Scripture: Proverbs 31:10–31
Having sketched briefly something of what the Bible says about the place and task of the husband in the family, we must now come to terms with what it says about the wife.
Especially in the past many lofty things have been said about women in general and wives in particular. In poetry and prose writers have vied with each other to praise “the fairer sex.” But no accolade was deemed greater than that which praised a woman as “a devoted wife and mother.”
The temper of the times has changed. Housework is now regarded as a bore, unworthy of a woman’s time and talent. Children, especially if there are several, become a nuisance—possibly because they cost so much. It’s cheaper and more convenient to swallow the pill. Those who still cheerfully devote themselves to husband and family are subjected to fierce pressures. They must have outside interests—cultivating exotic hobbies, arranging for every bazaar that raises funds for worthy causes, glittering in the floodlights of the social whirl, going out with the “girls” for coffee and teas and brunches.
What happens to the children who come home to an empty house or to the husband who must satisfy his appetite with a can of beans matters little. The woman must express herself to find self-fulfillment! Only the woman deeply convinced of her calling from God to be wife and mother is able to resist such pressures. No wonder many homes aren’t what they used to be. We may live in much finer houses and eat much better food and dress in far more attractive clothes, yet something of the solidity of the old-fashioned home is missing. Possibly what the Bible says in Proverbs 31 will help Christian women take a strong stand for the high vocation of being wife and mother.
1–As a·help to her husband
This was the divine intent in fashioning woman in the beginning. To this the writer of Proverbs again directs attention. Notice especially the stress on her “selflessness.” Throughout this worthy woman directs herself to the needs of husband, community and children. Here she finds her self-fulfillment.
She is a home-maker. Here thrift and industry and orderliness are underlined. Which characteristics seem to be stressed in our day in contrast with this? Why do you suppose many women think that home-making, including housework, is beneath their personal dignity? Do you think this passage argues in favor of “working wives?”
All this seems to be geared first of all to awaken response in her husband. He “trusts” in her. What does this mean? Also he openly praises her (vs. 29). Do you suppose women are disillusioned with home-making because husbands take them for granted? Notice also how through her the husband becomes highly respected in the community (vs. 23). How can this he attained today?
2–As a contributor to her community
All this, it must be remembered, is written against the Israelitish or old Oriental background. Sketch the place of women in such societies. Why is it false to conceive of them as drudges in those days? Here her economic value is mentioned. What is the economic value of a woman who devotes all her time and attention to her family? Do you think husbands recognize this?
A paramount concern of hers is for the needy. How does the Scripture evaluate the importance of showing charity to others? In what ways can this be done today? What is the connection with being a helpful neighbor?
Her virtues, manifested through her work, are also a witness to the community. Why do you suppose we always think of witness more in terms of what we say than what we do? Is this Biblical? In addition this woman also speaks wisely and kindly (vs. 26). Since women then didn’t go to school, how was this possible? Do you think women today excel in wise and kindly conversation?
3–As a teacher of her children Often mothers grieve because their children don’t seem to appreciate them and their solicitude. Human nature likely wasn’t much different in the days of king Lemuel than it is now. Yet notice how her example was effective. When do mothers usually come to see and experience this? Give some examples of godly mothers who greatly influenced their children. How can we encourage our daughters to look forward to marriage and home-making as an ideal career? How is the fear of Jehovah connected with the task of being a wife and mother?