“Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
‘Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.’
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”
The book of Proverbs concludes with a family scene both impressive and heartwarming. At the center of this ideal family is a strong woman of wide-ranging capabilities, fully involved in the challenges of life. The glowingly positive message here is that “a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Prov. 31:30). The word “praise” occurs three times in verses 28–31, setting an overall tone of encouragement in this home. The children rise up in respect and speak well of their mother (Prov. 31:28). The husband, never a faultfinder, gently praises her for her outstanding qualities (Prov. 31:8). This remarkable woman gives herself diligently to her family and her community (Prov. 31:10–27), and her family communicates how they admire her (Prov. 31:28–31). This wise family sees through the false glories that inevitably disappoint: “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain” (Prov. 31:30). Their mother, who “has devoted herself to every good work” (1 Tim. 5:10), embodies the godly wisdom of her entire family.
Clearly, the life of wisdom is not just for Sunday, but for every aspect of life. It is not austere and grim, but attractive with a sincere enjoyment that flows from one human heart to another. Best of all, the life of wisdom will matter forever. When we are with the Lord in heaven above, we will find that our deeds will have followed us, transformed by his grace into eternal blessing (Rev. 14:13).
But “who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Cor. 2:16). We are not. Even the “excellent wife” of Proverbs 31 is not sufficient in herself, but she “fears the Lord” (Prov. 31:30). Her ultimate regard is not for her beauty, goodness, or accomplishment, but for the One who provides for her every need and loved one (cf. Prov. 1:1–7). We are prepared by such an example to remember that God must make us sufficient for what we face and for what he requires. Ultimately, in Christ, he does so. What he commands, he also gives. Therefore, we may receive his counsels in the book of Proverbs with this wonderful assurance: “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5).
This series of posts pairs a brief passage of Scripture with associated study notes drawn from the Gospel Transformation Bible. For more information about the Gospel Transformation Bible, please visit GospelTransformationBible.org.