Verse 28 starts with the Hebrew letter qaph. Qaph pictures the back of the head and speaks of remembrance.
Verse 29 begins with the Hebrew letter resh. Resh is a picture of the front of the head and speaks of knowledge.
The virtuous woman receives blessing and praise.
Ah, the blessings of being a mother! It begins with that first little touch of skin upon skin, all warm and wet out of the womb, the unveiling of a mysterious little face you have waited months to behold, the cuddling up of a gummy little mouth on your breast, all hungry for mama’s milk. With each new “milestone” in a baby’s life, the mother is excited and proud: “he smiled” … “he rolled over” … “he’s sitting up, crawling, walking!” Indeed, the blessings of being a mother begin at birth, but as the life of a child progresses towards adulthood, we encounter many difficulties, as well as strive to “train [him] up … in the way he should go,”PRO 22:6.
In the first 18 verses (PRO 31:10-27) of this chapter, we have been challenged to strive for feminine virtue that is precious in God’s sight. “Challenged” might be the nice way of putting it; for if you are like me, you may have felt slapped in the face or kicked in the guts by the conviction of God’s Word as it relates to the principles of Proverbs 31. There remains so much room for improvement! The Word of God is meant to rattle our cages and lure us outside of our comfort zone that we might never be complacent with our spiritual life, but strive to “excel still more” (1TH 4:1). However, the last four verses are verses of encouragement as they express for us the temporal blessing and eternal reward of a virtuous life. As we strive to live out the commands of the God we love, it is encouraging to know that our labor is not in vain. Because God is so gracious, there is encouragement, blessing, and eternal reward for what we do with the physical and spiritual assets God has given us.
The first encouragement comes from the children of the virtuous woman, written in PRO 31:28, “Her children rise up and bless her.”
The Hebrew word for “rise up” is qam. It can have several meanings but one of them is “to come to fruition.” A child can certainly be a blessing to both mother and father throughout their life, but the greatest blessing is received when they have grown to adulthood and are walking in a godly path, producing their own fruit that brings glory to God. Nothing can be more satisfying to a parent than to see their children walk in truth. Even as the Apostle John declared in 3JO 1:4:
“I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.”
I was sharing the Word of God in a very poor church in India one Sunday morning, and afterward had a conversation with the pastor and his wife. He said something I will never forget, “I have four sons, and I pray that God will send them to the four corners of the earth with the Gospel.” There were many needs and wishes this poor elderly couple could have shared with me, but the thing that was flowing out of their heart and sitting on the tip of their tongue was their desire to see their sons walk in God’s will for their life. I love that attitude!
Our children are ours for the raising; but they are not ours for the keeping! They belong to their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and are meant to grow to be His servant. In light of this, let’s consider PSA 127:1-5:
“Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city,
the watchmen keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late,
to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in His sleep.
Behold, children are a gift of the LORD; the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows
in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is
full of them; they shall not be ashamed, when they speak with their enemies in the gate.”
This psalm is a family psalm, probably penned by Solomon. It reminds us that to exhaust ourselves in striving for our family with disregard to God in our life, is vanity. The Hebrew word actually implies evil. The human hand laboring to build a home without the help of the divine hand is painful—not fruitful—labor. But as we live in fellowship with our Lord and labor for our family with His love and in trust of His care, the result is blessing from the Lord and the soul-rest that accompanies it. This psalm should be a daily reminder to serve, work, and build our family in the care of God, with His hands at the hammer—not our own.
In PSA 127:3, the Hebrew words for “children” and “gift” both convey the idea of “heritage.” To pass on the works of the Lord to the next generation was a huge part of living in obedience to God in the Old Testament, as we discussed in Lesson 16. When we are faithful in doing this, our labor returns to us through the joy of knowing God’s Word will be lived out in the generations to come.
In PSA 127:3-5, we are reminded of how very precious the life of a child is. Every child born into this world is “a gift from God.” Some parents don’t recognize their children as gifts, but as believers in Jesus Christ, we certainly should! The fruit of the womb is a reward!
In the last lesson, I mentioned spending time with my daughter as she gave birth to her third baby. Actually, I was there for the delivery and was the one that caught little Leuwen from my daughter’s womb! It was an amazing experience, and I just kept thinking, “Here is a new creation—this isn’t just a little baby, this is an eternal soul—what a gift from God!” If we daily look at our children as a gift, rather than a bucket load of work or an interruption in our lives, it would go a long way to give us patience and joy in raising them.
And then the passage says:
“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.”
I love this analogy, because arrows are the weapons of a warrior’s hand. They are sent out with accuracy to kill an enemy that is beyond their own reach. If the warrior has no training in archery, or if he has no target that he wants the arrow to reach, then his efforts are vain. The arrow misses the mark! This passage is telling us that our children are to be sent out from our hands and from our heart like an arrow, to touch a place and a time that we cannot. If we do not have a goal that we want their life to reach, then it doesn’t matter how we shoot them. But if we want them to hit the target of a life devoted to Jesus Christ, then we must raise them up to meet that target. We are to raise them to meet the spiritual enemy that ravages the world and the Church and threatens the health and stability of their own life. Let’s be diligent to shoot them out in a straight path—the path of service to the Lord. Is there any greater blessing we could receive from a child than to know they “are walking in the truth”?
This psalm should challenge young mothers to raise their little ones with diligence and seriousness and to train them to hit the bull’s-eye of God’s will for their life. When Hannah gave birth to her little gift from God, Samuel, she knew exactly what he was destined to do, and she trained him in a very short time to hit that target of service in the house of God. The prayers of Hannah are mentioned three times in 1 Samuel 1.
When Hannah brought the boy Samuel to Eli to be dedicated, she said, “For this boy I prayed, and the LORD has given me my petition which I asked of Him. So I have also dedicated him to the LORD; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the LORD,”1SA 1:27-28a. Prayer for our children is a powerful part of training them in service to God. We not only need to pray for our children (and grandchildren), but we also need to pray with our children, so that they verbally hear our request before God to take their life and use it for His glory. There was dedication and sacrifice on the part of both Hannah and Samuel, but Samuel grew to be a great prophet in Israel. Samuel rose up to bless Hannah’s life!
This psalm should also encourage older mothers who may be feeling the quiet pangs of an empty nest. There is not a day goes by that I don’t miss the sound of my children’s voices, the comfort of their hugs, the expressions of each special face. But far greater is the blessing of knowing that even though they are spread out around the world, they are touching a place and a time that I cannot. And now, as grandparents, we have the joy of watching them “train up” their own children in the way they should go, which is the crown of our old age (PRO 17:6)!
Let’s conclude this section of the lesson with this: There once was a little Jewish boy living in the land of Israel. One day, he went out to hear the Great Teacher speak, and he carried with him a lunch. He shared his five little loaves and two little fishes with Jesus. The Lord Jesus took that child’s lunch and multiplied it to feed thousands, with twelve baskets left over. Many people that day were fed, nourished, and blessed by what that little boy had to share with Jesus (JOH 6:9). What a blessing it must have been for his mother (whether she was present to see the miracle, or heard about it later) to know that her little boy was prepared and ready to share what he had with the Lord. She never would have imagined that the simple act of packing a lunch for her son would result in a miracle we still talk about today!
We never know how God may use each act of service from our hands for His glory. Live with virtue, raise your children in virtue, and they will eventually (through many ups and downs, fits and failures) come to fruition, and you will be blessed!
The second blessing the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 receives is praise from the heart of her husband. A woman seems to respond tenderly to compliments and words of praise. The Spirit of God knows this and so the promise takes on that very form. As a young woman, this is something I desperately craved but seldom heard. However, through the years, I have grown in my love for Christ and the manifestation of it in our marriage, and so has my husband. The result is that he very often praises me, and it nourishes my soul. The word used for “praise” in PRO 31:28 indicates “to make a show about, to boast, to rave and to celebrate.”
When the husband in this verse speaks his praise, he says, “Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.” The word for “nobly” is chayil, which you may remember from PRO 31:10 is the word used for “an excellent or virtuous woman.” Proverbs 31 has come full circle.
There is another principle to consider from PRO 31:28-29, but since it takes the study in a totally different direction, which we will save for next week. In the meantime, “let us not lose heart in doing good” for our Lord, our husband, and our children, “for in due time we shall reap [blessing and praise] if we do not grow weary,”GAL 6:9.
As an example, in our first full-time church, there was an elderly lady who faithfully attended every Bible class and occasionally played the piano in church services. Her husband had no interest in coming to church, and was not even a believer. She never heard compliments, expressions of love from his mouth, or praise of any sort, until ... the day before he died, he was sitting in his recliner, looked up and said to her, “You have been a good wife to me.” This wasn’t exactly raving or boasting from this old man’s lips, but even from the mouth of an unbeliever, God brought forth His promised praise (see ISA 55:11). God is faithful!
Just as the poem begins with the divine price tag of an excellent wife being far better than jewels, it comes near to closing with the price tag of her life being a cause for celebration and praise! The word used for “excel” means “to ascend or to climb.” As we strive through the years of our life to attain biblical wisdom, and practically put it into practice in our life, we “ascend” (or climb) closer and closer to the reality of living a virtuous life. A man may observe virtue in many women, but he will observe it in a more intimate way in the life of his own wife. When he does, she becomes to him the pinnacle of all women!