Proverbs 31:10-31 "A Woman Who Fears the Lord"

I have pasted below my sermon outline from 5.10.09. I am also attaching a pdf copy here: Proverbs 31.10t31 a woman who fears the Lord

Here is a link to the audio: “A Woman Who Fears the Lord

 

Proverbs 31 “A Woman Who Fears the Lord”

A History of Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day, in one form or another, has been around a long time. In ancient Greece, a celebration honoring mothers occurred every Spring.

In the Middle Ages, a custom called Mothering Sunday began when children, who often left home early to learn a trade or become apprentices, would be released from work every year on the forth Sunday of Lent to attend church with their families. As they returned home, they often took cakes or little gifts to their mothers. This was termed “going a-mothering.” To this day, Mother’s Day in the United Kingdom is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent.

It was in 1872 that Julia Ward Howe (author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic) suggested the idea of Mother’s Day in the United States.

The cause was taken up by Anna Jarvis, daughter of a Methodist pastor. Jarvis felt the scars of the Civil War could be healed by mothers—and by honoring mothers. She died in 1905 before her dream of establishing a holiday could be fulfilled. But her daughter, also named Anna Jarvis, took up the crusade.

Anna had been deeply influenced by her mother, and she often recalled hearing her mother say that she hoped someone would one day establish a memorial for all mothers, living and dead.

Anna had been particularly touched at age twelve while listening to her mother teach a Sunday school class on the subject “Mothers in the Bible.” Mrs. Jarvis closed the lesson with a prayer to this effect: I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mother’s day. There are many days for men, but none for mothers.

Anna never forgot that moment, and at their mother’s graveside service, Anna’s brother Claude heard her say “… by the grace of God, you shall have that Mother’s Day.”

Anna thus began a campaign to establish a national Mother’s Day. She and her supporters began to write a constant stream of letters to ministers, businessmen, politicians and newspaper editors. She spent a fortune trying to attract attention to her idea, and took every opportunity to give speeches, send telegrams, or write articles promoting her cause.

On the second anniversary of her mother’s death, May 12, 1907, Anna led a small tribute to her mother at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Gafton, West Virginia. She donated five hundred white carnations, her mother’s favorite flower, to be worn by everyone in attendance. On this first Mother’s Day service, the pastor used the text, “Woman, behold thy son; Son, behold thy mother.” (John 19:26) That same day a special service was held at the Wannamaker Auditorium in Philadelphia, which could seat no more than a third of the fifteen thousand people who showed up.

After that, things begin to take off. Various states jumped on the bandwagon, officially proclaiming a Mother’s Day each year, and, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson officially established Mother’s Day a national holiday to be held on the second Sunday of May.

But having succeeded at last, Anna Jarvis soon became embittered by the commercialization of the holiday and turned against it, actually filing a lawsuit to stop a 1923 Mother’s Day festival. She was even arrested for disturbing the peace at a mother’s convention where women sold white carnations.

“This is not what I intended,” Jarvis growled. “I wanted it to be a day of sentiment, not profit!”

“A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world,” she said on another occasion. “And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.”

Shortly before her death in 1948, Anna Jarvis, living in a nursing home, received Mother’s Day cards from all around the world. But she told a reporter she was sorry she had ever started the whole thing.

 

–          Okay, so we do cards, chocolates, flowers, eat out…mother’s day has become an enterprise and it is good to know that this wasn’t the initial intent of mother’s day. I share this story not to attack mother’s day, after all I am preaching a “mother’s day” sermon, much to the chagrin of some of my pastoral colleques who think that such man made holidays should be ignored.

–          I think that mother’s day has a huge place in God’s economy of things and that the initial intent was to honor moms insomuch as they rightly reflected their God-ordained function in the home and in society.

–          Proverbs 31 is well known to women and as we shall see this morning, moms play a large multifaceted role in society. It has been said by some:

–          •     People are what their mothers make them.—Ralph Waldo Emerson

–          •     All that I am or hope to be I owe to my angel mother.—Abraham Lincoln

–          •     Give me a generation of Christian mothers, and I will undertake to change the whole face of society in twelve months.—Lord Shaftesbury

 

Mothers leave an indelible mark upon children, this was ordained by God…either for our children’s good or bad.

 

Dr. G. Campbell Morgan had four sons. They all became ministers. At a family reunion, a friend asked one of the sons, “Which Morgan is the greatest preacher?” While the son looked at the father, he replied, “Mother!”

 

–          This final section of Proverbs is an acrostic poem exalting a noble wife. Each of the 22 verses begins with a consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

–          It has been said that “the description of the woman is such that no human being could possibly possess all these qualities”[i]

  • Just a disclaimer….however I don’t want to aim low, I want to aim high, and by the grace of God and for His glory, I pray that it would inspire all woman, and mothers in particular, to glorify Him with our every breath.

 

Proverbs 31:10 An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.
Proverbs 31:11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.
Proverbs 31:12 She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.
Proverbs 31:13 She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.
Proverbs 31:14 She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.
Proverbs 31:15 She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.
Proverbs 31:16 She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
Proverbs 31:17 She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.
Proverbs 31:18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.
Proverbs 31:19 She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.
Proverbs 31:20 She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.
Proverbs 31:21 She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
Proverbs 31:22 She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Proverbs 31:23 Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.
Proverbs 31:24 She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant.
Proverbs 31:25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.
Proverbs 31:26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
Proverbs 31:27 She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Proverbs 31:28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
Proverbs 31:29 “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”
Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Proverbs 31:31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

 

A:     High value of a good wife (v. 10)

B:     Husband benefited by wife (vv. 11–12)

C:     Wife works hard (vv. 13–19)

D:     Wife gives to poor (v. 20)

E:     No fear of snow (v. 21a)

F:     Children clothed in scarlet (v. 21b)

G:     Coverings for bed, wife wears linen (v. 22)

H:     Public respect for husband (v. 23)

G´:     Sells garments and sashes (v. 24)

F´:     Wife clothed in dignity (v. 25a)

E´:     No fear of future (v. 25b)

D´:     Wife speaks wisdom (v. 26)

C´:     Wife works hard (v. 27)

B´:     Husband and children praise wife (vv. 28–29)

A:´     High value of a good wife (vv. 30–31)[1]

 

   A Godly Wife’s Character (31:10–31)

 

A.     Her worth (31:10, 25, 29)

1.     She is far more precious than jewels because she is “excellent, noble, capable” (31:10)

– The rhetorical question, “Who can find?”, assumes a “NO ONE”, but the ideal woman is described nonetheless as what should be sought by men, and what woman should aspire to.

2.     Strength and dignity are her clothing (31:25)

            – notice that her outward clothing is described by inward qualities.

– 1 Peter 3:1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, :2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. :3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—:4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

– God is not placing a permanent injunction on wearing jewelry, combing your hair, etc…for in this very Proverb we see that the ideal women is one who “wears fine linen and purple” (31:22)

– The worth of a woman is what is on the inside. It is easy to look good, it is much harder to be good. It doesn’t take God’s grace to look good (He does make beautiful people), but it requires God’s grace to be transformed in your inner person. That is what you should aspire, that is what you should pray towards…younger ladies, DO NOT be preoccupied with how you look in the mirror, be preoccupied with how your heart looks in the eyes of God.

– If you fear that no guy will like you for who you are on the inside, that is not the guy you want anyways.

3.     Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all. (31:29)

 

B.     Her works (31:13–22, 24, 27)

1.     With her family (31:13–15, 17–19, 21–22, 27)
a.     She provides them with proper clothing (31:13, 21):

She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands (31:13); She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet (31:21)

  • I am grateful for Mimi because I am guilty of not adequately clothing the kids appropriately with the weather…
b.     She plans meals and her day (31:14–15):

She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.

  • I can’t even decisively pick a place to eat out at, let alone prepare meals for each day
c.     She is tireless in her work (31:17–19, 27):

She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.

31:27 She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

she rises while it is yet night and her lamp never goes out at night, sounds like a serious lack of sleep…can some of you relate?

she is industrious and wise…finds ways to benefit the finances of the home, is okay to work; not necessary however; one can benefit the household in other ways that benefits the finances of the household…saving money, etc

 

2.     With her finances (31:16, 24)
a.     She buys and sells property; She plants vineyards with her earnings (31:16)

Proverbs 31:16 She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.

  • There is a complementarian fashion in which this should be done with the husband. This passage is very real, but it is descriptive, not prescriptive.
  • There is a role for the wife to be business and investment savvy. I am not commending that wives go off and throw all your money in an investment without discussion with and consent with a husband in harmony according to God’s design, but by all means, women may bring ideas to her husband. I admit that sometimes we are too dumb to listen and would rather come home with a new yacht….I will speak to guys on Father’s Day.
b.     She makes and sells belted linen garments and sashes (31:24):

Proverbs 31:24 She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant.

she’s gathering foods from merchant ships, buying fields, growing crops and selling it, makes linen garments for family and for resale, etc etc etc. WOW!!!

3.     With the less fortunate (31:20) : She extends her arms to the poor and needy.

      Proverbs 31:20 She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.

                  – Merciful!!! She extends mercy.

 

C.     Her wisdom (31:26) : Proverbs 31:26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

      – The greatest wisdom and greatest kindness that a mom can speak is of Christ

– 2 Timothy 1:5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

D.     Her witnesses (31:11–12, 23, 28, 31)

1.     Her husband (31:11–12, 23)
  1. Trusts her (31:11): Proverbs 31:11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.
  2. Knows she helps him (31:12): Proverbs 31:12 She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.
  3. Is respected among the city elders (31:23): Proverbs 31:23 Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.
  4. Praises Her (31:28): Proverbs 31:28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her
2.     Her children (31:28) : Her children rise up and call her blessed
3.     Her fellow citizens (31:31) : She should be publicly praised.
4.    The Poor(31:20)

 

E.     Her worship (31:30) : a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
– This is the distinguishing mark, everyone everywhere are thanking their moms and moms everywhere are aspiring to be a good mom…this is distinctly a Christian, God ordained, Christ ordained mandate…

because His glory is at stake, and worship is a necessary requisite to make everything pleasing to Him.

–          This message wouldn’t qualify as preaching unless Jesus’ death makes it distinctively different

  • Moms who do good apart from Christ are commendable within God’s common grace, but they are still in their sin and they get the glory for their exploits
  • Moms in Christ know all to well their shortcomings and need for grace, it is but by the grace of God do they accomplish anything, and it is for His glory alone do they wake up each morning!!!

 

 

 


[1]Garrett, Duane A.: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs. electronic ed. Nashville : Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, c1993 (Logos Library System; The New American Commentary 14), S. 248

 

 


[i] Murphy, Roland E. ; Huwiler, Elizabeth: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs. Peabody, Mass.; Cumbria [UK : Hendrickson Publishers; Paternoster Press, 1999. p.154

© 2009, Rick Hogaboam. All rights reserved.

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