The Proverbs 31 Family

“It was the woman you gave me…” Genesis 3:12

This woman you gave me. Adam may as well have said, “God, you aren’t good. You give bad gifts. God, you tempted me by binding me to this temptress. God, you rigged the deck against me.”

This kind of attitude undergirds the war of the sexes– man and woman look at each other with contempt, suspicion, and a rebellious need to control one another because we fail to believe that the spouses that God has given us are good gifts.

We think little of God’s sovereignty and grace until one of His gifts to us seems to short circuit. We think much of our own influence and goodness until we misstep. When we fail devastatingly, suddenly we’re Calvinists and God is some controlling overlord that should have stopped us, or should have put a hurdle in our way. The rest of the year we are good Arminians gleefully paving the way to our own spiritual mountaintops.

When we hate a member of the opposite sex, when we revile our spouse, we discredit God’s good gift to us in the form of a partner, and we sin against His command to be fruitful and abundant together (Genesis 1:28.)

When we are at odds with the opposite sex, a person who we are supposed to be in productive relationship with, we are not victim to a raw deal, we are continuing on with the willful, deceptive, rebellious attributes of the Curse.

I mean in this to say, enmity from a sister to a brother or a brother to a sister in Christ, is a sinful action against God’s gift to us.

We do this in all areas of life! We take something God gave us in grace, abuse the expanse of freedom given us, and then blame God for our inability to work out our salvation, to build our family, to exercise our gifting, to submit to one another, to be least, to be last, to be a faithful servant.

Look at what our compass chapter through this series, Proverbs 31, says: “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, to guzzle wine. Rulers should not crave alcohol. For if they drink they may forget the law and not give justice to the oppressed. Alcohol is for the dying, and wine for those in bitter distress. Let them drink to forget their poverty and remember their troubles no more,” (vs. 4-7.)

Kings and queens and priests– what God calls us through our sonship because of Christ, do not live in active self-pity.

And the first area of active self-pity to eradicate in the Christian life is a mistrust of God over the mistakes that a dear one made and in so doing led you into that mistake with them.

The Proverbs 31 Queen Mother advises her son to find a wife who is actively trusting in God as evidenced by her strength, dignity, and boldness (Proverbs 31:25.)

“This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They trusted God and accepted the authority of their husbands,” 1 Peter 3:5.

The challenge of this verse is marginally about submission, and majorly about trusting God. If your litmus for submission is built on trust in each other, your house will fall. We can only be successful together when our constant endeavor is to trust God and to have our productivity as a unit to stem from there.

The command for men to love their wives as Christ loves the Church is equally as much founded on trust in God as woman’s trust in her husband must be founded on trust in God. Love is not contingent upon your trust in your wife. What does Christ’s love for the Church look like?

It looks like a man who found a treasure hidden (the Kingdom of God) in a field and in His joy over it sells all He has (the Cross) to buy the field (the world), in which He has reburied the treasure. (Matthew 13:44)

Jesus did not purchase those who are His out of the world, but rather entrusted His kingdom to us while in the world until His return. That is immense trust!

That is the kind of trust that King Lemuel has in his wife, to whom he entrusts all that he has, his entire household, and the investment of his riches, and the dignity of his reputation while he rules and reigns at the city gate. (Proverbs 31:10-31.)

Our marriages, our partnerships and relationships in business and church and community dealings between men and women, the success of them, the failure of them,  reflect nothing less than our trust in God and the tides of our going in or our coming out of life under the Curse.

There is life under the law of sin and death, and their is life under the law of grace– the law of grace being full satisfaction in the goodness of God. We see the reflection of our freedom in how we behave when standing face to face with each other.

The Proverbs 31 Family

“His wife said to him…’Curse God and die.’ ” Job 2:9

What a supportive wife Job had. Willing to enjoy the years of her husband’s abundance and favor with the Lord, not however, willing to suffer in his suffering. To say to him, “curse God and die” is telling him that he should kill himself.

We can look to the church’s historical view of suicide to see why this interpretation can be valid. Suicide was once considered among the gravest and damning sins because it terminally opposes the will of God– in other words: “curse God and die.”

Again, what a supportive wife! Definitely not a woman of good report or one to take counsel from.

And with that spring board, I want to introduce the final arch in the Proverbs 31 Family series.

So far, we looked at Proverbs 31 to find that faith and calling are interdependent pursuits– male/female relationships matter. Our first families: Elizabeth and Zechariah; Sarah, Abraham, and Hagar; and Isaac and Rebekah explored what tension in male/female relationships look like and the strife it causes in our faith and calling. Proverbs 31 is about support, integrity, and unity in calling. Dysfunctional faith relationships lack these qualities.

The next set of relationships: Esther and Mordecai; Deborah, Barak, and Jael; Moses, Midwives, Mothers, and Miriam, showed the cooperative nature of effective faith relationships. Cooperation, humility, and belief gives turbo-energy to fulfilling our callings. Proverbs 31 is very much about effectiveness. The idea of gender wars energizes no one, defeats everyone, because we are meant to be one flesh under one purpose for a God who is One.

Finally in these last five families, we will tackle the most misogynistic question I know of, “Should a man listen to a woman.”

Luckily, what we will find by looking at: Samson’s parents; Mary and Joseph; Adam and Eve; and Jezebel and Ahab is exactly what we see today looking briefly at Job and his wife– whether a man should listen to a woman has very little to do with her genitalia and very much to do with what she is saying. 

Proverbs 31:11— “Her husband can trust her, and she greatly enriches his life. She brings him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.”

Proverbs 31:26— “When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.”

Proverbs 31:28— “Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her”

Proverbs 31:31— “Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gates.” or “Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.” (NIV and NLT.)

There is no mistrust in a Proverbs 31 Family. There is no disparaging in a Proverbs 31 Family.

Finally, by comparing two families that exhibit Proverbs 31 traits to two families that absolutely do not, we are about to see that not only are genders wars against God’s original plan for humanity, gender wars are gloriously surmountable within this present Christian life. Men and women are meant to, and can, be at peace with each other, work together in love, and show honor to one another as befits– not just King Lemuel’s family– but King Jesus’ family.