The Proverbs 31 Husband

Proverbs 31 is a popular passage of Scripture that has been a favorite of women's ministries for a very long time. One famous women's ministry, Proverbs 31 Ministries headed by Lysa TerKeurst, has centered their ministry around this passage of Scripture. These women's ministries often focus on encouraging women to be like the strong, virtuous, and godly woman that is outlined in this passage of Scripture.

And that's all fine and good. We need that sorta stuff.

But, recently re-reading Proverbs 31, something caught my attention. Far from being a passage that is designed to encourage women on their character development, I have seen Proverbs 31 in a new light. Proverbs 31 is not about women encouraging women to live up to their potential so they can snag themselves a great Christian husband. Rather, Proverbs 31 is actually about encouraging men to not only seek out a virtuous woman as a wife, but is also instruction on how a husband should actually properly relate to his wife, and how he can help his wife in becoming the woman that God has called her to be.

And perhaps the word "encourage" is too weak of a word. It would be better to describe Proverbs 31 as a passage of Scripture that encourages men to "sing the praises" of their wives so loudly, that it actually transforms and liberates them into stepping into the full potential of their womanhood.

How do I arrive at such an interpretation?

Well, it's really very simple. We have to look at Proverbs 31 "in context." In very simple terms, this often means we look at what comes before the passage we are reading, then we look at the passage, and then we look at what follows immediately after it. It's kinda like a sandwich. You have a layer of bread, followed by some meat, and then another layer of bread. Let's look at Proverbs 31:10-31 (NASB):

10 An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.

11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good and not evil All the days of her life. 13 She looks for wool and flax And works with her hands in delight. 14 She is like merchant ships; She brings her food from afar. 15 She rises also while it is still night And gives food to her household And portions to her maidens. 16 She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17 She girds herself with strength And makes her arms strong. 18 She senses that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night. 19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hands grasp the spindle. 20 She extends her hand to the poor, And she stretches out her hands to the needy. 21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet. 22 She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies belts to the tradesmen. 25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future. 26 She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 27 She looks well to the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness.

28 Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying: 29 "Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all." 30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. 31 Give her the product of her hands, And let her works praise her in the gates.

If you notice, this passage begins and ends with words of praise. In verse 10 it starts with a man who has the ability to open up the eyes and lips of his heart to see and express what a precious treasure his wife is to him. Excellence is on his mind, and he sees his wife as being more precious than jewels. And the song he sings over his wife comes full circle in verses 28-31, with even his children joining in on singing the chorus of praise that flows from the lips of their father.

Such gives me the impression that the excellent woman described in between these two parts of the passage, isn't merely a woman who has earned the praise and adoration of her husband and children, because of the excellencies of all her virtues, and all the awesomeness she represents. Rather, as outstanding as this woman might be in her own right, the Proverbs 31 woman is a woman who is set free to flourish and blossom into everything that God has called her to be, due to the loving and nourishing praise that she began to receive long ago from her husband, and is a song that her children have learned to sing from him.

Singing the praises of mom has become their favorite family song. And this song that her husband and children sing have magnified the beauty of their mother. This song has become the wind beneath her wings, and has given her the ability to fly all the higher in life. Mom has been able to step up her game all the more because of the song they sing for her at home.

Looking at this passage of Scripture, I can't help but think of how this song written by this woman's husband and children has been something that pays dividends back into their lives. The family prospers because she prospers. And she prospers because they lift her up with their words.

The Proverbs 31 woman is as awesome as she is, because she has a Proverbs 31 husband. She has a man who can see her worth, and sing her praises. And the praises he gives concerning his wife help her to draw out the best in her, and to tap into her untapped potential. The best of her and her ability to be the blessing she is to her household, all starts with the generous praise heaped onto her by her husband.

Without these loving words, as awesome as she might be in her own right, this woman would be held back from being all that God called her to be. As Proverbs says elsewhere, "life and death are in the power of the tongue." If so, one might be so bold as to say that the Proverbs 31 woman can only exist if her husband sings her existence into being.

Who can find an excellent wife? The man that has eyes to see her, and to sing her into being through the power of his praise.

Praise your wife. Tell her how beautiful she is to you. Tell her how much she means to you. Tell you how much you cherish her. Build up your wife. Strengthen her. Empower her. Help her become what God would have her to become.

Stop looking for the Proverbs 31 wife. Create her.

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