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.
Today's study centers on verse 23.
Lemuel's mom is noting that he is known as her husband, and that his reputation is known, far and wide. Kinda like in a small town -- "everybody knows you."
Here is some background on what she is telling her son . . . In ancient cities, just inside the gates of the city you would find a platform. It was similar to a patio or courtyard area, and the elders and important men of the city would gather there every day to talk. They would treat this area as an open court -- perhaps a little less formal than an official court, but still significant in the life of the city. They would hear the matters that came up in the city; disputes would be decided by hearing both sides of the issue. Business was carried out in these casual forums, as well.
So, the elders of the city and the mature men of the city -- those of good reputation, of wisdom and discernment -- would sit in this place to render judgement and witness transactions.
Here is the point that the queen is making: the husband of this ideal woman has a great reputation among the leaders of the city, and it is a reputation that is basically built by his wife. She is so trustworthy to the duties of her love for him, that he is free to be the best man that he can be, and so he develops a tremendous reputation. That reputations is built on the foundation she has laid, by doing everything she can, to make him everything he ought to be.
How is she doing this? She is gently contributing to his spiritual development. She's also contributing to the clarity with which he sees all of the issues of life. She is granting him the wisdom and discernment with which God gifts her; quietly passing along the knowledge she has gained about God and about His word. She serves him and cares for the things in the background; she takes care of the behind the scenes "stuff" so that he is free to be everything that God has wanted and planned for him to be. The community benefits from him, and he is known as a man of great respect because of what she does selflessly for him.
Also, you can be assured that this woman (and we should as well) has done all that she can verbally to build his reputation -- never anything that would tear it down. What does she gain by tearing down his reputation? Nothing. If the other people in the community have less respect for him, then they will also have less respect for her. Why? Because she speaks evil of her husband, and because he chose someone who didn't have "the right stuff" to help him to become all that he could be!
So now in these three verses we see the wifely character that we need to strive for. Trustworthy character enables our husbands to totally trust us in the careful management of everything that is important to the family. Trustworthy character is what helps us do our husbands good and not evil all our lives long. And trustworthy character is what helps our husbands have sterling reputations in the church and the community.
And single ladies? I haven't forgotten about you. You may not have a husband to care for at this time, but you can still show trustworthy character to our Lord. Service to Him in wise, careful management of all He has given you is surely just as important as the wifely duties we've discussed. And making sure that you (and the people around you) speak well and not evil of Godly things and of our Lord, is every bit as important as a wife who is careful not to tear down the reputation of her husband.
I believe there is something here for all of us!