Tuesday, August 30, 2011

a woman who fears the lord, she ain't playin'

The Woman Who Fears the Lord

10 t An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11  The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12  She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
13  She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
14  She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
15  She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
16  She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17  She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
18  She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19  She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
20  She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21  She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.t
22  She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23  Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
24  She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25  Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26  She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
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. 

So just like I assume many women who read this in our day and age, my first reaction to this passage was, "who the heck is this woman?"  You have to admit, she's pretty incredible.  All of a sudden getting dinner on the table and keeping up with cleaning, dishes, and laundry seems like children's play.

Of course I felt a little convicted. This woman is EVERYTHING. She runs a home, she keeps her husband happy, her children look up to her, she runs several  businesses, she buys property, she doesn't worry, she has complete trust... yada yada.

I was pleased, however, to read my study bible notes on this passage, and I think you'll be pleased to read them too... 

"Proverbs has a lot to say about women.  How fitting that the book ends with a picture of a woman of strong character, great wisdom, many skills, and great compassion. Some people have the mistaken idea that the ideal woman in the Bible is retiring, servile, and entirely domestic.  Not so!  This woman is an excellent wife and mother.  She is also a manufacturer, importer, manager, realtor, farmer, seamstress, upholsterer, and merchant.  Her strength and dignity do not come from her amazing achievements, however.  They are a result of her reverence for God.  In our society where physical appearance counts for so much, it may surprise us to realize that her appearance is never mentioned.  Her attractiveness comes entirely from her character.  The woman described in this chapter has outstanding abilities.  Her family's social position is high.  In fact, she may not be one woman at all - she may be a composite portrait of ideal womanhood.  Do not see her as a model to imitate in every detail -(...like I'm going to buy a vineyard...)- ; your days are not long enough to do everything she does!  See her instead as an inspiration to be all you can be.  We can't be just like her, but we can learn from her industry, integrity, and resourcefulness."

I LOVED this.

Yes, I am still convicted, but I'm also encouraged.  Just like every other person on the planet, I have been given talents and gifts from God, some of which are profitable, and I am guilty of not using them for His work, and for providing for our family with them.  I am guilty of laziness, being overwhelmed by my small daily tasks that many women in other places of the world would dream of having instead of their labor. I am also guilty of spreading evil with my tongue, and not gentle, kind wisdom.  Oh and yes, I tend to cry at the days to come out of worry, and not laugh because I trust completely in my husband and our heavenly Father.

Here's another thing I really loved.  In the study notes it mentioned that her appearance was not mentioned, and that her attractiveness was all from her character... you may be interested to know, however, that a few of the poetic devices used mention words about dressing and clothing and jewelry (all things used to enhance our appearance)... I don't know if I'm making myself clear, but here are some examples: 

- 7  She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
- 25  Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.

- 30  Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

My mom and I talked a lot yesterday about how women (and some men) are so sidetracked by "being attractive" and all the lies we tell ourselves to cover up our obsession with outer beauty.  This passage really highlights how we ought to perceive beauty.

It's true that charm and beauty can trick you, but what I notice most, is not so much it's deceiving nature, but it's shallowness.  Yes, I know, "skin deep," is cliche, but really, it is, isn't it?  For example, the women that I admire most in life aren't always the most beautiful ones.  Yes, there are some who are beautiful, and who have a knack with fashion, but really what I admire them for is their wisdom, their perseverance, and their hearts.

I've spoken about this group before, but I will again... there's a group of women who meet for a bible study in 70 Mile House once a week, that I absolutely love.  They are all so beautiful, and yet, style and outer beauty may not be that important to them.  They love the Lord, and they serve Him in such tangible ways.  One woman who used to be a school teacher takes a young girl who lives with her grandma to dance lessons out in 100 Mile House once a week and dances with her.  Another woman has a beautiful garden that provides her family with vegetables and has chickens for eggs, and tends to them daily.  Others keep strong healthy relationships with other women as their ministry, while they trust wholeheartedly in their husbands to provide for them.  Others make do with what they've been given, and still give generously.  It's also interesting to note that these women haven't had easy sheltered lives, a lot of them (most) have come from really hard back grounds, and now have a gentle, kind, giving, faithful spirit, that I admire so much.  They really understand this passage.

This is turning into two blog posts... oops.

It may be their disconnect from the coast, that allows them to let style and outer beauty rest on the back burner so easily, but I don't think that because we're on the coast and closer to an urban center that it should stop Christian women from trying to be more like this.  Of course, only through God will we ever understand how this passage should be lived out in each of our lives personally.

This is a lot to think about, however, I'm very inspired to be a more gentle, loving, resourceful, peaceful, trusting woman... and with that I'd like to leave you with a hilarious song taken from this passage... it's from 1992... DC talk style:
This may or may not have started a day long DC Talk nostalgia session...


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