First, let’s just peek at the verses at the beginning of the chapter (1-9), since we are starting half-way in. Here we find that King Lemuel writes what his mother has taught him. Matthew Henry commentates that this probably is a nickname for King Solomon, who wrote the rest of Proverbs, as Lemuel actually means “for God” (Strong’s #03927).
The first time that King Lemuel’s mother speaks to him about women is in verse 3. It sounds like a warning at first glance, but combined with verse 2, it looks more like a reprimand. These women destroy men. They have agendas. They do not respect and they run the show.
Henry says that verses 10-31 could either be from King Lemuel’s mother to him to teach him what to look for in a godly wife or for her daughters after addressing her son in the verses before.
Either way, verse 10 says that an excellent wife is hard to come by. The reason that jewels (rubies) are precious is that they are rare, as is an excellent woman. Because excellent (virtuous) women are very rare, they should be prized and carefully looked after. So many times women strive to be the excellent women that God is charging them to be, and the men around them do not treat them like gems!
I believe this has a tendency to spark a chain reaction. Many men sin and are not the providers (not only financially, but spiritually and/or emotionally) that they are supposed to be (check out 1 Timothy 5:8, Ephesians 5:25, and Colossians 3:19). Women have a tendency to retaliate with sin, most likely some form of disrespect and power struggle. This is in the opposite direction of Christ’s vision to make them excellent.
If the wife disrespects her husband and struggles with him over leadership, then he cannot trust her, which is exactly what verse 11 says he should do.
The point is that if a woman who strives to be holy marries a man who does not love her the way Christ does, as a jewel, then she already has a handicap on the road to being virtuous, and we are not even fully into the second verse of this section!
What this means for a godly single woman is that they should have the highest BIBLICAL standards for the men that they date and eventually marry. The Bible has these standards for a reason and there are absolutely no exceptions. Again – you are not the exception. The man in a woman’s life has direct influence over her and her walk with Jesus.
Now for those who are married and their husbands are not taking care of them the way that they are called to do by God, you are still called to submit* to the authority of your husband, just as the Church submits to Christ’s authority (Ephesians 5:22+). Also, pray for God to give your spouse a repentant heart. Authors J. Ligon Duncan and Susan Hunt (see post #1 for book info) emphasize that “the failure or weakness of male leadership does not absolve us from our responsibility. We are to run to the Author and Perfecter of our faith with our hurts, wounds, and disappointments” (Women’s Ministry in the Local Church, 52-53). If a wife still has a respectful heart, even when her husband sins, she is giving him the freedom to trust her. She is taking care of him and the second part of verse 11-12 is possible, “..and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.”
To be honest, respect has sometimes been a tricky thing in my marriage. I am learning (probably a little too slowly) that Jeff and I might have two different ideas of what respect actually means. The bottom line is that if he does not feel respected, then I cannot argue with him and explain to him how he is wrong. Believe me, I’ve tried it. It does not work.
I think more than anything in those situations, when I argue, I show him that he cannot trust me (verse 11) to trust him to lead me.
I pray that God will teach us to be trustworthy women who learn to respect, even in times of frustration.
See you tomorrow.
*We will jump into what it means to submit to husbands in verses ahead. This is in NO WAY condoning any abuse. If you are in an abusive relationship, please separate yourself from the abuser and seek help from a pastor, Christian family member, or other form of counsel.