Proverbs 31:30


1. Her exceeding worth. (Vers. 10-12.) A costly treasure not everywhere to be found; no commonplace blessing: an ornament and a joy above all that earth affords of rare and beautiful. A treasure on which the heart of the possessor ever dwells with delight.

"Continual comfort in a face, The lineaments of gospel books." She is the rich source of revenue to her husband in all good things.

"All other goods by fortune's hand are given;
A wife is the peculiar gift of Heaven."

(Pope.) If women be good, said Aristotle, "the half of the commonwealth may be happy where they are." "The greatest gift of God is a pious, amiable spouse, who fears God, loves his house, and with whom one can live in perfect confidence" (Luther).

2. The picture of her domestic industry. (Vers. 13- 22.) It is an antique picture, the form and colouring derived from ancient custom; but the general moral effect is true for all times. The traits of the housewifely character are:

(1) The personal example of diligence. She is seen from day to day spinning at her loom, the chief occupation of women in ancient times. She is an early riser (ver. 15).

(2) Her unrelaxing energy. (Ver. 17.) She has no idle hour; her rest is in change of occupation.

(3) Her personal attention to business. (Vers. 16, 18.) Whether examining land with a view to invest her savings in purchase and cultivation, or inspecting goods, her mind is in all she does She is not slothful in business, but glowing In spirit, and all that she does is done with heart.

(4) Her benevolence. Her thrift is not of the odious form which begins and ends with home, and breeds a sordid miserliness out of hard won gains. Her open hand outstretched to the poor (ver. 20) is one of the most winning traits in the picture. She has no lack of good herself, and always something over for the needy.

(5) Her care both for comfort and for ornament. (Vers. 21, 22.) Both the very spheres of woman's activity. But she observes their true order. Her first thought is for the health of her household; she provides the warm "double garments" against the winter's snow. Her leisure is occupied with those fine works of artistic needlework by which elegance and beauty are contributed to the scene of home. Refinement adorning comfort, - this is the true relation. In finery without solid use and comfort there is no beauty nor worth.


1. She reflects consideration on her husband. Her thrift makes him rich; her noble character gives him additional title to respect. His personality derives weight from the possession of such a treasure, the devotion of such a heart. Her business capacity, her energy, and the quiet dignity of her life and bearing; the mingled sense and shrewdness, charm and grace of her conversation (vers. 24-27); - are all a source of fame, of noble self-complacency, of just confidence to the man who is blessed to call her "mine."

2. Her life and work earn for her perpetual thanks and benedictions. (Vers. 28, 29.) Her children, as they grow up, bless her for the inestimable boon of a mother's care and love. She has revealed to them God; and never can they cease to believe in goodness so long as they recollect her. She basks in the sunshine of a husband's constant approved. "Best of wives!" "Noblest of women!" is the thought ever in his heart, often on his lips.

3. It is religion which gives enduring worth and immortality to character, (vers. 30, 31.) Beauty is a failing charm or a deception of the senses. But religious principle gives a spiritual beauty to the plainest exterior. Being and doing from religious motives, to religious ends, - this is a sowing for eternal fruits. And the works of love for God's sake and man's fill the air with fragrance to the latest end of time, and are found unto praise, honour, and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. - J.

A woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.
This text recognises the fact that a woman seeks admiration. She loves to be praised. What is so natural and universal cannot be wrong. Generally speaking, a woman who has lost the desire of praise is a lost woman. Her self-respect has gone, and she has parted with her strongest motive to strive after personal excellence. A. woman wins her way and strengthens her influence by the admiration she commands and the affection she inspires. Praise is more necessary to the right growth and happy development of human character than is commonly supposed. We do each other a moral wrong by withholding it when deserved. The desire to be commended may be thought an unworthy and selfish motive. It is unworthy when the heart is satisfied with the praise of foolish people. Very important it is whose praise we seek. All dishonest gains are bad. To claim commendation when we are conscious of not deserving it, or even to accept it without protest, is mean and destructive of personal integrity. To seek the honour that cometh from God, to deserve well of the good, can only spring from sympathy with goodness. The text glances at means of winning admiration which you must not rely on. "Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain." The praise these will bring you is not worth coveting. Beauty of form and feature is almost always a snare when it is not an index to beauty of soul. A woman should not place her worth in these outward advantages. She is to aim at a higher beauty, to seek to be beautiful in the eyes of Him "who seeth not as man seeth." Three things should guide you in dress — truth, order, and harmony. You violate the rule of truth if you ever dress so as to be mistaken for what you are not. You should never purchase what will have an ill look when it is shabby. If you do you violate the law of order. You offend against the law of harmony if what you have on excites remark. A woman is dressed harmoniously when her dress seems part of herself. As the world is, marriage is the goal of a woman's existence. Marriage makes or mars a woman. Girls whose chief talk is about young men merit severe reprobation. On this matter good advice may be summed up under three heads: Think little. Talk less. Do nothing. It will be time enough for you to think what your chances are and whom you will marry when the question comes before you in a practical form. This advice is based upon sound reasons and justified by manifold experiences. Piety is the bond of feminine virtues, the crown of womanly graces. A cold theology of intellectual ideas will never satisfy you. The religion that will command your devotion and obedience must offer a living person to your faith and loyal affection. The gospel offers you the Lord Jesus. Translate the description of fidelity, kindness, industry, and prudence given in this chapter into the language of to-day. Picture to yourselves this model of womanly excellence set in the duties and circumstances of your own lives, and then aim to be like her, for such will be the woman that feareth the Lord, and whom He will deem worthy of praise.

(E. W. Shalders, B.A.)

I. HER VIRTUES (vers. 11-27). Her conjugal fidelity; her kindness and constancy of affection; her housewifery and diligence; her thrift and management; her industry and assiduity; her charity and liberality; her providence and forecast; her magnificence in furniture and apparel; her reputation in public; her traffic and trade abroad; her discretion and obligingness in discourse; her care of home and good government of her family.

II. HER PRAISE. At home; in public; through the whole country where she lives. Prove virtue to be the only praiseworthy thing. Favour and beauty are frail, and subject to decay in their nature and in the opinions of men. They are things that may be counterfeited and put on. They prove too frequently occasions of evil and incentives to sensuality. The good woman prizes favour and beauty under three conditions. Not so as ambitiously to seek them or fondly to vaunt them. Not so as to rely on them as solid goods. Not so as to misemploy them, but to guide them with virtue and discretion. Praise is sure to come to the woman that "feareth the Lord." The woman has equal rights with man. A virtuous woman may mean a stout, valiant woman; or a busy, industrious woman; or a woman of wealth and riches; or a discreet woman. In its principle, this "fear" is a reverential fear. In its operations, like the warp, it runs through the whole web of all her duties. Such a woman shall be praised.

(Adam Littleton, D.D.)

I. THE APPROBATION TO BE DESIRED. The love of approbation is at once a virtuous and a powerful motive. It includes the approbation of God and of good men. Some, however, cherish the love of approbation too much, and will sacrifice principle in order to obtain it. It is a dangerous thing to have the approval of every one; it is apt to make us careless, proud, or indifferent.

II. THE FALSE MEANS WHICH ARE SOMETIMES RELIED ON TO SECURE THIS END. "Favour" means a graceful manner, demeanour, and deportment. "Beauty" refers to the countenance. We may thank God for beauty of person and elegance of manner as for any other of the blessings of this life. Used rightly, beauty may be a virtue, but perverted it becomes a source of great and awful evil.

III. THE CERTAIN AND ONLY ROAD TO APPROBATION. The woman who wishes to be praised must cultivate religious principle. Women are apt to attach undue importance to the external and to neglect the spiritual. Beauty without goodness passes away like a vapour, and leaves no trace behind; or if it succeeds in being remembered, it is only that it may be despised and abhorred.

(Clement Dukes, M.A.)

As virtues of the true matron there are named, above all, the fear of God as the sum of all duties to God; then chastity, fidelity, love to her husband without any murmuring; diligence and energy in all domestic avocations; frugality, moderation and gentleness in the treatment of servants; care in the training of children; and beneficence to the poor.

( Melancthon.)

I. FAVOUR IS DECEITFUL. Men's favour, the world's favour, how fickle it ever is, how soon it changes, and what a short time it exists! How many souls have been ruined by the world's favours! Flattery has produced pride, and has blinded the eyes and led the steps along the downward way.

II. BEAUTY IS VAIN. We need not disparage beauty in itself. Beauty of form and feature is of God. But how short-lived mere beauty of face is! Sicknesses lessen it, increasing age denies it, afflictions spoil it.

III. WHAT SHALL GIVE US POWER AND INFLUENCE FOR GOOD? Fearing the Lord. This makes the highest and grandest type of woman.

(Uriah Davies, M.A.)

That love which is cemented by youth and beauty, when these moulder and decay, as soon they do, fades too. But if husbands and wives are each reconciled unto God in Christ, and so heirs of life and one with God, then are they truly one in God each with the other, and that is the surest and sweetest union that can be.

(Archbp. Leighton.)

"A gracious woman retaineth honour." That is, a woman distinguished for her modesty, meekness, and prudence, and other virtues, will engage affection and respect when other accomplishments fade and decline.

(B. E. Nicholls, M.A.)

There is among men no general agreement as to what exactly woman is, or means, and what precisely she is for, and rather less agreement among her own sex. Woman has been a great while in finding her place, and slow in even suspecting that any place of power and dignity is her due. Woman has been cautiously conceded to have powers of thought, or to be susceptible to a degree of discipline, but those susceptibilities have been regarded suspiciously and handled evasively. In higher social classes woman is considered rather in the light of a delicacy; as no true constituent of the bone and sinew of society; more an ornament than a utility, like the pictures we hang on our walls, or the statuary we range in our alcoves — a kind of live art. A womanly woman is feminine by nature, more feminine by grace, and will be consummately feminine by translation. What it lies in the nature of a thing to become is a providential indication of what God wants it to become by improvement and development. An uneducated woman is as much a mistake as an uneducated man is a mistake. By education is meant, first of all, womanliness, built out of alternate layers of intelligence sharpened by discipline and integrity, chastened by the manifold graces of God. A young woman, as much as a young man, belongs to her times. The beauty of a home and the strength of a home is that it is the product of affectionate co-operation and conspiracy between the prime partners to the contract. Society has not yet made any improvement on the marriage idea as it is laid down in the second chapter of God's book — that the wife is to be her husband's helpmeet. The hope of civilisation is the home, and the hope of the home is the mother. Characterless mothers and enervated homes are to be dreaded more than outward assaults of immorality or insinuations of a gross philosophy; for it is the enervation of the home that gives to gross philosophy and bad morality the opportunity to take hold and do its corroding and poisonous work. Civilisation would be kept as grand as the home is kept, and the keystone of home is the mother.

(C. H. Parkhurst, D.D.)

Note —

1. Her industry and activity.

2. Her benevolence and kindness.

3. Her prudence or discretion.

4. Her devotion to God.The importance of true religion as the crowning grace of womanhood cannot be over-estimated.

(Frederick Greeves, D.D.)

Writing in her diary soon after the birth of her babe, Margaret Fuller put these words, "I am the mother of an immortal being. God be merciful to me a sinner!" A true woman cannot feel other than seriously the import of such an experience. Somebody has said, "She who rocks the cradle rules the world!" The world is what those constituting it make it. "Like mother, like child." How great and sacred are a mother's responsibilities! Her teaching and example are the most forceful agents in the formation of her child's life. Virtue is transmitted as well as evil. The good we do lives after us as potentially as the bad. The strong things in a mother's life pass on to the child as well as the weak. Let no mother say that her sphere is obscure or secondary. A noble ambition can fill no wider scope. Certain things are essential if you are wisely to fulfil your responsibilities of motherhood.

1. Endeavour to be what you would have your child become; in character, in morals, in religion.

2. Look well to yourself. Live what you teach.

3. Win the respect of your child.

4. Never let your child get beyond you in intellectual sympathy. Hearts may keep pace where heads cannot. Learn to sympathise with religious perplexities, and learn how best they may be eased and remedied.

5. Let your child be always certain of your love. Be faithful to your woman's instinct. Deal patiently and lovingly with your child. Keep the home life bright for him. Learn to respect his rights. Allow him room for the free play of the varied powers God has given him. Are you not assured of grace sufficient for all your mother-needs?

(George Bainton.).

Lemuel, Massa
Beautiful, Beauty, Boast, Charm, Deceit, Deceitful, Deceptive, Fair, Favor, Favour, Fear, Feareth, Fearing, Fears, Fleeting, Form, Grace, Gracefulness, Herself, Looks, Praised, Vain, Value
1. Lemuel's lesson of chastity and temperance
6. The afflicted are to be comforted and defended
10. The praise and properties of a good wife

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Proverbs 31:30

     4040   beauty
     5804   charm
     8337   reverence, and behaviour

Proverbs 31:10-31

     5481   proverb
     5744   wife

Proverbs 31:30-31

     5262   commendation

The Gospel Cordial
A Sermon (No. 3236) published on Thursday, February 9th, 1911 delivered by C.H. Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. on Lord's Day Evening, September 20th, 1863. "Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more."--Proverbs 31:6, 7. These somewhat singular sentences were spoken by the mother of Lemuel to her son, who was probably Solomon. She had already said to him,
C.H. Spurgeon—Sermons on Proverbs

Letter Li to the virgin Sophia
To the Virgin Sophia He praises her for having despised the glory of the world: and, setting forth the praises, privileges, and rewards of Religious Virgins, exhorts her to persevere. Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, to the Virgin Sophia, that she may keep the title of virginity and attain its reward. I. Favour is deceitful and beauty is vain; but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised (Prov. xxxi. 31). I rejoice with you, my daughter, in the glory of your virtue, whereby, as I hear, you
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux—Some Letters of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux

Of the Practice of Piety in Fasting.
There are divers kinds of fasting--First, A constrained fast, as when men either have not food to eat, as in the famine of Samaria (2 Kings vi. 25;) or, having food, cannot eat it for heaviness or sickness, as it befel them who were in the ship with St. Paul (Acts xxvii. 33.) This is rather famine than fasting. Secondly, A natural fast, which we undertake physically, for the health of our body. Thirdly, A civil fast, which the magistrate enjoins for the better maintenance of the commonwealth. Fourthly,
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

Many specimens of the so-called Wisdom Literature are preserved for us in the book of Proverbs, for its contents are by no means confined to what we call proverbs. The first nine chapters constitute a continuous discourse, almost in the manner of a sermon; and of the last two chapters, ch. xxx. is largely made up of enigmas, and xxxi. is in part a description of the good housewife. All, however, are rightly subsumed under the idea of wisdom, which to the Hebrew had always moral relations. The Hebrew
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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