional life, relating to extended families, parenting choices, living for God
    • Impact cannot be overestimated
      • Could powerfully boost your ability to serve God or it could compromise your commitment to God
      • It is irreversible
    • Therefore we must make a wise marriage choice

2. The spiritual maturity of both spouses determines the quality of the marriage

Even more important than finding the right type of person is becoming the right kind of person

  • That’s what most of Proverbs is about. I’m sure that Granny Lemuel would agree that if you want to land a Proverbs 31 kind of wife, you need to need to become a Proverbs 1-30 kind of husband.
  • If you don’t want to follow God then no man or woman will ever make you happy.
    • When an needy person gets married… you get a needy married person
    • E.g. me in high school wanting to get married young so I would have a friend
    • Spouse represents intimacy for many of us.
  • You need a relationship with God
  • And relationships with others too

 

That’s why it’s a sin for a Christian to marry a non-Christian

  • 2 Cor. 6:14 – Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for … what fellowship has light with darkness?
  • God is trying to save you from tremendous pain

 

That’s also why spiritual inequality in marriage can create a high state of tension

  • Sample scenario: A person who wants to follow God marries an selfish/ ungodly spouse
  • Q: How might the unspiritual spouse feel if he or she is married to someone who really is going all out for God?
    • Looks to the other to meet their needs, and gets angry when they can’t
    • May attempt to control or sabotage the person
      • Proverbs 14:1 – The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands.
    • Wonders: “What do others think of me” and becomes insecure as they sense disapproval
    • May become paranoid and withdraw, because “All the problems are my fault”
    • Feels disrespected
    • May feel justified “looking elsewhere to meet my needs”
      • Proverbs 30:20 – This is the way of an adulterous woman: She eats and wipes her mouth, And says, “I have done no wrong.”
    • Q: How might a godly spouse feel if he or she is married to a compromised Christian?
      • Wants to accept the other person, but clearly sees their sin and wishes they would just grow up
      • Resorts to control and pressure
      • Is unable to empathize and begins to resent their spouse for not changing
      • But grows bitter toward others for not accepting their spouse. May blame others for the person’s lack of growth
      • Eventually gives up or gives in
        • Proverbs 21:9 – It is better to live in a corner of a roof, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.
        • Proverbs 27:15 – A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day
        • Proverbs 12:4 – A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.
      • Wonders what it would be like to be married to someone else

 

This is why a godly spouse is worth searching for and waiting for

  • Proverbs 18:22 – He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord.
  • Proverbs 19:14 – House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.

Proverbs 31: The Ideal Wife

Q: What are some other criteria that the world says to look for when selecting a spouse?

  • Sexual compatibility
  • Good looks
  • A mystical feeling
  • Intelligence, wealth, social standing
  • Outside sources (dating websites? horoscopes?)

 

Let’s go ahead and read v. 10-24 and see what you guys notice in this description

(Read 10-24)

 

10 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?

She is more precious than rubies.

11 Her husband can trust her,

and she will greatly enrich his life.

12 She brings him good, not harm,

all the days of her life.

13 She finds wool and flax

and busily spins it.

14 She is like a merchant’s ship,

bringing her food from afar.

15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household

and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.

16 She goes to inspect a field and buys it;

with her earnings she plants a vineyard.

17 She is energetic and strong,

a hard worker.

18 She makes sure her dealings are profitable;

her lamp burns late into the night.

19 Her hands are busy spinning thread,

her fingers twisting fiber.

20 She extends a helping hand to the poor

and opens her arms to the needy.

21 She has no fear of winter for her household,

for everyone has warm clothes.

22 She makes her own bedspreads.

She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.

23 Her husband is well known at the city gates,

where he sits with the other civic leaders.

24 She makes belted linen garments

and sashes to sell to the merchants.

 

Q: What are some of the characteristics do you see listed here so far?

  • Rare and valuable (v. 10)
    • In fact, this is how it talks about wisdom too: Prov. 3:15 – Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.
  • Trustworthy (v. 11-12)
  • Works hard so she can give
    • Q: How do you see her hard work depicted here?
    • Q: Who is she giving to?
    • Q: Why do you think this is so important?

 

The final seven verses talk about the character of this awesome woman.

(Read 25-31)

 

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity,

and she laughs without fear of the future.

26 When she speaks, her words are wise,

and she gives instructions with kindness.

27 She carefully watches everything in her household

and suffers nothing from laziness.

 

28 Her children stand and bless her.

Her husband praises her:

29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,

but you surpass them all!”

 

Q: What sticks out to you about this woman from these verses?

  • Clothed in strength and dignity (v. 25a)
  • Trusts God (v. 25b)
  • Teaches wisdom (v. 26a)
  • Merciful (v. 26b, 20)
  • Responsible (v. 27a)
  • Diligent (v. 27b)
  • Not focused on just external qualities (v. 30)

 

Finally he writes:

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;

but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.

31 Reward her for all she has done.

Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

 

Explain “charm” and “beauty”

  • Fools are often misled by these things. The wise person realizes how they rank compared to wisdom and character
  • The more important questions:
    • Do they have a deep reverence for God? (fear of the Lord)
    • Even when times are hard?
    • Do others see it? (her deeds publicly declare her praise)
    • Would you want your kids to marry or become someone like this person? Because they probably will.

Other advice that helped me (if time allows)

Listen to the witness of the Christian community

“You cannot marry someone for what you hope they will become”

  • Everyone has “potential”
  • What if this person never changes – same strengths and same weaknesses?
  • YOU have to live with this decision/person

Pray

  • For your future spouse
  • For God to prepare you
  • For God to protect you from yourself

Conclusions

Godly marriage is awesome

God offers hope for you in this area

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