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Service for Helen Valentine

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Service for Helen Valentine

April 24, 2008

Proverbs 31:10-31

Marilyn’s eulogy about Helen made this passage of scripture come to my mind.  As I read it, see if you can find Helen in it.

Read Proverbs

Did you find Helen in these verses?   I think you did.  But I also think that you found not just one person, but a poem describing what a true wise person is like. 

The poem captures all the themes of wisdom that have been presented in the book and arranges them in this portrait of the ideal woman.  Such themes are: wisdom, hard work, fear of the Lord, virtue, etc.  Any careful reading of the passage would have to conclude that if it were merely a paradigm for women what it portrays may well be out of reach — she is a wealthy aristocrat who runs an estate with servants and conducts business affairs of real estate, vineyards, and merchandising, and also takes care of domestic matters and is involved with charity. Which is certainly not the case for a vast majority of women in the Middle East, then or now.

In general, it appears that the “woman” of Proverbs 31 is a symbol of all that wisdom represents. The poem, then, plays an important part in the personification of wisdom so common in the ancient Near East. But rather than deify Wisdom as the other ANE cultures did, Proverbs simply describes wisdom as a woman.

The poem certainly presents a pattern for women to follow. But it also presents a pattern for men to follow as well, for this is the message of the book of Proverbs in summary. The pattern of Proverbs is that to gain true wisdom, it must begin in the fear of the Lord.  True wisdom leads to hard work, discipline, loving concern for family and the needy. 

            Helen had the qualities of the wise woman.  She passed them down to her children and through them to her grand and great grand children.  She passed them down to you and your children by her love of teaching.  I don’t know if she would see herself in this portrait here in Proverbs, but we can see that she did indeed have the qualities of a wise person.

            One of the lessons she can teach us still is this lesson on wisdom.  Are we wise?  Does our life reflect that wisdom that comes from reverence of God?  Are we wise in the sense that we order our lives to reflect God’s wisdom?

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