Which Lady of Proverbs Are You?
The book of Proverbs is full of wise sayings on many respects. The difference between the foolish and the wise, the peril of trusting in riches, and how to use one’s tongue for good are just a few of the topics covered in the book. The overall theme of Proverbs is of course, wisdom. Not wisdom of the world but wisdom according to God’s Word as is mentioned throughout the book (“the fear of the Lord…” – Proverbs 1:7; 9:10; 14:27; 19:23; 23:17). Proverbs 8 portrays wisdom crying out, “Listen, for I will speak of excellent things, and from the opening of my lips will come right things; for my mouth will speak truth” (Proverbs 8:6-7). The book implies that there are two “ladies” calling out to us throughout our lives. One is from God, lady wisdom whose words are righteousness (Proverbs 8:35). The other is from the evil one, the immoral woman whose words cast one down to hell (literally, Sheol, where the wicked dead await, Proverbs 7:27). All women will give ear to one of these “ladies”; the decision made will determine their fate. One will lead us down the path to true life, while the other leads us down the path to death. The question every Christian woman must ask herself is which type of woman portrayed in the book of Proverbs is she – the sinful woman (Proverbs 7) or the virtuous woman (Proverbs 31)?
“With her enticing speech she caused him to yield, with her flattering lips she seduced him” (Proverbs 7:21). The immoral woman of chapter 7 is described in such terms as “loud”, “rebellious”, and “crafty”. She is devoid of understanding and draws simple men down her path. Her clothing is that of a harlot (Proverbs 7:10). She is not concerned about being modest with a “gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4). She would rather draw ungodly attention to herself and look enticing to men than pleasing to her Maker (1 Timothy 2:9-10). She has a crafty heart and feet that “would not stay at home” (Proverbs 7:11). This woman does not spend precious time studying God’s Word, but spends her days out and about concerned with materialistic fineries, like “tapestries, fine linens, perfume, and ointments” (Proverbs 7:16-17). For her, the home is not a sanctuary shared by her husband and herself where each shows love and respect to the other, but a place where she may hide her sins and even invite strangers to her bed when her husband is away (Proverbs 7:19; Titus 2:4-5; Ephesians 5:22-33). She uses her “impudent” (shameless) face to seduce others with “flattering lips” (Proverbs 7:13, 21). She is not a shamefaced woman, nor one who uses her mouth for kindness and truth. She flirts with men to build up her self-confidence rather than putting her confidence in the Lord as a person created in His image (Proverbs 3:26; Genesis 1:27). She “pays her vows” and “peace offerings” (Proverbs 7:14; Leviticus 3). To others she may seem religious as she always attends the worship assemblies and gives lip service to God, but her “heart is far from Him” (Isaiah 29:13). She looks righteous on the outside, but inside she is “full of dead men’s bones” (Matthew 23:27). This woman offers sacrifices to please men than give God the sacrifices of a “broken and contrite heart” (Psalms 51:17), faith (Philippians 2:17), praise (Hebrews 13:15), and her body as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). This woman seems like she has it all with the world at her fingertips, but she has forgotten the most important thing in this life: “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all; for God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
In stark contrast to the former, the book of Proverbs paints a picture of the virtuous woman in its last chapter. This wise lady is chaste and upright in character. Her husband has no reason to doubt her or suspect her of any sinful activity (Proverbs 31:11). She makes sure to have the proper clothing for herself as well as her household (Proverbs 31:21, 22). Wisdom is exhibited by this woman as she shows concern for others and upholding honor rather than her own appearance or pleasures (Proverbs 31:25). This lady is attractive, not necessarily for her physical appearance, but more importantly for her “strength”, “honor”, “wisdom”, and “kindness” (Proverbs 31:25-26). She remembers that “beauty is passing” and God cherishes the “incorruptible beauty of the heart” (Proverbs 31:30; 1 Peter 3:4). Being a homemaker is her first priority (Titus 2:5). She does not feel unfulfilled by her domestic responsibilities, nor does she regret having children. This wise woman knows that one’s house must be built upon God’s foundation and children are a blessing to that home (Psalms 127:1, 3-5). She submits to her husband as the Lord commands and others see them as “heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:1, 7; Proverbs 31:23). This woman “seeks”, “works”, “considers”, and “provides” the physical necessities of life so that the spiritual necessities can be number one in her family’s life (Proverbs 31:13-16). She is a doer of good and not evil to her whole family (Proverbs 31:12, 27). Her kindness does not stop with her household but extends to neighbors and people in need (Proverbs 31:15, 20). This lady is the essence of “good works” (Titus 2:14, 3:8). She does not spend countless hours or idle time on Facebook, Twitter, etc., taking selfies, or playing Internet games because she is busy “watching over the ways of her household” and doing the work of the Lord (Proverbs 31:27; 1 Corinthians 15:58). The virtuous woman has true wisdom because she “fears the Lord” (Proverbs 31:30; 23:17; 16:6). She is not a “Sunday-only Christian”. Her Christianity is a way of life, a life that was changed by the grace of God when she submitted to Christ in faithful obedience (Ephesians 2:1-10; Titus 2:11-13; Galatians 3:26-28). She is the same every day of the week as she strives to live according to God’s Word both in public and private life (1 John 1:7-2:5; 1 Peter 2:12). This woman may not be wealthy or popular according to the world and she may suffer persecution for her stand for what is right. But she really does have it all, for she has remembered the most important things in life and her Maker will not fail to remember “the fruit of her hands” (Proverbs 31:31).
Many women throughout the ages have succumbed to the foolish woman’s voice, but at the same time, there have been countless others who heeded wisdom’s precepts. Among the foolish women who stand out in God’s Word: Athaliah (2 Chronicles 24:7), Jezebel (1 Kings 18:13; 19:2), and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-10). Little is known about these women except for their wickedness. They may have been hard workers, eloquent with words, or successful in secular endeavors, but God records their true character. Thus, we remember them as fools who in the end destroyed themselves (Proverbs 1:25-32). The wise women who feared the Lord include Sarah (1 Peter 3:5-6), Ruth (Ruth 1:16-17), Phoebe (Romans 16:1-2), Priscilla (Acts 18:26). These are remembered for their submission, virtue, service, and teaching. Like the former women, these women were not sinlessly perfect, but they knew there was a God bigger than themselves and they wisely trusted/obeyed Him. One day we will pass from this life, and we will be remembered for our foolishness or for our wisdom. As virtuous women, may our lives reflect that we are Christ’s followers.
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