11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
We're diving in today, and the first image of the ideal wife is a character trait called "trustworthy." We'll look at verses 11, 12, and 23 for this one . . .
In the ancient world, even in Judaism, things were very different from today. Women were not always looked upon as God had planned for them to be looked upon, nor were they treated as He had planned for them to be treated. Often they were perceived to be second-class citizens.
Very often men built up close and strong friendships with other men; their wives were distanced from them, and often treated as servants. Some men didn't even maintain intimate relationships with their wives -- instead they kept them as serving staff, and had concubines for intimacy.
As a result, sometimes there was not an intimate relationship, the kind that leads to a feeling of trust. Instead of devotion, love, and trust, there was a feeling of "I had better lock things up when I go on my business trip next week."
So, the first thing in this passage is that this husband doesn't have to lock anything up when he is not right there, handy to supervise. He can trust his wife, because she won't do anything to harm his personal gain. He has a calm that comes when he thinks that she will never violate anything, never do anything that brings harm. He can completely trust in her; she will never threaten what he has gained for the support of the family.
This passage is talking about the complete trust that is built on their intimate relationship and her integrity, wisdom, and discretion -- in the use of his assets and in the care of his interests.
You see, his comfort is her concern, and his burdens are hers to relieve. He can be at peace when he is absent from the homeplace, because he knows that all he has is safe with her. Why? Because she cares for him, and he knows it. Way down deep, he knows. He knows that she would never do anything that would cause him sorrow, or pain, or suffering or stress. He is not worried, because she is absolutely trustworthy.
Now, that is a great foundation for a marriage!
So, Lemuel's mom says that with the help of this ideal wife, he will have no lack of gain. He's never going to come back home, and have to make back waht she loses. He will never have to cheat, or falsify an account, or steal, to gain a little more, to cover a loss, or to get back something that she wasted carelessly.
I found it interesting that the meaning of gain in ancient times was that of spoils from war . . . booty. It almost sounds like the wife is a warrior bringing home booty from her victories -- that she goes out and fights if she has to, to bring back what her family needs. She uses what her husband provides, to make certain her family has what they need.
It sounds to me, coupled with other verses in the chapter, that she is in charge of the domestic matters. She's in charge of not just using, but also for accounting for the resources in the home. The husband is free to give himself fully to his work, because he knows she will be a wise steward of all of the household accounts. She will manage the resources that the husband earns and provides, and help him to profit.
He has enough because she
is devoted to the care of his earnings because she loves him, because
she cares about him, because she seeks his good. And that's what comes
in verse 12; we will look at the next verse tomorrow: "She does him good and not evil
all the days of her life."