The Virtuous Woman
A devotional commentary
Walk about Zion..Tell The Towers Thereof...
Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. Proverbs 31:25
Ayin = an eye, hence vision, sight, and that which is in view. By analogy, something which is in the centre of a view or landscape, as a fountain or well. In Genesis 24, seven times is the word for 'eye' used for the well where Rebekah and Eliezer met.—Rebekah's eye for the water of life,—Ruth's eye for the grains of corn, each come to the attention of the Lord and His servants.
Blessed Assurance. She lives in the sight of that Lord who seeth not as man. She glories not in appearance, but in the view of those holy eyes of divine compassion and tender understanding of the materials in which He works. He knows her frame, knows His power, and how to use the weakness of the one to exhibit the sufficiency and glory of the other. It is this blessed reality that forms the ground of her confident assurance. In vain will her accusers point with finger of guilt at sins now past. With blood of Lamb upon the mercy seat, who is he that can condemn? He Who once died on her behalf will not now say His death was all in vain. She thus has full assurance of understanding (Colossians 2:2), of hope (Hebrews 6:11), of faith (Heb.10:22). Her strength and honour is not of flesh, but of a mind at rest with God. She is clothed with the calm serenity and poise of a child of God.
Apprehensions of Joy. Rebekah Had An eye to the journey's end. Forgetting the things behind, she reached forth to what lies before, where Christ is waiting at God's right hand. The NASB says, "she smiles at the future". When saints smile regardless of surrounds, a moment of translation may be assumed. The woman's life is dominated by hope, and hope brings forth its joy by anticipation. Her apprehension is of bliss which is yet to be, a laying hold now on the blessings of then. Rebekah's fond anticipations were not just hers alone, for they were shared by One awaiting that same bliss. The woman's smile is His smile too. The very name, Isaac, means "laughter," and in it lies the joy of countless hearts and ages yet to be. She cannot yet measure the divine immeasurables, nor yet can she know the boundaries of the love of Christ, nor comprehend that joy unspeakable with glory full, but her eye is on that goal.
At His Right Hand...Pleasures Forevermore
She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. Proverbs 31:26
Pe = a mouth, linked with speech (from root, 'to blow'). Means of expression of thought, hence, in consecration, an important member, not easily controlled. In some passages mouth may represent the edge of a sword. (Compare Revelation 1:16.) Personal expression of the will and mind, ‑ "We will call the damsel, and enquire at her mouth." (Genesis 24:57.)
Precepts of Gold. Her prayer, that the hand of the Lord be upon her, that she open not her lips save when prompted and empowered by her Lord. (Ezekiel 3:26,27; Psalm 51:15.) She knows well the frailty of this member, for by nature, her lips are unclean. (Isaiah 6:5.) Yet she dwells in the presence of One Whose Name is Holy. The Lord understands her plight. It is He Who directs the seraphim to take the live coal from the holy altar of God to touch human lips. Those lips now are His, part of the acceptable offering of love. The source of cleansing becomes the source of utterance. He is made unto her Wisdom. The Spirit tells her what and how to speak, and heaven's wisdom graces now her mouth. The words, they are not hers, but His. ‑ Expressions of a treasure deep within, not empty, never shallow, insincere. The very spirit of the Mind that brings them forth controls her tongue, enriches speech. Thus words of heaven's fountain pass her lips, to bring refreshing to the weary soul, and to the weeping hope. Men wondered at His gracious words, and still they speak through those whose lips He moves. The gift of wisdom from above bypassing many prudent minds, engraces now the lips of babes. Yet was it dearly sought by many prayers and earnest seeking of the Word as for hid treasure. And when HE saw the thirsting ready mind, the Lord Who answered Solomon's request, His gold bequeathed.
Pictures of Silver. What is of herself has little worth. What is of Him has great worth. Divine oracles are as nuggets of gold. They are imperishable, and can never fail. But more than knowledge does the Lord desire. In inward parts He seeks the genuine reality called Truth. Light is sent forth for righteous hearts. For these alone its gladness is reserved. How beautifully does that wisdom shine, nor ever fosters pride, but full of mercy and good fruits, its purity with grace resides. So easy to approach are those endowed not only with the truth but its effect. An influence of peace with God is found, a deep attractive warmth makes common ground with those who also thirst for Zion's brook. Truth is so precious. Those whose hearts are with this treasure blessed must with that truth its sacred Source confess, and in its fruitfulness reveal its power. In season, fitly spoken be our words, as golden fruit encouched in silver frame, that those who hear may glorify His Name.
Let the Words of My Mouth...Be Acceptable in Thy Sight
She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Proverbs 31:27
Tzade = ? (No designation given by Gesenius.) Begins the first word from "sapa", to lean forward to pay close attention, or peer into the future. Here the diligent interest and care of the woman in the affairs of the household, her watchfulness and concern.
Tower of the Flock. So, in Micah 4:8, is Jerusalem described, from which the King and Shepherd of Israel observes and guards His flock. While the Lord has special watchmen over His people, watchfulness over the spiritual welfare of self and of our brethren of the household is the responsibility of all saints. She eats not the bread of idleness, tittle‑tattle and tale‑bearing detrimental to others. Her deep love for her Lord demands expression, and this she finds in uncounted ways of selfless laying down of her life in their interests. Yet, like a woman caring for her home and those she loves, she makes no list of services or care, nor would she recognize in her ceaseless role the thought of sacrifice.
Her Joy and Crown. The ultimate attainment of these beloved in Christ, this is her earnest prayer. Their crown will be her crown, and hers their joy. As drink offering on their sacrifice of faith, she pours out all she has on their behalf, and counts it privilege indeed to even know His saints. The thought that, in the preparation of His jewels, the Lord may take, and in the smallest way might use her as His tool of grace, to further His design, what thrill, what satisfaction brings. She owes so much, and never can repay that love of Golgotha. Her sacred privilege counted dear, to wash the feet of saints, pour out her spikenard on those lowly members of His Body in her reach, with tears of love His "feet" to thus embrace. She knoweth well such precious tasks will soon be past. The hour grows late, the shadows of Gethsemane await, this day must soon be closed. Thus, while it is called 'day', she works to smooth the way, to comfort and to cheer, whose lives to her are dear. The poor world yet will see the feast He has in store, when saints this side the veil will be no more. Thus purposeful, and watchful does she pray she might not miss one chance His saints to bless, His "feet" caress, when tired, sore, they cry out for that caring love. The House of God is a house of love, and filled with the sweet savour of its Head. The law of Christ that rules therein is thus fulfilled in mutual care, and burdens shared.—Quiet moments of deep feeling, heart reaching out to heart, united in that blessed hope that brighter shines through tear‑cleansed eyes. Such is the fellowship of love, the bonds now wrought that will forever hold and beautify the servants of the Lord.—Each one surrounded and constrained by ready arms and willing hands that speak the passing of each heart from death to life.
In as Much...
Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Proverbs 31:28
Koph = hole of an axe...that is, something which needs perfectly to fit so that the function of the whole may be achieved. The Father has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. Each vessel meet for the Master's use. (Col.1:12; 2 Tim.2:21.)
Charisma of Grace. Her 'children' are her fruit, the harvest‑time result of grace within. This fruit reveals her for what she is. What is now reaped is that which with care and patience she has sown and watered, nurtured on with tenderness. Upon this fruitage now depends her fitness for that future ministry of glory.
Glory of His Face. Reflected in her life the holy place of her abode and His. Planted in the House of the Lord she flourishes in His courts. His is the glory, hers the delight. The fruit she now brings forth in its due season is what she has drawn from the river of life whose banks receive her roots. The words "in Christ" have opened up to her their blessed secrets of unsearchable riches. The hour approaches. That hidden life in Him will then be manifest in all the beauty of an express image.
Kingdom Harvest. Then what wonders yet await, the half of which has not been told. The life He gives her yet will fill this earth with children of the Kingdom. Hers the precious privilege of bearing and nurturing that family of His love. His Spirit and His Bride await the hour of His command that shatters every tomb and brings new life upon this earth, eternal youth in glorious liberty, the whole earth filled with fruit. And this her Lord will see, and will be satisfied, and so will she. At ninety years dear Sarah bore her child. This woman will still be bearing fruit at nine hundred! To each child she will be mother. With each new life her part will weave that deep special relationship of love, and an eternal bond of peace, harmony, unity, oneness. Such is the fruit of love, abounding and abiding. Each one a living blessing. There in the midst of His great family see the Father's face, which now reflects from every child of grace, radiant with that joy so long He sought. And there the Lamb, by Whose own blood He bought the fallen race, and there His Bride, locked in His sweet embrace.
...Thy Children, whom thou mayest make Princes
Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Proverbs 31:29
Resh = the head. The words of this verse are the words of Christ, her Head. There is no better judge of excellence, nor yet more tender heart to be touched by sight of broken reed, smoking flax, or those two tiny mites in the Temple treasury.
His Book of Remembrance. In His sight virtuous women of other ages have graced the pages of history. Theirs was not the privilege of the race that we are called to run, but there they stand, so many witnesses of faith, by whose obedient trust and tireless zeal they shout encouragement and urge us on to that supreme devotion that alone will win the prize. And there does Miriam stand with tinkling timbrel in her hand to lead forth every grateful soul to join with her with their timbrels and with dance, and then with voices high, "Sing unto the Lord," they cry, "sing for His glorious triumph." (Exodus 15:20,21) Does my zeal excel hers? There see Deborah too. To her all Israel came for counsel clear, and to her looked for leadership in battle with the foe. Her song of victory in my ears still urges on, as it did then, to yield a willing offering to His praise. (Judges 4&5) What priceless privilege is ours to take from them the torch of truth, and lift on high the sacred flame of love for God, and to His Name pour tribute as we trace the path they trod. There waves dear Ruth, and Hannah at her side, and there the Shunamite whose sheltering care gave comfort to the man of God. And Esther too, whose faith withstood the test of loyalty. These all call out to me.
Reward for Excellence. Between the greatest of the ages past and least within this age of grace, the difference lies not by one wit in worthiness, but in the hope held forth and privilege. In this alone the woman of this age excels, where grace abundant more abounds. Hers is a calling high, a blessed mystery, that never was revealed in ages past. For her, the greatest prize of all reserved. For this was offered not to the angelic host, nor yet to righteous hearts of faithful ones who patiently endured so great a fight, but to the "woman" of this 'better' day, when type and shadow must give way to blest reality. Thus passing by more worthy souls, He came to me, that all His wondrous grace may see. The words of Baptist John speak for them all, when heralding the Bridegroom as His friend, foreseeing there the romance of this age, He then confessed "My joy is now fulfilled." He echoed thus the aged Simeon who with one glimpse of what was yet to be, though in its very infancy, with satisfaction did request that he now might depart in peace. How they will shine, those faithful ones of old, in princely role. What lessons were prepared in their dear lives for those now called to share that "better thing"! The glory that excelleth was reserved for His dear Bride. Such honour He bestows, and this she knows. Her life reveals the depth of her response. "One thing" she seeks, and runs with arms outstretched straight for the goal, nor runs indifferently but that she might obtain. It is her beauty that her Lord desires, within whose heart His own great love inspires that yielding of her all.
Who...having found One Pearl of Great Price...Sold All
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Proverbs 31:30
Shin or Schin = ? (No designation given) It begins the first word of the verse 'sheqer', which means untrue, false, a lie, a denial of what is true. Used in many contexts, it is never condoned by the God of Truth. 'White lies' is a term that is itself a lie.
In the Street called Straight. As scales from her eyes, all superficial concepts of true holiness did fall. No more by works of flesh did she pursue what sinful flesh could never thus obtain. She now could see such works were all in vain, and would to heaven's grace a hindrance prove, not gain. The Edom (old Adam within,) must yield, not wrestle with the Lord to yet usurp and thus by fleshly means obtain what He must give by grace. No sense of self‑achievement finds a place in one whose struggles ended with embrace, who now will not let go until He bless. Aware now of her weakness does she cling and trust to His great strength. And cling she must 'till morning light reveals to her the face of God. For flesh and spirit war within as did those two within Rebekah's womb, nor cease the struggle 'til their work is done. The Lord of Truth sees not as seeth man. No vanity of superficial gloss, nor outward show will gain approval of the eyes of holy fire of Him Who knows our works and all we are. Begun in the Spirit, we will not complete the course we run with works of flesh. No room for pride will yet reside where He is Lord confessed. The street is straight that leads us to the goal. The way of holiness is a road of purest and transparent gold.—A workmanship, not human, but divine, through which its Maker's likeness yet will shine. Transparent character does He refine, with truth in inward parts. His gold is pure and furnace‑tried.
The Shining Way One blinding flash of truth enough, one glimpsing of the Saviour's face, and persecution turns to praise, the works of flesh to Grace. It cometh not with outward show, His reign within. Yet through the life expressed, that fullness of the heart is manifest, in love for Him. There was no point the breaking of that seal of alabaster box, except to pour out all it held within. What if that box had empty proved to be? Then empty too the act, an outward form, a shell of godliness without its power. What shame, whatever ornament without engraced that box, if there within was nothing stored that would refresh and please her Lord. But in her heart the Lord could see its contents true and precious in His eyes. That blush betrayed her love, with tears that touched a chord so deep within His soul. For ages yet to be it will be told, the love that broke the box and overflowed from every heart where He was owned as Master and adored as Lord. So shall the King with great desire that inner beauty prize, where He doth reign, that burning flame reflecting from the eyes love deep within the soul.
Many Waters cannot quench Love
Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates. Proverbs 31:31
Tau = a sign or mark, like that upon a sel, and that upon the forehead of the elect,—their Father's Name. This final verse looks beyond the present signs of divine favour and love to that ultimate sign when at the end she shall receive His "Well done", and the abundant entrance.
Tribute to a Woman's Love. These are His words not ours. They follow love's outpouring through the life. The broken empty box is laid aside, and all that then remains, the savour clinging to the house, the views of men upon her wasted work, as in their eyes it seems, would soon forever be forgotten. But then it is the Master speaks His gracious words. Love's labour cannot be in vain, nor any offering accepted in His sight. So little does it seem that she can do to show her love. Yet in that little He perceives her all, and makes immortal that unworthy deed. She hath done what she could, all that lay within her power to do, with all the courage that His love could give. It shall be told. That simple act of love that was a woman's life. Her all she gave, and in response His all with her He shares. The love of the woman is linked with the love of God's Lamb. Wherever the one is told so will the other, for here the love of both entwine. He is the light of her life, and she, the crown of His glory.
Abundant Entrance The moment comes, that blessed hour when toil in flesh must cease. She now is clothed with raiment of His own supply, which in her hands was beautified with grace. To faith was added virtue, knowledge, patience too, and every precious quality of mind. Each stitch in love for Him was worked, in strength of His enlisted grace. It is indeed the product of His preciousness to her, for which she claims no praise, save that deep understanding in His eyes. Therein lies all the treasures she has stored and laid up for that heavenly home she longs to share with her Betrothed. The first sight of her dear Beloved's face, the loving smile, the look of great desire, this vision has so long her heart inspired. The object of her race, that she might win Christ. That joy unspeakable awaits as glory's crown. Then looking back will she reflect how every day the prospect grew more bright since first they met. Until it turned to burning deep desire, that first small flame became consuming fire within her breast, His presence, living bright reality, and life transferred to love.
Now at the gates she meets Him face to face, and on His arm she still does lean, leaves desert scene for His embrace, and they together share the joys of that abundant entrance.
Christ...loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish Ephesians 5:25‑27