CSBC Sunday School: Proverbs Series
Lesson #11: Proverbs 31:10-16; 23-31
August 16, 2020
Resources: Phillips; Braddy; MacArthur; McCrary, B. Jennings, Explore the Bible
HOOK: (Why should we listen to this lesson?)
Central Theme: PURSUING VIRTUE!
Objective Statement: EVERY CHRISTIAN CAN PURSUE A VIRTUOUS LIFE BY OBSERVING AND IMITATING THE FOUR QUALITIES OF THE VIRTUOUS WOMAN!
Points: QUALITY #1 – COMMITTED TO HER HUSBAND! QUALITY #2 – WISE IN HER WORK! QUALITY #3 – REPUTABLE IN HER COMMUNITY! QUALITY #4 – HONORED BY HER FAMILY!
- FOCUS ATTENTION: CAN YOU DESCRIBE A PERSON WHO IS BOTH CREATIVE AND PRODUCTIVE? WHAT IS IT ABOUT THEIR CRAFT THAT IMPRESSES YOU? Allow for some discussion of this and see if there are some examples cited. We are impressed by people who are talented in skill but we value people who have virtue too.
- CONTEXT: Today we are going to consider the theme of a virtuous woman. In Proverbs 31 we are told little about the author of the chapter except that he identifies himself as King Lemuel. Beyond that, his identity remains a mystery. He credited his mother for the proverbs in this chapter (31:1). She presented him with three valuable instructions that he should put into practice as he reigned over his kingdom. First, she instructed him to avoid the temptation to use his power as a means to engage in immorality or to destroy another king. Second, she taught him to stay sober by insisting that alcohol would have a negative effect on the decisions he would make as the king. Third, she directed him to use his authority as king to speak up for powerless people and to seek justice for them (31:2-9). Lemuel also provided a “poem” about a wife of noble character. The wife in the story exhibited wisdom, foresight, initiative, and determination. She played a significant role in her husband’s good reputation. Because of the way she invested her life, she deserved to be respected as a Virtuous Woman (31:10-31).
- Let’s Explore the Bible in Proverbs 31:10-16; 23-31.
BOOK: (What does the Bible say?)
QUALITY #1 – COMMITTED TO HER HUSBAND! (Prov. 31:10-12)
- Verse 10 of our text introduces us to a “virtuous woman” who is hard to find. A wise husband who experiences the blessing that comes by having such a woman in his life considers himself to be the most fortunate. IF WE CONSIDER A PERSON WHO IS VIRTUOUS, WHAT CHARACTER QUALITIES DO YOU THINK THEY POSSESS? Well, things like goodness, intelligence, foresight, devotion, resolve, hard work, etc. For that reason, this woman of virtuous nobility is compared to the most “precious” gemstones anyone could find. They are rare; she is too. When the comparison has been completed, she’s found to be worth more than jewels like “rubies,” diamonds, or pearls. In other words, she’s priceless. Ruth served as an O. T. example of a woman who had distinguished herself by her character. Boaz used the same Heb. word for “virtuous” in his description of Ruth (Ruth 3:11).
- In verses 11-12 a noble wife’s devotion to her husband has a lasting effect on him. His “heart” places complete confidence in her, and he harbors nothing but enduring faith in her. The virtuous woman is committed to her husband. WHAT DO WE SEE IN VS. 11-12 THAT WOULD LEAD US TO THAT CONCLUSION? The verses tell us the “husband doth safely trust in her” which means he can confidently and wisely put his trust in this virtuous wife. When it says he has “no need of spoil” it means that she contributes to the home in such a way that it helps him in his provision for the family. The Heb. word for “spoil” brings to mind the plunder that a victorious army would bring home after the battle. All those riches would be his. But in this case, there is no need for him to go to battle. Because of his wife’s commitment to their marriage, he doesn’t lack for anything. He also knows that his wife will be faithful for a lifetime ( 12). Her character and reputation warrant trust, which confirms the notion that her husband never needs to worry about her doing him any harm.
QUALITY #2 – WISE IN HER WORK! (Prov. 31:13-16)
- In these verses, we 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 13 we see her using raw textiles to create things with her hands. In vs. 14 we see her willing to go the extra mile to make meals the best they can be. She would provide for her family food that came from “afar.” In vs. 15 we see her getting up extra early to accomplish what she needs to do that day. She is preparing and presenting food to her entire household. (How are you doing so far ladies?) In vs. 16 we see her making a purchase because of the extra income that she had made from her work. What she purchases is not something of a 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 do what she needs to do to see her investment grow. Solomon had warned God’s people to abhor laziness and to embrace industry (Prov. 6:6-11). A lazy person with no initiative would sleep well into the morning. A woman with a noble character would be industrious and successful and never be accused of being lazy. This wonderful wife is also concerned about the people around her besides her family; as she gives “a portion to her maidens” (vs. 15c). These would be those who served in her house and she made sure they had food and extras to meet their needs.
QUALITY #3 – REPUTABLE IN HER COMMUNITY! (Prov. 31:23-26)
- There is a third quality of the virtuous woman revealed in these verses, as she has a wonderful reputation in her community. Her success provides another positive effect on her husband. In 23, “Her husband is known in the gates” which is an interesting reference. In ancient Israel, walls protected a city. The “gates” built into the walls provided people with access to the city, and they served another important function too. A city gate served as the location where men would gather to conduct business and attend to legal issues. The husband of a woman of noble character would have a superb reputation there. Because of her, he would be considered one of the wise “elders” of the city whom everyone respected. CAN YOU THINK OF OTHER BIBLICAL EXAMPLES OF MEN SITTING IN THE GATE BECAUSE THEY WERE “ELDERS” GETTING OR GIVING JUDGMENTS? Well, LOT sat in the gate of Sodom (Gen. 19:1). BOAZ went to the city gate as the Kinsman Redeemer (Ruth 4). ABSOLOM stole away the hearts of the people while sitting in the gate (2 Sam. 15:2-6); etc. Merchants made their living by buying, selling, and trading merchandise from different parts of their world. Vs. 24 tells us this woman of character does business with merchants and they value her quality of work. It is clear from the context that these exchanges are an on-going business relationship. Vs. 25 states that her attire consists of more than just clothing. She also wears the traits of “strength and honour” that everyone takes notice of because of her character. Because of these traits, she faces the uncertainties of the “time to come” with stalwart determination. There is nothing that will rob her of the blessings and she “shall rejoice” in those future successes. Vs. 26 states that she is known as a person whose speech is wise and kind. What a wonderful combination. This godly woman chooses her words carefully and is always sensitive about other people’s feelings. She even gives the “law” with a kind spirit.
QUALITY #4 – HONORED BY HER FAMILY! (Prov. 31:27-31)
- “She looketh well to the ways of her household,” and she never takes a break when it comes to caring for her family or attending to her other responsibilities ( 27a). One thing’s for sure, she is not lazy as she, “eateth not the bread of idleness” (vs. 27b). The reputation this noble wife gains for her husband fills her heart with joy. But one of the most rewarding things this virtuous woman experience is the affirmations her “children” give her because of her investment in their lives. They shower her with an appreciation for enriching their lives. The “children arise up, and call her blessed” (vs. 28a). Part of the high praise offered to this wife and mother is the declaration that she is the best woman in the world. She is a rarity! She surpasses “them all” (vs. 29). Vs. 30 states that this woman receives honor from the way she honors the Lord. Many people spend their time wanting to be merely externally beautiful and popular but they are working towards the wrong goal. Popularity disappears. Beauty fades. The real goal of a godly woman is she “feareth the Lord,” (vs. 30b) and as a result, “she shall be praised.” That kind of quality will never fade. Vs. 31 speaks to the issue of a life of devotion to the Lord renders a reputation that brings honor. This is a form of meritocracy or the truth of what you sow you will inevitably reap. President Abraham Lincoln said it this way: “I always thought the man that made the corn should eat the corn.” So our example of the virtuous woman should enjoy the fruits of her labor and live off of her own productivity. Her own works will be what she is known for, especially in places of prominence.
LOOK: (Why is what it says important?)
Objective Statement (Repeated): EVERY CHRISTIAN CAN PURSUE A VIRTUOUS LIFE BY IMITATING THE FOUR QUALITIES OF THE VIRTUOUS WOMAN WE EXAMINED TODAY!
- WHAT QUALITIES OF THE VIRTUOUS WOMAN WE EXAMINED TODAY MOST IMPACTED YOUR THOUGHTS? WHAT WAS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU? Allow for opportunities for people to respond.
- CONSIDER THESE SUMMARY STATEMENTS ABOUT CHRISTIANS WHO FAITHFULLY DEMONSTRATE GOD’S WISDOM IN THEIR LIVES. Christians are to honor their marriage commitments. 2. Christians are to wisely provide for the needs of their family. 3. Christians are to use their influence for the sake of the Gospel. 4. Christians are to honor God with their lives.
TOOK: (Why is it important to me? What should I do with it?)
Evaluation: This week, try to honor and encourage godly women in your life! A virtuous wife was honored by her husband, children, and others. As you reexamine Prov. 31:28-32 consider offering verbal praise and words of encouragement, personal rewards for excellence, and public displays of boasting toward the woman you want to honor. Let them know you value and respect her as a wonderful and faithful woman of God. It will be an encouragement to them to hear those words of praise and affirmation.
In preparation for our next Bible Study please read Song of Solomon (Songs) 2:15-3:5.