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Proverbs 31 [Not written to women]

Discussion in 'Women's Fellowship Forum' started by Scarlett O., Nov 22, 2016.

  1. Scarlett O.

    Scarlett O. Well-Known Member
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    THE PROVERBS 31 WOMAN – The Truth About This Scripture

    [Brace yourself, I’m about to challenge your thinking.]

    Have you ever read Proverbs 31:10-31 and felt you didn’t measure up to this super PERFECT wife whose mindset is only on domestic skills? Maybe you aren’t even married. Maybe you are. Maybe you don’t have children. Maybe you do. Maybe you don’t make clothes on a loom. Maybe you don’t purchase real estate. Maybe you don’t sail the seven seas to find food for your family. Maybe you don’t have servants. Maybe you don’t own a vineyard … or even a tomato patch. Maybe you can’t even grow a tumbleweed!

    Maybe you have turned this passage [or more than likely someone did it for you] into a laundry list of what Christian women are supposed to be doing with their lives every day to prove their worth as women.

    And maybe ….well, maybe you are reading it all wrong. Maybe we all have been taught the wrong message.

    Proverbs 31 – the entirety of it - is scripture and is inspired like everything else in God's Word - so it should be a positive thing and a sacred thing.

    But I think what happens with Proverbs 31 is that people don't stop to think this was written to MEN, not women. This was the counsel of King Lemuel's mother to him in becoming the kingly leader that God wants him to be. Some Bible scholars say that King Lemuel was Bathsheba’s pet name for Solomon. I don’t know. I haven’t found any concrete proof of that. But whoever this King Lemuel was, the WHOLE of Proverbs 31 is training him to alter his mindset about what makes a great leader and how he should behave and what kind of woman he should find himself looking for and the intrinsic value of women.

    She even starts out by saying to her son THREE TIMES, “What are you doing???

    No one ever starts at verse 1, they always start at verse 10 - why IS that? So much is missed.

    Here is her counsel to him beginning in verse 1 after she asks him three times what is he doing with his life:

    • Don't marry for the wrong reasons and/or don't have relationships with women for the wrong reasons and/or don’t have relationships with women only distract you from what it important; those types of relationships with women will destroy your leadership. I think we all know that what’s talking about. She even tells him later in the description of wife he should seek that – “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”

    • Stay sober – literally abstain from drunkenness - or your leadership will become perverted.

    • Rule justly and defend the poor and oppressed.

    • Choose a wife carefully - look for qualities of strength, honor, initiative, hard work, someone who fears the LORD, and someone other people look up to and praise.

    Proverbs 31 is not a job description for women or a definition of chores for wives. And when you turn this passage into a checklist for wives and women, it becomes an impossible goal to attain.

    Can women learn something from Proverbs 31? Yes. It’s a picture of how Wisdom lives – Wisdom being one of the tenets presented as greatly desired in Proverbs. This “woman” is a metaphor for the ideal mindset and heart of valor of women.

    So you don’t have kids? You can still learn from this metaphorical woman. And you don’t have to sew your own clothes or grow crops in the field to embody her work ethic.

    Teach this passage to your SONS – from verse ONE – it’s who the passage was intended for in the first place. It’s teaching a young man how to BE a man and what is of value in a woman.

    And we as women should embrace the worth and value and principles of the Proverbs 31 woman – even if not the literal chores. For example: I can't sew - I've tried - it's terrible! I don't deal in real estate.

    If we try to make her the literal ideal – we ALL fail as women. So let’s make her what she is – the metaphorical ideal of the heart, mind, and character of Godly women – teaching us what’s important and what isn’t.

    So stop trying to imitate her daily tasks. Instead, imitate her character - the daily tasks for all of us are so different because we ARE all so different and in different places in our lives. But our character as Christian women should be the same - we should all reflect Christ.
     
  2. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell Well-Known Member
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    Scarlett I think the world of you but you just have to know that these qualities that describe "The woman who fears the Lord" are in fact qualities that many many women have and hold on to regularly. They likely do not to them perfectly all the time but the bigger picture of their lives show them quite faithful to these principles. I know many of them.
     
  3. Scarlett O.

    Scarlett O. Well-Known Member
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    Which qualities are you specifically referring to?

    I am referring to the generic qualities of strong work ethic, fear of the Lord, and initiative that are to be prized and not the specific weaving on the loom and crossing the sea to buy food and rising while it is still dark.
     
  4. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell Well-Known Member
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    Weaving of the loom no, taking care of the house, being a necessary help meet for the husband yes.
     
  5. Jimbo6825

    Jimbo6825 New Member

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    Proverbs 30 and 31 are different from the rest of Proverbs in their style, but continue in their quest of providing Wisdom for the follower of God. Many of the older commentaries mention that Proverbs 31 vss. 10-31 (typically referred to as the Proverbs 31 woman) were a previously written article that was included by the Holy Spirit not to stand alone, but to be considered with the entire proverb together.



    In Proverbs 31:1-9 in, two admonitions to avoid are given and are followed by those examples being played out in their negative effects in the battle for the mind of the believer.



    Proverbs 31 suggests for the follower of God, not to give yourselves to that which destroys kings and two examples are given. It is provided in the acrostic form, A B B A. Do not give your strength to women is A, followed by B, It is not for kings to drink wine, nor intoxicating drink. B is answered first in Vss. 4-9, and then A is exampled in vss. 10-31.



    The initial premise, not to give your ways to that which destroys kings follows with two negative examples of how that admonition would impact the mind of the king, or prince. Giving a controlling impact upon your mind by “drinking strong drink”, would effectively keep the follower of God from finding God’s will for their life.



    Giving a controlling impact upon your mind by “following after women” would effectively keep the follower of God from finding God’s will for their life. It is understood here that King Lemuel is Solomon himself, and that his mother Bathsheba is giving him instruction. While this interpretation is not required for the understanding of this portion of Scripture, it is for the ease of discussion. Other views of the identity of the king and his mother do not affect the relationship of these portions of Scripture.



    Solomon is given instruction in Two (2) and only Two (2) areas in Proverbs 31, (both of which it must be added he failed in miserably.) He was told not to give his strength to women, and not to give his ways to that which destroys kings. Now the second admonition is discussed first. Vss. 4-5 make it clear that “nor your ways to that which destroys kings” is exampled in the utilization of alcohol. Vss. 6-9 go further in explaining the point.



    According to vss. 4 & 5 strong drink causes you to forget the law, and to pervert justice. If we are to Walk with Him, we should avoid the use of alcohol. While there are many situations in life, many choices, it must be realized that to the extent we utilize alcohol, to that same extent we are kept from assigning our full attentiveness to the adherence of His Word.



    [It has always been difficult to provide hard proof to a questioner if the drinking of alcohol is prohibited in Scripture. One must come to the conclusion that from the New Testament, its use is not prohibited, but only limited. In this understanding of Proverbs 31 we do find a prohibition for the use of alcohol. One cannot be filled with the Spirit and filled with intoxicating drink and still be diligent in obeying His Word]



    Another reason for given for avoiding strong drink is provided in vss. 8 & 9. The king, the prince, and for our example, “the believer”, must open his mouth for the speechless, in the cause of all who are appointed to die. For our purposes today, that is all of the unbelievers around us. We are encouraged to open our mouths, to plead their cause. Hopefully bringing them to a relationship with Christ, or at least to be a proper “witness” to them.



    So the second admonition was not to give “our” ways to that which destroys kings. The example is given in the use of alcohol, but it could be any of many ways that we are pulled aside from following Him.



    Proverbs is full of admonitions to avoid those things which might diminish our strength from following Him. Idolatry, and the immoral woman are examples of ways that our hearts can be so easily redirected. The immoral woman is given as exampling our propensity for spiritual adultery more than physical adultery, which is in actuality just idolatry in its finer clothing.



    Just like the example in “strong drink”, those things that crowd out Scripture, or pull our attentions away from our responsibility to follow the Spirit are all brought into focus.



    Now lets look at the first admonition. Vs. 3 Do not give your strength to women,



    What is it about “giving your strength” to women that can cause difficulties in this area? What is there about women that Scriptures warns can draw a man away from God? Solomon perfectly showed us through his collection of 700 wives and 300 concubines, (I Kings 11:3) that his attention was elsewhere and not centered on the admonitions of Proverbs 30.



    Notice that the area of giving our strength to women is in the area of finding the “perfect” homemaker. Out of propriety scripture does not even go further into the stronger example in the area of sexuality, and we have in scripture how this affected Solomon with his wives and concubines.



    It is easy to let things creep into our lives that cause us to give undo attention to them. It might not be women, it might be golf, or our job, or our ambitions. Anything that might draw our attentions away from following God’s words.



    Vss. 6-9 gave us understanding of how strong drink might hinder our “Walking with God”



    Vss. 10-30 give us understanding of how “giving our strength to women” might hinder our “Walking with God” When our expectations for a wife are given free reign in our minds, there is no way to satisfy that extreme of the “perfect” woman. The “older” commentaries mention that verses 10-31 were probably being quoted from an already available acrostic poem. In this case drawing that poem into this discussion to provide the explanation.



    Seeing Proverbs 31:10-31 in the primary context of the two warnings given to Solomon, NOT to give his strength to other things; with women and alcohol given as examples, shows how easily our minds can be led astray from following God’s admonitions for us in scripture. It also makes it clear that vss. 10-31 were never given as the description of the perfect wife.



    Each wife given by God has unique giftedness, but not ALL giftedness. Each of us have strengths and abilities which will reach the greatest effectiveness when submitted to the Spirit of God and to His Word. The true Woman of God are given in vss, 30b, and 31, “But a woman who fears the LORd, she shall be praised. 31.Give here the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise here in the gates”
     
  6. Jimbo6825

    Jimbo6825 New Member

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    I appreciate any comments.
     
  7. kdm1984

    kdm1984 New Member

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    I've never found Proverbs 31 in an of itself to be a particular stumbling block.

    Nonetheless, the abstract idea of the "perfect domestic" has often been carried to excess by some groups and some men, who may use this or other Scriptural passages (Titus 2, Titus 2 anyone!!!) in "support" of preconceived notions of what Biblical womanhood supposedly is, and causing some women who may not fit these kinds of templates exactly to end up (not surprisingly) very insecure in their femininity (*raises hand*).

    The 1950s June Cleaver trope is one such example often used, especially among the Reformed patriarchal camp. When a secular, imaginary character dressed up in pearls becomes the "Biblical" example for women to follow, I do believe distortion has occurred. Let's go back to what the Bible actually says and not run with it, yes? How about Mary and Martha? Martha would be the seeming "perfect domestic," but did not her excessive devotion such concerns become a distraction from more spiritual matters, to which Mary rightfully attended?

    It got to such an extent among some Reformed patriarchals that they began using Myers-Briggs types as classifications for which women were supposedly better housewife types than others. ENFJ and ISFJ were favorites. There was debate as to whether I was INTP or ENTP, neither of which are preferred housewife types, though my penchant for wanting to understand Truth via apologetics was at times encouraged. But in the end, I just ended up insecure because I wasn't ENFJ or ISFJ (even though I have good housecleaning skills; cooking, not so much). There was far too much emphasis on the domestic sphere, IMO, and not enough on other matters. Perhaps this was in reaction to the modern feminist movement, which wants to foolishly obliterate all traditional female roles, but even if so, that's still not an excuse to stray from moderation.

    All to say, this area needs to be handled with the utmost spiritual wisdom and caution. It's so easy for any of this to get out of hand. The independent Baptist church I go to has not shown any signs of "June Cleaverism," and for that I'm thankful.
     
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