Thirty (One) Days in Proverbs 31 for Busy, Busy Mamas, Day 31: A Mighty Woman of Valor

30DaysProverbsDay31HeroHymn

Remember that list of military images we’ve been keeping as we’ve studied the verses of Proverbs 31? Today we are going to look at that list one more time, while we consider the closing verse of the chapter.

Assignment: Pray for the Holy Spirit’s gracious work in your heart as we draw our study of this chapter to a close. Pray that knowledge will become wisdom, and that what you have learned will change how you think about your role as a woman, and that your renewed thinking will in turn change the way you live. 

Then turn back in your notes to the page labeled “Military Images”. What have you recorded on this page as you’ve studied? Let’s compare notes.  (Take a minute, too, to record these military references in the margin of your Bible for future reference.)

  • Vs. 10.  The virtuous wife is a woman of valorThe same Hebrew word is used for brave, mighty warriors. It speaks of force and armies.
  • Vs. 11. Husband will have no need of spoil or plunder, like that taken after a military conquest.
  • Vs. 15. The Hebrew word for riseth up is used for rising up to fight an enemy.
  • Vs. 15. The word for food is also translated as prey, and can refer to the victims of war.
  • Vs. 16. She considers a field. She strategizes.
  • Vs. 16. The valiant woman buys a field. The Hebrew word also means to seize or capture.
  • Vs. 17. The valiant woman girds herself with strength. Soldiers gird up their loins for action. They gird on their swords as they prepare for battle.
  • Vs. 17. She girds herself with strength, the same word that is used for being strong and courageous going into battle.
  • Vs. 25. She laughs at the future, like a conqueror mocking or deriding his defeated enemies.
  • Vs. 27. She looks well to the ways of her household. The term speaks of a watchman or spying.
  • Vs. 29. Her husband speaks of many daughters doing valiantly. This term is used of victorious heroes of war.
  • Vs. 29. Her husband says she surpasses or ascends above them all, a term used for going out to battle.
  • Vs. 31. Her works praise her in the gates. The gates were a place where a king would often review the troops as they went out to war.

Look at all the imagery of warfare in this typical Mother’s Day sermon text! Valiant womanhood isn’t for wimps!

Bruce Waltke, in his commentary on Proverbs, cites Al Wolters’ assertion that Proverbs 31 belongs to “Israel’s heroic poetry, characterized by recounting the hero’s mighty deeds, usually his military exploits”. He notes similarities between Deborah’s Song in Judges 5, the women’s songs for Saul and David in 1 Samuel 18 and 21, and David’s tribute to Saul and Jonathan in 2 Samuel 1.

We’ve been studying (and hopefully memorizing) a heroic hymn for the mighty woman of valor who, like Scripture’s mighty men of valor, has displayed courage and confidence in God in the face of challenges and enemies! She has been a true champion for all those around her with her wisdom and eager, tireless work.

  • Open Blueletterbible and let’s do our last word study in Proverbs 31 together.
  • Search on Proverbs 31:31. This verse opens with a call to give the valiant woman the fruit of her hands. Bestow on her the fruit, the produce, of her hands — those strong, willing, working, giving hands. (There is so much more we could study about those hands!) 
  • Use the “Interlinear” tool to look at the phrase and let her own works. Skim the definitions and English translations, but let’s focus on seeing how the word works is used in Scripture.
  • Skim the verses under “Concordance Results Using KJV”.  The word speaks of occupations, artistry for the tabernacle and temple, idols, God’s works, man’s daily labor. This is the work we are commanded to refrain from on the Sabbath, and the work we are to commit to the Lord so our thoughts will be established (Proverbs 16:3).
  • Summarize any new  insights you gain by looking over these verses.

These are the kind of works that will praise the valiant woman in the gates – everyday labor, creative work that reflects God’s creativity, work that glorifies God, work that has been committed to Him.

Let’s put aside our temptation to view the chapter as a checklist to ambitiously accomplish, thus proving our worth. And let’s also set aside the view of this beautiful chapter as a burdensome duty to wave off as impossible-to-accomplish-so-why-even-try.

Instead, let’s look at Proverbs 31 as the call to rise up and follow our victorious King into battle, seizing the mission He assigns us, armed with His strength, empowered by His might, trained by His loving hand, and rejoicing over our already-conquered enemies!

Read Proverbs 31 one more time, viewing it as a heroic hymn that pays tribute to the valiant woman who fears God – the woman who, as a result of that fear, serves Him and all those around her with wisdom, courage, and a deep trust in His faithfulness. This is a woman who will someday stand before her God and hear the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” 

“Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.”

This is a woman we can all become, by God’s grace.

 

For your children:

Review what you have learned together about the mighty woman of valor that is described and honored in this chapter of Proverbs. She is strong and courageous, and she trusts God. She loves Him and delights in pleasing and serving Him. She is wise.

Then read (or recite) the passage together, stopping to talk about the evidences of her strength, courage, and faith. How is she like the mighty men of valor who fought victoriously on the battlefield?

Help your daughters understand that they will spend their entire lives learning God’s wisdom. They will not be “finished” women of valor when they leave your home, when they marry, or when they bear children. They can start now in their commitment to a lifetime of learning and growing in wisdom and valor.

Help your sons understand that they will not find a “finished” woman of valor when they look for a wife. God will use them, along with many other people and circumstances, to help their wives grow in wisdom and valor. They need to be teachable and humble and growing in wisdom now and all through their lifetimes so that they are ready to fight their own battles in God’s strength, and prepared to lead their families in humble, courageous obedience to God.

Remind yourself that you are not a “finished” woman of valor either. God will continue to test you, teach you, change you, and mature you as you fear and obey Him. :-)

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Thirty Days in Proverbs 31 for Busy, Busy Mamas, Day 30: Wisdom

30DaysProverbsDay30WisdomWell . . . we have three more days in our “30-day” study of Proverbs 31. :-) Hope you don’t mind! We’ll finish up our actual study on Friday as we spend some time reflecting on how to apply what we’ve learned, and then Saturday’s post will be a list of ideas for further study related to Proverbs 31 and to the study method we’ve been using.

Today let’s look back at the beginning of the book of Proverbs. On day 21, we talked about the chiastic structure of the virtuous woman poem in Proverbs 31. We saw a series of ideas presented in the first half of the poem, which pointed in to the verse about the valiant wife’s husband being known in the gates, and then those same basic ideas were repeated again, but in reverse order, creating a mirror effect in the text.

A similar structure exists within the book of Proverbs as a whole. We won’t take time to consider this in detail, but we should at least look at the “bookends” of the book of Proverbs. A similar theme opens and closes the book.

Assignment: Pray for the Holy Spirit to do His illuminating, convicting, sanctifying work in your heart as you study today. Then open Blueletterbible. (Isn’t this a great site? I’m so thankful to the dear lady who introduced me to it in our first Busy Mamas study on Colossians 3.)

  • Search on Proverbs 1 in Blueletterbible, and read verses 1-7.
  • Then read Proverbs 31:27-31.

Do you see any common theme in these two passages?

  • Now search on wisdom fear the Lord. Record each verse reference and take notes on what you find. What is the relationship between wisdom and fearing the Lord?

We looked briefly at wisdom in Proverbs 31:26 as it relates to the valiant woman opening her mouth with wisdom. Let’s look at that verse again.

  • Search on Proverbs 31:26, and use the “Interlinear” tool to look at the Hebrew word for wisdom one more time. Review its meaning. Read the entry from Gesenius’ Hebrew Chaldee Lexicon. Wisdom speaks of skill, administrative abilityprudencepiety towards God, and good leadership.
  • Now scroll down to the “Concordance Results Using KJV”. We focused earlier on related verses from Proverbs. Let’s look at these verses about wisdom more carefully this time.
    • How is the word used in Exodus when the tabernacle was being made? Does this remind you of the virtuous woman?
    • How is it used in reference to Joshua in Deuteronomy 34? How might this relate to Proverbs 31?
    • What about Solomon in 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles?
    • Stop and read the entire passage from Job 28. Click on the reference for the first verse listed – Job 28:12 — and that will open the text for the entire chapter. What does Job say about wisdom? Do these words sound familiar? How does he summarize wisdom? What is it?
    • Continue skimming these verses about wisdom (still in “Concordance Results”), slowing down to savor the verses from the Psalms. You’re taking notes, right? :-)
    • Of course, because the point of  Proverbs is to know wisdom, a lot of proverbs speak of wisdom. Read what you can, especially looking for verses that relate to our Proverbs 31 Woman — her value, her speech, her household, her fear of God.
    • Look at one last verse, if you don’t have time to skim them all. Read Ecclesiastes 7:19. This certainly brings to mind the mighty woman of valor in Proverbs 31. Her wisdom gives her strength and might.
  • Review the notes you have taken. Write a summary paragraph about the connection between (1) the virtuous wife of Proverbs 31, (2) the fear of the Lord, and (3) wisdom. How do these three relate?

Proverbs opens with several chapters about wisdom, and about Lady Wisdom beckoning from beside the gates of the town, calling the simple to come and learn prudence and knowledge and discretion. The book of Proverbs ends at the gates again, this time with a valiant woman.

Her fear of the Lord, firmly planted in her heart, has resulted in wisdom — skill, understanding, prudence, piety, and an ability to manage her household well. That wisdom has gone on to bear rich and abundant fruit — works that praise her in the gates.

Becoming a mighty woman of valor isn’t a matter of checking off a few boxes in a Proverbs 31 checklist. It’s a matter of fearing God. Her works, as Charles Bridges states in his commentary on Proverbs, “are the good fruit, that ‘prove the tree to be good’.”

Pray. Ask God to help you learn from this portrait of godly, valiant womanhood. Ask Him to help you grow in your fear of Him.

For your children: Read Proverbs 31:30-31 together with your children. Can they recite it from memory yet? Can you? :-) Give it a try! Then see how well you can do reciting the entire passage together. Take turns on verses, and help each other out when someone can’t remember. Challenge everyone to have the whole poem memorized by the end of the week.

  • Then go for a walk, or if you don’t have any fruit trees or berry bushes nearby, go for a drive where you can find some, or go for a “walk” in Google images.
  • When you find a tree with fruit, stop to look at it.
  • Ask the children what kind of fruit they see. 30DaysProverbsDay30Wisdom2
  • Then add, “I wonder what kind of tree that is…”  See what their response is.
  • If you have other fruit trees (or pictures) available, do the same thing at the next tree. “What kind of fruit is that? What kind of tree is it growing on?”

It shouldn’t take too long to get your point across. Apples only grow on apple trees. Peaches only grow on peach trees.

In the same way, godly actions and attitudes — the fruit of the valiant woman’s hands — only grows from a godly heart that is deeply rooted in a loving fear of the Lord.

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Thirty Days in Proverbs 31 for Busy, Busy Mamas, Day 29: Ruth, Part 2

30DaysProverbsDay29Ruth2AThe fact that Ruth is clearly identified as a woman of valor should give us hope. Ruth, at first glance, doesn’t seem to fit the Proverbs 31 Woman mold (just like us :-) ). She’s a foreigner, a widow, a poor woman gleaning in the fields. She seems more like the poor and needy that benefit from the Proverbs 31 Woman’s kindness.

But a closer study of the book of Ruth reveals that Ruth is indeed a mighty woman of valor (and by the time the story is finished, she is married to a mighty man of valor).

Assignment: Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the real heart of being a woman of might and valor. Then read chapters 3 and 4 of the book of Ruth, continuing as you did yesterday, looking for parallels between Ruth’s story and the description of the valiant wife found in Proverbs 31.

When you have finished reading Ruth and taking your notes, review what you have noted. What is it that the Proverbs 31 Woman and Ruth share? What makes them both valiant women?

We should be encouraged by Ruth’s example. She was simply trusting God. She faced hardship. Her father-in-law had died, her brother-in-law had died, and her husband had died. Put yourself in her place. Most of us would have despaired in her circumstances.

Ruth and her mother-in-law were left without a protector. Ruth chose to leave her parents and her own country behind, in order to make Naomi’s god her god, and Naomi’s people her people. She was choosing to fear and obey God, because she trusted Him:

  • 30DaysProverbsDay29Ruth2BThey needed food; she went out to glean, and God led her to the field of Boaz.
  • The work was hard; she worked all day, and God provided above and beyond what they needed.
  • She was vulnerable as a single, foreign woman in the fields; God, through Boaz’s kindness, put a hedge around her.
  • She and Naomi needed a redeemer; she did exactly what Naomi told her to do, no matter how awkward it may have felt, and God gave her a redeemer and a husband.

God honored her humility and kindness. Not only did He give her a husband and a son, but He also made her — a Moabite woman — the great-grandmother of King David, and an ancestor in the line of Jesus.

Ruth faced hardship, but she persevered. She feared God and committed herself to His faithfulness. Her actions, her kindness, her perseverance are simply the natural outcome of fearing God. That’s what mighty women of valor do, no matter what their circumstances are.

We can all be women of valor. We can all gird ourselves with God’s strength and put our full confidence in His faithfulness. When we truly believe that He is faithful, that He will keep His promises, that He will work all things out for our good and His glory, we can step out in faith, right where we are — whether we’re facing permanent marker scribbles on the sofa or a husband dying of cancer — and conquer, just like the mighty men of valor believed God’s promises and fought the battles that God gave them.

Meditate on this truth today. How will it change the way you live?

For your children:

Pull out the costume box and let your children act out the story of Ruth. Talk about the many evidences of Ruth’s valor and deep faith in God. Video-record their performance so you can all watch it together afterwards (and so you can share it with us on the Facebook group page :-) ! ).

 

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Thirty Days in Proverbs 31 for Busy, Busy Mamas, Day 28: Ruth, Part 1

30DaysProverbsDay28Ruth1

What does a virtuous woman look like in real life?  If you turned the page in the Hebrew Bible after you’d read the last words of Proverbs 31, and you would find out. The book of Ruth follows immediately after the poem about the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31. First we read her description; then we see a real living example.

We’re going to look at Ruth’s story. I think you will be encouraged when you see that being virtuous doesn’t mean you have to spin your own thread, have a bevy of servants,  or plant your own vineyard.

Assignment: Pray for understanding and the ability to learn from Ruth’s example.

Then search on Ruth 3:11 in Blueletterbible. We’re going to look at two words in this verse before we start reading the book of Ruth.

  • Use the “Interlinear” tool to look at the phrase, for all the city. What does it really mean? This is one of those fun “aha” moments in Bible study! Look back at your notes from Day 2, if you need a review on the significance of gates in the Old Testament.
  • Next look at that thou art a virtuous. What do you find? How’s that for a direction correlation between the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 and the loving, loyal heroine of the book of Ruth? “All the gates” know that Ruth is a mighty woman of valor!
  • Print out this chart to help you with your study (or you can just copy its format into your notebook, if you want to keep all your notes in one place).

The chart lists each verse from Proverbs 31:10-31, and leaves a blank column to the right of all the verses.

  • Read the first two chapters of Ruth today. As you read, look for actions, attitudes and words that match up with the description of the Proverbs 31 Woman.

For example, in the first chapter Ruth chooses to stay with Naomi and to make Naomi’s people her people, and Naomi’s God her God.

When she does this, she is doing her husband good, even after he has died. She’s following his God and loving his mother. She’s also not afraid of the future. She’s stepping out and leaving her family and her country behind to follow her widowed mother into Israel.

  • Write these in the right hand column, opposite of verse 12. (Write small, in case you need more space in this section before we are all done with Ruth.)
  • What other connections can you make between this choice Ruth makes and the mighty woman of Proverbs 31?
  • Read the rest of chapter 1 and all of chapter 2, noting each correlation you see between Ruth and the Proverbs 31 Woman.

We’ll finish up the rest of the book of Ruth tomorrow.

For your children:

Read Ruth 3:11 with your children. Share what you have learned about this verse in your own study. Boaz is saying that “all the gates” know that she is a virtuous woman — a mighty woman of valor. Her works are known in the gates.

  • Read the first two chapters of Ruth aloud with your children. If you have readers, take turn reading verses.

Or listen to these chapters in NKJVNIVESV, or KJV.

Or, if you don’t mind spending a little bit, listen to the dramatized story of Ruth by searching on “Bible in Living Sound, Challenged, Vol. 2″, and scrolling down to the three stories about Ruth that are available for purchase. (This entire set of dramatized stories is a great investment if you want your children to know the stories of the Bible. Play them during nap times and as the children are settling down for the night. )

  • When you have finished listening to the first two chapters, talk about what similarities the children can see between the Proverbs 31 Woman and Ruth.

 

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Thirty Days in Proverbs 31 for Busy, Busy Mamas, Day 27: Catch-Up and Optional Lesson

30DaysProverbsDay27HerIf you’re “behind”, don’t feel bad. I started out telling you these assignments would take five to ten minutes a day, and I haven’t done a very good job of keeping my word. I think I should have made this a 60-day study! There’s so much to study and think about in this chapter!

If you can only carve out five to ten minutes a day to study, then take those five or ten minutes and just keep working your way through the lessons until you’re done! Hopefully this last catch-up day of our study will help you make a little progress!

Optional assignment: For those of you who have somehow managed to keep up with the daily lessons, or would like the extra assignment when you do reach this lesson, here’s my suggestion:

  • Read Proverbs 31:10-31 and circle with a green pencil or pen every use of the word her.
  • When you have finished reading and marking, go back through and record each use of the word, along with the noun that follows it. Then note what is said about each phrase.

For example, verse 11 says, “The heart of her husband trusts in her”. You should write:

Her husband – trusts in her

This particular example is different than most, because the verse says her husband trusts in her. Most of the hers we will find will be possessive pronouns followed by a noun — something that belongs to the virtuous wife. That’s what we’re looking for. The second her in this verse is not our main focus.

  • When you have finished, read back through your list. This is one simple overview of the valiant woman. What do you remember from your study of all these verses? What new insights do you gain in looking over all these facts together?

For your children:

Is your child-level acrostic of this passage done? If not, this is a good day to keep working on it. If it finished, see if you can get all the way through your acrostic by memory together.

If you haven’t already done this, a simple illustrated ABC’s of the Valiant Woman book could be a fun project to work on together. Let each member of the family take responsibility for several letters, write the verse for each letter, and draw a picture to illustrate it. When everyone has finished, put it into a three-ring binder. Better yet, watch for a good deal for online photo books, take photos of each page, and turn it into a custom-designed coffee table book for your home!

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Thirty Days in Proverbs 31 for Busy, Busy Mamas, Day 26: But…

30DaysProverbsDay26FearstheLord

The little word, but, is always a big word when we’re studying the Bible. It lets us know that something new is coming. Grammatically speaking, but is a conjunction; it joins one statement with another, and those two statement contrast with each other in some way.

We always want to look for the buts when we study a passage!  That’s what we’re finally going to do today.

Assignment: Pray for God’s continued working in your heart as you study this passage of Scripture. Then read all of Proverbs 31:10-31, looking for the word but. Circle each appearance with a red pencil or pen. You should be able to find the word two times.

We looked at the first appearance of the word in verse 29 yesterday. We saw the husband acknowledging that many women had proven themselves valiant, but this one woman, in her husband’s eyes, surpassed them all. Two things should give us hope here:

First, “many daughters have done virtuously”. That means it’s not impossible to be like this valiant woman. 

Second, the Proverbs 31 Woman surpasses all other women in her husband’s opinion. We talked about this yesterday. This is exactly how it should be. She should be the best wife for him, because she’s his wife. This applies to wives of loving, godly husbands, but the wife of an indifferent or self-centered husband can also, by God’s grace, learn how to be the best wife for her husband. Sometimes truly loving him means seeking counsel and help. Sometimes it means backing off and letting God do the work while we just do what we’re supposed to do. It always means fearing God and seeking His wisdom.

(If you would like to read an interpretation of the word daughters in this verse, click on the “Commentaries” tool for verse 29, and then on “Commentary of Proverbs 31″ under Matthew Henry. Scroll down to point III. 3.)

Verse 30, the second appearance of the word but, finds King Lemuel’s mother comparing two kinds of women for her son. “Charming ones will deceive you. Beauty won’t last. BUT the woman who fears the Lord, she will be praised. Look for that kind of wife, Lemuel.”

See how important but is in this verse? Stay away from this kind of woman. Turn the other way and pursue the one who fears the Lord.

As women, we and our daughters can learn from this verse along with our sons. Charm and beauty shouldn’t be our primary focus. Fearing God should. Not only will our reverence and obedience please God and glorify Him; it will also make us a blessing to our husbands and families.

  • Open Blueletterbible and search on Proverbs 31:30.
  • Use the “Interlinear” tool to find the lexicon information on the word favour.
  • Note the definitions of the word on a page dedicated to this verse in your notebook.
  • Next look at the phrase, is deceitful. Summarize its definitions in your notebook.
  • A quick glance at the verses that use this word confirms that we’re talking about lies and falsehood. Favor — grace, charm — they will deceive. In fact, charm is often a cover-up for a sinful, selfish heart.
  • What about beauty? Click on its Strong’s number and read the excerpt from Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon.
  • Then read the verses under “Concordance Results Using KJV”. These will help you better understand how the word is used.
  • Next, let’s look at vain. Look at its definitions. Beauty is a vapor, a breath. How long does a vapor last? Can you keep it in your grasp? Think of the steam coming out of a kettle, the fog over the hills, the clouds that an airplane slips through. A vapor is hardly there to start with, and it certainly doesn’t last. But it’s not bad. 

Beauty’s not bad either. There’s nothing wrong with making ourselves beautiful (unless it becomes an idol that displaces God and our obedience to Him). But beauty is not a useful criteria for choosing a good wife.

BUT a woman who fears the Lord will be praised! Her husband will praise her. Her children will praise her. The people in the gates will recognize her valor as they witness her life. (And as she fears the Lord, she most likely will grow in true charm and grace and also in a true, godly beauty that can’t help but reflect itself in her face.)

We could spend another thirty days studying all that fear the Lord means. If you want to continue studying on your own after this study is completed, fear of the Lord would make an excellent study. It would be really exciting to discover the different aspects of fearing the Lord, and then see how those are manifested in the Proverbs 31 Woman’s life. (Watch for more ideas on this and other additional study suggestions on Day 33 of our 30-day study. :-) )

  • For now, type the phrase fear the Lord into the search box on Blueletterbible and skim the verses that come up. Take notes on the actions and attitudes that are listed along with fearing the Lord. This will give you a general picture of what fearing the Lord means.

This is the lady that will be praised — the one who fears the Lord and demonstrates that fear with a life of joyful, eager, creative, diligent service.

  • Review what you have learned from your word studies today, and write your own paraphrase of verses 29 and 30.
  • Then take a minute to read through all of Proverbs 31:10-31 one more time. This time, just as an experiment, try to imagine that this is the story of the valiant woman’s entire adult life.
  • Read verses 10-12 as a sort of introduction, which ends with the statement that the virtuous wife does her husband good all the days of her life.
  • Then read verses 13-29 as a chronological account. See if you can imagine a young wife in verse 10, looking for the wool and flax she needs for spinning as she cares for her new husband and home. See her rising while it is still night to care for babies and young children. Imagine her progressively taking on more and different tasks as she matures, until we see her in older age putting on strength and dignity as her clothing, smiling at the future, and basking in the praise of her grown-up children.

Maybe the poem follows the valiant wife through all her years of marriage; maybe it doesn’t. But we can rest assured of two facts:

1. This is a composite picture of an ideal woman, not the historical account of one individual woman.

2. She didn’t get married and do all these things all at the same time for all of her lifetime.

The Proverbs 31 Woman is our model and our inspiration. But we don’t have to be everything that she was all at once. God is working to mature us — one day at a time.

For your children:

Read and discuss Proverbs 31:29-30. Share what you learned in your own study.

  • Talk about charm and how it can deceive.
  • Talk about beauty and its fleeting nature.
  • Describe what you have learned about fearing the Lord.
  • Talk about what sort of wives your sons should pray for.
  • Talk about what sort of women your daughters should pray to become.
  • Pray together for the husbands and wives that God is preparing for those of your children who will be led by God to marry.
  • Then, if you have extra time, let the children act out these two verses. It could stimulate more interesting conversation material!

One more thing: if you’re interested in the drawing shown in the photo for this post, watch for our next freebie online! The entire color book of Proverbs 31 for young girls will be available as a free PDF file soon!

 

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Thirty Days in Proverbs 31 for Busy, Busy Mamas, Day 25: Praiseworthy

30DaysProverbsDay25Praiseworthy

 

Do you find yourself looking at the description of the Proverbs 31 Woman and her grateful husband and children, and wondering what’s wrong with your family? Why don’t they appreciate you?

Mothering involves a lot of giving, a lot of service, a lot of un-glorious, unseen, and seemingly unappreciated work. Generally, we aren’t hearing any applause in the background. This is just part of how God makes us more like His dear Son.

Assignment: Pray for a humble, grateful, teachable heart as you begin your study today. As you read Proverbs 31:10-31 again today, try to put yourself in this woman’s place. Think about all that she does. She surely must have been tired sometimes. Do you think she did any of this without people noticing, without them thinking to thank her? I’ll bet she did. After all, really serving others means doing what needs to be done, whether anyone notices or not (and remembering all the while that God does notice).

We have two things to accomplish today:

First, we need to get back to that acrostic we started on Day 12. If you haven’t been adding to it as we’ve been working our way through the passage, take some time today to work on it. Because the Hebrew alphabet only has 22 letters, we only have 22 verses in this acrostic. That means you can pick four letters in our alphabet to skip. (Or you creative ones may decide to work them into the middle of a verse here and there. Personally, I think it sounds pretty nice to not have to deal with and Z.)

Second, we’re going to take a good look at Proverbs 31:28-29

Based on what we have already discussed, I think verses 28-29 might be a clue that could lead us to look at this entire poem as an account of the Proverbs 31 Woman’s entire life span. We’ll explore that idea in more detail tomorrow.

For today, just try to imagine the valiant wife in her older years. She has finished raising her children. They’ve all left home. They’re starting to raise their own children now. As they wrestle with their own 24/7 parenting duties, they start to appreciate in a whole new way what this amazing mother has done for them.

They sit down at the table over a cup of coffee and say, “How did you do it?” Now they have a better idea of what she was doing early in the morning and late at night. They’re grateful. They call her blessed.

  • Think of the passage in that way as you reread Proverbs 31:28-29. We’re not going to invest a lot of time studying each word in verse 28. They are familiar words and their meaning is pretty clear. Her children — most likely adults by now — are blessing her. Her husband joins in their praise. What does he say?
  • Use the “Interlinear” tool in Blueletterbible to look at the word daughters in verse 29. What all does this word encompass? Her husband could be speaking of other women, or he could be speaking of his own daughters.
  • Look at have done next. This word should look familiar. On Day 19, we looked at how it was used in Proverbs 31. Look back at your notes from that lesson. You should find that the word is used three other times in this poem.
  • Now look at virtuously. What is the Hebrew word that is used here? It’s the same word that is used to describe the Proverbs 31 Woman at the very beginning of the poem! Many daughters have worked with valor, but what does her husband say about her?

She surpasses them all. And she should. She only needs to be the winner in one
“Virtuous Wife” contest. She should surpass every other woman at being the kind of wife her husband needs.

I think this might help us with the painful situation that many of you may face as we read these verses. Some of you have husbands who don’t praise you, who don’t necessarily appreciate what you are doing, who don’t think you are better than any other woman out there.

Surely this is one of the greatest tests of a woman’s character. This is where we most need to draw our strength from our mighty God. He is the One who is pleased with us. He looks at us, He sees His Son, and He is satisfied. In His eyes, we surpass them all, because we are in Christ.

And in Christ, we can be valiant wives to husbands who don’t seem to care. It takes a lot of prayer, a lot of closing our mouths, a lot of wisdom, a lot of humility, a lot of loving without worrying about being loved in return — like Jesus loved us.

You can be a mighty woman of valor while married to a difficult man who is not loving you the way Christ loved the Church, because you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13).

You can run from the self-pity and bitterness that will only make things worse. You can choose instead, by God’s grace, to put on forgiveness. (What do you have to lose?) You can put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, and thankfulness, and willingly work to love your husband. In doing so, you will surpass all others at being the valiant wife God has made you to be to your husband.

While you choose to show him God’s love, God will be taking your circumstances and redeeming them for His glory as He transforms you into a strong and valiant woman of God — a woman that will be a blessing to her husband, and a woman that God will praise and bless.

For your children:

Starting with Proverbs 31:17, continue working on the acrostic you started back on Day 12. The Hebrew alphabet only has 22 letters, so we only have 22 verses to use when building our acrostic. That means you can skip four letters in our alphabet; that should help you not have to deal with and and a couple other troublemakers of your choice.

Then use this day to really work on helping your children remember to say thank you for all that is done for them. When you hand them something, make sure they say thank you. When a sibling does something for them, listen for the thank you. When they get up from the table, train them to say thank you for the meal. Children who have learned to be thankful will someday rise up and call you blessed!

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Thirty Days in Proverbs 31 for Busy, Busy Mamas, Day 24: Idleness

30DaysProverbsDay24Idleness

Today we look at the last verse that describes the actions and attitudes of the Proverbs 31 Woman. All her industry and delight in working seem to be packed into this one verse.

Assignment: Pray for an open, teachable heart, thanking God for this model woman and the example she can be for us. Read all of Proverbs 31:10-31. Think, while you read, of all the attention and time these activities would require.

  • Open Blueletterbible and search on Proverbs 31:27. Let’s look at some more words. (This lesson may take more time than some. Remember, if you don’t finish, Sunday is catch-up day!)
  • Using the “Interlinear” tool for this verse, click on the Strong’s number for she looketh well and note the definitions for this phrase. Here is another military image to record in your notebook.
  • Skim the verses under “Concordance Results Using KJV”. How is the word used?

The valiant wife is like a watchman. She’s looking carefully, accurately — watching for the enemy and for outside threats. She’s alert. She is carefully watching over the details of her household — the tasks, the people, the attitudes. Her job is critical.

  • Look at the word, household. We’ve seen this word before in verses 15 and 21. It speaks of anyone who is living in the home. (In the time this passage was written, it would have included the servants in the home.)

The virtuous wife is looking carefully and paying attention to the ways of her family.

  • How does the last half of the verse complete the first half? She not only does function as a watchman for the family (reporting to her husband); she also doesn’t eat the bread of idleness.
  • Look up the word idleness. What do you find? Note the definitions and the Gesenius excerpt. You will also see that this is the only place that this original Hebrew word is used in the Bible. 
  • Look at its root word. The excerpt from Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon is especially helpful in clarifying the meaning of this word. Pay attention to those words — to be at leisure, to neglect, laxity, languor.
  • Let’s go back to the “Tools” menu for this verse, and click on the “Cross-Refs” button. This will take us to a list of other verses that relate to this verse. They will add to our understanding.
  • Read these verses, noting any new insights.

Idleness is not a good thing. It leads to boredom, gossip, waste, ingratitude, and strife. It’s good for us to work; it helps keep us out of trouble.

  • Use your notebook to make a list of the “ways of your household” that you should be a diligent watchman over. Think about household duties, but focus especially on people — their attitudes, their needs, their training, their actions, their words. These are the things is your life that will last. What do you need to be paying attention to?
  • Make another list. What kind of activities and thoughts can lead you to neglect your duties as a wife, mother, and homemaker? Pray over this. You might even want to ask others who know you. Do they see you doing things that dilute or negate your effectiveness in your home? With your children? What are the distractions? What are the weaknesses?
  • Look at your two lists. When you look at the first list, can you really afford to indulge in the distractions of the second list? Your job is important. You only have so much time to do it. Your children need you. Your husband needs you. Are there things you need to give up?
  • Make one last list. This time list specific practices, thoughts, and distractions that you want, by God’s grace, to “put away”. Pray over this list. Ask God to help you overcome these things that pull your attention and energy away from your responsibilities. Share this list with someone. Ask them to pray for you. And thank God for His love and for the work He will continue to do in your life.

For your children:

  • Read Proverbs 31:27 with your children. Discuss its meaning. 
  • Talk about the ways they might “eat the bread of idleness”.
  • Then brace yourself, and ask them to share any ways they see you doing things that lessen your effectiveness or your commitment as a parent. (The first thing that comes to mind is browsing on a smartphone.) If they can’t think of anything, give them some help. Ask how they feel about specific things off of your first list (above).
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Thirty Days in Proverbs 31 for Busy, Busy Mamas, Day 23: Her Mouth

30DaysProverbsDay23SpeechToday we turn from the long list of the valiant wife’s down-to-earth activities, and we see what is in her heart as she expresses it with her lips. Not only does this God-fearing woman of valor take the use of her time and resources seriously, but she also knows how to govern her tongue! When she speaks it is with words of wisdom and kindness. If this amazing lady hasn’t made you uncomfortable before this point, she most likely will today. She has much to teach us.

Assignment: Pray, asking the Holy Spirit to work in your heart as you study this example of godly speech and attitude. Then read Proverbs 31:10-31, thinking about the delight the virtuous wife takes in her work and the fear of God that motivates her in these many activities.

  • Then open Blueletterbible and search on Proverbs 31:26.
  • Using the “Interlinear” tool, click on the Strong’s number for she openeth and read the definitions of this phrase.

There are some interesting words in there, especially when we think of them applied to our mouths – to be let looseto be thrown open. I don’t know about you, but when my mouth is let loose or thrown open, it’s generally not wisdom that comes rushing out! But that’s what we find when the Proverbs 31 Woman speaks!

  • Look at the phrase with wisdom next. Note the different definitions for wisdom. (Do you see the military reference again in that first definition?)
  • Let’s spend some time looking at verses under “Concordance Results Using KJV”. We’re going to focus on the verses in the book of Proverbs. Scroll down to the bottom of the verses in that section until you see “Search Results Continued”. Then click on “2. Job 33:33-Ecc 1:16″.
  • Scroll down until you find verses from the book of Proverbs. Read these verses carefully. The valiant woman speaks with this kind of wisdom! What is it like? What does the book of Proverbs say about it? Where does it come from? How valuable is it? What should our attitude be toward it? How does it relate to instructing our children and to establishing our homes? Record your observations in your notebook.

When the valiant wife’s mouth is “let loose”, wisdom is what comes out. That’s because wisdom is what is in her heart. As she’s lived her life in reverence for God, she has learned how to apply His truth to the different situations and relationships she has encountered throughout her life. This includes being wise in how she uses her tongue — when she speaks and when she doesn’t — and it also includes speaking wise words when she does speak. The law of kindness is on her tongue.

What is that law of kindness?

  • Click on the Strong’s number for the phrase, is the law. You may recognize the Hebrew word for this. It is the word torah and it is consistently translated as law in the King James Version. Look at its definitions to get a better understanding of the word.
  • I want to focus on the word kindness for the remainder of this lesson. Click on its Strong’s number and note how the word is used in Scripture.
  • Looking at the list of words under “KJV Translation Count”, copy into your notebook the other ways this Hebrew word is translated in the King James Version.
  • This concept of mercy or lovingkindness is difficult to define. Skim the verses under “Concordance Results Using KJV” to get a better understanding of the word. Note the different ways the word is used. Write a summary of what you learn about it.
  • Then take some time to pray and reflect. Does the law of mercy or lovingkindness rule your tongue? Is your speech governed by this law as you interact with your husband, with your children, your neighbor, your brothers and sisters in Christ?

Does your child know you love him with a loyal, faithful covenant love that will not let him go, regardless of how he treats you — whether he’s a toddler or a teenager? Does he hear this in your speech, or are your words often a sinful reaction to his sinful actions or attitudes?

Does your husband hear words that assure him of your steadfast love (made possible by Christ’s love for you), or is your love dependent on his response to you?

How about friends? What do you do with your words when they offend or misunderstand you?

  • Think about this law of kindness as you go through your day. Then take a few minutes to write out some instructions — or a law — for yourself to help you govern your speech. What will you say? What will you not say? Who will give you the strength and wisdom to do this?

For your children:

  • Read Proverbs 31:26 and discuss its meaning. How can your children open their mouths with wisdom?  What will the law of kindness look like as it governs their tongues?
  • Work together to write a “Law of Kindness” for your family. List what you will and will not do with your speech.
  • Post this in a place you will all see often. Then prayerfully seek to obey this law, gently helping and encouraging one another when you notice each other “breaking the law”.

 

 

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Thirty Days in Proverbs 31 for Busy, Busy Mamas, Day 22: The Future

30DaysProverbsDay22Future

Today we look at the quality of the valiant wife’s work and at her attitude about the future. A lifetime of diligence and an abiding fear of God prepare her for a future without worry.

Assignment: Pray for God’s blessing on your time of study. Then read all of Proverbs 31:10-31. As you read, think about the cumulative effect the valiant wife’s cheerful industry and fear of God would have on her household and on her future. Then reread verses 24 and 25. They will be our focus today.

  • Open Blueletterbible and search on the words fine linen. Let’s find out more about this commodity that the virtuous wife makes and sells.
  • Read the verses under “Concordance Results Using KJV”. Where and with whom do we see this fabric in Scripture? What does that say about its quality?
  • Now let’s look specifically at the Hebrew word for fine linen as it appears in verse 24. Search on Proverbs 31:24.
  • Open the “Interlinear” tool and click on the Strong’s number for fine linen. What new information do you gain by looking at this lexicon entry?

The valiant wife has not only sought out flax and prepared it for spinning; she has also spun it into fine thread, woven it into a high-quality cloth, and created a marketable garment from it. We can see, as we continue to read the verse, that her work is of a quality that others are willing to pay money for.

  • What else do the merchants buy from her?

If you would like to learn more about this piece of clothing, click on the “Dictionaries” tab in the tools menu for this verse, and then on the word girdles under Torrey’s New Topical Textbook.

This woman of valor does good work. Others value it. As a woman who delights in her work, she delights in doing it well.

Let’s look at verse 25 next and the meaning of its words.

  • Click on strength and note this word’s definition.
  • Read the entry from Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon, noting the different ways the word is used.
  • Then skim the verses under “Concordance Results Using KJV”. With whom is this word most often associated?

Did you notice that we have looked at this word in an earlier verse of Proverbs 31? The valiant wife girds her loins with strength — this same kind of strength, and figuratively with a girdle like the ones she sells to the merchants.

  • Look at the word honor next. Note its definitions and the other English words that are used to translate this Hebrew word. Skim the verses under “Concordance Results Using KJV”. Who is the word often associated with? Record in your notebook any new insights you gain from your reading.

Read the lexicon entry for are her clothing. Do you recognize this word from verse 22? Under the heading “Root Word (Etymology)”, click on the Strong’s number. After looking at the definitions, skim the verses under “Concordance Results Using KJV”, looking specifically for any verses in Proverbs 31 that use this word. You should be able to find one.

If you look back at the structure of Proverbs 31 from yesterday’s lesson, you’ll see that this verse corresponds with verse 25 in the chiasm. The valiant wife’s household is clothed in scarlet, and her own clothing is strength and honor. She has put on strength and honor — God’s strength that gives her enduring energy, and the honor that sets her apart from so many other women around her.

Look at one last phrase in verse 25, and she shall rejoice. The word rejoice carries a different attitude than we would generally associate with rejoicing. Note its definitions and the way it is used in Scripture. It’s like this valiant woman is looking out toward the future and saying, “Hah, it’s nothing — just child’s play. Go ahead, future. See what you can do to me. My God is with me and He has already won.”

As women of valor, we can laugh in the face of the future. It is an enemy that has already been conquered. We don’t need to worry. We don’t need to fret. We don’t need to imagine.

We do need to believe.

We will face challenges, some of them extremely difficult — deaths, losses, deep hurts, and financial crises — and some of them long, chronic, wear-us-down sorts of trials that tempt us to think that God is just not listening — loneliness, poor health, financial struggles, marriage difficulties — but we cannot be defeated if we are in Christ. He has already endured to the point of victory, and He will give us grace to endure with Him.

Not only is our enemy defeated, but we will spend eternity with the Victor, our Lord Jesus Christ. All wrongs will be righted. All trials will be over. All tears will cease. He’s promised. We have good reason to be mighty women of valor.

  • Meditate on these verses. Have you chosen to put on strength and dignity? Can you laugh at the future, or do you need to let go of some worries? Do you need to rest in God’s sovereign control of your life, and His never-ending love for you?
  • Write down the fears you have about the future. Be specific.
  • Then pray over that list. Spend some time finding verses that deal with your fears. Memorize them. Turn your fears over to God, who has all things under His control, and then step out onto the battlefield.

For your children:

  • Read and discuss Proverbs 31:24-25.
  • Then read all of Proverbs 31:10-31, but only read the last half of each verse, asking the children to provide the first half for each.
  • See how far you can get reciting the entire passage.

 

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