Book Sale

Thursday 25 August 2022

Elder's Wives - The Proverbs 31 Woman

Image: Unsplash

When electing elders it is vital that you not only get the right kind of man, but the right kind of man with the right kind of wife. This is vital.  

Elder’s Wives - Now some people think it is curious that none of these passages directly have advice for elder’s wives (unless you include 1 Tim. 3:11). Titus does address older women, which we will look at in the coming weeks. But why don’t these passages directly address elder's wives?

Some people might think that it does not address them, because it does not matter. A man should be chosen on his merits, and his wife’s character is not that vital. But I could not disagree more, because Paul says in 1 Timothy 3:4 – “4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?”

So, considering a man’s wife is part of his household, then how she follows her husband’s lead is vital.

So why does Paul not address elder’s wives directly?

Well, I think the answer to that is because the Bible has already done that brilliantly, in Proverbs 31. An oft misunderstood passage. Let’s look at it – “10 An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. 11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. 13 She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. 14 She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. 15 She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. 16 She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. 17 She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. 18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. 19 She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. 20 She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. 21 She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. 22 She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. 25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. 26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 27 She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” 30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”

Now, the reason this passage is so often misunderstood is two-fold. Firstly, it begins by saying, “An excellent wife who can find?” Most men consider their wives excellent, so they immediately see their wife as the Proverbs 31 wife. Who has the gall to say his wife is not excellent? But this passage defines excellent in a specific way. Second, people see this woman as highly active, even in the marketplace, “24 She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant,” so they confuse this with saying that she should be out working like her husband is.

But what this passage is describing is a man who manages his household well, verse 1-2 begins, 30:1-2 “1 The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him: 2 What are you doing, my son? What are you doing, son of my womb? What are you doing, son of my vows?” Lemuel’s mother is giving him advice and wisdom about how to manage his kingdom, and his household. And in this context she tells him what kind of wife he will need to manage his household well, so he can be a leader among men.

Proverbs 31:10-11 – “10 An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. 11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.”

What kind of wife does a leading man need? One to whom he can delegate the responsibilities of managing the home, which in this day, included negotiating in the town marketplace, so that he can focus on his job. And what is his job? To lead. To be an elder – “23 Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.”

In other words, Proverbs 31 is describing to us the character of the elder’s wife. What is she like? She is the woman to whom he can trust with all the management of the household, so he can crush and win for them in society.

This man does not need to micromanage his wife. He does not need to take her role from her. He does not need to worry about being harangued for not taking her role. He simply focuses on his role outside the home, to lead, provide and manage the city. And she focuses on keeping the fort so he can do this.

She is the kind of wife Darryl Kerrigan has: And because Darryl has this kind of wife he can crush, he can win, in society.

This was the norm in our country not that long ago. But now guys like this are seen as sexist or misogynist. Which makes me laugh. When people criticize my old-fashioned ways, I like to laugh and say thanks for noticing.

If you have ever wondered where are all Australia’s leading men have gone? They are buried under the weight of seeking to live in egalitarian homes without clear gender boundaries. Why? Because a wife such as this is hard to find today.

Now, we live in a society where a man is told from every direction he is supposed to be encouraging his wife to give half of the Proverbs 31 duties to him. And that he is supposed to give half of his duties to her. 

This is why there is a dearth of the right kind of leadership in the church and in society. Because the church decided to reject traditional gender roles, and now most men and women are worn out, society is confused, and there are less and less men with wives like this to choose from. That is something to ponder.

So, not only does the Bible address the elder’s wife, it does it in a beautiful and brilliant way, that it appears Paul felt no need to add to. 

This is an excerpt from a sermon, you can hear the rest of this message here

No comments:

Post a Comment