Monday, June 24, 2013
Proverbs 31:10-31 Introduction, Part III
Learnin' your letters!
Back to that in a minute. Lemuel's mom sure gave him some good advice, didn't she? She warned him to stay away from sexual impurity, to make certain he exercised self-control, to take care of people who are hurting, and defend those who can't defend themselves, and to deal justly with everyone, great or small. Great advice to make a good king. A good man. A good Christian, in our time.
Her last piece of advice was a very important one: find a good wife. Understanding the implications of a bad one: boisterous, quarrelsome, self-centered, wicked, such as Jezebel, and realizing the influence she was bound to have upon his life, his mother encouraged Lemuel to find an excellent wife.
The woman she describes is the model, the ideal woman. Checking other translations we find her called "excellent," "noble," and "virtuous." She is described as being worth more than jewels.
Now, the rest of this chapter is such important advice that young Jewish men were encouraged to memorize it, to have uppermost in their minds the type of woman they would look for. In order to help them remember, a system was used that is not easily visible to us. There are twenty-two verses in this passage, and there are twenty-two characters in the Hebrew alphabet. Each of the verses begins with the next character in the sequence, in the Hebrew alphabet . . . it starts with aleph, bet, gimel, and so on, all the way through. The first letter of each of these proverbs is the next character in the sequence. That made it easy to memorize.....kinda like the things you do in school to remember things for a test, right? Well, every Jewish son could measure the excellence of a woman by these verses. Whew! There's a lot to live up to here!
Well, this kind of woman is a gift from God. Remember Proverbs 19:14?
Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.
I think all of us would prefer to be thought of in that way, rather than be like the harpies we mentioned last week, right? Well, we are going to learn about how to be like this ideal by looking at these six features: our characters as wives, our devotion as homemakers, our generosity as neighbors, our influence as teachers, our effectiveness as mothers, and our excellence as saints.
I am hoping that we (including me, especially!) will learn and grow in this study. Who will volunteer to bring the bandaids?