What this proverbs 31 wife is a really something.
Let's just take a moment.
And recognize just how something she is diligent. She is diligent. She gets up while it's still nice. She provides food for her female servants. This woman is resourceful verse 16. She considers a field and she buys it out of her earnings. She plants a Vineyard and she's she's good at what she does when she's making decisions about what she's buying and how she does all that. She doesn't her Vineyard. She sees that her trading profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She got up early and she stays up late.
Just something. She she doesn't just make decisions with her mind either. She works with her hands. Look verse 13. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands goes on she sets about her work vigorously. Her arms are strong for her tasks 19 in her hand. She holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. If you had no idea what a distaff was that it's the other side with the spindle as she spins and weaves and does whatever you do with a distaff.
Miss work in this worksheet. She takes care of her household. They are well cared for you see when it snows she has no fear for her household for all of them are clothed in Scarlet. They're doing ok goes on and says she makes coverings for her bed. She is clothed in fine linen and purple. 27 it says she watches over the Affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. How could she she was up early? She's staying up late when she's not holding the distaff. She's property
And in her spare time, she takes care of the poor. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. And so it makes sense that her husband has full confidence in her. And he lacks nothing. How could he lacks? Nothing of value?
She brings him good not harm all the days of her life until it makes sense that we would call this a valuable bride write a wife of noble character who can find she is worth far more than rubies. So one simple way that this proverb has been used throughout time is as a measuring rod for women. Am I proverbs 31 material? For men is she proverbs 31 material? Somewhere in some Christian household a husband has accused his wife of eating the bread of idleness write this it happened. It surely has happened. And from the beginning. I think we we have to ask what kind of bread is this? Who can find her?
I don't want to ask first what if what if this isn't really about the expectations for a wife? What if there's something more in something different happening here? This isn't the only time in the Proverbs that that we see value discussed in this way more precious than rubies. We see it at two other times pretty clearly near the beginning of the book you say in Proverbs 3. I'm going to start with verse 11. Which reminds us again though. This is framed as a father writing to his son preparing his son for life. And he says my son do not despise the Lord's discipline and do not resent his rebuke because the Lord disciplines those he loves as a father the son he Delights in Blessed are those who find wisdom those who gain understanding for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold and then he says it here. She is more precious than rubies. Nothing. You desire can compare with her near the beginning of the book the father rights to his son and says get wisdom. She's more valuable than gold or silver or rubies. She is more precious than rubies get wisdom. Do you want to live right and then Proverbs 8?
He writes choose my instruction instead of silver knowledge rather than Choice gold for wisdom is more precious than rubies. We get it again and nothing you desire can compare with her. Gezon and now wisdom speaks. I wisdom dwell together with Prudence. I possess knowledge and discretion to fear. The lord is to hate evil. I hate pride and arrogance evil behavior in perverse. Speech. She says to fear the lord is to hate evil.
This is wisdom. And in fact, we saw from the very beginning of both the the Psalms and the Proverbs if you fear the Lord will this is a good start at wisdom. You're the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. If you will listen to the Lord and you are close to wisdom.
And go get wisdom wherever you can because she's more precious than rubies.
So the Proverbs begin with Lady wisdom calling out they begin with Lady wisdom stretching out her hands to people in the middle of the Public Square saying come to me. And there are these naive people who it describes is mostly just going on their own way here. She stands in the Public Square singing. And I walk past. And it says that they choose the way of the simpler the way of the fool instead. And then the Proverbs end with this celebration of this Noble wife.
And it says seek her out. She is more precious than rubies. She is more valuable than all of these others that if you seek her out, here's what she'll bring to your household shall bring diligence. She'll bring resourcefulness. She'll bring care for your household and care for the needy. And above all we see at the end 31 verse 20 charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Seek her out.
Seek out at fear of the Lord. Because charm and Beauty those are deceptive. Those are vain.
Fear the lord though. I see the beginning of wisdom. And we have to ask if wisdom is so good and valuable.
Why does Proverbs depict us mostly a simply walking past we discuss this some last week and it has lingered with me enough over the past several weeks that I want to keep coming back to it for us. Because I think what we see here in the Proverbs is at the very beginning lady wisdom calling out and I think at the end you see a father writing to his son and sang.
Seeker out take her out in the way that you would seek out a wife.
You can't just go on loving your simple ways. They are a way that leads to destruction why why would most of us walk past wisdom? Why would we love our simple ways now? It's interesting. I've been watching and noticing especially recently kids and how they respond to music and how they respond to food. And I you know a kid song when you hear it. Don't you? You don't even need to hear the lyrics you can just hear the melody and you know, because you start to bounce hot dog hot dog hot diggity dog, right? And you know, that is a kid song why I've been trying to figure out what makes the kids song what makes it so attractive at one point in life and then so unattractive when life and I've been having this with a few people we've said it is so simple it is so lacking in complexity. It is additive. And there's something that for someone who hasn't yet had the chance to to develop a complexity about them that simple nature is the starting point. You see it in the songs that then gradually over time. We develop an appreciation for something more complex something that has some more nuanced to it something that is not so repetitive and simple you see it with food to no wonder they sing about hot dogs hot dogs and macaroni and cheese, right? And you rarely taste the hot dog and discuss its flavor palette, right? It has one flavor palette hot dog. That's all there is and there's this love for it with the simple that gradually over time. It has to be expanded. But but that's with this slow exposure to something different. and I started to wonder if for many of us we've gotten exposed to music Beyond hot dog hot diggity dog, and we couldn't exposed to food Beyond Hot Dogs but when it comes right down to it, we are still in so many ways like children who resist and reject being exposed to other than what we are comfortable with and what we know well, We love to be affirmed and supported invalidated in all of the things that we have already Chosen and all of the ways of life that we have already decided we would like to go and win lady wisdom stands and sings to us her beautiful and probably somewhat complex song we say I've actually already chosen my way and I would rather avoid your purse and though it is beautiful. It may just be too uncomfortable to be of interest to us. And so it it's funny to me that a book full of simple Maxim's. About life. I think that it's much deeper level it points us to the kind of deep discernment that simple Maxim's just simply can't provide. How do you two weeks ago that there's a proverb for every situation and actually there's not that one there too. And that's because each of us get to choose which proverb which Maxim we like in that situation and we choose that and I think what we start to see if you look at Proverbs just on a surface level it gives you a lot of options for how do you want to live life? And there's probably something here that can support you but it a much deeper level. I think what the Proverbs are calling us to is we must be people who don't keep going or simple way. and we listen to the The deep voice that cries out to deep we listen to a God who has something. To say to us beyond our own simple ways. There's a brilliant man named Richard Foster who writes at the very beginning of his book on it's called celebration of discipline, which you must read. If you have not Hasty superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people or gifted people but for deep people because on says the classical disciplines of the spiritual life call us to move Beyond surface living into the depths. They invite us to explore the inner caverns of the spiritual realm State urges to be the answer to a hollow world. I said what our world needs today more than anything is deep people. I believe that essentially what he's saying is our our world needs wise people. Wisdom only comes with death wisdom comes he says when we go to the classical disciplines why because the classical spiritual disciplines are about turning and listening to someone besides ourselves and not just anyone but listening to the author of life. Who has designed it and says this is my pattern for life and you can go on about your simple way. Are you can listen to me until I urged you last week to devote yourself to the means of Grace and I want to double down on that for you again because it's lingered with me now for several weeks. If we want to be wise people if we want to be deep people. We need a regular interaction of a regular contact and hearing from the author of life. And I believe we have that opportunity and what we call means of Grace or spiritual disciplines. I believe we have that opportunity when we come to the scriptures not to find ourselves in them. But to find Our God in them and hear what he may have to say to us believe that that contact happens when we go to our God In Prayer believe that contact happens when we come into the church and we worship together. Please add contact happens when we meet with each other and we ask each other hard questions. And we tell each other words of truth that it sometimes might be greatly comforting and at times make be greatly challenging. Bolivar world needs deep people and I believe that the greatest depth or is as the the wisdom of God. And does he come out?
I believe that the Proverbs for all of the books simple. Maxim's is actually at its heart calling us to that kind of death that kind of exposure to our God.
and app I want to now ask the question again. What what kind of bride is this? And I want to ask a question that may be even more uncomfortable giving my start. We'll just ask what what if it is about women. I was fully prepared and quick and ready to throw the idea of the Proverbs 31 Woman in the trash bin. And so were most of the mail Scholars. I went to I think that was the case because we were ashamed of how this has been used of how many women have been told. They need to quit eating the bread of idleness. I think that I came to this and I said this is nothing but bad for women and then this funny thing happened I went to several female Scholars. Who embraced this as Life Giving and dignified dignifying and it was confusing to me at first?
Thea That the Proverbs 31 Woman is not the last time someone has an attempt. It has attempted a depiction of the perfect woman other people have worked on this to really reputable Source in our society has worked this out as well. It's called White whatsyourprice.com this a website where women are auction to the highest bidder for dates and they put out an annual here is the perfect woman. Here's how they have put it out in 2014. Their survey said this the perfect woman is blonde with blue eyes. She has a skinny figure. She has a non-smoker she drinks but only socially and she has a graduate degree and if that didn't work out for you I have good news by 2016 it had changed and so by 2016 she had dark brown hair with brown eyes and an athletic figure rather than a skinny figure. She still was a non-smoker. She still drink but only socially and she still had a graduate degree, but you see the tides were beginning to ship. We have a society that Kohl's us and women that tells you from a number of different angles what the perfect woman is. And in light of that the female Scholars started to comment on what the Proverbs 31 Woman looked like and didn't look like and I started to celebrate it. Woman named Amy Oden. She's a professor at Saint Paul School of Theology. She says this there's nothing about weight shape clothes makeup or make over the soul topics of Woman's Worth if current popular culture in America where they were to be believed as she achieved younger-looking skin. Does she bolts in the wrong places? Does she know what not to wear will never know? The closing verse reminds us that beauty is vain not something women or men here anywhere in the daily visual assault of airbrushed female bodies on Billboard's magazine stands and pop-up ads The Silence of proverbs 31 on appearances striking and refreshing. She's prettiest for the content of her character and the Excellence of her Endeavors rather than the surface of her skin.
Several of these Scholars went on to note. A depiction of a woman at the time with this kind of strength and leadership in her household. It would be surprising and what great dignity it gives.
Several of them have have noted that she not only provides for her household, but it seems for her entire community.
This is someone of incredible virtue.
And as a father of three girls and a husband of one wife. I would hope that never are they presented this list and said, this is the bar.
Also is a father of three girls and a husband of one wife. I hope that we can take this list and say.
You have great dignity. And it is found in all of these things. Near the end of this passage. It speaks directly to this woman. And it speaks to her of her great dignity and her great value. It does not do it to say jump higher. It does it to say you have incredible value and worth. As a father of one boy who may be seeking a wife one day. I hope to be able to come to this passage with him and say don't you dare? Ever tell someone that this is what they must live up to. and I hope to come to him with this passage one day too and say DC the kinds of things this values Do you see that it values character? Did you see that it values? Someone who is loving and caring. Do you see that it says beauty is vain deceptive and charm is deceptive. Can I point you to character into virtue and say this is this is what we value and seek out. So far as it's about unrealistic expectation on women in our society at unhelpful, and I think it belongs in the trash bin. But so far as it's about seeing women with this kind of dignity and privilege of responsibility so far as it's about aspiration and placing value on the good rather than the vein perhaps wisdom would be to embrace. This is a good word about women. Maybe both at once the proverbs 31 wife is not about real women and yet the proverbs 31 wife is a celebration of real lemon.
And I'll ask you another question then. What is the passengers about the church?
A scholar named Matthew Henry said who says this this passage is to be applied to individuals, but may not also be applied to the Church of God, which is described as a virtuous spouse. God by his grace has formed from among sinful men at church of True Believers to possess all the excellences here described.
the very bride of Christ prepared for him the church that can never jump as high as these bars are. And yet the church who is continued continues to be loved and built up. my her bridegroom Christ
I've wondered if the church needs to be the place of this kind of wisdom and depth complexity. I've wondered if we as the church and a time when our society seems so quick to bumper sticker answers for everything now. If the church would be the people of God who refuse the simple bumper sticker answers and refuse the simple way, but say we must be deep people and we must be wise people and we will not simply choose our own way.
For me, that means that when we come to worship.
for me. Personally, it's it's put
a significant weight on preaching and preparing for it. I believe it would be irresponsible of me simply to bring you something entertaining even though I hope every once in a while you laugh. I think it would be irresponsible of me to preach to you what I usually thought the verse was about the first time I read it.
several years ago Someone was introduced in people said he's going to tell you things about scripture. You've never heard you're going to wonder why you've never heard them and he did exactly that and it was this moment of opening my eyes that the scriptures weren't just something that I read and say what what's the little nugget of truth that I can take and live my life with now that there's incredible depth and incredible wisdom here and we must come to it again and again and again, we must come to it when it's difficult. We must come to it when it's not what we wanted it to say or what we thought it would say we must spend the time with it and we must do it here corporately and we must do it as as smaller groups and we must do it as individuals. We must keep coming back and saying what if it doesn't just have a little truism for Life what if it has real depth and meaning? and what if it even mean something that I don't like
we do weird things here like sing Psalms and I would guess for most of you and most of our psalm-singing you don't walk away from singing that song and say I just felt like I connected with God when I sang that in the same way many of our songs are expressive songs from us to god Julie Tennant some of you know, I came and spoke with a group this week and she said that are singing it. It lacks what the Psalms have which is this vast range. Appearing this narrative about the people of God and she said so often we see it and we go. Well if we sing a song like that what sense would it make and she said but for 2004 3000 years the people of God have done this it forms Us in important ways and we shouldn't neglect it.
I believe our world. Has as made a move where once we treated Sports this way, we knew our sports team and we lacked any depth or complexity about that. And so I will be honest with you if someone says do you think Tennessee is cheating? They probably are Dirty snitches how has as they were called in one video? And if and if someone said, what do you think Kentucky is cheating out? Absolutely not. And I recognized you that that lacks any form of rationality and it is unfair and unright, but somehow what we've done with sports has started to become a tribalism that is infecting nearly all of our lives. Tell me what side they're on and I can tell you whether they're speaking truth or lies that easily and I can tell you which proverb applies to them and I can tell you which bumper sticker works and the church must be a place that goes beyond that as our society is fraying. We must do it within the church and we must do it within our world. And if not, we walk on by as lady wisdom seems sings for complex song and we say no we will continue to live by our own simple truism. Seek wisdom where she may be found. we must we're at we're going to come to the table. And when we come to the table, we we believe that we come to True encounter with the body of Our Risen Christ. We believe that we come to an encounter with the very wisdom of God. We don't think that this is simply remembering something that happened but that in some mysterious way when we come week after week and we receive and we partake that Christ is transforming us. and the question in all of our Lives as well. We allow Christ to truly come into us and transform us. Or will we go on about our own way? And so we're going to proclaim a Creed that's been proclaimed for nearly 2,000 years. It's not ours. We didn't get to ride it. We refuse in our confirmation classes to have our kids write their own Creed because we believe that it's not something that we designed for ourselves. But something that was already chosen for us and that we submit to as part of the church until we're going to say this Creed together and then we're can I come to this table together? Let me invite you to stand and join me in the Apostles Creed.