I’ve always admired my paternal grandmother, and she has always been the favorite of my grandparents (I admit that often). But, as I’ve gotten older and am experiencing marriage and motherhood, I have so much more appreciation for her. My grandma had six children (she swore she never knew where kids came from until the last one came along…lol). She only had an 8th grade education, and she worked full-time as a middle school cafeteria lady her entire life, and eventually retired in her sixties. From childhood, I saw my grandma get up early every morning, fix breakfast for everyone (including us grandkids who stopped by for extras before we caught the school bus in the morning), go to work, come home to do more chores and work, watch grandkids, cook dinner, clean up, and then go to bed. Looking back, my grandma was always working, all the time. Yet, my grandma never seemed to complain much about it, and she always enjoyed having us grandkids around too.
I won’t dismiss my mother’s effect on me today, but I believe that my perspective of work largely came from grandmother. In essence, my grandmother taught me that work is a part of life and that there is always work that needs to be done every day. She also taught me that it was best to not complain about it or the circumstances that make it harder at times (like kids messing about or an uncooperative husband), and that if someone asks to help, you put them to work with you…lol!
I learned a lot from her, and as a wife and mom today, I’ve realized that managing your home is hard work. I consider myself extremely blessed to have a husband that isn’t extra messy or not willing to pick up behind himself, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that the daily work is hard sometimes. Yet, in all of this, my joy and happiness in what I do from day to day is increasing. I mean, how great is that?!? My work is getting harder, but I’m becoming more joyful in it, and I realized that the joy is coming from strengthening myself each day in the Lord.
“She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.” – Proverbs 31:17-18
Going through this study of the excellent wife, I’ve realized that there is a lot of practical application from the text. Yet, I believe that what truly makes this wife excellent is her primary devotion to Christ, and I just want to highlight a few things I see here about that.
She dressing herself with strength
“Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those who the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His presence continually!” – Psalm 105:3-4
From the scriptures, we see that all strength comes from the Lord. As the Creator of all things, He imparts strength to all of His creation. Now, there are plenty of examples throughout scripture of people who have attributed great victories or mighty acts to the strength of their power, and that is usually followed by a swift correction from the Lord because all strength comes from Him.
As such, the excellent wife dresses (or cloths herself) with strength. Thus, the excellent wife cloths herself in Christ, knowing that He alone is her strength. And why would she do that? It is through Christ that we have salvation, righteousness, access to the throne of grace, and so much more. If He, who conquered and overcame sin and death, who rose from the grave with all power in His hands, if He is not strength, then what is? What or who is stronger than Christ? No one and nothing is strength itself, and the excellent wife wisely clothes and girds herself in Him alone.
“The LORD is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him. The LORD is the strength of His people; He is the saving refuge of His anointed.” –Psalm 28:7-8
She makes her arms strong
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.” – Psalm 84:5-7
Having clothed herself in Christ, who is her strength, the excellent wife makes her arms strong. Physically speaking, when we want to develop strength in a part of our body, we exercise and work it out. We have to be diligent and persistent in the exercise if we want to grow stronger. Likewise, the excellent wife does not simply cloth herself in Christ and walk off. She makes her arms strong. She diligently perseveres in her devotion to Christ on a day to day basis, growing stronger in the Lord every day. She realizes that if she is to continue in all her work in the way that pleases God, she must continue to grow in Him each day.
Furthermore, the excellent wife knows that the strengthening herself daily in the Lord is not just so that she can perform the responsibilities of managing her home. As a child of God, she is also called to be strong in the faith, to withstand the devil, to go through sufferings and trials, to have her faith proven and perfected in this life so that she can stand before God in eternity. Thus, her daily devotion to Christ fortifies her to walk out the Christian life completely to the glory of God.
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” – 1 Peter 1:6-7
Her merchandise is profitable
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21
I’ve mentioned how industrious the excellent wife is before, but in this context, consider how profitable the treasures are that she stores in heaven. We know that the excellent wife diligently cares for her home and seeks to improve the life of her family. We know that God will bless the work of her hands. But where and how does it profit her?
Christ commands us to heap or store up treasures for ourselves on this earth because all of these things are temporary, and they can be destroyed or stolen from us. Instead, He commands us to store our treasures in heaven where they are guaranteed to be guarded and kept for us. So how does the excellent wife practically do this? The beginning of the chapter sets the tone to interpret this correctly:
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:1
There is always plenty of work for a wife to do in and around her home, and even for the body of Christ. What makes her excellent is that in all of the good she does, she does not do it for the praise, admiration, or accolades of any person. In all that she does, she does it in quiet obedience to God. She doesn’t need an applause. She doesn’t do it to be recognized or celebrated. Quietly and privately she does all that God commands her to do, and all of the fruit she bears is profitable for her because God counts all of her righteous acts as treasure in His kingdom. And He will reward her in due time. Thus, everything she does, the fruit she bears, the merchandise she produces is always profitable to her in the eyes of God. Even better, her labor is not in vain because she serves and honors One who sees all things. What joy!!!
Her lamp doesn’t go out at night
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” – Psalm 119:105
“My son, keep your father’s commandments, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you, and when you awake, they will talk with you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life” – Proverbs 6:20-23
According to the gospel of the Apostle John, we know Jesus Christ is the Light of the world and the Word. Thus, the Word is our light, our lamp. Oftentimes, I think that we fail to recognize that the Word of God is living and powerful, that it carries the same attributes and power of God Himself. His Word is Himself. Thus, when we cling to the Word, devote ourselves to studying the Word, meditating upon it, we do in fact devote ourselves more and more to God.
The excellent wife, devoted to the Lord, keeps the Word of God central in her life and home. It is the lamp and light of her entire life. How wisely does she trust in Him, and how even more faithful He is to her. There is not a stormy and dark situation that could ever extinguish the peace, joy, and life that has been given to her as a child of God. Truly, nothing can separate her from His love (Romans 8:38-39). How much of a comfort this is to any person, to know that as a child of God, He will prevail in your life and bring you to Himself? What a joy to know that the lamp of your life has an eternal and everlasting source in Christ alone!
All in all, I’ve found these two verses to be so encouraging and full of exhortation. An excellent wife is a woman who has daily commits and devotes herself to the Lord, and her life is sustained in Him alone. It is such a blessing to have your confidence in the Lord, and to know that He will keep and guide you every step of the way until you see Him face to face. I pray that you all have this blessed assurance and confidence in Christ alone.
“Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:27-31