A Virtuous Woman - Proverbs 31. 10-31
E W Humphreys, London
Our contributor shows that when the mother of Lemuel delineated for her royal son the characteristics of the ideal wife, she, unwittingly no doubt, pictured the pure bride of the King of Glory.
In the Book of Proverbs and also in the Book of the Revelation we have brought before us two typical women. In Proverbs 7 we have the strange woman who, while the goodman was absent, seduced with flattering words those who passed by. She corresponds to the Mother of Abominations of Rev. 17, and both prefigure the apostate Christendom which is so much in evidence to-day. Then in Rev. 19 we see the Bride of the Lamb, the Church of Christ, which is also set forth in the virtuous woman on the portion under consideration.
In these twenty-two verses (which are alphabetical in the Hebrew) there are many details which describe, not merely a model wife, but also that highly privileged company, which is being called out in this dispensation of wonderful grace to share for eternity the glory and the affection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Her Price. We note first in v. 10 that her price is far above rubies. Who can measure the infinitude of the price paid in order that the Bride might belong to Christ? “Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for it” (Eph. 5. 25). Even He, the Creator and Possessor of numberless worlds, could not give more, and He did not give less. Bearing His cross, He went forth to the place of a skull (John 19. 17), there to yield Himself completely and without reserve to the wrath of a sin-hating God in order that He might be able to say, “I have redeemed thee, thou art Mine” (Isa. 43. 1). He was the Merchant-man seeking goodly pearls, who when He had found one of great price, gave all that He had in order that He might possess it. The Church is the Lord’s especial treasure, His “purchased possession” (Eph. 1. 14), and little do we realise the value He has put upon her.
Her Interest. “She will do him good” (v. 12). It is the concern of the members of that Church to live for the pleasure of the One who has made them His. For them, life is nothing apart from Him. They live in Him, on Him, for Him, like Him, and soon they will live with Him. To His members He is the Chief among the tens of the thousands (Song 5. 10), and to Him they are ready to present their bodies as living sacrifices in order that He might have His portion from their redeemed lives. How deeply He appreciates the little good that we can do Him. “I am my Beloved’s and His desire is toward me” (Song 7. 10). Surely that desire of His shall not go unanswered by our failure to do Him good.
Her Industry. It is refreshing to note in v. 27 that “she eateth not the bread of idleness.” It is night time (vv. 15 and 18), but for her it is no time for sleep or indolence. This activity on her part is seen operating on behalf of two companies, the members of her household (vv. 15 and 27) and also the poor and needy (v. 20). As regards her household, and here we see the local assembly, she exercises care to ensure that a constant supply of spiritual food is to hand for their nourishment and growth (v. 15). It is arranged that those who are gifted to teach have constant opportunity to expound the Word at Bible readings and gatherings for ministry in order that the household may be fed. The young of that household will be so well catered for in this matter that it will be unnecessary for them, as it was for Ruth, to go into any other field to glean (Ruth 2. 8), that is, they will get their “meat” and their “portion” from scripturally gathered assemblies. Happy is that church that looks well to the ways of its household (v. 27) in the matters of visiting the sick and backsliding members and of caring for those who have become impoverished.
Not only does she attend to the needs of her household, but the healthy assembly stretches out her hands to the poor and needy without (v. 20). She has the salvation of the lost at heart. “Her candle goeth not out by night” (v. 18). She is a light set upon a hill of whom it can be said as it was of Thessalonica, “From you sounded out the word of the Lord” (1 Thess. 1. 8). May the Lord help us as assemblies of His people, to let our lights so be shining in the pitchy dark night around us, that many of the poor and needy may be drawn to Him.
Her Clothing. The word translated “silk” in v. 22 should read “fine linen.” Reference to an analytical concordance will show that this is the only place where it is rendered “silk,” and that it is the same Hebrew word as is repeatedly translated “fine twined linen” in Exodus and Leviticus. This takes our thoughts to Rev. 19. 8, where we learn that it represents the righteousness of the saints. We are weaving here below the wedding trousseau in which we shall appear up yonder. All that is of Christ in our walk on earth will shine out as fine linen on that nuptial day. The acts of kindness, the injuries patiently borne, the meek and lowly disposition, the prayers and gifts, the spending and being spent for Him; all will be remembered then, and as fine linen will beautify the Bride in the day of her espousals.
Her Future. “She shall rejoice in time to come” (v. 25). This reads literally, “She smiles at the coming day.” What a day it will be when heaven shall go into an ecstasy of joy, and break forth into Hallelujahs because that after all her wilderness experiences the Bride will be Home at last. Oh! the joys upon joys that will be ours in that soon-coming moment when we see His face. The Lord will soon be back and then farewell for ever to sin, suffering, disappointments, regrets, partings, death, and many other ills. Then the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory shall shrivel up in a moment the light affliction of this present little while. When our blessed Lord shall look upon His Church, each member perfect and displaying His likeness, without any suggestion of spot or blemish, without a single member missing, He shall look back to the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied. We, too, shall be satisfied when we awake with His likeness. Yes, she shall rejoice in time to come.
“Oh, the blessed joy of meeting All the desert past;
Oh, the wondrous words of greeting He shall speak at last.
He and I in that bright glory One deep joy shall share,
Mine to be for ever with Him,
His that I am there.”