Much has been written about the many problems that women have:  Their psychological hang-ups, their physiological differences from men, problems with communicating and many others  that men see  peculiar to women.    This is a huge subject so the following study is limited to what God's Word teaches us about married women.    Specifically, this is a detailed examination of Proverbs 31: 10-31.    

 

Gen 2:24  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife and they shall be one flesh.  Mat 19:5  and said, For this cause a man shall leave father and mother and shall cling to his wife, and the two of them shall be one flesh? Mat 19:6  Therefore they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.  

 

There are differing opinions and theories about what exactly "becoming one flesh" means and I have this fully resolved in my mind but I'm not going to address that now.    Let's just say that a man and his wife, or wives, having been joined together in God's sight, should be united in their hearts and minds, as well as "in the flesh", and should also have common goals in life.   

 

 In order to achieve these common goals, each family member must fulfill their different roles in the marriage.    Herein lies the first set of problems in a marriage; What is the proper role of each family member according to God's Will?   1Pe 3:1  Likewise, wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, so that if any do not obey the Word, they may also be won without the Word by the conduct of the wives, 1Pe 3:2  having witnessed your chaste behavior in the fear of God. 1Pe 3:7 

 

Likewise, husbands, live together according to knowledge, giving honor to the wife as to the weaker vessel, the female, as truly being co-heirs together of the grace of life, not cutting off your prayers.   The word "subjection" here is misunderstood by too many men in the Christian community.  

 

 

Women in the Home

 

 I spent twenty-six years in the military and was subject to the authority of those who had earned their positions of leadership.    My role in the life I chose was inferior in rank to those in leadership positions above me. I was "subject" to their lawful orders.    However, I was in no way inferior to them as a person.    To subject yourself to someone's authority should never diminish you as a person.    Subordinate does not mean inferior!    To believe otherwise can only lead to a Master/Slave relationship.   

 

 That is not what God intended when He placed men in a leadership role in their families.     "- - may also be won - - by the conduct of the wives"  clearly describes a leadership role for the wives.    The conduct of the wives is "Leadership by example"!    To successfully function in any leadership role, a person must be free to operate within their areas of responsibility. 

 

A husband who keeps a choke-hold on all decisions within the family has made himself the obstacle to the accomplishment of the family's goals.    He is the problem!    It's hard to get things done when the husband goes through life with one arm tied behind his back.   

 

 I assure you that I lived a productive and satisfying life in the military, under the authority of others, because I was free to accomplish my responsibilities within the limits of my own authority.    This is why our military services are among the best in the world.    An enemy can kill all of our Generals in the field and there is never a lack of highly trained, competent, and confident replacements that can decisively take over to accomplish the mission.   

 

 In order for a wife to live a productive and satisfying life, she must have the freedom and authority to accomplish her responsibilities and personal goals under the loving leadership and encouragement of her husband.    A husband and his wife or wives are equal as individuals in God's sight even though He has ordained that the husband has the leadership role in their marriage.   

 

 The wife (or wives) has a different role to fulfill in the marriage but it is in no way inferior to the husbands role.    "- -being co-heirs together of the grace of life, - -" clearly indicates an equality between husband and wife in this life.    Different, or subordinate, does not mean inferior or less.    A loving husband is never the "master" of his family or even the "boss".   

 

 Authority does not create individual superiority!    The intent of authority should always be the efficient accomplishment of common goals and not to establish a "pecking-order". So what does God's Word say about what a wife's authority, responsibilities, and goals should be?   Pro 31:10  Who can find a woman of virtue? For her value is far above rubies. Pro 31:11  The heart of her husband trusts safely in her, so that he shall have no need of plunder. Pro 31:12  She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.      

 

 Boaz declared his kinswoman Ruth to be a virtuous woman, or of noble character (Ruth 3:11).    She is described in the book of Ruth as being an industrious worker, very kind, extremely polite, and obedient to the instructions of her mother-in-law Naomi who loved her.    Who, but a woman whose worth in God's eyes is far far above mere rubies, could have been chosen to be one of the ancestors of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah?  

 

 

The account of Ruth does not mention what she looked like, just that she was a young woman, but Boaz clearly observed her personal integrity, honesty, willingness to work hard, and the sweetness of spirit that led her to follow Naomi into a foreign land:   Ruth 1:16  And Ruth said, Do not beg me to leave you, to return from following after you. For where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Ruth 1:17 

 

Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May Jehovah do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.   What a fortunate man was Boaz that God put such a jewel of a woman in his life.    I truly believe that Ruth brought Boaz only "good and not evil all the days of her life".   Pro 31:13  She seeks wool and flax, and works willingly with her hands. Pro 31:14  She is like the merchants' ships; she brings her food from afar.     

 

All of us have different capabilities, aptitudes, education, and experience.    This determines the kinds of activities we choose to participate in during our lives.    During biblical times women's activities were centered around the home.    Women had to spin the raw wool into thread in order to make warm clothes for the winter.    The fiber from the flax plant was spun into thread in order to make linen which was more appropriate for making clothes for the summer.    You can assume that a loom was used to turn the thread into cloth for making their clothes (verse 24).   

 

This was an extremely time consuming process that was the sole responsibility of the women in the household.    Also, the flax seeds could be pressed out to extract linseed oil which could be used to make oil-based paints and possibly dyes.    That a good woman worked willingly at these tasks tells you that she took pride in what she was accomplishing for her family.   

 

Women in this day and age have various jobs and vocations away from home to earn money which benefits their families.    The virtues of  good work ethics and pride in what you are accomplishing is something that modern women have in common with the women of biblical times.    Godly principles do not change because God does not change:   Mal 3:6  For I am Jehovah, I change not.

 

 

Obviously, there were no Wal-Mart stores during biblical times and women had to go from shop to shop to acquire the merchandise they needed for their household.    Somebody also had to make a daily trip to the nearest well to satisfy the family's requirements for water.    You think the husband took care of that?    Simple logistics and the laws of supply and demand will lead you to understand that a merchant that didn't have a shop or a stall in the center town market had to lower his prices to attract customers, especially if he was located at the edge of town or away from main thoroughfares.   

 

The virtuous woman took the extra time to go where she could get the most for her money or, in the case of barter, where she could get the best exchange for the products that her household produced.    For food, the best deals were to buy direct from the farmers outside of town instead of the town market.    In this manner, a good woman would travel like the "merchants' ships" to "bring her food from afar".    Basically she was thrifty and a great manager of her household's resources.   

 

She willingly spent the extra travel time and energy to benefit her family and took pride in every good deal she made.    The good ladies of our times use the same principles when they search out and locate where to buy good quality merchandise and food for the best price.    Saturday morning produce markets are becoming more popular these days because it cuts out the middle-man, the retail grocer, for fresher produce at lower prices.   

 

 I, personally, am thrilled when a friend tells me about his wife coming home from a trip to the local thrift store bragging about the cute blouse she bought for two dollars.    I definitely consider that to be virtuous conduct on her part as long as it keeps her out of Nordstrom's.    Different times but the principles are the same.   Pro 31:15  She also rises while it is still night, and gives food to her household, and a share to her young women. Pro 31:16  She considers a field, and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.   

 

She is the first to get up in the morning, while it is still dark, and starts cooking the morning meal for her household.    "and a share to her young women" means that she is fair and kind to all in her household.    The young women are not necessarily her daughters.    A large household would have had servants and could have had slaves.   

 

 

 

 It was also culturally acceptable to have more than one wife and/or concubines.    Almost all households produced something with which to barter or sell in order to obtain those things they needed but couldn't produce themselves.    Most things were very labor intensive and it was economically sensible and advantageous to have as many workers in the family as they had room for.   

 

 Regardless of the women's status within the household, the virtuous woman was fair and kind to the women she was in charge of.    Nobody went hungry.     When the woman "considers a field, and buys it" , this is a clear statement that she had the authority and resources at her disposal (money or barter) to buy the field with the full confidence of her husband's approval and trust.    What is not implied is that she kept it a secret from her husband or that she bought it whether her husband liked it or not.   

 

 In a healthy marriage relationship husbands and wives talk about the things that they are involved with and seek each others advice when necessary.    With this in mind, verse 11 becomes more clear:   Pro 31:11  The heart of her husband trusts safely in her, so that he shall have no need of plunder.   Because the husband has such trust and confidence in his very capable wife, she has the authority and resources to buy the field and plant a vineyard.   

 

 She is the central figure within the household and the main reason that the husband will never be tempted into any illegal adventures in order for his family to survive.    This virtuous woman is an outstanding manager with the necessary authority and resources to be highly effective.      Pro 31:17  She binds her loins with strength, and makes her arms strong. Pro 31:18 

 

She sees that her merchandise is good; her lamp does not go out by night. Pro 31:19  She lays her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.   She makes a conscious effort to stay physically fit--she makes her arms strong!   She insures that the products produced by her household is of high quality and has no problems with working late when necessary.   

 

 She is a hands-on kind of leader within her household and, no doubt, actively teaches her skills and work ethics to her young women.      Pro 31:20  She stretches out her hand to the poor; yea, she reaches forth her hands to the needy. Pro 31:21  She is not afraid of the snow for her household; for all her household are clothed with scarlet. Pro 31:22  She makes herself coverings; her clothing is silk and purple.  

 

She willingly submits to God's law to be generous to the poor and needy:   Deu 15:11  For the poor shall never cease out of the land. Therefore, I command you saying, You shall  open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor, and to your needy, in your land.   In biblical times, to be clothed in scarlet was a sign of affluence.    For all in a household to be clothed in scarlet meant that this was indeed a wealthy family, perhaps.  

 

 For the woman to be clothed in silk and purple cloth was often a sign of royalty.    I don't think that this refers to a noble blood-line, but to her noble character.    Any virtuous woman of noble character deserves the rewards of her efforts and intelligence.      Pro 31:23  Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land. Pro 31:24  She makes fine linen and sells it, and delivers girdles to the merchants. Pro 31:25  Strength and honor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. 

 

 Men in those days were occupied in all endeavors that required any travel or other activities that could not be done from home.    Tending flocks and herds of animals was a major occupation.    Traders had their routes from town to town and the nearest seaports.    Craftsmen that worked with wood, metal, and stone were fully occupied and didn't spend much time at home during the day.  

 

 It was absolutely vital for a man to have an intelligent and competent wife running the household.    When a man did have such a jewel as his wife, you better believe that he didn't come back home to "take charge of the house", second-guess her decisions, and the many other follies of micro-management.    Whether the husband was home or not, she ran the household.  

 

 In the U.S. Navy the divorce rate is higher than average.    One of the reasons for this is that during the long deployments at sea the wife must run the show and when the husband returns, too many of them find fault with what his wife has done in his absence, especially how she spent their money.    This lack of trust in the wife's competence and intelligence puts an unnatural strain on their marriage so it's not surprising that many wives choose to not repeat this cycle of stress over and over again for the rest of their husbands career.  

 

 So when the men of biblical times were able to spend some time at home, they had the leisure of attending the activities at the city gates.    This is where some business was conducted, disputes were settled, discussions were held about anything from religion to tending herds, and criminals were also stoned to death by whoever happened to be there at the time.    The elders of the city normally presided over most of these activities.  

 

 A man whose household had the reputation for growing and prospering was highly thought of.    Most people want to associate with successful people and "the elders of the land" were no exception to this. 4 Pro 31:26  She opens her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. Pro 31:27  She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Pro 31:28  Her sons rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.

 

 What is the most valuable kind of wisdom that a wife and mother can impart to her family?   Pro 1:1  The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; Pro 1:2  to know wisdom and instruction; to recognize the words of understanding; Pro 1:3  to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and uprightness; Pro 1:4  to give sense to the simple, knowledge and judgment to the young man; Pro 1:5  the wise hears and increases learning; and understanding ones get wisdom; Pro 1:6  to understand a proverb and its meaning; the words of the wise, and their acute sayings. Pro 1:7  The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge; - - .   Pro 1:8

 

 My son, hear the instruction of your father, and forsake not the law of your mother;   It is no wonder that the wife was the disciplinarian of the family.    She was the one who made the rules of behavior for her children and others within the home, and enforced them.    Most husbands just weren't around every day to consistently  raise the kids in a proper manner.  

 

 It's not surprising that "the law of your mother" is expressed here.    Her law was not burdensome or received with resentment because it was given in a spirit of kindness and her household had confidence in her wisdom.    She lead by example, never afraid of hard work and late hours.    It was a pleasure to be a part of her family and her sons (and daughters) and her husband fully realized how God had blessed their lives with this magnificent woman.  

 

 All of the praise she got from her family was richly disserved because she earned every bit of it.   Pro 31:29  Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all. Pro 31:30  Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears Jehovah, she shall be praised. Pro 31:31  Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.  

 

THE WOMAN'S REWARD IS MARRIED LOVE

 

One of the greatest rewards for this woman is the love, trust, and respect that she has from her husband.    He recognizes her as his full partner in life even though God's Word and the cultural customs of that time mandates that they have different roles in life.    Remember, different does not mean less or inferior.    They need each other and they depend on each other.   So what is The Problem with Women ?   "The attitude that many men have toward them".   

 

Too many men have this dysfunctional idea that a husband has the God-given right to be the absolute master and boss of their households.    The God-ordained authority that husbands have been given over their families was not intended to be a license for tyrants.    A wife and mother can only grow and blossom into her full potential in freedom with the love and respect of her husband.    A competent and resourceful wife should never be considered a threat to her husbands authority.   Pro 12:4  A woman of virtue is a crown to her husband, - -   Competent, resourceful, trustworthy, faithful, spiritual beauty, respectful, and loving are all virtues that men and women should aspire to.  

 

 Both husbands and wives cannot grow into full intellectual and spiritual maturity if the wife is restricted and held back by an insecure husband that considers any demonstration of competence by his wife to be a threat to his authority.    Some women are fully capable of becoming the virtuous woman described in this bible passage.    Others to a lesser degree depending on the gifts and aptitudes that God has given them.  

 

 All can search for wisdom in God's Word and all can strive to achieve this standard of excellence in their lives.    What higher goal in life can a woman set for herself?    Most men are not tyrants or abusively authoritarian but too many are.    Too many Christian men misuse the writings of the Apostle Paul as an excuse to keep their wives under their thumb.   

 

Paul also wrote about how Christian slaves should act towards their masters but nobody takes this as an endorsement for slavery.    He was addressing a problem peculiar to that culture just like his instructions for women's behavior should be taken in the same context of the culture prevalent during the New Testament time period.   

 

 It is not my intent to start a revolution in Christian homes but to show you what God's Word says about how husbands and wives should act toward each other.    Freedom in Christ Jesus and freedom to grow and excel in your marriage is truly the path to happiness in this life and will create opportunities for storing up treasures for the next life.