Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Study #2: Proverbs 31:11-12

In our second study of the Proverbs 31 woman we are going to look at the next 2 verses of what a virtuous wife should look like. We are painting a picture with words.

Proverbs 31:11-12:

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. (ESV)

Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it. Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long. (MSG)

The heart of her husband has confidence in her, and he has no lack of gain. She brings him good and not evil all the days of her life. (NET)

Like we talked about last time this is an acrostic poem, meaning that the first word of every verse starts with the letters in order of the Hebrew alphabet. So now we are going to look at the second and third letters.

The first word in verse 11 is Batach which means Confidence. In Hebrew it's read from right to left בָּטַח . The 1st letter on the right is the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, נ , which is Bet. Confidence is to full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person.

In verse 12 the phrase "she will do" means: recompense or to deal fully with. In the Hebrew it's Gamal,גמאל. The third letter of the Hebrew alphabet is ג, Gimel. Recompense is to repay; remunerate; reward, as for service, aid.

The husband of the Proverbs 31 woman has confidence in his wife because he knows she will reward him with good and not evil all the days of his life!

So what are some steps I can take to become a trustworthy person in every area so that the heart of my husband can trust in me?

The first woman who pops into my mind is Mary the mother of Jesus. At first sight it doesn't seem like Mary would be the best example of a "trustworthy" wife. I mean she did get pregnant before she was fully married to Joseph. They would be betrothed for a year, then after that they would be able to come together in marriage. During the betrothal they were considered married, but with out the intimacy of marriage.

Let's look at some points we can learn from Marys life.

1. She was a willing servant.

Luke 1:26-38:

"In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. The angel came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled by his words and began to wonder about the meaning of this greeting. So the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God! Listen: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end.” Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I have not had sexual relations with a man?” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called the Son of God. “And look, your relative Elizabeth has also become pregnant with a son in her old age – although she was called barren, she is now in her sixth month! For nothing will be impossible with God.” So Mary said, “Yes, I am a servant of the Lord; let this happen to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her."

She was willing to serve the Lord no matter what the cost. No doubt the implications of what was about to happen fully resonated in her mind. Becoming pregnant out of marriage was not allowed or excepted back in her day! But even at her young age she knew the Lord was in control and his plan was best.

When our husbands know that we are listening to the Lord and are willing to serve Him, they will know that what we are saying and doing is from the Lord. Mary now had to tell Joseph that she was with child of the Holy Spirit. I'm sure that she was afraid to tell him, but she had confidence because this message came straight from the Lord. I wonder what would have happened if Mary was the type of girl who lied and tried to cover up the truth? I don't think Joseph would have been so willing to believe her, even when the angel told him it was true!

To become a virtuous woman or wife I must be trustworthy, willing to serve the Lord no matter what the cost, to my happiness or comfort level. And as a result of this the heart of my husband will safely trust in me, I will give him no reason to question or doubt my judgement!

2. She was willing to believe.

Luke 1:39-45

"In those days Mary got up and went hurriedly into the hill country, to a town of Judah, and entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She exclaimed with a loud voice, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child in your womb! And who am I that the mother of my Lord should come and visit me? For the instant the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

Mary believed in the Lords word; His word always comes to pass. She didn't freak out when she heard the plan, asking a million questions. She did ask a couple of important questions, but she never questioned the Lords word. Mary knew that the road was going to be a rough one, but she believed that her God, the only God, would get her through.

We must be willing to believe the Lords word and His promises. There are a lot of things that go on in our lives, good and bad, up and down. We must cling to the promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us. When we are trusting in the Lord and turning to his word, we will be able to be that strong pillar for our families. Our husbands will know that we will be level headed and constant during bad times. Their hearts will be sure, knowing that we will be strong and able to handle whatever comes our way. All this comes from believing in the word of God like Mary did.

3. She was willing to rejoice.

Luke 1:46-55

"And Mary said,“My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has begun to rejoice in God my Savior, because he has looked upon the humble state of his servant. For from now on all generations will call me blessed, because he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name; from generation to generation he is merciful to those who fear him. He has demonstrated power with his arm; he has scattered those whose pride wells up from the sheer arrogance of their hearts. He has brought down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up those of lowly position; he has filled the hungry with good things, and has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering his mercy, as he promised to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” So Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then returned to her home."

Mary rejoiced!! Wow, can I say that I have rejoiced in my circumstances lately? I don't think that even my trials can compare to what she was going through. What a blessing it is that we can look back at Mary's life and see how she handled things! I'm glad that people can't look back at my life to see the things I've said or done in different situations. When I rejoice in my circumstances the people around me won't be able to help but notice my attitude and follow suit. Matthew 1 says that as Joseph considered these things the angel came to him in a dream. Mary was right to put her hope in the Lord, He sent a messenger to Joseph telling him that what Mary said was truth. She was confident in the Lord, rejoicing in the blessing of being the mother of the coming Messiah.

Are we willing to rejoice, even when things are bad? How can the heart of our husbands safely trust in us when we have a bad attitude or if we are always flying off the handle? We need to be confident and steady, then our husbands will know that their hearts will be safe.

When Proverbs says His "heart" safely trusts in her it means this: inner man, mind, will, heart, understanding 1a) inner part, midst 1a2) heart (of man) 1a3) soul, heart (of man) 1a4) mind, knowledge, thinking, reflection, memory 1a5) inclination, resolution, determination (of will) 1a6) conscience 1a7) heart (of moral character) 1a9) as seat of emotions and passions 1a10) as seat of courage.

In other words we will bring him peace of mind. While he is at work he knows that we are at home, taking care of the kids, doing our job as a wife and mother and if we are working then he knows we will do what it takes to also help provide for our families. When we are out he knows that we aren't going to spend all the money in his bank account. When trials come he knows that we will stay cool under pressure, that we will stay the course.

Mary is the perfect example of a virtuous wife and woman. None of us is perfect, I will be the first to admit that! But when we are aspiring to these things the Lord will bless us!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Becoming a Proverbs 31 Woman

I have always loved the Proverbs 31 woman, she is a great example of how to be a Godly woman, wife and mother. I wish I could have met her and watcher her in action!! But I'm glad that I have these 22 verses to learn from. Now that I am approaching becoming a wife, these things are becoming more important to me.

The Lord has pressed upon my heart to go through the verses one by one and dig deeper into them to learn what the Lord would say to me.

So here we go!!

Proverbs 31:10:

"An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels." (esv)

"Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies." (nkjv)

"A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more that diamonds." (msg)

First of all, who needs a book on self esteem!! Look at that, I am far more precious and worth more than diamonds, rubies and jewels!!! It has been said that diamonds are a girls best friend! What girl does not like pretty jewelry or want a diamond ring! In the worlds eyes those are precious things and they offer you a higher status and wealth. But for me, in the Lords eyes and in the eyes of a Godly man, I am more precious than all of those put together! A true Godly man will look for a woman with Godly character and she will be precious to him.

Verses 10-31 are called an acrostic poem, each verse beginning with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The Hebrew word for woman or wife is Ishshah, אִשָּׁה. The text is backwards, so the last letter on the right is actually the first letter of the word and the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

The NET bible says that the Proverbs 31 woman is a woman of valor and excellence. This is the same expression the bible uses to describe Ruth. In Ruth 3:11 it says she is a worthy or virtuous woman. Here the title indicates that the woman possesses all the virtues, honor and strength to do the things that the poem will set forth.

So how do we become this excellent wife or woman?

1. Be Selfless
2. Be Submissive
3. Be Sanctified

As we look at these three points we are going to look at two examples of women who lived these things out on a daily basis, Ruth and Esther.

1. Be Selfless.

Selfless means to have little or no concern for oneself, unselfish.

Ruth 1:16-18, "But Ruth replied,“Stop urging me to abandon you! For wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you live, I will live. Your people will become my people and your God will become my God. Wherever you die, I will die – and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I do not keep my promise! Only death will be able to separate me from you!”

Ruth was selfless, willing to leave her own country and people to take care of her mother-in-law. This promise is unto death, meaning no matter what she will always be there, with Naomi.

Esther 4:15-16, "Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa and fast in my behalf. Don’t eat and don’t drink for three days, night or day. My female attendants and I will also fast in the same way. Afterward I will go to the king, even though it violates the law. If I perish, I perish!”

Esther was selfless, willing to risk her life to save the Jews from extinction. For her to go into the king without being summoned was punishable by death.

Being selfless is one step towards becoming a Godly woman. We need to be willing to put ourselves aside and do what is best for others. Not for us to be a push over or let people walk all over us. But if the situation calls for selflessness, then we need to call for the power of the Lord for strength. Ephesians 6:10 says, "Finally, be strengthened in the Lord and in the strength of His power."

2. Be Submissive.

Submission is to be characterized by tendencies to yield to the will or authority of others.

Ruth 2:5-23, "Boaz asked his servant in charge of the harvesters, “To whom does this young woman belong?” The servant in charge of the harvesters replied, “She’s the young Moabite woman who came back with Naomi from the region of Moab. She asked,‘May I follow the harvesters and gather grain among the bundles?’ Since she arrived she has been working hard from this morning until now– except for sitting in the resting hut a short time.” So Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen carefully, my dear! Do not leave to gather grain in another field. You need not go beyond the limits of this field. You may go along beside my female workers. Take note of the field where the men are harvesting and follow behind with the female workers. I will tell the men to leave you alone. When you are thirsty, you may go to the water jars and drink some of the water the servants draw.” Ruth knelt before him with her forehead to the ground and said to him, “Why are you so kind and so attentive to me, even though I am a foreigner?” Boaz replied to her, “I have been given a full report of all that you have done for your mother-in-law following the death of your husband – how you left your father and your mother, as well as your homeland, and came to live among people you did not know previously. May the Lord reward your efforts! May your acts of kindness be repaid fully by the Lord God of Israel, from whom you have sought protection!” She said, “You really are being kind to me, sir, for you have reassured and encouraged me, your servant, even though I am not one of your servants!”
Later during the mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and have some food! Dip your bread in the vinegar!” So she sat down beside the harvesters. Then he handed her some roasted grain. She ate until she was full and saved the rest. When she got up to gather grain, Boaz told his male servants, “Let her gather grain even among the bundles! Don’t chase her off! Make sure you pull out ears of grain for her and drop them so she can gather them up. Don’t tell her not to!” So she gathered grain in the field until evening. When she threshed what she had gathered, it came to about thirty pounds of barley! She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much grain she had gathered. Then Ruth gave her the roasted grain she had saved from mealtime. Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you gather grain today? Where did you work? May the one who took notice of you be rewarded!” So Ruth told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked. She said, “The name of the man with whom I worked today is Boaz.” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be rewarded by the Lord because he has shown loyalty to the living on behalf of the dead!” Then Naomi said to her, “This man is a close relative of ours; he is our guardian.” Ruth the Moabite replied, “He even told me, ‘You may go along beside my servants until they have finished gathering all my harvest!’” Naomi then said to her daughter-in-law Ruth, “It is good, my daughter, that you should go out to work with his female servants. That way you will not be harmed, which could happen in another field.” So Ruth worked beside Boaz’s female servants, gathering grain until the end of the barley harvest as well as the wheat harvest. After that she stayed home with her mother-in-law."

Ruth put her self under the submission of Boaz and her mother-in-law. She followed what they wanted her to do. Because she was a Godly woman she knew it was good to listen to the advice of those around her.

Esther 4:10-17, “All the servants of the king and the people of the king’s provinces know that there is only one law applicable to any man or woman who comes uninvited to the king in the inner court – that person will be put to death, unless the king extends to him the gold scepter, permitting him to be spared. Now I have not been invited to come to the king for some thirty days! When Esther’s reply was conveyed to Mordecai, he said to take back this answer to Esther: “Don’t imagine that because you are part of the king’s household you will be the one Jew who will escape. If you keep quiet at this time, liberation and protection for the Jews will appear from another source, while you and your father’s household perish. It may very well be that you have achieved royal status for such a time as this!” Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa and fast in my behalf. Don’t eat and don’t drink for three days, night or day. My female attendants and I will also fast in the same way. Afterward I will go to the king, even though it violates the law. If I perish, I perish!” So Mordecai set out to do everything that Esther had instructed him."

We see here that Mordecai instructed Esther to go into the king and she agrees to do it. Esther put herself under the submission of her Uncle even though she was married and now the Queen. It would have been very easy for Esther to tell him no and do whatever she wanted. But she knew it was the right thing to do.

We as Godly women have to be willing to be under the submission of our husbands (one day) and also parents or others in authority. As we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit this will be an easy task. Ephesians 5:21 says that we must be under submission to each other out of reverence for Christ. We must first be selfless to become submissive.

3. Be Sanctified.

To be Sanctified is to be separate from profane things and dedicated to God.

Ruth 3:13-17 "So Boaz married Ruth and had relations with her. The Lord enabled her to conceive and she gave birth to a son. The village women said to Naomi, “May the Lord be praised because he has not left you without a guardian today! May he become famous in Israel! He will encourage you and provide for you when you are old, for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, has given him birth. She is better to you than seven sons!” Naomi took the child and placed him on her lap; she became his caregiver. The neighbor women named him, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. Now he became the father of Jesse – David’s father!"

Ruth lived a set apart life and God blessed her for that. She was not concerned with worldly things, but Godly things. We see from the genealogy of Christ that Ruth is in the line of Jesus. What a blessing that would have been to be in the line of Jesus the savior of the world!!

Esther 8:1-17, "On that same day King Ahasuerus gave the estate of Haman, that adversary of the Jews, to Queen Esther. Now Mordecai had come before the king, for Esther had revealed how he was related to her. The king then removed his signet ring (the very one he had taken back from Haman) and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther designated Mordecai to be in charge of Haman’s estate. Then Esther again spoke with the king, falling at his feet. She wept and begged him for mercy, that he might nullify the evil of Haman the Agagite which he had intended against the Jews. When the king extended to Esther the gold scepter, she arose and stood before the king. She said, “If the king is so inclined and if I have met with his approval and if the matter is agreeable to the king and if I am attractive to him, let an edict be written rescinding those recorded intentions of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, which he wrote in order to destroy the Jews who are throughout all the king’s provinces. For how can I watch the calamity that will befall my people, and how can I watch the destruction of my relatives?” King Ahasuerus replied to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, “Look, I have already given Haman’s estate to Esther, and he has been hanged on the gallows because he took hostile action against the Jews. Now you write in the king’s name whatever in your opinion is appropriate concerning the Jews and seal it with the king’s signet ring. Any decree that is written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s signet ring cannot be rescinded. The king’s scribes were quickly summoned – in the third month (that is, the month of Sivan), on the twenty-third day. They wrote out everything that Mordecai instructed to the Jews and to the satraps and the governors and the officials of the provinces all the way from India to Ethiopia – a hundred and twenty-seven provinces in all – to each province in its own script and to each people in their own language, and to the Jews according to their own script and their own language. Mordecai wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed it with the king’s signet ring. He then sent letters by couriers on horses, who rode royal horses that were very swift. The king thereby allowed the Jews who were in every city to assemble and to stand up for themselves – to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any army of whatever people or province that should become their adversaries, including their women and children, and to confiscate their property. This was to take place on a certain day throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus – namely, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month (that is, the month of Adar). A copy of the edict was to be presented as law throughout each and every province and made known to all peoples, so that the Jews might be prepared on that day to avenge themselves from their enemies. The couriers who were riding the royal horses went forth with the king’s edict without delay. And the law was presented in Susa the citadel as well. Now Mordecai went out from the king’s presence in purple and white royal attire, with a large golden crown and a purple linen mantle. The city of Susa shouted with joy.For the Jews there was radiant happiness and joyous honor. Throughout every province and throughout every city where the king’s edict and his law arrived, the Jews experienced happiness and joy, banquets and holidays. Many of the resident peoples pretended to be Jews, because the fear of the Jews had overcome them."

Wow, what a blessing it is when a matter is resolved. Esther had the weight of all her peoples lives on her shoulders. She had to be set apart to endure this trial. How easy it would have been for her to fall away from her faith and relationship with God living in the palace. She was away from her uncle and surrounded by ungodly people. But she held fast to her faith and was sanctified for just a time as this.

We must be set apart from the world to be Godly wives, mothers, friends and daughters. John 17:17 says, "Sanctify them by Your truth, Your word is truth." We must be in the word daily to receive His truth for our lives. We must stay unspotted by the world so that we will be able to lead our families in the way of the Lord.

In our relationship with the Lord we must be selfless, serving Him daily and accepting His will for our lives. Then we must be submissive to Christ, obeying what He is telling us to do. Then we will become sanctified, dedicated and set apart to the Lord.