Several months ago, Caitlin and I were in a small group Bible study reading through Proverbs 31. The normal reading of this text is to see the characteristics of a godly woman but, as the lesson was unfolding, I was wondering how I, a Christian man and godly husband, fit into this passage. As you are aware, there is no Proverbs 32 written about the godly man, so my curiosity pushed me to search this passage to see what the application was for men like me.
My quest began in the latter half of the chapter and mainly concerned three verses.
31:23 states, “Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.”
In Old Testament times, having a seat at the gates of a city meant that you were in a leadership role. It was a sign of status, prominence, respect and revealed a certain level of governing authority. Notice where and with whom her husband is sitting. He has a high position of influence among the inhabitants of this city and it is from this location that we are better able to understand the following verses.
31:28 says, “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her….”
Notice again what the godly woman’s husband is doing. His actions play a huge role into where he is sitting. What we see in this passage is that her husband is publicly praising her. However, one must wonder how exactly this praising is carried out and that is revealed in verse 31, the very last verse of the chapter.
31:31 ends by saying, “Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”
The participants have changed, but the actions and overall results have remained the same. In the verses prior, her husband is seen sitting in the gates and is praising her, but this last verse says that her works praise her in the gates. Well, which is it: her husband or her works?
Her works are pictured praising her in the most prominent place of the public sector, but she herself is not present at those gates. So do not misunderstand, this is not conceited praise from the lips of an arrogant woman making sure everyone in town knows about her. On the contrary, she is nowhere near the public eye at this time, yet the leadership and the entire city are all benefiting from her works. How can this be?
A Personal Application
In many of the blogs I write it has been natural for me to have a more aggressive tendency. I fear that I have even turned people away at times because of my harsh tone in the past. However, I have been deeply impacted by the ministry of my wife to me. Proverbs 31:26 says, “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” I have found this to be an accurate description of the way my wife has influenced me, which is why she oversees the editing of these blogs.
As I am currently in Seminary, I expect to someday sit in a prominent place of leadership and influence over other people and have come to recognize that God has used my godly wife to teach me to exercise wisdom and kindness in my interactions with others.
In Proverbs 31 we see a husband who has benefited so much from his wife that his ministry and role of leadership has been greatly impacted by her ministry to him. It is her ministry in his life that has resulted in much fruit. Her works of kindness, grace and generosity are shown in the personality of her husband who is an authority in the city. He has learned much wisdom from her, and his manner indirectly praises her works.
This truth reveals her humility in the fact that she does not seek to be seen. She is not concerned with having the spotlight on her because the godly woman recognizes that the spotlight is to always remain on Christ. As I listen to godly men such as John Piper, David Platt, Francis Chan and others, I am curious as to how much of their wives’ influence on their own lives I am hearing.