A Worthy Woman

by Linda Claassen Mitchell

A Worthy Woman – Proverbs 31:10-31 – Day 1

There are so many worldly influences telling women how to act, what to wear, who to be seen with, where to be seen, etc. I thought it would be a good idea to spend my Bible study time today looking at what God’s word says. I’ll be using the International English Bible and following up on the footnotes and scripture references provided there.

Virtuous Woman

Proverbs 31:10 (IEB): “It is hard to find an excellent wife. (f) She is worth far more that rubies (g).”

Following the Footnotes:
(f) literally, “Who can find a fine wife?” Hebrew: ‘eshet chayil = a woman of force (= character). See Proverbs 12:4 below. Each of the last 22 verses of Prov. 31:10-31 begins with a different Hebrew letter and it is in Hebrew alphabetical order. This is called the acrostic style.
(g) or “jewels.” Compare Prov. 3:15; 8:11, 35; 12:4; 18:22; 19:14; 20:15.

Proverbs 3:15 (IEB) says: “Wisdom is more precious than rubies. Nothing that you could desire is equal to it.”
Proverbs 8:11 (IEB) says: “Wisdom is more valuable than rubies. Nothing that you desire is equal to it.
Proverbs 12:4 (IEB) says: “A good wife is like a crown for her husband. But a disgraceful wife is like a disease in his bones.” (The footnote for this verse says; such a woman is poisoning her husband’s life, depriving him of his strength and vigor. She is sapping his very existence, though she is “bone of his bones” Gen. 2:23)
Proverbs 18:22 (IEB) says: “A man who finds a good wife finds something good. He obtains favor from the Always-Present One.
Proverbs 19:14 (IEB) says: “Houses and wealth are inherited from parents. But a prudent wife is a gift from the Always-Present One.”
Proverbs 20:15 (IEB) says: “There is plenty of gold, and there are many rubies. But there are only a few people who speak with knowledge.”

In contrast to this is Ecclesiastes 7:26 (IEB): “I found that bad women are worse than death. They are as dangerous as traps. Their love is like a net. Their arms hold men like chains. A good man who follows the one true God will run away from her. But; she will catch a sinner.”

I leave my study today after one verse, Proverbs 31:10, but with a much clearer vision of what an “excellent wife” is; a woman of character, who is knowledgeable, wise, and prudent. She is described as being like a crown for her husband. And lest I forget; a good wife is a gift to her husband from God.

The world would tell me “you are just a wife.” But God designed me to be a gift of great value to my husband. It’s up to me to choose whose judgment I accept, and whose word I’ll follow. I have a choice to be a curse or a blessing to my marriage.


A Worthy Woman – Proverbs 31:10-31 – Day 2

Proverbs 31:11-12 (IEB): “Her husband trusts her completely. With her, he has everything he needs. For as long as she lives, she is good to him; she doesn’t hurt him.”

The American Heritage College Dictionary defines trust as “Firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing”. “One in which confidence is placed”. “To have or place reliance; depend.” “To grant discretion to confidently.”

1 Timothy 3:11 (IEB) In Paul’s letter to Timothy regarding the selection of elders he writes: “Their wives must be the same way – respectable, not gossips, sensible, and trustworthy in all things.”

Proverbs 31:13 (IEB): “She looks for wool and linen. (h) She likes to work with her hands.”

Following the Footnote:
(h) – literally ‘flax.’ The fibers of flax were made into linen. (Josh. 2:6; Isa. 19:9; Jer. 13:1)

In Joshua 2 Rahab told the King’s messengers that Joshua’s spies had left. Verse 6 tells us ‘But the woman had taken the men up to the roof and hidden them there under stalks of flax. She had spread the flax on the (flat) roof to dry.’ Isaiah 19 tells of God’s Judgment against Egypt. Egypt was famous for this excellent cloth which was hand made from flax. God says the waters of the Nile will become dry. In verse 9 it says “All the people will be so sad. Those who weave fine linen will lose hope (because a lot of water is needed to process the flax.) Those who weave cloth will be broken. All the working men will be grieving”. In Jeremiah 13:1 God tells Jeremiah “Go and buy a linen belt for yourself.” The footnotes for this verse indicate linen was originally symbolic of holiness (Ezek. 44:17-18).

So when verse 13 says she looks for wool and linen – she is looking for the most treasured materials to make cloth for his household.

Proverbs 31:14 (IEB): “She is like the merchant ships. (i) She goes far away to get food.”

Following the Footnotes:
(i) her shopping trips were not limited to her own immediate neighborhood. She was familiar with goods that came from the Mediterranean coast. She was always looking for bargains.

The world would tell me “Happy wife, happy life” meaning the husband should give the wife what ever she wants. What a shallow relationship! This thinking keeps the husband in a constant position of having to provide the next “thing” to keep her happy, and keeps the wife perpetually in the position of a spoiled child, rather than a treasured mate.

The picture that is painted here in Proverbs 31 is of a woman who is focused on doing her best for her husband. Her goal is to bring honor to him, and in turn she will be treasured by him. That is a much fuller relationship! It’s the kind of love God wants for each of us.

I leave my study today looking for ways to bring honor to my husband.


A Worthy Woman – Proverbs 31:10-31 – Day 3

Proverbs 31:15 (IEB): “She gets up while it is still dark. (j) She prepares breakfast for her family. She organizes her servant girls.”

Following the Footnotes:
(j) at dawn.

It is interesting that many times in the Bible when a person is intent on doing what God approves, they are up at dawn. For rising early in the morning see:
Gen. 22:3 (IEB): when Abraham was tested he got up early, and prepared to do as God had asked.
Psalms 57:8 (IEB): David writes that he will sing and make melody to God; “I will wake up the dawn”.
John 20:1 (IEB): “It was still dark. Mary (the one from Magdala) came to the tomb.”
Joshua 3:1 (IEB): Joshua left early in the morning to travel to the Jordan where they would cross with God’s help.
Joshua 6:2 (IEB): God told Joshua that he had given Jericho to him and gave him instructions to follow. Joshua followed these instructions to the letter. In 6:12 it says they got up early the next morning and did it again then went back to camp. They did this for 6 days. Joshua 6:15 “On the seventh day, they arose at dawn” and followed God’s command. The walls collapsed and the Israelites seized Jericho.

Contrast the lazy person:
Proverbs 6:9-11 (IEB): “How long will you lie there, you lazy one? When will you ever get up from sleeping? You sleep a little; you take a nap. You fold your hands to rest. That’s how your poverty will pounce on you like a bandit! You will have nothing left, as if you had been mugged.”
Proverbs 20:13 (IEB): “If you love to sleep too much, then you will be poor.
Proverbs 26:13-16 (IEB): “The lazy person says; ‘There’s a lion in the road! There’s a fierce lion in the streets!’ (Just another excuse for him not to leave his house to go to work) The lazy person is like a door that turns back and forth on its hinges. He stays on his bed and turns over and over (but doesn’t go anywhere. He doesn’t ever do any actual work). The lazy person may bury his hand in the dish. But, he is too tired to lift up the food to his mouth. The lazy person thinks that he’s smarter than seven people who give sensible answers”. (Seven is the number of completeness.)

The world would tell me my worth is measured by the money I make, but God values my obedience and willingness to serve.

I leave my study today determined to make the most of each day. While I don’t have any servant girls, I can organize my time, see to the needs of my family, and be productive.


A Worthy Woman – Proverbs 31:10-31 – Day 4

Proverbs 31:16 (IEB): “She inspects a field and buys it. (k) She plants a vineyard, using the money that she has earned.”

Following the footnotes:
(k) “She shows good business judgment.” See the example in Matthew 13:44 (IEB): “The kingdom of heaven is like a buried treasure in a field. A man found it and reburied it. He is so happy that he goes and sells everything he owns and buys that field.”

Contrast this with:
Proverbs 24:30-31 (IEB): “I pass by a lazy person’s field. (g) I went by the vineyard of a man who had no sense. And behold, thorns had grown up everywhere (Willful neglect). The ground was covered with weeds. And the stone walls had fallen down.

Following the footnotes:
(g) compare it to:

Proverbs 6:6-8 (IEB): “Go, look at the ants, you lazy person! Watch what they do, and be wise. Ants have no commander over them. They have no leader or ruler. Yet they store up their food during the summer. They gather their supplies at harvest-time.”
Proverbs 10:26 (IEB): “A lazy person brings nothing but trouble to the ones he works for. He annoys other people like vinegar on your teeth or smoke in your eyes.”
Proverbs 12:11 (IEB): “The person who works his land will have plenty of food. But the one who chases fantasies lacks good judgment.”
Proverbs 12:24 (IEB): “Hard workers will become leaders. But those who are lazy will become slaves.”
Proverbs 12:27 (IEB): “A lazy person catches no food to cook. (Literally, will not roast his prey.) But a hard worker will obtain great wealth.”
Proverbs 13:4 (IEB): “The lazy person will not get what he wants. But a hard worker gets everything he wants.”
Proverbs 14:4 (IEB): “When there are no oxen (to pull the plow), there is no food in the barn (an empty stall is clean). But, with the strength of a bull, much grain can be grown.”
Proverbs 14:23 (IEB): “Those who work hard make a profit. But those who just talk will be poor.”
Proverbs 15:19 (IEB): “A lazy person’s life is as difficult as walking through a patch of thorns. But the path of honest people is as easy as walking down a smooth highway.”
Proverbs 16:26 (IEB): “The worker’s hunger helps him. His desire to eat makes him work.”
Proverbs 18:9 (IEB): “Also, a person who does not work hard is just like a person who wastes things.”

Clearly, a husband is blessed if his wife has good business sense and is industrious. There is nothing wrong with earning her own money and reinvesting it. A lazy wife however is wasting the blessing God has given her, and is willfully neglecting her duty.

I leave my study today looking for ways to be a blessing to my husband.


A Worthy Woman – Proverbs 31:10-31 – Day 5

Proverbs 31:17 (IEB): “She goes about her work energetically. (l) Her arms are strong.”

Following the Footnotes:
(l) – literally, “She has girded her loins with strength.”

The American Heritage College Dictionary defines energetic as (1) possessing, exerting, or displaying energy (2) Of or relating to energy, coming from the Greek word energein, (to be active.)

Compare:
Proverbs 10:4 (IEB) “A lazy person will end up poor. (c) But a hard worker will become rich. (d)

Following the footnotes:
(c) literally, “Poor (is) the one who is working (with) a slothful hand.” the Hebrew word for “hand” here is Kaph. It is the open, ineffective palm.
(d) literally, “But the hand of the diligent makes (one) rich.” The Hebrew word for “hand” here is yad. It means a tense hand that is braced for vigorous work.

Contrast the lazy worker all from yesterday’s lesson: Proverbs 6:6-8 (IEB), Proverbs 12:11 (IEB), Proverbs 12:24 (IEB), Proverbs 12:27 (IEB), Proverbs 13:4 (IEB), Proverbs 14:23 (IEB), Proverbs 18:9 (IEB), with the hard worker in Prov. 27:23-27; 28:19.

Proverbs 27:23-27 (IEB): “Be sure you know how your sheep are doing. Pay close attention to the condition of your cattle (literally – “Set your heart to the herds.” diligence prevents losses.). Riches will not last forever. Governments will not continue forever, either. When one brings in the hay, and the new grass appears, and the plants from the hills are gathered, the lambs will provide your clothing. And, the price from some male goats will buy a field. There will be plenty of goat’s milk for food to feed you and your family. And, it will nourish your servant girls.

Proverbs 28:19 (IEB): The person who works his land will have plenty of food. But the one who chases after useless dreams will end up being very poor.”

A worthy woman is a hard worker. She doesn’t sit around waiting to be told what to do. She sees what needs to be done, and takes action.

I leave my study today with renewed determination and energy, ready to take action.


A Worthy Woman – Proverbs 31:10-31 – Day 6

Proverbs 31:18-19 (IEB): “She makes sure that she makes a good profit. She works next to her lamp late into the night. (a) She makes thread with her hands and weaves her own cloth.”

Following the Footnotes:
(a) “literally, “Her lamp does not go our at night” = She puts in long, hard hours.

Proverbs 31:20 (IEB): “She welcomes the poor people. (b) She helps the needy people.”

Following the Footnotes:
(b) “She was sympathetic, tender, and charitable.
Compare Prov. 14:21; 19:17; 22:9.

Proverbs 14:21 (IEB): “It is a sin to despise your neighbor. But, being kind to needy people brings happiness.” (literally, “But the one who is kind to needy people (is) blessed.”)
Proverbs 19:17 (IEB): “Being kind to the poor people is like lending to the Always-Present One. He will reward you for what you have done.
Proverbs 22:9 (IEB): “It is the generous person who will be blessed, because he shares his food with the poor people.”
Job 31:16-20 (IEB): “
I have never refused anything that the poor people requested. I have never let widows give up hope while they were looking for help. I have shared it with the orphans. (Since I was young, I have been like a father to the orphans. And, from my birth, I guided the widows) I have not let a person die because he had no clothes. I have not let a needy person go without a coat.”
See the good example of Dorcas. Acts 9:36
Acts 9:36 (IEB): “In the town of Joppa, there was a follower of Jesus named Tabitha, (Her Greek name; Dorcas, means ‘a deer’). She always did good things for people. She always gave to people in need.” When she died, her friends sent for Peter who was in a nearby town. All of the widows cried and showed Peter the garments that Tabitha had made for them while she was alive.

Christ told the people in Matthew 25:35-37, 40 (IEB): “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you took me into your home. I had no clothes, so you gave me some clothes. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in jail and you came to visit me. Then the good people will answer me, ‘Lord, when did we…” (do these things?) “I will answer them, ‘I am telling you the truth: Since you treated some of my so-called ‘unimportant’ brothers this way, you did it to me!”

Clearly a worthy woman is diligent and hard working, sympathetic, tender, and charitable. I leave my study today with a better understanding of what it means to be charitable, and who I am really serving. It’s also clear that with every command, there is blessing if I am obedient.


A Worthy Woman – Proverbs 31:10-31 – Day 7

Proverbs 31:21 (IEB): “She does not worry about her family when it snows. Why? Because they all have fine clothes (c) to keep them warm.”

Following the footnotes:
(c) literally, “are clothed (with) scarlet”. This material was probably made of high quality wool.

Proverbs 31:22 (IEB): “She makes her own material. (d) Her clothes are made of fine linen (e) and other expensive material (f).”

Following the footnotes:
(d) literally, “coverings”; possibly pillows or cushions. (e) of a very expensive texture. This was associated with nobility. Compare to:

Genesis 41:41-42 (IEB): “So Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Now I am putting you in charge of the entire land of Egypt (Joseph was about to become Prime Minister (Grand Vizier) = the second in command of the Egyptian Empire). Then Pharaoh took off the special ring (“the signet ring”; that is, the royal ring used for giving an official seal to government documents) from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. Pharaoh had his servants dress Joseph with linen robes, and he put a golden chain around Joseph’s neck.
Proverbs 7:16 (IEB): The immoral woman tempted the young man saying: “I have covered my bed with colored, linen sheets from Egypt.” (See also Rev. 17:4)

(f) literally, “and purple.” This was associated with kings and the wealthy. See:

Judges 8:26 (IEB): “… They gave (Gideon) decorations, necklaces, and purple robes. These were things that the kings of Midian had worn.”
Song of Songs 3:10 (IEB): describing King Solomon’s couch “The seat was covered with purple cloth. The women of Jerusalem wove it with love.”
Mark 15:17,20 (IEB): Pilot handed Jesus over to the soldiers; “They dressed him with a purple robe” and began to mock him. (20) “When they finished making fun of him, they took off the purple robe and dressed him with his own clothes. Then they led him away to nail him to the cross.” (See also: Luke 16:19; John 19:2,5; Acts 16:14; Rev. 17:4; 18:12, 16)

In the verses about the worthy woman, she has provided the best quality materials, made by her own hand. But I see from Proverbs 7:16 and Mark 15:17,20 that these same materials can be used for evil, so it is not the material itself that is making her worthy, it’s her effort to provide only the best for her household.

The world would tell me that more is better. But God’s word tells me it is giving my best effort that is of value to Him. I leave my study today focused on that.


A Worthy Woman – Proverbs 31:10-31 – Day 8

Proverbs 31:23-24 (IEB): “Her husband is highly respected at the town meetings. He makes decisions as one of the civic leaders. She makes linen clothes and sells them. She supplies belts to the merchants (g).”

The American Heritage College Dictionary defines:
“Respect” as; “(1) To feel or show deferential regard for; esteem. (2) The state of being regarded with honor or esteem.
(3) Willingness to show consideration or appreciation”
“Civic” is defined as; “Of, relating to, or belonging to a city, a citizen, or citizenship, municipal or civil”.

Following the footnotes:
(g) “literally; ‘the Canaanite’ = Phoenician traders; or a generic name for all traders”

Isaiah 23:8 (IEB): The topic here is the judgment against the city of Tyre; “Who planned this destruction of Tyre? (God did) Tyre made others rich. (Tyre established a network of dependent ‘Kings’ who cooperated with them in their worldwide system of markets.) Her merchants were treated like princes. Her traders (literally “Canaanites”) were famous everywhere.” (They were in port cities such as Tartessus in Spain, Citium in Cyprus, and Carthage in North Africa.)
Footnote to this verse; Hosea 12:7 (IEB): “The merchants (literally ‘the Canaanites’) use dishonest scales. They like to cheat people.”
Zechariah 14:21 (IEB): The prophet Zechariah is telling what will happen in the future; and in part says that “there will no longer be traders in the temple of Yahweh …”. The footnotes to this verse describes traders as (literally ‘Canaanites’ a derogatory term used for the pagan population that had been driven out of Palestine = crooked, deceitful, idolatrous persons – anyone who is not included among the chosen people of God.)
“These multi-purpose belts were very valuable.”
2 Samuel 18:11 (IEB): “…I would have been glad to give you a reward – a warrior’s belt containing 4 ounces of silver!” for killing Absalom. The footnotes say; “This special waist-band held everything in place and it also served as a type of scabbard for a warrior’s sword and/or dagger.”

Clearly a worthy woman is not some hothouse flower. She is wise to the world. She deals with the deceitful traders, selling quality goods, and as Proverbs 31:18 says; “She makes sure that she makes a good profit”. She is in the world but not of the world. Her husband is respected. This says something about the type of man she marries, but is also a statement of his good judgment in choosing a worthy woman as a wife in the first place.

I leave my study today with greater admiration for the worthy woman. This world needs more women like her; I need to be more like her.


A Worthy Woman – Proverbs 31:10-31 – Day 9

Proverbs 31:25 (IEB): “She is clothed with strength and honor. She looks forward to the future with confidence.” (Literally, “And she laughs at the day to come.” She is not worried about her family getting cold or looking shabby).

Proverbs 31:26 (IEB): “When she speaks, her words are wise. And she instructs with kindness.”

Compare:
1 Timothy 5 (IEB): Paul is writing to Timothy about supporting the widows.
5:4, He says not to put them on the list if they still have children or grandchildren living. “…They (the children and grandchildren) should learn to be godly first with their own family. They should repay what they owe to their grandparents because this is acceptable before God.”
5:5, “A widow who is truly a widow – the one who is all alone – has put her hope in God.” 5:9. Paul says “Don’t put a widow on the list for help if she is under 60.” She must have been faithful to their husbands, raised their children, done good deeds, etc. In other words, she has to have been a worthy woman.
5:11 “Don’t put the young widows on the list, because after their sexual desires become strong again, they want to marry non-Christians and leave Christ.” They reject their first faith and become lazy, gossips and meddlers.

1 Timothy 5:14 (IEB)
“So, I want the young widows to get married again, to have children, and make a home. This will not give the enemy a chance to say bad things about us.”

Titus 2:3-5 (IEB): “In the same way, tell the older women to live the way holy women should live and not to be gossips or slaves to wine. They should be teachers of good things. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to control themselves, to be pure, to be good homemakers, to be morally good, and to obey their husbands. Then no one can say evil things about God’s message.”

Clearly the worthy woman can look to both the immediate future and her retirement with confidence.

I leave my study today with this thought; As I get older (and slower) I still have an important roll to play. I just saw a post on Facebook the other day saying; “Sometimes I open my mouth and my mother comes out”. It’s something to think about – To a worthy woman’s daughter, this is a blessing. My prayer today is that I will think before I speak and what I say and do will always glorify God.


A Worthy Woman – Proverbs 31:10-31 – Day 10

Proverbs 31:27 (IEB): She watches over the affairs of her family (i) and she is never lazy (j).”

Following the footnotes:
(i) (literally, “watches the ways of her household.” = she knows everything that is going on within her family unit.)
(j) (literally, “And, she does not eat the food of idleness.”

Compare:
2 Thessalonians 3:10: “Even when we were with you, we gave you this order: ‘If a person doesn’t want to work, then don’t let him eat’.”

This world pulls our children in all the wrong directions. From TV, Movies, Social Media, and even school, our children are being inundated with a worldly message. If we as parents and even grandparents are not restricting that influence where we can, investing our time, and teaching what God’s word says at every opportunity, we will loose them to the world.

The worthy woman watches over the affairs of her family. She is “that” mom. The one that insists her children attend church, who practices at home what the Bible says. She’s the one, who teaches her children to respect authority; who restricts access to “worldly” influences. She’s the one who sees that they are dressed modestly, and know how to behave in public. Who participates in what is going on at school; who supervises her children and knows where they are and who they are with, and teaches them the value of obedience, modesty, purity, and serving others, and that respect is earned.

Proverbs 31:28-29 (IEB): “Her children will grow up and respect her. Her husband also praises her. He says: ‘There are many excellent wives, but you are better than all of them’.”

I don’t know a mother alive today who wouldn’t want her children to show that they respect her. I can’t imagine a wife anywhere whose heart would not swell upon hearing from her husband that he thinks she is the most excellent wife.

I leave my study today with a renewed focus on what is important to God; my obedience. The world would have me lust after the “things” of the world, but doing that takes my time and focus from Him. God expects my every action to glorify Him. He wants me to do my best, and in doing so I will be rewarded with the respect of my children, and the praise of my husband in this world. My actions will be pleasing to God.


A Worthy Woman – Proverbs 31:10-31 – Day 11

Proverbs 31:30 (IEB): “Being ‘charming’ can fool you, and beauty is fleeting. (k) But a woman who reveres the Always-Present One should be praised.”

Following the footnotes:
(k) Hebrew: hebel. Compare Abel’s name:

Genesis 4:2 (IEB): Eve “then continued giving birth to Abel, Cain’s Brother. The footnotes to this verse indicate “This Hebrew name means “breath,” “temporary,” or “meaningless.”
Ecclesiastes 1:2, “The Professor says: Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly without meaning! Everything is without meaning.” The footnotes for this verse indicate this is the word hebel again or “breath”, the meaning of the name Able in Genesis 4:2 whose transitory life was cut short by Cain.
Job 14:1-2 (IEB): All of us were born to women. We live only a few days and we have lots of trouble. We grow up like flowers, and then we dry up. We are like a passing shadow that does not last.

Contrast:
1 Peter 3:3-5 (IEB): “Your beauty must not be the outer beauty of fancy hairdos, putting on gold jewelry, or wearing expensive clothes. Instead, it should be the hidden personality of the heart, with a gentle and quiet spirit that lasts and lasts. This is very valuable before God. In the past, holy women placed their hope in God. They put themselves under their own husbands’ authority. This is the way they made themselves beautiful.”

Proverbs 31:31 (IEB): “Give her the credit that she deserves. (l) She should be praised openly for what she has done!”

Following the footnotes:
(l) literally, “from the fruit of her hands.” Compare:

Proverbs 12:14 (IEB): “A person will be rewarded for what he says. And, he will also be rewarded for whatever he does.”

The world tells us that a woman is beautiful if she looks young, is thin, and wears expensive things. She expects everything to be given to her for just existing because “she deserves it.” Material possessions and prestige are her goals.

The worthy woman puts service above self. Her beauty comes from her reverence for God, and obedience to His word, including putting herself under her husband’s authority. Her beauty can be seen in the personality of the heart, and in her gentle and quiet spirit. Her goal is to please God. In doing so she also pleases her husband. Her husband should praise her openly! She is a precious gift from God.


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