Proverbs 31 Man
THE PROVERBS 31 MAN
The Most Interesting Man in the World
Kurt Dahlin, Sunday, June 20, 2010
If I said, "Proverbs chapter 31" what do you think of? The Proverbs 31 Woman. For nearly three thousand years, this section from the Book of Proverbs has been a source of inspiration for women. Even more so today since the Bible is the world's bestselling book. The Proverbs 31 woman embodies all the skill, talents, and character of the virtuous wife. In the Hebrew Bible each of the 22 verses begin with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet in proper sequence and serve as a learning tool and a help for memorization. This chapter was used as a guide for young girls growing up, as well as instruction for young men; to help them know what to look for in a wife.
Proverbs 31:10 says, "A wife of noble character, who can find?"
Now who do you think is looking for a wife? Single men. Why are they looking for a wife—to keep them out of jail. Women are a civilizing force on the face of the earth. Proverbs 31 shows the kind of woman you should marry. This is the kind of wife to look for. A lasting marriage must be built on a more solid foundation than charm and beauty.
The Proverbs are full of warnings about the wrong kind of women and men (Pro. 14:7,14; 29:24; the loose woman of Pro. 2:16-18; 5:8; 6:25-26; Chapter 7; 30:20). So it is possible that these verses were used to help single men in their search for a woman of quality. Proverbs 31 is also a guide for men to help them in becoming better men and better husbands. There is a man in Proverbs 31 and we are going to dig him out as a role model for today. He is the most interesting man in the world.
Now of the 31 chapters in the Book of Proverbs, 30 chapters are primarily addressed to men: 22 verses for women, and 893 verses for men. Does that tell you something ABOUT MEN? Why do men need 98% of the book of wisdom?
1 The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:
2 That men may know wisdom and instruction, understand words of insight,
3 receive instruction in wise dealing, righteousness, justice, and equity; RSV
THE PATHOLOGICAL PROBLEM OF FOOLISH MEN
A. In June 1999 the total inmates in Federal and State prisons were 1,860,520 (almost 2 million).
- 90% were men.
- 81% were unmarried men in various stages of singleness, i.e. without family.
(Bureau of Justice Statistics: Prison and Jail Inmates at Mid-year 1999)
B. In 1998 there were 31 million crimes. Single men did the overwhelming majority of those crimes.
(Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics 1998, Table 3.1 page 172)
In 1998 there were 113,866 men in Federal prisons.
- Of the total inmates in Federal prisons, 92.5% were men.
- Only 9,186 were women.
- I would imagine that the majority of women, who are in jail for crimes, worked together with men at some point.
The facts are clear: men are the leading cause of social pathology or social sickness. Men gone wrong are the curse of the nation. The majority of criminals are unmarried men.
(Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics 1998, Table 6.49 page 503)
D. According to federal crime statistics, in 1994 it cost at least $94 billion annually for all the services required to incarcerate men in state and federal prisons.
(Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics 1998, Table 1.2 page 3)
Statistics provided in Crime in the United States, 2005, include:
- Nationwide in 2005, there were an estimated 1,390,695 violent crimes reported.
- Nationwide in 2005, an estimated 10,166,159 property crimes were reported.
- Collectively, victims of property crimes (excluding arson) lost an estimated $16.5 billion.
That is a huge waste of money that could be spent on better things. What would you do with an additional $16 billion dollars?
- Men rob individuals, families and businesses.
- Men rob society of financial resources.
- Men rob society of their potential contribution to the community.
- Men rob God of their potential contribution to the church.
Men need some help. Foolish men need wisdom from God and a change of heart.
E. Take Adam for Instance
God made light; Genesis 1:3
The light was good; Genesis 1:4
God made the sky, the water and land; Genesis 1:7-9
And God saw that it was good; Genesis 1:10
God made plants and trees; Genesis 1:11
And God saw that it was good; Genesis 1:12
God made the sun and moon; Genesis 1:14
And God saw that it was good; Genesis 1:18
God made living creatures for the seas and birds; Genesis 1:20
And God saw that it was good; Genesis 1:21
God made land animals; Genesis 1:24
And God saw that it was good
Gen 1:31 (NIV)
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning the sixth day.
God made Adam and put him in the Garden of Eden
The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone.
Gen 2:18 (NIV)
The LORD God said, "I will make a helper suitable for him."
Who was this helper that God would create to change Adam from not good to good? A wife! Our Proverbs 31 woman is a good, noble and excellent woman more precious than rubies.
The Proverbs 31 Woman Is as Rare as Rubies
Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is worth more than precious rubies.NLT
One of the reasons why rubies are so precious is because they are so rare. If you could find rubies like shells on the beach, would they be as valuable? Proverbs 31:10 doesn't read, "She is worth far more than seashells." The Bible doesn't say that a good wife is to be valued like property, cattle, a slave or a prisoner. She is to be valued as rare and precious by her husband. A good wife is worth far more than a treasure chest full of rubies and jewels. The Hebrew word used in Proverbs 31:10 for ruby (paniyn) is used several other scriptures to describe the value of wisdom.
Rubies: (Strong’s Concordance # 6443) probably a pearl: ruby.
Pro. 3:15 She is more precious than rubies KJV.
Pro. 8:11 For wisdom is better than rubies KJV.
Pro. 20:15 There is gold and abundance of costly stones (rubies) RSV.
Job 28:18 The price of wisdom is above rubies KJV.
I Will Make A Helper Suitable For Him
The Proverbs 31 Woman is the ideal wife. She is as rare and precious as rubies. Not all women measure up to her. She remains a paradigm to emulate. However, Proverbs 31:29 does say, "Many women have done excellently."
The Proverbs 31 Man Of Excellence
The wife of Proverbs chapter 31 could not have become such a woman of surpassing excellence unless her husband was the man of 30 chapters of Proverbs.
Having said all this, there is a man behind the scenes in Proverbs chapter 31 and we are going to excavate him as an incredible role model for men today. Who is the Proverbs 31 man?
Proverbs 31:11 reads "Her husband has full confidence in her...."
We find out that our man is a husband. What kind of a husband is he? What can we learn about him from his wife?
Proverbs 31:28 states, “Her children rise up….”
We discover that our man is a father. He has children. What kind of a father is he? What can we learn about him from his kids?
Proverbs 31:23 reads “he sits among the elders of the land.”
He is a respected community leader. What kind of a leader is he? What can we learn about him from his community?
We are going to examine our man in these three areas:
The Proverbs 31 Man As Husband
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain. RSV
We find that our Proverbs 31 Man is a husband. He is married to her. Our man is married but what kind of husband is he? Her husband can trust her. He has full confidence in her that she will greatly enrich his life and lack nothing in value.
Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing in value. NIV
Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. NLT
Marriage was intended to be a lifelong commitment, not a feeling. He has pledged himself to her in lifelong, monogamous (not monotonous) marriage. Notice, they are not cohabiting. They are not just living together. He is not a roommate or a drop-in boyfriend. He is not one of a long string of sexual partners. He is her husband. They are married. Her ability to act with confidence and to instill confidence reveals mutual trust, not only in her integrity but also in his. She is not leading a double life and neither is he. Do you think he could trust her if she was the morally loose wife of Proverbs chapter 7? The Proverbs 7 woman was sleeping around with any man she could find as soon as her husband left town.
So she seduced him with her pretty speech, her coaxing and her wheedling, until he yielded to her. He couldn't resist her flattery. TLB
The Proverbs 31 man trusts his wife. Yet, trust is earned. She is worthy of his trust. She is not the immoral wife of Proverbs chapter 7. Trust cannot exist in an environment of deception, dishonesty and fraud. Deep down in the core of his being he can trust her. Why does he trust her? Because she trusts the Lord. Proverbs 31:30 reads, "a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."
You don't get married to be happy. Happiness can be a part of marriage but not the foundation. Marriage is a responsibility. It is an opportunity to impart God's wisdom to the next generation. Marriage is a process of spiritual growth, sacrifice and self-denial. The context of chapter 31 is family: husband, wife, and children. Family is God's idea and God has the perfect blueprint for a successful family
His trust allows her to fully express her capabilities and skills to the maximum level. His confidence in her empowers her to make important day-to-day decisions, even to purchase property. Notice, she has full reign of the house. She is not lonely, bored, caged up, barefoot and fearful. She is not torn, abused or maltreated.
Look at what she accomplishes in this environment of mutual trust and confidence. As we survey Proverbs 31 we see she works willingly. She travels to get the best deals. She gets up early and provides food for her household. She has servants to manage and money to invest. She buys land and plants a vineyard. She buys and sells her merchandise in the marketplace. She has time to help the poor. She makes quality clothes for herself and her family. She laughs. She is kind. She teaches with wisdom. She takes good care of her family. She is known in the gates as an excellent woman. Could you imagine this woman with a car, a computer and a cell phone? She is not some whimpering, maltreated, cringing slave waiting anxiously for her husband/master/owner to come home and abuse her. His trust allows her to make the best use of her many abilities and opportunities. She is completely free and incredibly active, working in harmony with the vision and values of their home. Her freedom and confidence tells us a lot about him. He is not an abusive, ill-tempered, repressive, violent maniac.
DOES SHE SOUND BROKEN?
The Proverbs tell us:
Proverbs 27:9 A soul is torn by trouble
Proverbs 18:14 A broken spirit who can bear
Proverbs 15:4 Perverseness...breaks the spirit
Proverbs 15:13 By sorrow of heart the spirit is broken
Proverbs 17:22 A downcast spirit dries up the bones
Prov 12:18 Reckless words pierce like a sword
Does our Proverbs 31 woman sound like a broken spirited woman? Does she appear torn, troubled, downcast, brokenhearted, miserable and sorrowful? Is she sad? NO! What does that tell us about our Man? Our Proverbs 31 Man has been good to her. He is an excellent, loving husband. He cherishes her as "far more precious than jewels." He trusts her. He is not a trouble maker. He is not violent, unreasonable or un-loving. They both co-exist in an atmosphere of trust and harmony. This is a functional home. A truly biblical home is a peaceful and productive home. There is no hint of any domestic violence. Just the opposite—she is free and allowed to fully utilize her many talents. She is a lucky woman to be married to such a great man of God. Not all women are this fortunate.
The Proverbs 31 woman is very active. I am quickly overwhelmed by how hard she works. I’m exhausted just reading about all she does. She works harder than a plumber. Eph. 5:22 says “Wives submit to your husbands.” Do you think that she was submissive to her husband? What does this tell us about submission? Submission doesn’t mean subjection, subordination, subjugation or slavery. Submission doesn't mean that husbands can treat their wives as some trail boss on a cattle drive. Do you remember the old "Rawhide" western with Clint Eastwood? Read the words of the theme song from "Rawhide." Many men believe that this is what submission means: THE CATTLE DRIVER
Roll em in
Roll em out
Head em up
Move em out
Get those doggies rollin, rollin, Raw Hide
(crack the whip)
Move em on
Head em up
Head em up
Move em on
Move em on
Head em up
Don't try to understand em
just rope 'n throw 'n brand em
soon we’ll be living high and wide
Though they are disapproving keep those doggies moving - Raw Hide
(crack the whip)
Cut em out
Ride em in
Ride em in
Let em out
Cut em out (Crack)
Ride em in Raw Hide
Some men believe that the word submission means they can treat their wives like cattle. However, women don't work this hard for a creep. The Proverbs 31 woman works with willing hands. She couldn't and wouldn’t thrive like this in an environment of physical and verbal abuse. The Proverbs 31 Man does not stifle his wife’s creativity. Physical and sexual abuse, mental and verbal abuse do not produce trust and confidence and willingness. Her eager productivity tells us that this home is good, righteous and just. This is a peaceful home. The fact that she lives in an environment of trust gives her confidence to fully utilize her talents and capabilities. That is mutual respect. He trusts her with all of his heart. He respects her. He is the most incredible man in the world.
ALL THE DAYS OF HER LIFE
We find in Proverbs 31:12-13
2 She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands. RSV
She wants to bring him good all the days of her life. He lacks nothing of value. She works willingly every day to bring him goodness, gain and blessing. What does that tell us about the Proverbs 31 Man? Do you think she likes her husband? Does it sound like she is oppressed, unhappy or depressed? Does it sound like a life of subservience, drudgery and misery? Does it sound like they are working together? Do you suppose they agree on the direction their family and lives are heading? He is a worthy recipient of her good efforts. Do you think the Proverbs 31 Man is a likable kind of person? Not all a man are the same—this guy is amazing.
We find out in Proverbs 31:11 and 12 that, "Her husband . . . lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life" (NIV). She brings him good all the days of her life. Does "all the days of her life," sound like, "till death do us part?" This is marriage. It doesn't read, "I'll give you the best seven years of my life." Marriage is permanent. It is “all the days of life,” in the context of husband, wife, and family. The union of one man and one wife was clearly the norm for ordinary Israelites. He has pledged himself to her in lifelong, monotonous—I mean— monogamous marriage. Notice, they are not cohabiting. They are not just living together. He is not a roommate or a drop-in boyfriend. He is not one of a long string of sexual partners. He is her husband. They are married.
“A Gallup poll found three of four women agreeing that if they could turn back the calendar they would not pick the same husband” (Petersen, Alan ed. For Men Only. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1973 70). This means that 75% of married women polled are unhappy with their husbands.
However, she is not looking for a way out of this relationship. Is she? What does this tell us about him? He is the kind of guy that she can recommit to, with her whole heart, to bring him good to all the days of her life. Her husband was worthy of her. He is one of the top 25%. She would marry him again every day! This woman was only able to be so open and giving and to achieve so much because of the character of her husband.
The Proverbs 31 woman is not looking to bail on her marriage. She is happy with her husband. Can you imagine that? Realize that they have been married for a while because they have kids and he is an elder at the city gate. Yet, after all this time, she still is committed to do him good, with all her heart, for all her days. What does that say about him? It speaks volumes about his character and his devotion to biblical values. He is the kind of husband that his wife can wholeheartedly promise to bring good to all the days of her life. She feels happy to be married to such a wonderful man. She would marry him again and again and again. The Proverbs 31 husband was worthy of her respect and devotion.
Our Proverbs 31 Man as Father
She gets up before daylight to prepare food for her family and to tell her servant girls what to do. TEV
Next, we discover that our Proverbs 31 man is also a father. In verses 15, 21, 27 and 28, we find that he has a family and children. They are his kids as well as hers. Therefore, he is not birthing children illegitimately or without bearing full responsibility for them. So what were the typical responsibilities of a biblical father? There are at least seven:
1. To presume spiritual leadership.
2. To provide adequately for his family.
3. To painstakingly teach and train his children. The father is expected to be the primary teacher of biblical values to his kids. It is not the responsibility of mom, or the church (Pro. 22:6; Deut. 6:7-9). Also, circumcision of the sons, initiated by the father, was the equivalence of dedication.
4. To properly discipline.
5. To protect and defend the family.
6. To prepare children for productive work.
7. To participate in the selection of a spouse.
The father is expected to be the primary teacher of biblical values to his kids. It is not the ultimate responsibility of mom, the church or the State (Prov 22:6; Deut. 6:7-9).
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD;
5 and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
6 And these words that I command you this day shall be upon your heart;
7 and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. RSV
We can safely assume that the Proverbs 31 man took this mandate seriously. He fully embraced his biblical job description. He was not some lawless pagan, renegade rebel, rabble rouser, or violent monster. We can extract the description of our fellow from what we know about his wife, common sense and the biblical expectation for men.
He was probably a farmer, like most people. He owned property. He had servants. He had a well functioning home. His family and household were fed, clothed and cared for. What does this tell us about him? This tells us that our Proverbs 31 man was not squandering his income on gambling, get-rich-quick schemes, drugs, pornography, prostitution, laziness and drunkenness. This means that he was gainfully employed. The fact that this woman could go out and purchase food from afar shows that he gave her a sufficient budget. She can travel and buy groceries because he provided financial stability.
We learn that he is a responsible manager of his finances. He has finances to manage. His wife is not home wringing her hands, worrying that her husband will spend the family income on drugs, gambling, prostitution or expensive recreational toys. The fact that she can work with eager hands, and bring her food from far distances, and buy a field, and plant a vineyard, and make clothes for her family, speaks of a financially stable home life. The Proverbs 31 Father works hard to provide a secure home life. Young men and men in general should be working hard toward financial stability. This is tough today and demands hard work. However, financial stability does not mean working relentlessly to be rich.
DON’T MAKE MONEY YOUR GOAL
Pro. 23:4 Do not toil to acquire wealth
Pro. 30:8 Give me neither poverty nor riches, feed me with the food that is needful for me.
Pro. 30:9 Lest I be full and deny or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God. (RSV)
Do not work for money. Work for God. Do not work to get. Work to give. Paul echoes this same principle in the New Testament
1 Tim 6:611 (RSV)
6 There is great gain in godliness with contentment;
7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world;
8 but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs.
11 But as for you, man of God, shun all this; aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.
The Proverbs 31 Woman Is Generous
She opens her hands to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
She was a giver. A portion of their wages go to help the poor. What do we learn about our Proverbs 31 Man from the fact that she is so charitable and compassionate? Do you think she is sneaking household money to the poor without his permission? I know many women who would like to tithe and cheerfully give offerings but their husbands won't allow it. They refuse to permit their wives to contribute to the needs of the church and to help ministries that help other people. If this woman could give to the poor, her husband encouraged it and modeled that compassion and generosity in his own life as a wise man. The Proverbs 31 Man inspires her to give to the poor. Her charity is an extension of his generosity. Here is a generous man who understands the power and blessing of helping others (Prov 19:17; 22:9). Our man is not a miserly old scrooge which tells us he is not a greedy troublemaker.
A greedy man brings trouble for his house. He is not a selfish man (Pro. 15:27). He who brings trouble on his family will only inherit the wind (Pro. 11:29).
He is an honest man. Proverbs 10:16, "The wage of the righteous leads to life, the gain of the wicked to sin" (RSV). We don't sense any trouble in this house. We don't sense the squandering of family finances on wickedness, foolishness and status seeking. She gives to help the poor.
The Proverbs 31 Woman Can Laugh
We discover in Proverbs 31:25 that our woman can laugh.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come. RSV
Laugh (OT:7832 sachaq saw-khak') means to laugh in pleasure, make merry, rejoice, to make sport, to jest, to mock, to play. The Hebrew word conveys the idea of laughter, whether in joy or amazement or negatively as in mockery and ridicule. The very capable and virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 can live without any concern and openly laugh at the future. She has no fear of the future. She can mock the future (Strong's Concordance; Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon; Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament).
She can laugh at the days to come. This woman can face the future with confidence. What does this tell us about our Proverbs 31 Man? Do you think she would be so bold about her future if her husband was a drunk, wasting the family money on drugs, gambling, pornography and prostitutes? Do you think that she could laugh at the future if her husband was cruel, critical and mean to the kids?
Could she laugh if her husband was selfish, violent, out of control, angry, verbally abusive and oppressive?
She can only laugh at the future because of the noble character of her husband. She can laugh because her Proverbs 31 Man is unwavering in his commitment to God. His is morally authentic and reliable. Think of how hard life is for a woman. She can laugh. How many women have anything to laugh about? The incredible difficulties of life become laughable for a woman. Our man has not caused his wife sorrow and grief. She is not worried sick wondering what hubby will do next. Where he is now? Will he come home? What he will do with the family income? If she is able to laugh at the future, she is standing behind her good man, laughing. How many women have enough confidence in their husbands to laugh at the future? It would be impossible for an abused and unloved woman to laugh about anything. A husband who can give his wife such confidence in the face of life's trials and difficulties is truly a man of quality.
Our Man At Home
We have heard of the books, “Where's Waldo?” Waldo is camouflaged within intricate settings and is nearly impossible to find. Today, the question is, “Where is dad, the invisible man?” There is a crisis of absenteeism. Where is our man? In Proverbs 31:28, 29 we find the Proverbs 31 dad at home.
Prov 31:2731 (RSV)
27 She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
29 "Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all."
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
The children rise up and bless mom. Where do you think the children are when they arise and call her blessed? My kids are at home when they rise up. Here is a glimpse of the Proverbs 31 Man at home with his kids. The kids don't wake up wondering where dad is. The kids have a dad and know their dad. As a father and as a husband, he is also a homemaker. We usually think of the wife as the little homemaker. I think we can conclude that this man is also a homemaker as well. A dad in the home is becoming a novelty.
THE CHILDREN CALL HER BLESSED
☼The Hebrew word for blessed, means to be level, stable or happy. The kids confess that mom is great. "Mom, you are happy, stable, and cheerful. Mom, you are awesome." Notice, the kids are sitting together with dad discussing what a wonderful mother and wife they have. This isn’t even Mother’s Day and they are talking about their great MOM.
The kids speak blessing. They express themselves and out of the abundance of their little hearts, their mouths overflow with admiration for mom. They are not bickering, fighting and criticizing each other. They are at home and with dad and mom. They are speaking to one another expressing warmth, encouragement and hospitality. Can you imagine kids talking like this? Our culture has our kids so confused they can’t even put their hats on straight. This tells us something about the Proverbs 31 Dad: His kids haven't run away from home.
Where did the kids in Proverbs 31 learn to bless their mom? Who was the role model for this remarkable behavior? Did they learn to bless on their own? Every parent is a teacher. Every home is a home school. Most of the great lessons of life are learned by example. Well-mannered children do not happen by accident, but through a never-ending labor of love and discipline. It is hard work to raise good kids. The Proverbs 31 Man is a great role model at home for his kids.
☼We also find that our Proverbs 31 Man is not a hypocrite. We peek through his window into the living room. We see him at home with the wife and kids. His kids are not cowering in fear. They are not cringing in a corner in fear of dad. He is not leading a “decent” public life in front of people and a dark, secret, private life of sin and pain at home. He’s not singing in the choir on Sunday, then going home and abusing his wife and kids. He is not an angry volcano waiting to erupt, a renegade, rabble-rousing, selfish, violent ogre. There are many so-called Christians who put on a happy face at church and then become monsters at home. You are who you are when no one is watching. We peer into a very private and intimate moment when the family is together. Home is a good and safe place.
Kids will be happiest in a truly Biblical home. These parents aren't extremists, anti-government fundamentalists, right wing fanatics, abortion clinic bombers. These are happy people with a solid and substantial home life centered on biblical values. This is a warm and happy house, which tells us that a truly biblical home should be a refuge. A biblical home would be a safe place for women and children. The love of the Lord is in this home and where the love of the Lord is, that home is blessed, happy, stable and peaceful. For many of us a home like this only exists in fairy tales. But God's plan for people is a safe and happy home life. God’s will for children is peace, blessing and harmony. How much pain could be eliminated in the home and the world if families modeled their lives after God's values instead of the false values of our culture? God only wants what is best for people.
The Proverbs 31 Man as Brilliant Orator
Now, finally we get to hear from our man. His one memorable quotation,
28 Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: 29 "There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!" NLT
Her husband praises her: 'Many women do noble things but you surpass them all.'" The word praise (Halal #1984) means to shine, make a show, boast, to rave, to celebrate. The Proverbs 31 Man is a man of few words. He is appreciative of what she does. He acknowledges her contribution to the family in front of the kids. He knows that what she does is not inferior or trivial. His words are a reflection of the condition of his heart (Matt. 12:34-37). We see his heart from his words, "he praises her." Does he sound like a grump? Does he sound happy? He validates her and her hard work. He raves about her. Does he love her? You will never regret honest and sincere encouragement.
Proverbs 15:4 A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. (RSV)
What is the opposite of encouragement? Discouragement. Quarreling is a tremendous discouragement in any relationship, especially marriage.
The beginning of strife is like letting out water; so quit before the quarrel breaks out. (RSV)
We should learn from this verse that we don't need to quarrel all the time. We don't have to quarrel ever. We can stop it. Quarreling is a sin. It is a negative form of communication. Quarreling is hatred. Proverbs 10:12 says, "Hatred stirs up strife." Matthew 5:9 says, "Blessed are the peacemakers." Quarreling stirs up anger and strife. Anger does not make peace. We must be 100% committed to peace. You should be challenged to never act in anger.
Proverbs 18:19 A brother helped is like a strong city, but quarreling is like the bars of a castle. RSV
Proverbs 20:3 It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife; but every fool will be quarreling. RSV
Proverbs 22:10 Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out, and quarreling and abuse will cease. RSV
We need to commit ourselves never to quarrel. Never, never, never quarrel. It is dishonoring. It is damaging. It is destructive. It is wrong and foolish. Stop it. Don't let it happen. Quit. Drop it. What does our man do? He encourages her.
Now do you think this is kind of him to say, "Honey you are the best?" Of all the choices he could make for his one memorable quotation, he chose encouragement. It's the only word we hear from him in the whole chapter. Our man of few words raves about her in front of his kids and to her personally. The Bible says, "He praises her . . . You surpass them all." It didn't say she surpassed them all. He actually told her, "You surpass them all," in front of the kids; to her personally. Do you suppose his words would have a positive impact on the kids? Do you think it would build security in their little hearts? They learn to bless Mom from him.
The Deceitfulness of Beauty
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. RSV
Proverbs 31: 30 reads, "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain." A truly beautiful woman is a woman who fears the Lord. The Proverbs 31 Man is not demanding that his wife be a high school hard body. He doesn't measure her up against a playboy pinup. She is not forced to conform to some cultural standard of beauty or some porn queen. This is a powerful principle. Use encouragement creatively. Never make negative remarks about your wife's appearance. Never. Never. Never. Never compare her to anybody. The world’s standard of beauty is not our standard of beauty.
The Proverbs 31 Man As City Elder
We learn that the Proverbs 31 man is an elder well known in the city gates.
Proverbs 31: 23
Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land RSV.
An elder in most civilizations represented the authority vested in those who by age, or experience, are thought to be the best qualified to rule. That is why they gave them the title, elder. It comes from the word for "old age." All the way back to the time of the Egyptian captivity, elders were the civil authority. Elders were the heads of families. Every city seemed to have its own ruling body of elders, whose duties included acting as judges, conducting inquests, settling marriage disputes, hearing pleas for asylum (New Bible Dictionary "Elder" 356). Laws were upheld by the elders who sat in the gate. This local system prevailed throughout the history of Israel (New Bible Manners and Customs "Government" 264-275). The gate was the place where the administration of justice and disputes were settled. The city gates were the centers of government and commerce. Princes and judges sat in the gate to discharge their official duties. The word "gate" as a consequence became a synonym for power or authority. This is illustrated in Matthew 16:18, where Jesus says about the church, "The gates of hell shall not prevail . . . " (New Bible Manners and Customs 110-111).
We find our Proverbs 31 Man at the gates of the city. He is making a difference in his world. He is taking his biblical responsibilities seriously. To sit at the gate means that our man is a prominent leader in the community. He is known in the gates. This means that he has a good reputation. He is respected. Proverbs 3:3-4 tell us that it is by loyalty and faithfulness that a man gains a good reputation in the sight of God and men. Our man isn't known in the gates of the city as a derelict, a liar or a thief or a womanizer but an elder. He has earned his seat at the gate by his character, not by votes. To sit among the elders at the gate is a place of honor. One does not become a respected elder by being a fool.
Proverbs 24:7 tells us that, "Wisdom is too high for a fool; in the gate he does not open his mouth" (RSV). A fool is not even allowed to speak in the gate. A fool has nothing worth saying.
The Proverbs teach us that godly wisdom is learned (Prov 1:2; 9:9; 30:3). Therefore, growth in God's wisdom takes time, study and effort. Here is a man devoted to God. He has taken spiritual responsibility for his own life. He is not waiting for his wife to lead the way or to encourage him spiritually. He has picked himself up by his own bootstraps and put himself into training to understand and apply God's Word. As a result of that growth in wisdom and experience, he is able to sit in the gate and make a positive contribution to the community. He sits among the elders of the land. He is not sitting in the seat of scorners. He is not walking in the counsel of the ungodly. He is not sitting around being lazy. He is not sitting in front of the TV. He is not sitting at the beach getting a good tan. He is not sitting at the Cantina sucking suds with his buds. He is not smoking pot. He is not living for golf, fishing, bowling, video games or basketball. He is not sitting in front of the computer downloading porn. We see him taking care of business at the city gates and we see him at home with the wife and kids.
The Men at the Gates and a Woman's Ability to Shop
Proverbs 31:23 could be entitled, "The Men at the Gates and a Woman's Ability to Shop." Proverbs 31:14 and 16 show that the streets are safe in the city for women to travel, shop and do business. She can bring food from afar. She can buy a field and not be ripped off. Verse 24 shows us that she can go to town and supply merchants with the products of her home industry. This is a woman who lives and moves without fear. She is not worried about drive by shootings, robbery, rape and rip-offs. This is because righteous men rule at the city gates. When God is removed from the gates, the city lives in fear. When God is removed from the home, schools, business and government people will live in fear. Freedom and safety are sign of good leadership in the gates.
Proverbs 11:10 (RSV)
When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices; and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness.
By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked. RSV
When the wicked rise, men hide themselves, but when they perish, the righteous increase. RSV
When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people groan. RSV
When the wicked are in authority, transgression increases; but the righteous will look upon their downfall. RSV
It is a blessing of God that comes from obedience that women can travel freely.
Judges 5:67 (RSV)
6 "In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, in the days of Ja'el, caravans ceased and travelers kept to the byways.
7 The peasantry ceased in Israel, they ceased until you arose, Deb'orah, arose as a mother in Israel.
Deut 28:13 (RSV)
1 "And if you obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all his commandments which I command you this day, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.
2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God.
3 Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field.
Proverbs 14:34 says, “Righteousness exalts a nation.” The people have confidence in the men at the gate. Society is held together by the quality of men at the gates (Proverbs 28:2; 29:2).
When the Proverbs 31 Man is not at the gate the Roman 1:31 Man will be seated there presiding. There is a striving against evil that takes place at the gate (Pro 28:2-5, 28; 29:2,16). It is not an easy job (Pro. 29:8). The seat in the gate is a dangerous position (Pro. 29:10, 27). When men are committed to God and family and take biblical values to the city gates -- the streets are safe for women and children.
The Proverbs 31 Man was known at the gates for his noble character. This guy is the most interesting man in the world. He is a perfect role model. Even some of the best known Bible heroes did not do as good a job as this guy. Proverbs 31:31 says that the Proverbs 31 Woman was also known and praised at the gates for her qualities. Isn't this woman of Proverbs 31 fantastic? Wouldn't it be great if all wives were like this? Wouldn't it be great if all wives would make this their life goal . . . working hard to be like this great woman? Wouldn't life be better and marriages be better and families be better if all wives were like her? Yes.
What about husbands? Wouldn't it be great if all men were all like him? We may never make it -- but let us die trying. Let's work hard to be forgiving, loving, understanding, wise and kind. Keep on trying. Our Proverbs 31 Man was a quality husband, father and elder. He was a:
Stable morally and financially
Blessed his wife
Active at the gate
Necessary for the family and his wife
DAD to his kids
Let us learn to be a Proverbs 31 Man. We don't have many models of a decent man, dad and husband. Here is a good one. Regardless of our stage in life we should all strive to develop godly character.