Proverbs 31: 21 says, “She is not afraid of the snow for her household: all her household are clothed with scarlet.” She is not afraid of the harshness of winter, along with its hardships. In the Middle East, the place of this writing, snow was uncommon and could be disastrous for those unprepared. The woman of Proverbs 31 did not fear unforeseen adversity considering she had prepared by covering her household with scarlet. In scripture, scarlet symbolizes the sacrifice of the blood of Jesus that cleanses from sin. We can face the future prepared and unafraid with the covering of Jesus’ blood.
This passage gives in detail the expression of the woman who is wise in all her dealings and who has laid the foundation for all wisdom… receiving Wisdom in the person of Jesus. See Proverbs chapter eight.
We could make the case, then, that the expressions of the woman in Proverbs 31 sufficiently emulate Christ concerning a woman’s responsibilities. So, we could pull that old overused and misused euphemism, “What would Jesus do?” out of the closet, dust it off and with fresh understanding, enact it, knowing that by doing so, we are assuring, for us and those of our household, a bright future with no fear of the unknown and the what-ifs!
For your study you should know that Proverbs 31 is divided into two parts. Verses one through nine are the prophecies or teachings, of King Lemuel’s mother. There is a dispute as to the identity of King Lemuel. There was no Israelite king named Lemuel. Many scholars think that this king was from another eastern culture. Most scholars seem to think that King Lemuel, which means ‘unto God’, is simply another name for King Solomon.
As far as the translation, for the most part, I will be using the People’s Parallel Edition Bible which is the New Living Translation paralleled with the King James Version. You will also need a journal or notebook to record your thoughts, prayers, and conversations with the Father.
The second part of Proverbs 31 begins with verse 10 and is actually a Hebrew acrostic with the first line of each verse beginning with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Some theologians think these verses are from a different source and different age than the previous verses. But others disagree and believe it to be from the same source. This is a good reason to do a little research yourself and come to you own conclusion!
This devotion, like the last one, “A Great Company: A Prayer Journey through Psalms 68”, is meant to be done in somewhat of the lectio divina style: taking in to ourselves small passages of scripture by first reading over the scripture several times, including an audible reading; then, meditating on the scripture making note of words or questions that the Holy Spirit highlights to you; thirdly, praying the scripture along with the needs this scripture illuminates; lastly, contemplating or reflecting on what you hear with your spiritual ears and also by writing in your journal your thoughts and responses to what you hear. I find that sometimes, I don’t hear the answer immediately. But as I give that question to the Lord and wait, it comes. Sometimes, it will come in a few minutes, in a few days or longer, but it will come. This particular way of communion with God, through His Word and prayer, allows His Word to actually become part of us. It can be compared to eating. We take a bite (read), we savor the taste (meditate), we swallow (pray), and finally we digest (contemplate). Our body then receives all the nutrients available and it becomes an authentic part of us.
Another aspect of this lectio divina style is to devote a certain time of day and a certain place to commune with God. I am suggesting Tuesday morning during the fourth watch which is anytime between three and six a.m. The fourth watch has special scriptural significance. It is said to be the time for divine judgment and deliverance. Jacob’s wrestling with the Angel of the Lord occurred during the fourth watch, Israel was released from Egypt during the fourth watch. It was probably during the fourth watch that Gideon pulled down the altars of idol worship in Judges 6:27. According to Job 38:12, it “bring(s) an end to the night’s wickedness” and during the fourth watch is when Jesus came to his disciples walking on the water to save them from the storm. In fact, according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible the root for the word “deep” in Luke 5:4, when Jesus told Peter to “launch out into the deep” can be traced to the root meaning of “very early.”
Another significant reason for this early morning hour is due to an unusual dream I had several years ago. Several months prior to the dream, I felt the Holy Spirit dealing with me to rise up early, before daybreak to be with the Lord. I was hit and miss. One particular morning, I turned off the alarm and went back to sleep. I dreamed that I had done just that, turned the alarm off and went back to sleep. In my dream, when I awoke, I was lamenting to my husband about my failure to get up earlier. He responded, “Well, you know what Leonard Ravenhill says, don’t you? ‘What are you doing again speaking to the daylight?’”
When I awoke from the dream, I knew the dream was significant because, first of all, Ravenhill’s comment was not stated in my normal vernacular. Secondly, I knew Ravenhill was a 20th century prophet for prayer and for revival. I sensed the Holy Spirit was trying to tell me something.
“What are you doing again speaking to the daylight?” As women, we are physically made to conceive, contain, carry, and bring forth life. Life, inside us, is formed in darkness (Psalm 139:15). We speak to things that are not yet formed. Even so, in the Spirit realm, we are to speak to things that are yet unseen, things that are yet in the darkness. We need not spend our time complaining, worrying, and lamenting over what is seen in the daylight, let us give ourselves to speaking to the darkness. In Genesis 1: 2, God spoke to the darkness and said, “Let there be light, and there was light.”
We are to speak to the darkness before the daylight is formed.
Therefore, I am suggesting this be a once a week, predawn prayer devotion. I have chosen Tuesdays, anytime during the fourth watch, between 3:00 and 6:00 a.m. You will personally choose the amount of time you will devote each Tuesday. Some days you may spend only a few minutes, while other mornings, longer. Try not to be rigid, but fluid. It makes this God journey so much more enjoyable! And just know that every Tuesday morning there are many other women along side you, all part of “A Great Company,” changing their world! I would love to add your name to the enlistment so email me at email@example.com. You can also join “A Great Company” on facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/228189507196980/
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
1 “The sayings of King Lemuel contain this message, which his mother taught him.”
Recently I facilitated a ladies’ Bible study on Proverbs 31. I asked them to use some of their own reference material to research this verse to determine the identity of King Lemuel and his mother. We were rather surprised to find that many references cited Solomon and his mother, Bathsheba as the characters referred to in this verse. We were surprised as to the reason we were surprised! We found preconceived prejudices about Bathsheba existed because of her affair with King David. (You can read about this incident in 2 Samuel 11.) Even though David was the king, and holds the responsibility for this action, some commentaries suggest Bathsheba would have known the king was at home in his palace while all the other men were at war. Her dwelling would have been in very close proximity to his since her husband, Uriah, was one of David’s mighty men.
Whether Bathsheba was an accomplice or a victim, the Holy Spirit has given her an influential platform in which to share her words of wisdom.
Why do you think it is difficult to imagine that God would have chosen Bathsheba to introduce this prominent chapter concerning the ideal virtuous woman?
Do you think there are things in your past that could keep God from using you?
Could God want to use you to encourage others in the very thing that could have destroyed you?
Like King Lemuel’s mother, we all are communicating a message, consciously or subconsciously. What message are those around you hearing?
Record your thoughts.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
2 O my son, O son of my womb,
O son of my vows,
The Amplified Bible says it like this, “What, my son? What, son of my womb? What [shall I advise you], son of my vows and dedication to God?” The repetition of the word “what” amply describes the weightiness a mother feels when faced with the responsibility of another human life. “What shall I do?” “What shall I say?” “What if I make a mistake?” “What shall he be?” “What then?” “What now?” “What if…?” The king’s mother seems to comfort herself with the last phrase, “What, son of my vows?” She reminds herself that it was God who gave her the promise. It was God who gave her the strength to bring the promise to birth. The same God who answered her prayers for a child will also guide, direct, correct, and redeem. He will do the same for us. Maybe your answered prayer is a life calling, a dream, or a vision that was birthed.
Are you living your life in reverse by living in regret of bad decisions or mistakes concerning that to which you gave birth?
Can not the divine life-giver fix our mistakes, even when our promise was affected? He must become the God of that which he promised. It is his.
Can He not make all things right?
What are some “whats” you need to relinquish to God?
Journal your responses
Tuesday, January 18
3 do not waste your strength on women,
on those who ruin kings.
The Message translates the first sentence of the previous verse like this, “Oh, son of mine, what can you be thinking of! Child whom I bore! The son I dedicated to God!” It seems obvious what this promise of hers was thinking! This mother was not naïve. She was the original advocate for talking to your kids about sex and drugs! The word ‘strength’, according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance means wealth, valor, and virtue and is confirmed by The Message translation, “Don’t dissipate your virility on fortune-seeking women, promiscuous women who shipwreck leaders.” Recently, I was cable channel surfing. I came across The Joy Behr Show. A guest host was interviewing two beautiful young women who were discussing their life as part of a harem. Their manager, who was there along with them, vehemently asserted that the young women were free to leave any time and that he, in no way, was a pimp! The interviewer stated that she had heard that virgins are becoming more and more desirable and asked him the going rate for a virgin. He stated a virgin can bring as high as one million dollars. Have you have lost your virginity, physically or metaphorically? You can still become virtuous. Remember Bathsheba. The word, virgin, implies an action. Virtuousness implies a lifestyle.
In what ways are you living a virtuous life?
Can you articulate, on a separate piece of paper, a time when you wasted your “strength, virility, or virginity?”
Now, take that piece of paper out side, and give it to God in exchange for His forgiveness, make an altar and burn it! It is gone! It is impossible to reassemble!
Journal your confessions of renewed virginity.
Tuesday, January 25
4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, to guzzle wine.
Rulers should not crave alcohol.
5 For if they drink, they may forget the law
and not give justice to the oppressed.
Revelation 1:6 says, “And He has made us kings and priests unto our God and His Father…” Revelation 5:10 reiterates, “And has made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” Notice the verb tense is in the past tense…He has made us to be kings and priests and has made us to reign (rule). Personalize this scripture by replacing the word ‘kings’ with your name in this verse. If we did this as a group, it could read like this, “It is not for us, women of God, to guzzle wine. We should not crave alcohol (an intoxicant). For if we (as Christ’s ambassadors) drink, we may forget the law (Torah) and not give justice (right, equity, or prosperity) to the oppressed (affliction, poverty, misery, with, seemingly a special emphasis on children, according to The Strong’s Concordance).”
The Pulpit Commentary translates Saint Jereome, “Because there is no secret where drunkenness reigns”, and Jeremy Taylor in Holy Living, “Drunkenness opens all the sanctuaries of nature, and discovers the nakedness of the soul, all its weaknesses and follies; it multiplies sins and discovers them; it makes a man incapable of being a private friend or a public counselor. It taketh a man’s soul into slavery and imprisonment more than any vice whatsoever, because it disarms a man of all his reason and his wisdom…”
It seems the key words in this passage are the words ‘slave’ and ‘reign’.
Are there areas in your life in which you are enslaved?
How can an intoxicant influence the way you reign?
Record your reponses.
Tuesday, February 1
6 Alcohol is for the dying,
and wine for those in bitter distress.
7 Let them drink to forget their poverty
and remember their troubles no more.
These scriptures seem to insinuate underlying reasons for alcohol (or anything that we misuse to deaden our pain)…
The dying: “Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish. As a restorative, a cordial, or a medicine, wine may be advantageously used; it has a place in the providential economy of God. (1Timothy 5:23) …the ladies of Jerusalem provided for criminals on their way to the place of execution a drink of medicated wine, which might deaden the pain of suffering.” The Pulpit Commentary
The bitterly distressed: In the King James Version, it says, “…those that be of heavy hearts.” The word ‘heavy’ means, according to Strong’s, angry, bitter, discontented. My dear sweet, powerful, influential sisters, if there is anything that we will endanger our lives, damage our families, cripple our influence, and rob our victory and joy, it is bitterness. An intoxicant only masks the pain for a little while. An antidote for bitterness is forgiveness. (That’s a whole ‘nother study!)
The impoverished and troubled: Misery is the word used in the KJV, instead of the word ‘troubled’ and according to Strong’s means toil, worry, grievance, iniquity, mischief, wearisome, wickedness.
Pain happens to everyone. It is a normal part of life; but only a small part. Sometimes we get stuck in our pain. As women of God, our reality must come from God’s Word. And as we meditate upon His Word, it changes the way we think. Sometimes the change is like a quick metamorphosis but sometimes it is like a slow evolving. One day we look at our lives and realize we have changed, we are becoming more like Him.
Are there areas of pain in your life that you need to “sear” with the Word of God?
Find some reference resources that attach scripture to a particular need. There are many “Promise Books” available that categorize needs. The internet is also a good source. An example is www.inspiration4everyone.com/bible_scriptures/. (I am not endorsing this site.)
For today’s journal entry, please identify three areas of pain, trouble, or bitterness and assign a scriptural prescription for each. Rehearse, out loud, several times a day for a week. After that, take as needed for pain.
Tuesday, February 8
8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
9 Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice.
What categories of people could we include in the phrase, those who cannot speak for themselves? Those with no voice may include the poor, the unborn, those who do not know the power of prayer, the hopeless, the lost, and the accused that are not present to defend themselves. We are commanded to speak up. Your words carry great power, influence and force.
How can you speak to the darkness?
What are some circumstances in your life in which you can speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves?
Journal your responses.
Tuesday, February 15
A Wife of Noble Character
This begins part two of Proverbs 31, a Hebrew acrostic
10 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
She is more precious than rubies.
Strong’s Concordance says that the word virtuous, in the Hebrew, means ‘a force: an army, wealth, strength, might, power, riches.’ Do you see yourself as God sees you, a woman of force and more precious than rubies? In Matthew 13:45, Jesus shares a parable about a pearl merchant discovering a pearl of great value and when he discovers it, the man sells everything he owned and bought it. Allegorically, we can be compared to the pearl. The man who sold everything can be compared to God. God’s greatest treasure, Jesus, was given in exchange for us, his mysterious treasure.
Today, meditate upon the true reality of your worth in His eyes.
Write a love poem back to him. (Ephesians 1, 3:3-9)
Tuesday, February 22
11 Her husband can trust her,
and she will greatly enrich his life.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
There are two major ways of reading the Word of God. Eisegesis is taken from a root meaning ‘to lead’ and implies a reading and interpretation of the Bible in such a way that expresses the interpreter’s own ideas. Exegesis is taken from a word that means ‘to guide’ and suggests the reader allows the text to guide their interpretation.
Allow the Word of God to guide you in its many layers and symbols. Today, let’s look at the woman in Proverbs metaphorically. “The spiritual expositors see in this description of the virtuous woman a prophetic representation of the Church of Christ in her truth and purity and influence.” (Pulpit Commentary) Jesus is our bridegroom. Can He confidently make the declaration of us, His Church, that is found in verses 11 & 12?
Proverbs 12:4 says, “A worthy wife is her husband’s joy and crown; a shameful wife saps his strength.”
Record some ways in which you think that we greatly enrich His life.
List ways in which we ‘do Him good’ all the days of our lives.
Tuesday, March 1
13 She finds wool and flax
and busily spins it.
If the description of this woman’s busy life causes you to feel hopeless, take courage! This compilation represents a lifetime of accomplishments, not simultaneous events. What a relief!
Metaphorically, we can find special meaning in the significance of wool and flax. Flax was used to make linen garments and wicks for lamps. The Dictionary of Biblical Images says of wool, “As something white, wool is paired with snow three ways: it is a picture of the purity that remains after God has cleansed the crimson of sin from a person (Is 1:18); as the color of the hair of the Ancient of Days in Daniel’s vision, its suggests age as well as purity (Dan 7:9); and it is part of the dazzling effect of Christ as envisioned by John (Rev 1:14).
May we busily spin coverings of prayer for spiritual newness over ourselves, our families and our friends.
Today, for your journal entry, record the prayer covering that you have just spun.
Tuesday, March 8
14 She is like a merchant’s ship,
bringing her food from afar
God is the original liberator! The celebration of this woman’s keen entrepreneurship had to be quite a shock to the eastern culture, particularly in circa 930 B.C. The Pulpit Commentary suggests, “She is like them (merchant ships) in that she extends her operations beyond her own immediate neighbourhood…buying in the best markets and on advantageous terms, without regard to distance, and being always on the look to make honest profit.” This woman was successful in business.
Are there latent dreams and ideas for entrepreneurship in your heart?
What research is necessary to prepare for such a venture?
Do you believe it is God’s will for you to prosper financially?
Use a scripture to substantiate your answer.
Journal your responses
Tuesday, March 15
15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.
Wow! Here it is! Proof for early morning prayer! She rises up before dawn to prepare and plan for the day. There’s no better way to plan than to pray.
What happens if we don’t plan?
How does prayer help us to plan and to prepare?
Proverbs 18:21 KJV says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” Ladies, your words are so powerful! As the bride of Christ, every word spoken, even the words not expressed to God, hold the power of prayer. Last year at a ladies’ retreat, we came up with this catchy saying, “If you’re sayn’ it, you’re prayn’ it!” When our thoughts become conformed by the Word of God, our words and plans will follow suit.
Write your plans for today as prayers.
Form your prayers as if they will be manifest when the daylight comes.
Tuesday, March 22
16 She goes to inspect a field and buys it;
with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
In Matthew 13:44, Jesus shares a parable about a man finding a treasure hidden in a field and when he discovers it, the man sells everything to buy the field and gain the treasure. We are that treasure and the man who sells everything to purchase the field is symbolic of God. Just as our Father, God, has the capacity to look beyond the obvious, the common, the dirt, and see the treasure in the field, we have that ability, also. Ask the Holy Spirit to heighten your ability to see His hidden treasure in yourself and in others.
What “field” are you inspecting?
What treasures do you discern in the field?
Tuesday, March 29
17 She is energetic and strong,
a hard worker.
The Message Bible says this verse a little differently, “First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.” As women, we wear many hats and fill many roles. We can get overwhelmed and lose zest, passion and momentum. Isaiah 40:31 gives us incite to sustainable strength, “But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” The word wait, according to Strong’s Concordance, means to bind together by twisting; collect: gather together, look patiently, tarry.
How can you gain energy by waiting? Give an example.
Describe how “binding together by twisting” can be applied to the meaning of the wordwait.
Journal what you hear the Holy Spirit say to you concerning the areas in you that need His sustainable strength.
Tuesday, April 5
18 She makes sure her dealings are profitable;
her lamp burns late into the night.
The Pulpit Commentary comments on the second sentence, “…she finds work for the hours of darkness.” It is imperative we speak to the darkness before the daylight is formed. Genesis 1:2, “The earth was empty, a formless mass cloaked in darkness. And the Spirit of God was hovering over its surface. Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” Just as the Lord told Ezekiel in Ezekiel 37:4, “Speak to these bones and say…” we also must speak to the darkness and tell it what to be! The Holy Spirit is waiting on our voice to recite His Word back to him!
Some take, according to The Pulpit Commentary, the lamp here in an allegorical sense as signifying life, happiness, and prosperity, as in Proverbs 13:9 and Proverbs 20:20. Jesus, my sisters, intends for us to prosper and be in health. (3 John 2)
What dark circumstance are you in right now?
Find a promise from God’s Word to shape your coming daylight.
Record your responses.
Tuesday, April 12
19 Her hands are busy spinning thread,
her fingers twisting fiber.
At this point, I feel the need to again remind you that the deeds of this virtuous woman represent a lifetime of achievements and activities. It would be futile and exhausting to attempt every endeavor simultaneously. I Peter 2:4 reminds us what is truly beautiful to our Father, “You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” The word ‘quiet’ here comes from a word that actually means “sedentary, still, undisturbed” (Strong’s) It is by the quite, undisturbed sitting at His feet that we gain the force to do His works. Philippians 4:4-8 gives us a prescription for this kind of peace, “ 4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
It is interesting to note that the Apostle Paul addressed these instructions to two women that were, well, fussing! “2 Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. 3 And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. They worked along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life.”
Think of a time when you were in a disagreement with someone and was also exhibiting the undisturbed and quiet spirit as expressed in I Peter 2:4.
I can’t think of one either! I think it would be safe to say that 99.9% of the time we spend in disagreements we also spend outside of that gentle, quiet and undisturbed spirit that pleases God.
What do you think?
Describe a day without anxiousness. What would change?
Note the last part of Philippians 4 verse 5, “Remember the Lord is coming.” How can that realization prioritize our lives?
Meditate this week on Philippians 4:4-8
Tuesday, April 19
20 She extends a helping hand to the poor
and opens her arms to the needy.
This woman not only gives to the poor but seems to employ the ministry of touch, reminiscent of Jesus when he prayed for others. It is said there are 2500 nerve receptors per square centimeter in the human hand. Her actions not only express benevolence but compassion, empathy and involvement.
There are many different categories of poor and needy people. Obviously, there are the socio-economically poor. But there are also the emotionally poor, the spiritually poor, the mentally poor, and the lonely and given-up-on poor.
What are some causes and effects of getting involved in giving to the poor?
Without editing your thoughts, list as many as you can think of, even the negative ones.
Are you surprised as to why you may be reluctant?
How do the benefits outweigh the negatives?
Tuesday, April 26
21 She has no fear of winter for her household,
for everyone has warm clothes.
22 She makes her own bedspreads.
She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
Our anchor scripture! “She has no fear…” Can you imagine what it would be like to live fear free! The King James Version translates it this way, “She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet…”
As I stated in the introduction, “She is not afraid of the harshness of winter, along with its hardships. In the Middle East, the place of this writing, snow was uncommon and could be disastrous for those unprepared. The woman of Proverbs 31 did not fear unforeseen adversity considering she had prepared by covering her household with scarlet. In scripture, scarlet symbolizes the sacrifice of the blood of Jesus that cleanses from sin. We can face the future prepared and unafraid with the covering of Jesus’ blood.”
Verse twenty-two gives us more incite into her fearlessness. “She makes for herself coverings of tapestry”, says the KJV. Strong’s translates the word ‘coverings’ to mean ‘coverlet’ which is why the NLT calls it ‘bedspreads.’ If a person is to be productive, a person must rest! Have you ever noticed that fear seems to invade your thoughts with more ferocity at night when you are trying to rest? I Corinthians 5:4 says that we are to, “Cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” The best way to cast down imaginations is to replace those imaginations with the truth of God’s Word: those thoughts that represent the thoughts of Christ. The word ‘imagination’ translates ‘reasoning’ and is from a root word meaning to ‘conclude.’ Fear wants us to conclude the worst by bringing dreadful imagined pictures to our minds. What we focus on, we become. Prepare for the night by covering yourself and your family with confessions and promises from the Word of God.
What reoccurring fear threatens you?
Cast down and replace those imaginations with promises from the Word of God.
Record and recite, out loud, those promises that cover and protect during times of rest.
Tuesday, May 3
23 Her husband is well known at the city gates,
where he sits with the other civic leaders.
24 She makes belted linen garments
and sashes to sell to the merchants.
We, the Church, the bride of Christ are the means by which Christ is made known to the world. Our behavior either enhances His reputation or hinders His influence. The next verse, “She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants” suggests a reason for the husband’s leadership and influence in society: her dealings in the public sector.
How can our actions cause those who don’t know Jesus to doubt his love?
What are ways in which you, as part of the bride of Christ, can compliment Christ’s influence in society?
Please journal what you hear the Holy Spirit say.
Tuesday, May 10
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future.
She is clothed with strength and dignity. Verse twenty-two also describes her clothing, “She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.” Ladies, obviously, the Lord intends for us to present ourselves well. So, here, He gives us His permission to spend some time and money on ourselves! Don’t make the mistake of getting so focused on others that you neglect yourself. Care for the caregiver!
Clothed with strength and dignity, dressed in fine linen and purple gowns, this woman is a picture of the Priesthood of God. The priests’ clothing were to be made of fine linen.Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary says of linen, “In Bible times, the finest linen allowed free circulation of air, keeping the wearer cool in hot weather. Because it was so expensive, it was owned by the wealthy, the powerful, and the priests.” Ezekiel 44:18 gives more incite to the reason God chose linen, “They must wear linen turbans and linen undergarments. They must not wear anything that would cause them to perspire.” Jesus reminds us in Matthew 11:29-30 “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
What are some things in your life that you are ‘sweating’ about?
How much of your self-worth do you acquire from your ‘doings’?
Tuesday, May 17
26 When she speaks, her words are wise,
and she gives instructions with kindness.
Our words and our speech are a foundational theme in the book of Proverbs. Interestingly, there are just enough chapters in Proverbs for every day of the month. A great way to study the book of Proverbs is to read the chapter that corresponds with the day of the month. By reading the book of Proverbs in an exegesis manner, our words become conformed to His definition of wise speech. And what we say soon becomes what we do.
Proverbs 3:13-18 lists some benefits of taming our tongue, “Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding. For wisdom is more profitable than silver, and her wages are better than gold. Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. She offers you long life in her right hand, and riches and honor in her left. She will guide you down delightful paths; all her ways are satisfying. Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her; happy are those who hold her tightly.”
The Pulpit Commentary exemplifies her wise and kind speech, “When she speaks it is not gossip, or slander or idle talk, that she utters, but sentences of prudence and sound sense, such as may minister grace to the hearers…her language to those around her is animated and regulated by love.”
Reference James 3: 5-13. Ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate areas of needed change.
Record what He shows you.
Tuesday, May 24
27 She carefully watches everything in her household
and suffers nothing from laziness.
28 Her children stand and bless her.
Her husband praises her:
The Amplified Bible translates it this way, “She looks well to how things go in her household, and the bread of idleness (gossip, discontent, and self-pity) she will not eat.”
Oh me, ladies, let’s chew on that! It surely covers all our junk!
The next verse is the result of what happens when we observe to do verse 27, “Her children stand (Standing children is a wonderful image!) and bless her. Eerdmans Commentary expounds, “When they reach mature age, they bless her…” Her husband also praises her. “What a Woman Wants?” I believe a woman wants children who are found standing on their own at adulthood and who have enough confidence to bless instead of criticize and a husband that is secure enough to encourage and validate his wife. Whether married or not or with children or not, every woman has a need to be validated and encouraged. If that need is met mostly from the immediate family, then do we not have a great responsibility to encourage, validate and bless the single woman? What are some ways in which we can facilitate that outreach of encouragement?
Now, let’s look at this metaphorically. We could conclude then that when the bride of Christ opens her mouth with wisdom and kindness, when she refuses to gossip, to be discontented and self-absorbed, the next generation will stand and will bless the church and will also bless God to whom the church belongs. And Christ will boast, as in Ephesians 3:10 and 11, of His beautiful bride and the world will be drawn to the light of it.
Record your insights.
Tuesday, May 31
29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
but you surpass them all!”
According to The Pulpit Commentary, the Vulgate (the Latin version of the Bible written by Saint Jerome at the end of the 4th century) and the Septuagint (The oldest Greek version of the Old Testament, probably translated by 70 -72 Jewish scholars at the request of Ptolemy II between the 3rd and 2nd centuries, BC) translate this verse as, “Many daughters have obtained wealth.” It goes on to say, that it adds another rendering, “Many daughters have wrought power,” which it says, is nearer the meaning in this place. The word virtuous in Hebrew is ‘chayil’ and means force. Therefore, we can confidently say that the virtuous woman is a woman of force.
There’s a beautiful and interesting commentary found in the Amplified Bible concerning this verse, “This is a very great deal to be recorded of her, a woman in private life. It means she had done more that Miriam, a leader to a nation’s praise to God (Exodus 15:20-21) Deborah, the patriotic military advisor (Judges 4:4-10), Huldah, the woman who revealed God’s secret message to national leaders (II Kings 22:14), Ruth, Hannah, Queen Esther… In what way did she ‘excel them all’? In her spiritual and practical devotion to God, which permeated every area and relationship of her life.”
It was not her accomplishments that caused her to be a woman of force. It was her devotion to God that determined her force. Her private dealings became her public testimony.
I sense the Holy Spirit dealing in such a ‘forceful’ way.
Journal the questions you are hearing the Holy Spirit ask.
Include any illuminations.
Tuesday, June 7
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
The Amplified Bible continues it commentary on this passage, “When the summary of what makes her price far above rubies is given in verse 30, it is her spiritual life only that is mentioned. One can almost hear the voice of Jesus (Luke 10:42), saying, “Mary has chosen that good portion…which shall not be taken from her.”
The scriptures tells us hundreds of times to, “Fear not!” Yet, here, in verse 30, we see the commendation to fear the Lord. So, what’s the difference?
Here are just a few examples that Proverbs gives to describe the fear of the Lord, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the forward mouth, do I hate.” Proverbs 8:13
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…” Proverbs 9:10
“The fear of the Lord prolongs days…” Proverbs 10:27
The word ‘fear’ in all these scriptures, according to Strong’s, mean to ‘reverence’. To have reverence is to have a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe. Synonyms for reverence include admiration, adoration, devoutness, homage, honor, love, loyalty, praise, worship. The Amplified Bible translates this verse as, “Charm and grace are deceptive, and beauty is vain [because it is not lasting], but a woman who reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord, she shall be praised!”
I John 4:18 elaborates on the kind of fear we are not to experience, “There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection].” (Amplified) Isn’t it interesting that it’s the fear of punishment that holds torment? Several weeks ago I went to a Beth Moore conference. She told the story of visiting Billy Graham’s retreat center, of which she had long dreamed. As she was touring the facility, she was overwhelmed with the life of this godly man. Soon she began to feel ashamed. How could God ever use someone like her? Back at her cabin on the retreat grounds, she cried herself to sleep. The next morning she shuffled to the coffeepot, still feeling so condemned. She opened the curtains to see the ground blanketed with snow! Isaiah 1:18 immediately came to her mind, “…thou your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow…!” Her condemnation turned to jubilation!
One of the attendees at the conference identified with Beth’s story and was so touched and encouraged by it. To further minister to this person, I gave her a silver snowflake to be opened on Christmas day. Can you believe it snowed in Alabama on Christmas day! It was said to have been the first day it snowed on Christmas in Alabama in one hundred years. Christ came to take our punishment!
What do you live in the dread of?
When I am plagued by fear, I try to follow fear all the way to its source. My thought process goes like this… “What am I afraid of?” When I get that answer, I ask myself, “Why am I afraid of that?” Many times, I find at fear’s root there is a control issue. I want things to turn out a certain way. Then I am faced with the real question, “Do I truly trust God’s love and care for me?” I then come to this reality with a resounding, “Yes!” God can be trusted!
What is it that you are afraid of?
Why are you afraid of that?
Can God be trusted with the outcome?
Tuesday, June 14
31 Reward her for all she has done.
Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.
“Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.”(KJV) When this Proverb was first penned, it probably was culturally shocking in its citation. Eerdmans Commentary states, “Solomon’s address to men in general: Give her the praises which she so richly merits…in public places.”
Does it seem hard for you to accept praise? Why or why not?
I’d like to also address this metaphorically. The reference to “the gates” is a reference to the public arena. Christ wants us as His prized possession, His Church to be conformed to His image. He wants the world to see His glory upon us. When that is done, society, will praise her and her reward will be God’s Kingdom at work in the hearts of mankind. Psalm 24:7-10 says, “7Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. 8Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. 9Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. 10Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.” (KJV)
The Messages says it like this, “7 Wake up, you sleepyhead city! Wake up, you sleepyhead people! King-Glory is ready to enter. 8 Who is this King-Glory? God, armed and battle-ready. 9 Wake up, you sleepyhead city! Wake up, you sleepyhead people! King-Glory is ready to enter. 10 Who is this King-Glory? God-of-the-Angel-Armies: he is King-Glory.”
If possible, find a resource, like a Strong’s Exhaustive Bible Concordance, hardcopy or by internet or go to http://www.biblegateway.com or www.youversion.com and reference scriptures relating to the word ‘reward’.
What are some rewards you are believing for?
Tuesday, June 21
Oh my! Here we are six months later! I know that God’s Word has sunk deep into your heart and is transforming your mind and seasoning your speech. As you speak God’s Word, the daylight is being formed by what you “prophecy,” Just as we began in Proverbs 31:1 with, “The words of …the prophecy that his mother taught him”, we are closing with your prophecy that will be repeated, and repeated by those whom you influence. I’ve heard it said that the words we speak never die and never stop. The sound waves keep going and going out into space.
Look over the past six months.
How have your words, speech and actions changed?
The theme of the whole book of Proverbs is the fear of the Lord.
List five major insights you have received about “the fear of the Lord.”
In one sentence, record what Proverbs 31 means to you.
Please email me, log onto the facebook group or the blog (I plan to update and improve the blog, hopefully!) and let me know what you have received through this study. I love you and I have the utmost confidence in your ability to hear Him and change your world.