Reading Proverbs 31:1-31
The final chapter of Proverbs are written by King Lemuel, however, the words were spoken and taught to him by his mother. Both John Wesley in the eighteenth century and Eugene Peterson in the twenty-first century, tell us that the greatest preachers they ever knew were their mothers. Just like chapter 30, chapter 31 is an oracle: a divinely given utterance. So, although the words are recorded by King Lemuel and spoken by his mother, it is God speaking directly to us.
We started chapter 1 by looking at fearing the Lord, and we finish with the beautiful picture of a woman who does just that in the normal everyday things of life: buying food, repairing clothes and providing meals. We are told that a woman who loves and respects God deserves more praise than one who is merely physically beautiful. Caring for her family and caring for others—these characteristics are praised in this woman. In a world dominated by ‘OK’, ‘Hello’ and ‘Vogue’ it is really refreshing to hear that. We are told, ‘Charm is deceptive and beauty is vain but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.’ This belief she has in God is much more than a tacit, intellectual, affirmation of the existence of God; it is a belief that shapes the way she lives and all she does. Perhaps it would be good to pause for a few minutes and thank God for the Proverbs 31 women we know.
Whether female or male the message of the Book of Proverbs is faith in action: do we live what we believe? As the famous saying goes, “We are saved by faith alone, however, faith is never alone, it is alway accompanied by good works”. ‘Good works’ such as speaking up for those with no voice (8) and caring for those in bitter distress (6). Years ago a well respected Christian businessman and I were discussing a business decision that was having implications for some people in his church; he summarised the situation as “Church is church and business is business”. Reading through Proverbs tells us that nothing could be further from the truth. Our faith, if it is living and active, will shape our behaviour: the way we do business, the way we drive, the way we play and watch sport, even the way we relax. All these things should be utterly transformed by our love and respect for God. The great pastoral theologian, Eugene Peterson writes in his autobiography ‘Pastor’,
We don’t grow and mature in our Christian life by sitting in a classroom and library, listening to lectures and reading books, or going to church and singing hymns and listening to sermons. We do it by taking the stuff of our ordinary lives, our parents and children, our spouses and friends, our workplaces and fellow workers, our dreams and fantasies, our attachments, our easily accessible gratifications, our depersonalising of intimate relations, our commodification of living truths into idolatries, taking all this and placing it on the altar of refining fire—our God is a consuming fire—and finding it all redeemed for a life of holiness. (‘Pastor’ by Eugene Peterson p.230)
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. ( Matthew 16:24-27)
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. (Proverbs 31:30 NIV)
Father, thank you that you sent your son for me. When I was lost and far away, dead in my sin, he died for me, in my place removing all my sin and welcoming me into full relationship with you. Thank you that I was saved by faith, and, even that was a gift of grace from you. Thank you there is nothing I can do to improve my standing with you because Jesus has done it all. I ask that my faith and my belief in you may constantly and consistently transform all areas of my life. Please let there be nothing of me hidden from you or outside of your Lordship. In Jesus name. Amen.
Please note: Any comments containing links may not appear immediately, as they are held for moderation.
Only your name and comment are required to post, if you enter your email this will not be shown with your comment.