her clothing is fine linen and purple.” Proverbs 31:22
PRO 31:22 of this acrostic poem starts with the Hebrew letter mem. Mem is the symbol of water and represents refreshment.
The virtuous woman drinks from the Living Water.
Thirst! Drink! Flow! When Jesus was in the midst of a Jerusalem crowd on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, he stood up and cried out to the eternal souls around him:
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”JOH 7:37-38 (emphasis added)
This is the invitation of Jesus to all who have a longing in their soul to know of something greater than themselves—to drink of something deeper in life than their own thoughts, motives, and energies. It is a divine invitation to partake of life, refreshment, cleanliness, and power. These are things that the world is unable to give a thirsty soul and, yet, how often we look to the world for a flow of happiness when it can only be found in Jesus Christ. The world offers the stale waters of a stagnant swamp while Jesus promises and gives the spiritual water that is flowing with life and plenty. It will be interesting to find out in eternity how many people responded that day to Jesus’ invitation of spiritual life, and how many walked away uninterested in an eternal fountain of refreshment.
The love of Jesus and His offer of salvation, is available to the multitudes; each and every soul born into this world has the opportunity to know and trust Him, for 1TI 2:4 tells us He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” But this invitation is also very personal, for previous to the passage in John 7, Jesus deliberately wandered into Samaria to give a personal offer of this living water to a poor and downtrodden woman. He went to the well in the middle of the day “to seek and to save that which was lost” (LUK 19:10). How significant is one soul to Jesus Christ! When Jesus asked the woman in John 4 for a drink from the well, she was shocked that He would even talk to her. But Jesus came to this world to die for the sins of women just like her, and for the sins of women just like you and me. Surely in a life of going from one man to another—five times—she had come to the realization that this life could not quench her thirst for happiness (for she had had five husbands and was now living with a sixth man). No doubt dreams had been shattered and hope lost. Have you ever been there?
Jesus held up the cup of well water she gave Him and spoke to the longing in her heart:
“Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst;
but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”JOH 4:13-14
The glorious Son of God gave this gracious invitation of living water to a shunned woman in a barren land. We know from the rest of the passage that the Samaritan woman came to realize that Jesus Christ was the long-awaited Messiah, believed in Him, and led many others to meet Him that day. Finally, after so much heartache and disappointment in life, she found the Source of living water!
I remember with joy in my heart when I first believed in Jesus Christ as my Savior and, in doing so, discovered “the fountain of living water” (JER 17:13)—you probably do too! We should never forget the joy of our salvation, nor should we turn away from the Source of living water in the daily struggles of our life. Jeremiah describes this danger for us in JER 17:5-6:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the LORD.
For he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes, but will live in stony
wastes in the wilderness, a land of salt without inhabitant. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD
and whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not
fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.”
I love it when verses of Scripture paint a visual picture in my mind of a spiritual truth. In reading these words in Jeremiah, I see a forsaken bush in the rocky desert and a large, lush, fruit-bearing tree by a cold, clear stream. These are two very different pictures because we all have two very different paths that we can choose to follow in life. If we trust in man and look to others, self, and the world to fill the thirsts in our heart, we will be void of happiness, joy, life, and love. We cannot even look to our husbands to fill the thirst of our heart for it is something that we will only find completely in Jesus Christ. If we trust in Him, drink from His “water,” and let His love and life flow in us, we will be refreshed and nourished in the trials of life. Every day we have this choice before us; and when we choose a path, we also choose the outcome!
“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”
Again, this picture speaks of the contrast between seeking life and happiness in our God and seeking it in this world. It’s interesting that God chose to use the word “fountain,” because a fountain in never empty, nor is it ever completely full.
One of the challenges of the Christian life is consistency: living day-in and day-out with a passion to know God, love Him, obey Him, and serve Him. When Jesus spoke to the multitudes in John 7 and invited them to thirst and drink, those Greek verbs are in the present tense— keep on thirsting, keep on drinking—so that the river of living water will flow in our belly! We receive renewed passion for our Christian life when we continue to seek Him. We cannot afford to let our thirst for Him die, nor feel that we are “full” and have drunk enough of His river. Consider these verses:
PSA 27:7-8, “Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice, and be gracious to me and answer me. When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart said to You, ‘Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.’”
PSA 34:4, “I sought the LORD, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.”
PSA 69:32-33, “The humble have seen it and are glad; you who seek God, let your heart revive. For the LORD hears the needy and does not despise His who are prisoners.”
PSA 105:3-4, “Glory in His holy name; let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad. Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face continually.”
JER 29:13, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”
I recently had a conversation with someone who had been molested by her father as a child. This young lady has forsaken her relationship with God because of what happened. She was told in Sunday school that if she trusted in God, He would protect her; and in her mind, He didn’t. So now, she has had enough of God: no more thirsting, no more drinking, no more desire for the river of Living Water to flow in her soul.
Perhaps you have found yourself, or someone you know, in a similar situation where you feel God has let you down, and He no longer deserves your devotion. When we experience those deep hurts and betrayals in life, this is the very time that we must run to the Fountain of Living Water and drink deeply of His comfort, refreshment, and strength.
When my mother was a child, she lived near an artesian spring. She said whenever she was sick, her father would take her to that spring to drink, as he believed that water to be a source of healing. Jesus Christ is the Spring of comfort, healing, and help for our soul when we fall prey to the worst that this life has to offer. The wise woman will go to Him—not away from Him—during such times.
So, in PRO 31:22, we have the mem file, speaking of a fountain of refreshment. The verse encourages us, as women of God, to keep on thirsting, keep on drinking, and keep on allowing the Spirit of God to flow in and through us. This is an important principle, as all of the other virtues we have looked at in this study are dependent on the Spirit of God working in our life.
PRO 31:22 also brings our attention to the dress of the virtuous woman. She is clothed in “fine linen and purple”—the finest of garments worn by the rich or the royal (GEN 41:42; REV 19:8; JUD 8:26; LUK 16:19). In ancient times, they would dye cloth with purple dye from sea mollusks found in the Red Sea. This was a very special dye reserved for the rich and significant people. I know many women who I would consider to be “virtuous.” Some are rich and some are not. As a matter of fact, many of the ladies I would name as virtuous live in small huts of bamboo or clay and have probably never worn a new garment in their life. But the dress of the woman does reflect the condition of her soul. A woman who lives in light of her “riches” and “royalty” in Christ will dress in a respectable manner whether or not she has money. A woman who is drinking from the living waters of Jesus Christ will have a contentment of soul that will be reflected in how she adorns herself.
But, far more important than our outer clothing is the dress of the inner person. When we daily clothe ourselves in the divine wardrobe of God’s principles, our souls will reflect the royalty that is our birthright in Jesus Christ. Consider dressing yourself in this way:
Put on the Lord Jesus Christ.“The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts,”ROM 13:12-14 (emphasis added). In this passage, Paul is encouraging us to put on the character of Christ as a guard and protection against the lusts of the flesh. To dress in the character of Christ is to reflect our position in the Royal Family of God (1PE 2:9).
Put on humility.“... and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE,”1PE 5:5 (see also PRO 3:34; JAM 4:6). To dress our soul in humility is to, once again, reflect the character of Christ—the greatest, yet most humble man who ever lived.
Put on the new self. “And put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth,” EPH 4:24. We have the power, in Christ, to be delivered from the futile ways of our old self and to live in the newness of Jesus Christ.
Put on the armor of God.“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil,” EPH 6:11. Part of the curse that came as a result of the fall was enmity between the woman and the serpent (GEN 3:15). That enmity still exists in the world today and, as women, we must beware of the hatred Satan has for God’s daughters. The armor of God is designed to protect us against the devil’s attack—don’t leave home without it!
Put on good works.“Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness,”1TI 2:9-10. This verse discusses the dress of both our body and our soul. As women who make a claim to godliness, we should dress ourselves in a way that reflects our moral character: with modesty and discretion. Our dress can either enhance or detract from the beauty God gave us. But of even greater importance is the way we adorn our soul. Regardless of our outer person, good works bring a beauty and adornment to our life that is valuable in the sight of God. As a matter of fact, good works are what adorns the eternal wedding gown of the Bride of Christ in Heaven (REV 19:8)!
It is my prayer that these verses and principles will be a source of refreshment for whatever test, trial, or weariness you may be dealing with in your life at this time. I know from experience that when I am very, very thirsty, the only thing that satisfies is cool water. There is no substitute for the basic need of the body to have water; and there is no substitute for the basic need of our soul to drink of Jesus Christ and be refreshed by His “fountain of living water.”
May you daily thirst for Him, drink from Him, and find yourself strengthened by Him in the inner man!