I know we have lots of new people joining us for this series looking at the Proverbs 31 Wife, so I wanted to start off by welcoming you. If you come from a place where you have struggled to read your bible – welcome. If you come from a place where you haven’t had a “devotional time” for what seems like forever – welcome. If you come from a place where you are close to God and want to dig even deeper into the bible with others – welcome. This is a safe place for us to discuss this small section of the bible each week, and it has been so fantastic and encouraging to me to see that happening over in our Facebook Community. Please do keep sharing, commenting and discussing our weekly verse – you are spurring me on and no doubt spurring others on too. We are all in this together!!
Week One – Where to start?!
Well this week is our intro week really into the Proverbs 31 wife. And what a week its been. We have launched into such a fantastic verse that is iconic really of the Proverbs 31 wife. Perhaps you’ve heard it quoted at weddings or on anniversary cards, but this week we have dug deeper than the superficial statement that it seems to make about how great it is to find a good wife.
First off I wanted to understand more about who was writing this and what it’s original intention was. You see, often we as women read this whole passage and make it a kind of “to-do list”, and way to make ourselves feel inferior as we aren’t as good as this “wife of noble character”. By the end of verse 10, we have already discounted ourselves as being worth more than rubies – that must be someone else surely!
But after a bit of research (none of which was conclusive) it seems most likely that this passage was written by Bathsheba, the mum of King Solomon (the passage before this was written to King Lemuel and many scholar seems to think that may have been a pet name for Solomon that his mum called him). So this is written by a woman. You may be mistaken for getting angry with Bathsheba for setting the standards so high and making it difficult for women, but then I looked at who its original intended audience was. It was for Solomon. Perhaps also for other men around that time, but it was never intended to be read by us when it was written. This is a poetic piece of writing (it is actually an acrostic in its original Hebrew – how cool is that!) with the intention of teaching her son how to look for a good wife.
It is well known that David (Solomon’s dad) wasn’t the greatest at choosing wives. He took other people’s wives and was easily swayed by beauty. Bathsheba knew only too well how badly that could go! And so in a desperate mothers attempt to impart wisdom to her son, she wanted to teach him how to find a good wife. I also thought back to some of the characters in the Old Testament and what it says about their wives – Abraham’s wife Sarah was very beautiful that he had to pretend she was his sister, Jacob wanted Rachel as his wife because she was the most beautiful of the two sisters, the first thing we know about Isaac’s wife Rebekah is that she is beautiful. There is definitely a recurring theme that men seem more bothered about how their wives look than anything else, and that doesn’t always work out well. Bathsheba wants to address this and help her son to break the cycle.
what does it mean to have “Noble Character”?
Noble: showing fine personal qualities. Righteous, virtuous, good, worthy. Lots of you jumped straight to finding the original Hebrew word, chayil, which means strong, able, warrior-like, efficient. So many great attributes are encompassed in this word “noble” that it is easy to feel lost and discouraged reading it. How on earth are we supposed to measure up to that?
I always remember being told before I got married that instead of moaning that I haven’t found the perfect man, I should focus on trying to make myself the perfect woman. I think this is the heart of this verse – that this is something to strive for, yes, but not to worry about if we haven’t yet achieved it. The whole first sentence is a question “who can find?” which tells me that actually women like this are very rare. We all have our faults and failings, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying to become more and more noble in the way that we act and do things. I know I want to be the best wife and the best woman I can be so that others will see me as a precious jewel.
why is she more precious than rubies???
Ok, so there are a few different translations of this part of the verse. Some say jewels, some say rubies, and the more modern translations have even dared to change it to diamonds (check out the message translation)! It got me thinking as to why most said rubies. Rubies at the time that this was written were more valuable and more rare than diamonds. In fact, diamonds were actually too hard that they were viewed as negative – being like a diamond was linked to hardness of heart and being set in your ways, not something that God valued. Rubies instead were rare and precious with many different colours and shades inside. There were important to God, as they are listed as being on the priest’s ephod and as one of the 12 foundation stones for the New Jerusalem in Revelation. Metaphorically they are important to God. And as something important to God, it brings the context that having a good character as a woman and wife is something we should strive for, and that men who worship God should look for.
On a side note – I think that the Message Version changes rubies to diamonds because of the way we view these stones now. Diamonds, due to heavy advertising and market control, are now the most valuable and rare of precious stones. So to make this passage understandable to us now, diamonds are the most comparable thing. We no longer see diamonds as negative as we have harnessed their hardness for uses in cutting tools and other instruments, something that was not achieved back in Old Testament times.
so what now?
Well, that was a mouthful of a summary post!! You might be left thinking, what now? After meditating on this verse all week, I have come to the conclusion that nobility is something to strive for as a woman. It is important to God. But that we shouldn’t put pressure on ourselves to become that or feel like a failure for not being the most noble of women. This verse was never written to women or for our era, so take comfort from that. Instead, lets use this verse as a blessing, praying it over our women friends and encouraging each other to focus more on our character than our outward appearance.
I hope you will all be joining in again next week as we meditate on and study the next two verses of Proverbs 31:
“Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:11-12
Naomi will be helping to lead the discussion over in the Facebook Community this week, but please do keep posting your thoughts, questions and ideas on the verse throughout the week.
If you need any further resources to help you, do pop over to the new etsy shop for printable bookmarks, coasters, notebooks and much much more.