Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character
The book of Proverbs concludes with a description of the model wife. This is not to disparage those who are single by choice or circumstance, for certainly the Bible teaches there are circumstances where being unmarried is the better alternative. Orthodox Christians humbly assert that God ordained the lifelong covenant between a man and a woman as his very specific plan for humanity.
This model is meant to bring blessing to spouses, their families, and their communities—especially since God sanctifies marriage as a mystery to reveal the selfless love between Christ and his Bride, the Church (Ephesians 5:32).
Those who redefine marriage and sexual intimacy in extra-biblical terms should be forewarned that God will hold us accountable for the way we honor or dishonor his commands.
Jesus’ teaching about marriage is both consistent and continuous with the Old Testament. If we are to call ourselves Christians, we will honor God’s law as Christ does. As Jesus says in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commands.”
But our observance fails miserably if we only obey the things we agree with or use the Law to browbeat those with whom we disagree. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19-20).
Being liberal and being legalistic are equally inadequate. Rather, we obey God’s law because we have a loving relationship with the Law Giver who also happens to be the Lover of our Souls.
It has been said that the Lord loves and accepts us just the way we are; but that he also loves us too much to let us to stay that way. That’s why a key function of God’s Word is to reveal the disparity between what he commands and how we actually live. When we read passages such as this, we’re inclined to minimize them as idealistic or even sexist. If we feel guilty, offended, or even dismissive about these verses, we do so to our disadvantage. God’s Word reveals our inadequacy in light of God’s sufficiency. The only path to freedom is to confess our own failures, repent from our self-centered attitudes and actions, and then trust wholly in his grace and mercy to transform us through our obedience and his Spirit’s power. This is the redemptive purpose and power of Scripture.
Finally, here’s some insight about how this passage is organized. The first word of the first verse of this poetic section begins with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The first word of the second verse begins with the second letter—and so on. This was a common literary device that’s also found in the Psalms.
The following verses reveal at least 19 wonderful attributes of “the wife of noble character”:
10 A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
EXTRAORDINARY: These words were spoken by a mother to her kingly son. As such, there is no inherent sexism. Rather, she celebrates the true worth of a strong, virtuous, and industrious woman, wife, and mother. Instead of looking to the world for validation and identity, women and men alike can look to God’s Word to for meaning and direction. If only more people did, then perhaps a godly spouse wouldn’t be as exceptionally rare as this verse implies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
TRUSTWORTHY: When one spouse trusts the other, there’s little they can’t accomplish together. But until they earn each other’s confidence, it’s difficult—if not impossible—for their marriage to be successful. A husband who has nothing but a trustworthy wife has everything he needs.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
COMMITTED: Although many fail, the Lord established marriage as an exclusive, lifelong covenant between a man and a woman. From the beginning, his purpose has been to bind two complementary lives together in deep emotional, spiritual, and physical intimacy. Biblical marriage is not only ordained to be the cornerstone of the family unit and the building block of community, God also sanctifies it to symbolize the profoundly selfless love that Christ shares with his Bride, the Church.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
CONSCIENTIOUS: The godly wife expresses her commitment to her husband and family through joyful productivity (v. 13), premeditated care (v. 14), and tireless service–not only to her family but to her entire household (v. 15).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for godly families—for husbands, wives, parents, and children who are more concerned with serving one another than being served.