Peter Misselbrook's Blog
May 28 2019 - Proverbs 31:10-31 – A wife of noble character

Five years ago I was in hospital for twelve weeks with serious heart problems; I needed a replacement heart valve and a pacemaker. During that time my wife visited me every day, except on the day I was recovering from open heart surgery – and even then she rang the hospital to check on me. She did all of this while continuing to work as a midwife. During my stay in hospital we celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary. I arranged for our daughter to put together something for me to give my wife as an expression of my thankfulness to God and to her for the 41 years we had been together. It consists of a photograph of us both on our wedding day along with some verses from the passage we read this morning, namely:

A wife of noble character … is worth far more than rubies… Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. (Proverbs 31:10, 29)

The book of Proverbs begins with Solomon's advice to his son. Much of it may seem to reflect a distinctly male perspective on life and even rather negative views of women as Solomon warns his son of the danger of being seduced into unhelpful relationships. Perhaps Solomon, with his 700 wives and 300 concubines, is speaking from experience. But here is a very different picture of a wife of noble character, a provider for her family and a blessing to her husband who values her greatly.

The picture is that of a wealthy woman, one who buys vineyards and looks after her servants (see vv. 16 and 15). We may therefore be tempted to think that what is written here is of little relevance to ourselves and to the society in which we live. I would argue quite the contrary. We may live in different circumstances, but the portrait painted in these verses is all too relevant to the life of the contemporary wife and mother.

Notice how busy this woman is. She has her own work to do, work that is essential in providing for the needs of her household: "She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks" (v.17). She is so busy in her work that she sometimes has to start early in the morning to ensure that the family is looked after (v. 15). She is busy also in making clothes and bedding for the family (v. 22) – even spinning to make the thread which will be woven to make the cloth (v. 19). In contemporary terms, we might say that she is always knitting and sewing for her children, her grandchildren and to make gifts for others (v. 20). Her husband and her children love her and honour her for all she does (vv. 11, 28). She is even praised by the men of the community as they sit and gossip in the city gate (v. 31).

Many women today have to juggle paid work with care for home and family. We need to honour them and let them know how much we value them. Indeed, husbands and wives, parents and children need to value and cherish one another. There are immense pressures on family life today. We need to ensure that the bonds of love – practical loving help and support for one other – are stronger than the pressures that seek to break families apart. And this applies not just to those in families; the entire Christian community is to value and support the lives of families.

But the most important quality that preserves and encourages family life is knowledge of and devotion to the living God; "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised" (v.30). Through the Lord Jesus Christ we have been welcomed as members of God's family; we are loved and valued by him. His love for us is a model for our love and practical care of one another. We need to value one another as members of God's family and express our appreciation of one another.

Lord God, I thank you for my family, for those who have cared for me down the years and who care for me still. Thank you most of all that you have welcomed me into your own family and shown me the depth of your love in the Lord Jesus. Show me how I can care for members of my family and of the family of your people in a manner that reflects your great love and care for me.

Peter Misselbrook