An Excellent Wife (Proverbs 31:10-12, 23)

An excellent wife who can find?
    She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,

    and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,

    all the days of her life.

Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.

Proverbs 31:10-12, 23

Proverbs 31: 10-12, 23: An Excellent WifeExcellent. Precious. Trusted. Good-doer. What a rich description of a godly woman.

The Proverbs 31 woman has taken her share of beatings lately. I’ve winced as I’ve read the comments across the web/blogosphere. “I’m sick of hearing about Proverbs 31! No more women’s Bible studies on that chapter please!” But the truth is: this chapter is relevant, applicable right in our daily lives, and provides a great challenge.

Proverbs 31 provides a model of what a life well-lived could look like. This is not a snapshot of a young mom “doing it all”/”having it all”. It’s descriptive, rather than prescriptive. This is a life-in-review chapter that describes what a God-fearing woman is and does (over the long-haul) for the family God has given her and the people around her.

Rather than seeing it as a guilt-producing chapter, this could be a clarion call to point to some areas where God can bring about growth in our lives.

Over the next weeks, I’m going to take these 22 verses in batches so we can look at them by subject matter. Today’s batch is about marriage.

VERSE 10: AN EXCELLENT WIFE WHO CAN FIND? SHE IS FAR MORE PRECIOUS THAN JEWELS.

A good wife benefits a man in ways that are far more valuable than physical money or treasure. Even science bears this out– one of the biggest factors in predicting a man’s life expectancy, health, and financial stability is whether he gets married or not.

One challenge for us is that qualifying word: EXCELLENT.

When I read that, I think: what would *MY* husband describe as “excellent”? Those are the things I should focus on. I could spend all day long organizing closets or keeping our photos and DVDS categorized and in order, but if the main thing he cares about is having something warm and hearty to eat after a long day at work, and that’s the thing I overlook, then all my organizing is (more or less) in vain.

What would your husband describe as “excellent”?

VERSE 11: THE HEART OF HER HUSBAND TRUSTS IN HER, AND HE WILL HAVE NO LACK OF GAIN.

This is a sticking point in many marriages. A wife who overspends, who manipulates situations to make things look better (or worse) than they actually are, a wife who never has things the way he wants them, or who is critical of her husband in public… these are wives whose husbands do NOT “trust in her.” The opposite-of-Proverbs-31 wife sneaks, lies, deceives, manipulates, or finds fault. Ultimately, she is not dependable and her husband knows it. 

In sharp contrast to this, the husband of the excellent wife in Proverbs trusts her implicitly.

Does your husband have reason to trust in you? Are you dependable and trustworthy?”

Then it goes on: “He will have no lack of gain.” Rather than being a drain on his mind and resources, the excellent wife is “gain” to her husband. Through her, Lord willing, God will give him children. Through her, his house is made into a home. Through her wisdom, creativity, and frugality, the income stretches. Through her insight and wisdom, his boyish ways grow into those of a mature, godly man.

Do you bring your husband “gain”? Are you growing in your ability to make your budget stretch? Do you bring wise counsel that helps him to grow and think about issues in his life and heart? 

VERSE 12: “SHE DOES HIM GOOD, AND NOT HARM, ALL THE DAYS OF HER LIFE.”

When we think back to bad influences in our lives, we think about those who bring out the worst in us… those who led us into sin. The excellent wife in Proverbs 31 is clearly the opposite: all her days, she is doing her husband GOOD. It even spells out: “and not harm.” Her aim is to be a blessing, and never a curse, to her husband.

Do you have this tenacious desire to be a blessing to your husband? When you get to pick, what movies and shows are you putting in front of the eyes of your husband? Movies that inspires lust, or godliness? TV shows that demean men, or encourage them toward strength & courage? Does your conversation build up and move him Godward, or is your conversation base, shallow, and prodding you both closer to self, closer to flesh, closer to sin?

NOTE that this says “she does him good, and not harm, ALL THE DAYS OF HER LIFE.

Each day, we can renew our commitment to being a blessing to our husbands. This is not something that’s “one and done”; it requires perseverance. And if it’s something that’s a new idea to you, it’s something you can begin today.

VERSE 23: HER HUSBAND IS KNOWN IN THE GATES WHEN HE SITS AMONG THE ELDERS OF THE LAND.

This seems jarring to our modern sensibilities. If this passage is all about her and her greatness, why does it jump, in the middle of the passage (seemingly out of nowhere!), to her husband?

It’s because her husband’s honor is an honor to her. Consider the disgrace one spouse can bring upon another. I don’t have to name names, but we can all think of public figures who have been publicly humiliated by their husband or wife’s behavior.

Biblically, a man who has been appointed as an elder is a man who cherishes and nourishes his wife, has been faithful to her, and leads his home well. This sort of man is an honor to his wife.

Perhaps you think, “well, my husband’s no respected elder.” Maybe he’s out of work. Maybe your guy’s a young gun. Maybe he’s a big fat sinner, like me and you, and has wounded you deeply. Whatever he is, and whatever he does, look for ways to honor and encourage him. Speaking from my own experience (of marrying a quiet unassuming guy who barely said a word, who is now a friendly pastor, involved in people’s lives), you may be quite surprised at what he’ll become if you honor him for what you see in him NOW, and encourage (not nag!) him toward godliness and growth.

Do you take joy in the honor of your husband? When was the last time he heard from you that you are proud of the man he is and the work he does?


An Excellent Wife / Proverbs 31Consider:

  • What is one way you can grow in being an “excellent wife” to YOUR husband today?
  • How can your husband gain, or benefit, from your actions or words today?
  • Is there an area where you can stop ‘doing harm’ to your husband today? 
  • When will you take an opportunity to encourage your husband and let him know that you are proud to be his wife?

 

CLICK TO READ PART TWO: AN EAGER WORKER

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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14 Responses

  1. Anna says:

    Thank you for this! I found several principles to apply, but the most relevant for me was asking myself what things are most important to my husband. I think his top 3 practical ones would be having his clothes clean and put away, good food prepared, and a visually tidy house (not necessarily deep cleaned or well organized). It really helped me to identify those things since I have a 5 month old, a 2 year old, and a 4 year old and have really been struggling with how to prioritize tasks, and he is not the type to criticize so sometimes I don’t notice when he mentions things.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Anna,
      With a 5-month old, 2 year old, and 4 year old, do also remember to extend yourself plenty of grace. You are in the highly-intensive, highly-physical, very-demanding phase of mothering many young children, and that’s not an easy place to be. Do what you can do but please don’t take this on as a yoke of “musts” for right now… let this be an over-arching goal rather than a “to do list” for each day that leaves you feeling like a failure when you don’t get a single thing visibly done other than diapers and snuggles.

      For this passage in particular, it’s important to remember that it’s a big-picture view over the long-haul of life so that we don’t get discouraged if our day-to-day in the throes of young motherhood doesn’t look this way.

      Thanks for your comment!
      Jess

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Anna – i used to be a visitor at HopeRoad blog.. a long while ago. Then today came across your comment accidentally whilst reading Jess’s post!
      Do you still blog – was real encouraged by your postings.
      Don’t know if u have facebook or would consider being friends there at all.
      Anyways, so glad to *see* you in the online-world !

      Amanda

  2. Amber says:

    Thanks so much for this biblical encouragement! You are right that this chapter has been taking quite a hit recently. It seems many Christians don’t think we should ever feel any “burden” to strive for holiness. That even when we sin we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about it since we’re covered by grace. Yes, grace covers us, but God commands our obedience. I read a comment today where someone pointed out that no one really has a problem with the command to love our neighbor as ourselves since that is a more trendy and missional command that most of us feel pretty good about doing. Throw out some other commands like live in sexual purity or submit to your husband, and all of a sudden you’re called a legalist who doesn’t understand that Christ has done everything for us and we shouldn’t feel compelled to strive for holiness and obedience in those areas. Thanks again for your writing–it is always an encouragement to live and think more biblically! And happy moving when the time comes!

  3. Excellent post. It’s very good and smart to look at our own situations and marriages and answer those questions. Very good!

  4. Catherine Turturro says:

    This is a good word for today and every day Jess!! I think especially difficult for a lot of us is being content and esteeming our husband as he is now. We tend to want to mother them, correct them, and fix them or at least I do! I have prayed for the Lord to help me show my husband respect, and honor and value him the way he is now… and do you know what? He has been so faithful to do that. I know it has been a big blessing to my husband to have a partner that accepts and esteems him but surprisingly it has been a huge blessing to me as well. I think not nagging him and correcting him has helped him to be able to be himself and feel good about the way I regard him. He, in turn has become gentler and even more protective of me. Doing things God’s way, even though it seems harder, of course always turns out better. Thanks for the reminder, I’m asking myself how I can bless my husband today!

  5. Audrey says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this :-) I need to read this chapter more, sadly… I remember Mom used to read through Proverbs with me & my older Sis every month! I guess that’s why as I got older, I got ‘sick ‘ of it…but lately in life, I’ve been realizing some of these same points… :-) God bless!

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