Imagine it’s your anniversary and your hubby plans an amazing evening for the two of you. He takes you out to a great restaurant, has a bouquet of flowers waiting at your table, and pulls out a jewelry box. As he cracks the lid you see the glistening sparkle of two gorgeous earrings. You’re speechless. Everything is perfect until he says, “Oh by the way, they’re cubic zirconia…” Well an evening like that would still be wonderful, and we’d still appreciate everything he did, but wouldn’t it have been nice if they were real diamonds? Any of us would love nice jewelry from our husbands, but diamonds are a whole different level. Well, when it comes to our being faithful wives to our husbands, some of us are giving him cubic zirconia when we could be giving him a real diamond.
We’re all familiar with Proverbs 18:22: “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” Every married man experiences blessings from their wives. We give him companionship, children, and we are his helper. So any wife is a “good thing.” But should we be content with being a “good wife”? What if we could be an excellent wife? What if we could give our husband a real diamond instead of the discounted look-alike? Well that’s what Proverbs 31 is all about.
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“An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels,” (Proverbs 31:10). An excellent wife is like fine jewels. Both are precious, both are rare, both are hard to find, but an excellent wife is even more valuable. Let’s focus on that word “excellent” for a moment. I was surprised to learn that in the original language the basic meaning of this word is “strength” (Weber, 271). Many times in the Bible it’s translated as “might”, “power”, “ability”, “valiant”, etc… In fact, this is the same word used to describe David’s “mighty men of valor” (cf. 1 Chronicles 7:1). An excellent wife shows real strength, she’s full of virtue, and she’s willing to go above and beyond what’s typically expected of wives. This verse introduces us to the excellent wife, and begins a section that continues down through verse 30, listing all the qualities of what God’s inspired writer considers an “excellent” wife. In this article we’re just going to look at six of these qualities of the excellent wife, and try to make some modern day application so that we can all strive to be that excellent wife for our husbands.
1. An excellent wife doesn’t max out the credit card
“The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain,” (Proverbs 31:11). As we study the Proverbs, one thing we’ll notice is that oftentimes the second part of a verse explains the first part of a verse. This is a common technique in Hebrew poetry called “synthetic parallelism.” This is very important in this verse because here “and he will have no lack of gain” explains what it means to say “the heart of her husband trusts her.” This is NOT talking about a husband trusting his wife with his emotions, but his wallet. The husband of an excellent wife is not the least bit concerned that she’s going to blow his paycheck and put him in debt (i.e. “he will have no lack of gain”).
If we want to be that excellent wife for our husband, we can’t allow our money to burn a hole in our pocket faster than we or our husband can earn it. Excellent wives budget their spending responsibly.
2. An excellent wife views her marriage as a marathon, not a 100 meter dash
“She does him good and not evil all the days of her life,” (Proverbs 31:12). Now the writer here is not talking about sinless perfection; if that were the case nobody could be an excellent wife. Instead, this is talking about her overall commitment to make sure that she’s going to please her husband each and every day, until death do us part. Some wives put their best foot forward at the beginning of their marriage, but later become satisfied with giving less effort. Excellent wives strive to do their best from the beginning, and see each day as an opportunity to keep improving.
If your husband was at the end of his life, and someone asked how he felt about his marriage to you, wouldn’t you want him to say, “I know there were hard times, but all I can think about is how good she was to me…”
3. An excellent wife doesn’t spend her afternoons watching Oprah
“She looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight,” (Proverbs 31:13). Notice the descriptions here. The fact that she “looks” shows she’s active and takes initiative. “Wool and flax” were every day essentials, used for weaving clothing. She “works with her hands” indicating she’s a hard worker. All of this is done in “delight” meaning she’s more focused on how much this will help her husband than having to do the work itself.
Whether it’s scrubbing toilets, cooking meals, working a paid job, or doing it all, it’s easy to feel unappreciated and unmotivated. An excellent wife takes joy in knowing what she does contributes to the well-being of her family. She does her important work without being resentful or dragging her feet.
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4. An excellent wife will go the distance
“She is like merchant ships; she brings her food from afar,” (Proverbs 31:14). Why would anyone need a merchant ship? Well, because you don’t have what you most need and it’s far away! An excellent wife is very much like a merchant ship in that she puts in a considerable amount of effort to provide what her family needs most.
I know a mother who frequently drove three hours, one-way to bring her son to a special doctor to help him. We need to have this same attitude when we provide the things our family needs most. This even includes when our husband calls us up panicking because he needs supplies from the store to put together a business portfolio in an hour, even when you just got back from the store.
5. An excellent wife is the oil that keeps the whole engine running smoothly
“She rises also while it is still night and gives food to her household and portions to her maidens,” (Proverbs 31:15). Excellent wives get up early and make the most of their day because their time is too important to waste lying in bed. She’s fine with being inconvenienced because she knows how important her service is to those who are going to benefit.
Obviously, this applies to a wife who begins her day by waking up early and making sure her family has everything they need to start the day right (e.g. a hot meal). However, this principle could be applied in many ways. For example, this is just like the wife who invites visitors over to her house for lunch after worship, knowing she will have something to feed them because she has already made plenty of food before worship.
6. An excellent wife squeezes a penny and makes a nickel
“She considers a field and buys it; from her earnings she plants a vineyard,” (Proverbs 31:16). An excellent wife is industrious. Notice how she “considers” which means she does the proper research and planning; she doesn’t buy the first thing she sees. She’s able to buy a field because her husband trusts her financially (remember verse 11?). She’s able to plant a vineyard from her “earnings” which, in this context, might be money she made from selling the clothing she weaved from “wool and flax” (cf. Prov. 31:13).
Today we don’t buy many fields or plant vineyards, but there are still many applications of this verse. I know another woman who uses her talents in quilting, knitting, and especially woodworking to make quilts and furniture to sell for a profit. There are all sorts of ways we might use our talents and opportunities to benefit our family.
In briefly looking at this passage, God shows us at least six qualities we can all embrace as we strive to go from being a “good” wife, to becoming that “excellent” wife. Don’t you think our husbands deserve to see the real diamond come out in each of us?
by Katie Simpson
Katie Simpson and her husband Jess are recent graduates of the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. They are temporarily living in Durango, CO while Jess works as an intern preacher under the preacher Guy Orbison. Jess and Katie have no idea where they will end up, but Jess intends to be a full time pulpit preacher. In the past Katie has worked as a wildlife technician for the Wyoming Game and Fish Dept, the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the US Forest Service. Currently she is training their new puppy. Katie enjoys hiking, shooting archery tournaments with Jess and bird watching.
Weber, Carl Philip. “624 “. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr. and Bruce K. Waltke. electronic ed. Chicago: Moody Press, 1999.