Today is Mother’s Day, and it’s certainly a day to bring honor to those faithful mothers among us, and I give thanks to the Lord for faithful mothers. The reality is that one day isn’t enough and so I hope that today is just a concentration point for what we do all year in honoring our mothers. I know that it’s true that my mother is certainly one of my heroes in terms of her unending devotion to her children and I’m sure that many of you can say the same. Today, speaking of mothers, I want to focus on the responsibility of being a wife and mother and so I want to take you to a familiar passage; it’s proverbs 31, so if you would please turn with me to
This section of Proverbs is God’s ultimate desire for godly woman. The passage is that of an ideal woman, the goal for every wife and mother.
In thinking about the image of women the world presents, it’s an amazing contrast, an incredible difference, not only compared to scripture but compared to what the image of women was many decades ago and the current post-modern woman. At one time the acceptable woman was depicted as a woman who would happily care for her home, ironing, cleaning the floors and window, having the cleaning product being advertised in her hand with a big smile on her face. The papers would show a woman standing over a stove cooking the meal for her family, sitting on the couch reading stories to her children, perhaps playing games in the backyard or pushing a baby carriage around the block, this is not the image the world had when I was growing up and it hasn’t been the image of woman the world has had in many decades. So how does the world portray womanhood now? Today in adverts you see the business professional women ruling the office, a woman with a briefcase hurrying off to work leaving the kids behind with a stranger we call a babysitter, or we see woman doing aerobics in clothes so tight you can see ever skin wrinkle, even worse, you can put up a magazine just about any public place a see a woman in what I think they call a bathing suit, but there’s not much left unexposed with no interest in virtue or modesty, and in general culture today promotes the “manly” woman as what is honored in society. It’s the woman who’s in charge, who rules the next, she works, she’s career driven demanded equal pay and equality with men in everything, she refuses to submit to her husband and the world applauds it, she flaunts her independence and the world encourages it, she neglects her children’s education by putting it in the hands of the government and the world loves it, she flaunts her sexuality despite her being married and the world begs for it, her family can expect a tanned, self sufficient, body building, independent mother and wife who will not let family get in the way of her goals. She puts her kids into daycare to pursue a career, her children all have electronic devices so as to not bother her with no regard to what her children are learning. The worlds idea of a woman is opinionated, stubborn, demands the spot light, often demands submission from the husband and is eager to be what the world says she should be. Sometimes this means it’s ok to have an affair or two on her way to the top, sometimes it means the children are raised by someone else so she is left to pursue her own dreams and the world begs her to go even further. Generally she doesn’t stay married that long, and is more concerned with other men appreciating her rather than her own husband which often means she dresses more like a prostitute when going out than a committed conservative wife. She is the furthest cry from the excellent woman descried in . You should still have your place in the chapter and if you will look with me and notice how differently God identifies the ideal woman, the ideal wife and mother compared to the world, so Let’s read through it.
This is not the only place in Proverbs that women are the subject. Earlier, women are described, as anything but excellent. We see the adulteress who flatters with her lips in earlier chapters, we see the adulteress who forsakes her own husband breaking her marriage covenant. We see the adulteress whose lips drip honey as she seduces other men, we see the adulteress who seeks innocent life, we see the noisy woman, the foolish woman, the contentious woman, and several others, all who look a lot like what the world says is ok. Then we get to this beautiful chapter, chapter 31 and we have this amazing picture of the excellent wife, God’s desire for women. Let’s go back to verse 1 to set the stage and context for verses 10 -31.
So here’s the scene, a mother is speaking to her son, her son’s name is Lemuel, we don’t really know anything about this man, we don’t really know who he is accept that he is a king. We see that his mother is still giving him instruction and taking a keen interest in his life as should any good mother. It’s a fair assumption that he is likely a young king, King’s back in the day often became king’s when their fathers passed way, even if they were very young, so here we have a young king, who seemed to not yet have a wife. That makes this instruction critical and important and of course, perhaps even more so for him because the influence he had as King. We see her great love for her son in verse 2
In other words, my son what do I want to tell you, what message should I give to you. This seems to be a mother with great wisdom, because the message she gives is not about achievements, or accomplishments, it has nothing to do with success, or gold, it’s all about character.
The next thing we see in verse 3 is
What does it mean to not five your strength to women, what that means to not be sexually immoral, the phrase don’t give your strength to women means, don’t be immoral with a woman. It’s a euphemism for sexual immorality, which often destroyed kings, especially because kings often had harems made up of women from other nations which they made alliances, these were basically sex slaves. So far the wisdom this mother gives seems like very good advice. In verse 4 she goes on to say
So, stay away from sexual immorality and now stay away from alcohol. So King, stay away from that which can dull your judgment, dull your senses; rob you of the clarity of your thinking, this truly is great advice. Stay away from the forbidden sexual activity. Stay away from anything that can corrupt your mind which alcohol, drugs, and other substances can do. Then we come to verse 6
Alcoholic beverages in those days were helpful to alleviate suffering and pain, especially of those who were in great hurt. Now we all understand pain, we all know when we have pain we try to find a prescription that will help alleviate that pain. In those days they didn’t have Tylenol, ibuprofen or other pain killers, so they used alcoholic drinks to alleviate the pain in those who suffered. So far, this mother has advised her king son, to stay away from sexual sin, stay away from alcohol and to meet the needs of hurting people. She’s not done as she continues in verse 7
She encourages a type of character that says desire to alleviate the pain and suffering of the people, she carries on to verse 8 to say speak in defense of those who cannot speak for themselves. In other words, young kind, stand by the oppressed, defend the weak, take care of those who cannot take care of themselves, so far this mother’s advice has been all about character. Stay away from sexual immorality, stay away from alcohol, give yourself to help the suffering of people, defend those who cannot defend themselves, stand y the oppressed. Then we come to verse 9
This covers a lifetime of pursuing character, packed into only 9 verses and the rest of the chapter is about one other crucial area of advice. Verse 10
As if to say “now most importantly of all my son, find, if possible, and excellent wife, as though this is the highest priority of all, and the reality is, that it is. For a man there is no greater gift, monumentally enriching for the man, for his children, and the generations to come and all who know him, to the man that finds an excellent wife. Conversely, the wrong wife, an unfaithful wife, a less then excellent wife, a bitter wife, will bring pain and sorrow and sadness and disaster for the husband and children and all who know them. So we have this faithful mother, speaking to her son, the king, who says an excellent wife who can find for her worth is far above Jewels. That’s an important comparison because in their world, gold and jewels were the measure of value. And here she says that more important than the most expensive jewels was to find an excellent wife.
So what does an excellent wife look like? What we see unfold in this passage is six categories which I want to focus on. Her Character as a wife, her devotion as a homemaker, her generosity as a neighbor, her influence as a teacher, her effectiveness as a mother and her excellence as a saint. As an interesting side fact, between verse 10-31 there are actually 22 verses, this is important because there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, Alef, Bet, Gimel, Dailf, and so forth and so on as it goes town through 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
Each of these verses begins with the next letter in the Hebrew alphabet. The first verse from 10 beginning with Alef, the second Bet, the third Gimel and each verse all the way to the end of the alphabet. So why did they do it this way? Simple, so it would be easy to remember, of course we lose when you translate from Hebrew to English.
But you can imagine how this would have made it much easier to remember or to figure out it you forgot some of what was taught since you could use the alphabet to jog your memory, so to speak. Since everyone knew the Hebrew alphabet it could then trigger each of these statements about what an excellent wife was like so that everybody could recall the wisdom taught and be able to reference it when they were considering an excellent woman. So here we have this description of woman, given to us by the Holy Spirit, not of a specific woman but of an excellent woman in general, this is a full length portrait of the ideal woman. This is the mirror for every Christian woman, this should be the goal of every woman, to get to the end of her days and say Lord, I was a woman, realizing that it is unobtainable without the help of the Holy Spirit and the renewing of the mind by the washing of the word.
This woman, tells us, “Is a gift from God, a gift from God.” It’s hard to find a woman like this and so it demands a lot of prayer and asking God to provide that woman as a gift. By the way, it’s equally as difficult to find a good man, lest any was thinking that, says “Who can find a faithful man?”, So don’t think men are basking in goodness, they’re as rare as good women. All the more reason to treasure your spouse if you have a good one, and even if you don’t for that was your choice.
Too often the choice of a good wife or presumed good wife is made on the wrong qualifications of looks, economics status, or style rather than virtue, spiritual excellence, internal godly character. But an excellent wife, when found, is more valuable than absolutely anything else. The most precious thing you will ever possess as a man, as children, is a good wife and mother. So what are the qualities of this excellent woman? It’s fairly straight forward. Firstly, her character as a wife, verse 11 “ The heart of her husband trusts in her and he will have no lack of gain.” That’s fairly simple, right. The most important relationship in the home is the relationship between the husband and the wife, right? That is the relationship that reflects itself to the children and so that’s where the text begins, with the most important relationship in the home and here is also where we find the most important element in a relationship, trust. That is what holds a relationship together. Here you have a man who trusts his wife. Super practical, this is the kind of woman who allows her husband to do his work, to go away, to be gone, to give himself to whatever work he has to provide for his family and he can do so with absolute confidence in her integrity, in her discretion, in her discernment, and in her care. He will trust in her to care for the home, the children, to care for all of the resources and assets and responsibilities of the home. His comfort is her concern and he knows it. His burdens are, hers to bear and he knows it. He is at ease when he is away because he knows that everything he has is safe with her. His house is the home of his heart and his heart is at rest. He doesn’t worry, he isn’t jealous, and never suspicious because she is trustworthy. This might be a good place to help you understand that in the times this was written and in ancient times in general where marriages where often arranged, it was very common for the husband, when he left, to lock up things in the house, anything that was valuable. Today the equivalent would be feeling like you had to take all of the credit cards with you if you had to leave town, because you’re afraid she may bankrupt you while your away. Sadly, this kind of thing does happen, but this type of woman described here in our text has so much character, the character of a good steward, she values family resources, she is frugal, she is wise, she practices discretion about what she does with money available and her primary responsibility is to be sure that she increases her husband’s trust in her. This is the trust that builds a strong and healthy, long lasting relationship. He trusts her and it says in verse 11, “He will have no lack of gain.”, That means he is not going to lose what he has earned because she is wasteful with it. In 1 timothy 5:14, it says the women is “oikodespotein”, that means ruler of the house, “women are the rule of the house, she is the one who has charge over the assets of the house, over the relationships in the home and he trusts her in doing so.” He will never suffer a lack because of her abuse of his trust. She helps him to profit, she is careful, she doesn’t put pressure on him to have to lie, cheat, and steal, falsify books in order to keep her spending secret. Moving to verse 12 it says, “she does him good and not evil all the days of her life.”. This is extremely important, because it means in the good times and the bad times, in the times of plenty and the times of lack, in sickness and in health, It probably starting to sound like wedding vows, right? In times of sorrow and Joy, strength and weakness, in all the times and all the days of her life she does her husband good. She never does him any evil, she never tries to harm him and over the years trust is built and continues to be built and it always easier to love someone you trust. To put it in the words of the Apostle Peter, she serves him as her Lord as Sarah served Abraham and called him Lord. This is a term of respect, of great affection and she reveals her affection for him and her love for him by consistent stewardship, consistent service in his behalf. Her love is so deep it has a purity to it, it has a power to it, it has a never-ending devotion. She is concerned with his reputation, his success, his comfort, she wants him to be joyful and happy, to live for him and to protect all that is his is her constant happiness. She is never unkind, never bucking that responsibility, she is submissive in the most gracious way. She is in a way, the protector of her husband as he is her protector each in their own unique roles. This is the heart of what the apostle Paul meant when he said, “Wives love your husbands.” She works to advance her husband’s respect, look at verse 23, “Her husband is known in the gates, as “her husband”, and all of the husbands around that gather with him to discuss issues, that don’t have wives like this are envious of him. He’s the one who’s known as the wife of so and so.” When he is among the elders of the land and domestic issues come about, he is the one who is the envy of the rest because of her.
. She advances then her husband's respect, her husband's nobility with the leaders of the city because she is so faithful to the duties of the home, the duties of her love toward her husband. He is free to be all the man that he can be. Not only is he therefore married to a woman who raises his stature in the eyes of others but he becomes the man that he should be because she frees him from the encumbrance of worry and fear to be all that he can be. So her character as a wife is presented to us. Secondly, her devotion as a homemaker and the terms of this are different today. "I confess," starting in verse 13 going down to verse 24, because we don't have to do some of the things that they had to do, but I'm going to go through it briefly just to show you how devoted she was to the home. The picture may change a little bit, but the direction of that devotion is the same. "She is a homemaker," I know Vivian Gornick, expressing the modern feminist view, a professor at the University of Illinois said, "Being a housewife is an illegitimate profession." That is the modern mentality, it really is, but it is still God's design that a woman give herself away in the home to her husband and her children. She is the ruler of the house, that's the domain of the woman, that's the spirit of her duty and her responsibility. Verse 13 says, "She looks for wool and flax," not the thread but the raw wool and the raw flax, "And she works with her hands in delight." There she is working with this raw material as we'll see a little later, to spin it into thread to make it into cloth by weaving it, and than to cut it up and sew it into clothing. This is her life, her submission; her godly virtue does not show up immediately in some "spiritual enterprise." We don't find here immediately that she's given over herself to some ministry which somehow allows for some level of irresponsibility and laziness in the home. She first of all is defined as a homemaker, she is the one whose love for her husband is so strong and so consistent all her life long that he has perfect trust in her and he becomes the man he can be because of that. Then you move to the home and you find that there is no place in her life for self indulgent laziness, there's no place in her life for distraction. The focus of everything is in that home. She's full of energy with regard to the duties of home; she looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight. In other words, the work that she does in her hands to make the clothing her family needs, wool used for clothing worn in the cold times, the winter. Flax used for the linen that they wore in the summer, this work is a work that comes out of the joy of her heart. She works with her hands from the delight of her heart. She loves her work. It is not drudgery, she loves it and the reason she loves it is for the pure goodness of it as we will see in a few moments. It is not a matter of some self denial, some gritting of the teeth to give herself away for the needs of her family, she does it with great joy. She even, verse 14, "She's like merchant ships, she brings her food from afar," and some of you are saying yeah my wife's like that she'll drive 15 miles to save $.10 on the orange juice, it'll cost me $12 in gas for her to get to the bargain. Well in those days they didn't drive a vehicle. Well what is pictured here is a thing so wonderful, she's like merchant ships, she brings her food from afar. Every locale had a sort of staple diet, whatever they grew is what they ate and if you wanted to enhance an enrich and bring variety into the diet of your family, you had to go to some other locale to get what they were growing somewhere else, and because of the love of her family and the desire that they enjoy what she prepared she was willing to be like a merchant ship that sailed away to some foreign land to bring back some exotic kind of food, it's just for the joy of the family. She found her joy in providing clothing for the family. She found her joy in providing meals for the family. Meals that were creative, meals that had variety, it was not just the same old, same old she went distances on foot to get something that would be special delight for the family to enjoy. This is all rose out of the pleasure that she found in doing it in her heart. Get the best for the family she loved, verse 15, again back to her as a homemaker, "She rises also while it's still night, gives food to her household," she would get up before dawn in those days because they started work at 6:00 a.m., they started to work at dawn and they had then to eat immediately at dawn, they would have their breakfast and be out to work and she had to get up before dawn to grind the corn for the day's meals, not only for her family but portions to her maidens. This was a large home, perhaps an estate with land and much responsibility and she has some servants there that she needs to feed as well, and so she's up doing what she needs to do. This was necessary, it wasn't like today when you have a refrigerator and you have canned goods, and all of those kinds of things that are readily accessible and easily available, and you can throw things together rather rapidly. We don't live in a society where these things need to be done and I think that contributes in some way to the lack of focus on the home and the distraction. It's a great place for you to take all of the things we do have today that people didn't have then and use your creativity to enrich and enhance the home with those things. We certainly have more time to make the personal investment in our families and in our children, not having the same kind of laborious tasks to do everyday. She really is the ruler of that house. In verse 16, this is so interesting; she considers a field and buys it. She finds that a field is for sale, which can add to the productivity of the family, add to the economy of the family, and she buys it, and you say well where did she get the money? Well it says in verse 16, "From her earnings," and she plants a vineyard in it. Where did she get any earnings? Down in verse 24, "She makes linen garments and sells them and supplies belts to the tradesman." The word tradesman, Canaanites, Phoenicians; the Phoenicians were the sea going people who literally took the trade from the east and scattered it all over the west in the Mediterranean countries and so she was producing goods, she was producing linen garments and belts or sashes, and selling them. She probably had some of the girls - this was a cottage industry, this is a busy lady. Up in the morning grinding corn, preparing meals, during the day she's working for her own family and she's also working to produce something in this little cottage industry along with the maidens who were there no doubt assisting her, and they were selling it to the tradesman. Again, as she was using this I might say for capital items, she didn't do this to contribute to the general flow of the family economy. The husband was the provider and that was enough, but she was setting this aside and setting it aside and setting it aside, and when enough was set aside and she found a field she bought the field to enhance the economics of the family and purchased the necessary plants and created a vineyard. Very enterprising lady, nothing wrong with being this enterprising, this is wonderful, this is part of the ideal woman. She wants to assist the family, not only in the tasks that need to be done day by day but in the development of new opportunities so she in making some money it indicates here, "Has not enhanced her lifestyle, she has not used that money made in the cottage industry to somehow raise her personal level of living, but rather has set it aside and set it aside and set it aside until enough is there for her to buy a field and vineyard can be planted there," making wise investments on behalf of her husband. Through all of this, verse 17 says, "She girds herself with strength and makes her arms strong," that is not to say that she becomes buff by lifting weights. What you have here is a woman who's very busy, very enterprising, full of energy, and physically she's healthy, physically she's strong. But it's not just talking about that she becomes a strong woman in the sense of strongly committed to the duties and tasks that are given to her, and I do think there's an element of physicality in this. The best way to be healthy is to exercise. The best way to exercise is to devote yourself to those things which are essential and those things which are beneficial to others. She works for the good of others, that's how she strengthens herself. Her health is then strengthened by her walks and by her work, by her diligence. Her strength is the result of giving herself away to her household. Verse 18 sums it up, this is motive, "She senses that her gain is good." I mean the bottom line here is not that she's seeking something for herself, she's not trying to elevate her sense of self worth, she's not trying to raise her lifestyle, she's doing it because it's good. She senses that all the product of this is good. She's motivated by the sheer goodness of it. It's good to provide this for the family, it's good to have the family clothes, it's good to feed them in this way. It brings them joy; it's good to have a husband who trusts in her, this is good. Spurred on, not by ego, not by self indulgence; spurred on by the inherent goodness of what she does. She does what is good, not so much for herself but for others, but she understands the joy of knowing that she's doing good and receiving the benefit that comes back from it. The love of her children, the love and adoration of her husband; in fact, she's so motivated by the sheer goodness of this and the reward from her family and from God for that goodness that verse 18 says, "Her lamp doesn't go out at night." It's so good that she just does it even after the dark sets in. The dark sets in say at 6:00 or whatever, she still finds work for the hours of darkness, motivated by the sheer goodness of what she does. This is a good woman. This is a woman who's doing what does hardly under the Lord. This is a woman who gives herself away for her husband, who gives herself for her children. In verse 19 picks up the idea of the wool and the flax from verse 13, stretches out her hand to the ____ staff and her hands grasp the spindle, she has to spin that into thread and of course then she has to weave it into cloth, then she has to cut it and sew it into a garment, but she's motivated by the goodness of all of this. Verse 21 says, "She's not afraid of the snow for all her household are clothed with scarlet." She's not afraid when the winter comes because everybody's clothed in scarlet. It doesn't snow a lot in Israel but it probably snows every other year or so in Jerusalem and if you're in Jerusalem it can get very cold in the winter, and it can snow there and does. She plans for that. The only way they heated their homes in the land of Israel in ancient days was a flat pan full of hot coals, just radiating the heat through the house and so you needed something to keep yourself warm. The cloak that they wore in the cold days would be the cloak that they wore to sleep at night, along with other things. They would turn that into a blanket on the bed. She was ready for the snow. They used scarlet, something very dark, because you know dark garments; dark wool garments absorb the heat. But it wasn't black it was scarlet, and scarlet means that she had a little bit of an eye for beauty. Scarlet was considered a beautiful and rich color and so she makes garments, not just functional but even beautiful, dignified in color. You say well a woman who does all this she must be pretty dowdy looking. Given herself to all this she must be pretty haggard. Well, verse 22, "She makes coverings for herself, her clothing is fine linen and purple." She doesn't forget the beauty, the things that make her beautiful, but there's more there then that. See that first line? "She makes coverings for herself," that refers not so much to her clothing but to beds in the house, pillows, mattresses, bedspreads, blankets, coverings, she makes a beautiful bed is really what it says and when those women in those days made a bed, they made a bed, they made the mattress. Then they made the cloths, and than they made the - whatever the duvet or whatever you call it, or the comforter or the bedspread or whatever, and than they made the pillows and they made a lovely bed. Then also it says that she had clothing that was fine linen. It wasn't the coarse kind of linen, it was that more carefully and tightly spun flax, that fine, fine, almost silky linen so that when she got up and dressed herself she was refined and she was lovely, and she made that linen purple because purple is a beautiful and rich color. She adorned her own beauty, she understood that God is a God of beauty, and she understood that God has made us to appreciate beauty, and a man may have a diligent and busy wife but he also wants to have a wife that's caring about her own beauty and presenting herself to him and to the family and to others in the beauty with which God has graced her. There's no ostentation here, there's nothing about overdoing it, but she was refined in the way she dressed. So here is this amazing woman, who is busy, and working with her hands, and staying up after dark and getting up before light, and yet with all this labor and all this self sacrifice she is concerned about presenting herself in the beauty of adornment with which God has so graced women. She manages it all, and as we saw in verse 24, "She makes linen garments, sells them, and supplies belts to the tradesman." She is some homemaker isn't she? She is an amazing woman. Now remember, this is not some woman that you can meet or that anybody met, this is that woman who is the ideal, this is the goal to which you stretch as a woman. Thirdly, we want to look at her generosity as a neighbor. We have seen her role as a wife and a homemaker; thirdly, her generosity as a neighbor. Go back to verse 20, "She extends her hand to the poor, she stretches out her hands to the needy." How wonderful; this is like the widow you remember in the New Testament described the Apostle Paul who goes on the list in the church, the one who has cared for other widows and orphans. This is a very great responsibility for godly women. She demonstrates not only a special devotion to her own home but compassion toward those not fortunate enough to be in her home. The poor, the destitute, she extends her hand to them. That is, she gets personally involved in their lives, her hand might have a garment, her hand might have food, her hand might have a bed, a blanket. She stretches out her hands again to the needy. The idea here is of intimacy. She doesn't ship things to the poor and the needy she puts her hands out with them, she reaches out. She again is unselfish, she is sacrificial, she's compassionate. Fourthly, in looking at this ideal woman, we see her influence as a teacher, her influence as a teacher. Verses 25 and 26 and here's where teaching begins, "Strength and dignity are her clothing." If you're going to be a teacher you start with character don't you? Far more important then what you say is who you are. She is clothed with spiritual strength; strength here has to do with an unwavering, uncompromising resolve. It has to do with that kind of character that is consistent, strong, doesn't fall to temptation, doesn't vacillate, doesn't waiver, isn't up and down, in and out, sometimes doing what's right, sometimes doing what's wrong, this is a strong, spiritual character that is being described here. The word here - another word that's very important is the word dignity, that word dignity refers to something which is elevated above the common. When we say a person has dignity we're saying they're above the common standard. Class, virtue, this is not a woman like every other woman; this woman rises above in terms of her character. She has a strength, a fortitude in her character that is noble, that is dignified. This is the power of true character, consistent character. Her life is above the standard of most. Verse 25 says, "She smiles at the future." Boy that is a great statement, "She smiles at the future." That's what character will do for you folks. You be a woman of character, for that matter a man of character, you live in your family, and spiritual consistency and spiritual dignity, you live a godly life, and you can look at the future and smile. You're not going to have to worry that your spouse is going to leave you. You're not going to have to worry that your children are going to turn their back on you and break your heart. Her character, her virtue, the dignity of her spiritual commitment, the consistency of it means she could look at the future and have no fear. She could look at the future and know that she could continue to have the love and affection and trust and faithfulness of her husband. She could look at the future and not fear the loss of her children, the disaffection of her children. Being able to smile at the future, that is a very, very great thing, isn't it? She's pure, she's faithful, she delights in giving away her life for those in her family, and she looks at the future and smiles because she knows what the return is going to be on that investment. She's planned well and than having that character as a foundation, verse 26 says, "She opens her mouth in wisdom." I'll tell you, her family listens, they listen. Her character is her credibility; she opens her mouth in wisdom. This is what calls "The law of your mother." She opens her mouth in wisdom and the teaching, the Torah, the law of kindness is on her tongue. What does she teach? She teaches kindness; Tzadein Hebrew, loving kindness, grace, mercy. The father who teaches theology and principals and business practices, etc., and the mother teaches kindness and mercy, and graciousness, and gentleness, and compassion. She teaches it because she lives it, this is the balance. As a father I'm concerned about principles and about theology and about truth, and Patricia's concerned about the heart, grace, and mercy, and compassion, and kindness, and honesty and all those marvelous things. It's a wonderful balance and she teaches the things that are manifest in her character. Fifthly, you come to her blessedness as a mother. We've seen her as wife, homemaker, neighbor, teacher; here is her blessedness as a mother. Quickly, verse 27 and 28, "She looks well to the ways of her household, doesn't eat the bread of idleness," that's just rehearsing again the fact that she's not lazy; she takes care of her house and here comes the blessedness back. In verse 28, "Her children rise up and bless her." Her husband also and he praises her. You see that's why she can look at the future and smile; she's made the kind of investment that brings that return. Her children rise up, as her children grow, as they get older, as the years go by they reverence her, they honor her, they hold her in higher and higher esteem. Is there a greater reward for a mother then that? Her husband also, because she has so trustingly given her life to him praises her. He praises her by saying many daughters have done nobly but you excel them all, you are the greatest honey, you are the greatest. You're better then any I've ever seen. As she becomes older and the children grow and have their own children, they endeavor to raise them the way she raised them. She is constantly before the eyes of her children, her tender guidance, her wise counsel, her loving discipline, her wholly example, her hard work, her unselfish giving, they never forget and they live it out in the next generation. Her husband rejoices in her and praises her above all others. Finally, her excellence as a saint, under guarding all of this course is her spiritual life. It comes at the end but it belongs at the beginning. Verse 30, "Charm is deceitful, charm means form, figure, and beauty is vain," that's face and features. They mean nothing in the big scheme of things. Beauty of form, graceful form can be deceptive. Beauty of face can mean absolutely nothing in terms of character. Form and face have no real value, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Look for a woman who fears the Lord, be a woman who fears the Lord. This will be a true worshipper; the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, , this means reverencing God, reverencing His revelation, His Word, His Son, that's the core of her character. She is a pure, true, worshipper of God, and out of her love for God, and out of her reverence for God is fidelity to her mate, is commitment to her home, is love for the needy, is wisdom taught to her own and is the fulfilling of the calling of a mother. She seeks no praise, but she gets it, "She shall be praised." "Give her the product of her hands and let her works praise her in the gates." In other words, give her back the good that came out of her hands to others and let her receive the praise she deserves. This kind of woman almost seems impossible if not ridiculous in our day, but God's standard never changes and this is that which every Christian mother and wife needs to set as the ideal, and ask God for the grace to pursue it. By the way, if you're looking at your life and saying, "I've been going the wrong direction," well today's a good day to start in the right direction. God is the God of new beginnings isn't He? This is the path for you to walk in. Father, we thank You for Your Word. It is such a clear and concise and practical and helpful description of what You want, and how glad we are oh God that you have given us Your Holy Spirit to strengthen the women, the women who belong to Christ so that they can set this as a goal and move toward it. It is the prayer of our hearts Lord that You would raise up such godly women by Your Holy Spirit's power by the work of the Word in their lives. Father, we thank You for this Word to us this morning in Christ's name, Amen.