Proverbs- Session 11- 31:10-16, 23-31

Lesson Resources:

Subject:  Virtue

Central Theme:  Pursuing Virtue

Objective Sentence:

We can pursue a virtuous life by observing and imitating the four qualities of the virtuous woman.

Keyword:  Qualities

Quality #1- Committed to Her Husband. V10-12

Quality #2- Wise in Her Work. V. 13-16

Quality #3- Reputable in Her Community. V. 23-26

Quality #4- Honored by Her Family. V. 27-31

 

Introduction:

Connection:

  • Discussion Question: Do you know someone who is both creative and productive?  Take a few minutes and talk about them.
  • What are some areas of life where we value creativity and productivity?
    • Examples of Possible Answers- Food, Art, Media- Movies, Books, Music, Technology…etc.
  • What virtues are needed to create God Honoring examples of these things?
    • Examples of Possible Answers- Hard Work, Learning, Being Teachable, Honorable…

Tension:

  • There is a connection between being virtuous and being productive.
  • This week’s passage is on the theme of a virtuous woman.
  • The author, King Lemuel, wrote about this virtuous woman in the form of a poem. It was written acrostically in the Hebrew, meaning that each line of the poem starts with each corresponding letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
  • Earlier in Proverbs wisdom itself was personified by a woman who spoke to the reader.
  • There are some who argue that wisdom the personified woman, and this woman are one and the same.  If they are not intended to be the same woman, King Lemuel really does put into vivid detail what a wife who is virtuous looks like.
  • Theo poem starts out in verse 10 with a question. “Who can find a virtuous woman?”

 (10)  Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.  Proverbs 31:10

  • The point is being made in the question that this kind of person is rare. The answer to the question that the author expects would be, “Almost no one can find her.”
  • We know this because of the second half of the verse. Her value is compared to rubies.
  • Have you seen a ruby laying with another half dozen rubies on the sidewalk?  Of course not.
  • If you see a ruby every day it is only because you or someone in your life owns and wears one. They are not that common.
  • But the writer here makes the claim that a virtuous woman is more rare than even a ruby because he says that the price or the value of a virtuous woman is “far above” rubies.
  • In the world of gems scarcity and beauty bring value. This is the observation that begins the poem.  The value of the virtuous woman is incredibly high.
  • Over the next few verses, the virtuous woman is described in detail. Her character and behavior reveal why she is so valuable.
  • People have a say in their own value.
    • As you will see in the coming verses, the virtuous woman is intentional about her life. She has grown into someone of full maturity that is “looking well to her ways”.  She is someone who obviously cares to learn and grow, and as she does, her value to those around her goes up. We can be intentional about our own growth and virtue.  God has given us everything we need to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We have his Word, His Spirit, and therefore His wisdom to help us to grow daily.
  • We ought to value virtue in other people.
    • It may seem obvious, but the woman her is described as virtuous.  She is full of virtue. What is virtue?  According to Webster’s dictionary virtue is, “Moral goodness; the practice of moral duties and the abstaining from vice, or a conformity of life and conversation to the moral law.” This foundation of virtue leads to a life of productivity beyond mere efficiency. Truly virtuous people are effective. Their virtue leads to their effectiveness.
  • We ought to praise others for their virtue.
  • If there is anything that ought to be encouraged in those around us it should be their virtue.
  • We praise talent, ability, and beauty, and this is not objectively wrong.
  • But virtue is what counts. Virtue is rare. So when we see it, we should encourage it in the lives of others.

We can pursue a virtuous life by observing and imitating the four qualities of the virtuous woman.

Quality #1- Committed to Her Husband. V.11-12

The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. v11

Explanation:

  • The virtuous woman is committed to her husband.  How do we know this?
  • Verse 11 says that her husband can completely trust her.
    • Notice the word “safely” in the phrase.
      • This means that a wise man can confidently and wisely put his trust in his wife if the wife is virtuous.
      • This trust is well placed.
    • He has “no need of spoil”.
      • This means that she contributes to the home in such a way that it helps him in his provision for the family.
      • They are working together to support the needs of the family.

(12)  She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. Proverbs 31:11-12

  • Verse 12 describes this woman as the kind of person that will be faithful for a lifetime.
  • Her character and reputation warrant trust, and create an expectation that she will do good and not evil to her husband.
  • How does someone gain this kind of trust?  Years of faithfulness and loyalty to a person leads to the expectation that what has happened in the past will go on into the future.

Application:

  • To summarize in a way that this first quality applies to us, how is commitment expressed by a person of virtue?
  1. Trust with matters of the heart- intimacy. (v. 11a) 
  • A virtuous person is careful with the heart of their spouse.
    • They can trust that what is said in private confidence will not be made public.
    • They are open to listen and respond to the heart of their spouse.
    • This produces an intimacy both physically and emotionally.
  1. Trust with matters of the home- stewardship. (v. 11b)
  • The stewardship of the resources of home leads to trust.
    • If a spouse cannot trust the other with their stuff, or their spending, this creates a problem for intimacy (#1) and longevity (#3).
  1. Trust that grows over a lifetime- longevity. (v.12)
  • Marriage is a lifelong commitment that is expressed every day in matters large and small.
  • Trust is built over time as loyalty and faithfulness are expressed in a multitude of ways.
  • One cannot be called wise or virtuous if they are not committed in matters of intimacy and stewardship for the full longevity of the lifetime of their spouse.
  • If the person you are most committed to cannot trust you, then no one can.

Not only is the virtuous woman committed to her husband.  She also has

Quality #1- Committed to Her Husband. V10-12

Quality #2- Wise in Her Work. V. 13-16

Explanation:

  • Here you see the second quality of a virtuous woman.  She is wise in her work.  The virtuous woman is not idle.  She is busy making everything around her better.
  • In verse 13 you see her using raw textiles to create things with her hands.

She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.  (V13)

  • In verse 14 you see her willing to go the extra mile to make meals the best they can be.

(14)  She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.

  • In verse 15 you see her getting up extra early to accomplish what she needs done.  She is preparing and presenting food to her entire household.

(15)  She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.

  • In verse 16 you see her making a purchase because of the extra income that she has made from her work.

(16)  She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

  • What she purchases is not something of novelty, but rather an investment that will help her to make even more money.
  • Her investment will take hard work and management, but she is willing to go that way.  You see a growth here.

Application:

  • Here are four words that characterize wise work:
  1. Effort.
  • As you read about the work of the virtuous woman you see that she is making a real effort.
  • She is not shying away from tasks that are difficult.
  • Anything worth pursuing takes hard work and effort to achieve.  We must not be lazy and just “put in our time.”  We should make an effort in our daily work to make things better.
  1. Excellence.
  • The virtuous woman is not just fulfilling tasks, but is putting in the extra effort to make things the best that they can be.
  • She is pursuing excellence.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:31 says,

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

  • Everything we do should be done the best we can.  It’s an attitude that turns into an action.
  1. Early.
  • Notice that the virtuous woman got up early.
  • In the pursuit of excellence (#2) that happens when we make a real effort (#1), there will be times where going the extra mile means we get up early.
  • The idea here is that there has been a calculation and stewardship of our time.
  • This pursuit of excellence means we make sure we get to sleep early and rise early to give ourselves the best shot at excellence.
  1. Expansion.
  • Notice that her work in the cottage industry of textiles has led to her purchase of a vineyard, an external industry.
  • You see here a growth in her production as there has been the pursuit of excellence.
  • She is growing, her production is growing, and her influence and resources expand as a result.
  • When we steward our effort well, there will be growth.

 

Quality #1- Committed to Her Husband. V10-12

Quality #2- Wise in Her Work. V. 13-16

Quality #3- Reputable in Her Community. V. 23-26

Explanation:

  • There is a third quality of the virtuous woman revealed in these verses.
  • She is a woman who is reputable in her community.
  • She has a good reputation beyond her own household.  Take a moment to see this characteristic in today’s verses:
  • Verse 23 explains that her husband is “known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land”.

Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.  v23

  • The gates of the city in those times were often used for the meeting of the leaders of the city.
  • This is where city business was often done.
  • Her husband is aided in his ability to lead and influence outside of the home because of her productivity in the home and beyond.
  • Verse 24 describes her interaction with those in business.

(24)  She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.

  • They do business with her because of the quality of her work.
  • The context makes it clear that this isn’t a one-time transaction, but rather an ongoing business relationship.
  • People do not do business in an ongoing way with people of poor reputation.
  • Verse 25 states that “strength and honour are her clothing”.

(25)  Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.

  • Clothing does not just cover and conceal, it also decorates.
  • What decorates the life of this virtuous woman are strength and honor.
  • This is what people see when they look at her.  This brings her joy!
  • Verse 26 states that she is known as a person whose speech is wise and kind.

(26)  She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

  • One of the most public things about a person are the kinds of words they use.
  • People form opinions about the kind of person some is by the words they use, and by how a person’s life matches up with what they say.

Application:

  • We ought to live primarily with God as our Audience.
  • He is the primary person we should be concerned with pleasing.
  • At the same time we all live on this earth among people, and our reputation is very important.
  • Look at what Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 5:16:

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.  Matthew 5:16

  • Notice the areas where the virtuous woman had a good reputation where we should have great reputations, too:
    • Community and Politics.  Her husband at the gate.
    • Her relationship to the merchants.
  • Notice also the qualities that are noticed about her that we should exhibit if we are to have a good reputation:
    • Wise Speech.
    • Kind Speech.
  • Notice that when these qualities (strength, honor, wisdom and kindness) are brought to bear in the community, in our political life, and in business, our reputation and influence will honor God.
  • The influence of those connected to us will grow.

Response:

What is your reputation like?  Would these four qualities be characteristic of your reputation?

What is your speech like?  Is it wise and kind?

What can you do to improve your reputation and influence in the community?

Quality #1- Committed to Her Husband. V10-12

Quality #2- Wise in Her Work. V. 13-16

Quality #3- Reputable in Her Community. V. 23-26

Quality #4- Honored by Her Family. V. 27-31

 (30)  Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.  (31)  Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.  Proverbs 31:27-31

Explanation:

  • Often as a person is concerned with things outside of their home, the home itself gets neglected.
  • This is a recipe for many problems in our culture.
  • So many people succeed at business, community pursuits, political and social interaction, and then lose at home.
  • This is not the characteristic of the virtuous woman.
  • The fourth quality we see about this virtuous woman is that she is honored by her family.
  • Verse 27 clearly states that she does not abandon her home responsibilities.

She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. V.27

  • How can she be productive in business and community and in her own household.
  • The second part of verse 27 answers this, at least in part, when it says that she “eateth not the bread of idleness.”
  • The virtuous woman is not lazy.  She works hard and uses her time wisely.
  • Verse 28 gives us the result of all of this labor.

(28)  Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

  • Her kids publicly praise her.
    • In the Old Testament Scriptures, honoring your mother and father is one of the 10 commandments, and of supreme importance.
    • Although there is no caveat given for children not to honor their parents, it is much easier to honor your parents when your parents are honorable.
    • This is the sense we get from verse 28.  Her kids are calling her blessed because it is so obvious in her life.
  • Her husband praises her as well.
    • We already saw at the beginning of the poem that her husband trusts her with his heart.
    • She has made it possible for him to be praised and influential at the gate.
    • Now, as a result he praises her as well.
  • Verse 29 states that this virtuous woman, by her virtue and quality of life, sets herself apart from other women.

(29)  Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.

  • Thus the statement earlier in the text that her price is far above rubies.
  • She is a rarity.  She is not average.  Most women are not like her.  Why?
  • Well verse 30 states at least part of the reason why.

“Favour is deceitful and beauty is vain.”

  • Those who spend their time wanting to be merely externally beautiful and popular are working towards the wrong goal.
  • They have their ladder up against the wrong wall.
  • Popularity fades.  Beauty fades.
  • What is the contrast?

A woman who fears the Lord shall be praised.

  • The internal quality of soul, spirit, relationship with God, and growth of the inner person is what will drive the kind of virtue that leads a woman to be praised in the right way.
  • That kind of quality will not fade.
  • Paul said it this way in 2 Corinthians 4:16

“….but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.”

  • Verse 31 states how she should be dealt with by her family.

Proverbs Handout Session 11 Proverbs Powerpoint Session 11

  • This is a form of meritocracy.  What you sow you will reap.
  • President Abraham Lincoln said it this way:

“I always thought the man that made the corn should eat the corn.”

  • Let her be productive and live off of her own productivity.
  • Her own works will be what she is known for, especially in places of prominence.

Application:

  • In many ways it is easier to have a good reputation outside of your house than inside.
  • Our families see us every day, and they see us over a long period of time.
    • We are up close and personal.
    • They see the best and the worst.
  • If our public morality and reputation exceeds our private virtue it will catch up to us.
  • The person that is personally virtuous will have a public and private life that match.
  • Their reputation among their children and spouse will be good.
  • What an incredible goal to have!

Response:

  • Are you the same person at home and in public?
  • Are you concerned with your reputation with your kids and spouse at an appropriate level?

Conclusion:

We can pursue a virtuous life by observing and imitating the four qualities of the virtuous woman.

Keyword:  Qualities

Quality #1- Committed to Her Husband. V10-12

Quality #2- Wise in Her Work. V. 13-16

Quality #3- Reputable in Her Community. V. 23-26

Quality #4- Honored by Her Family. V. 27-31

Proverbs- Session 11- Structural Outline

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *