ARTISTS TELL YOU TO “DRAW WHAT YOU SEE,”
NOT WHAT YOU “THINK YOU SEE.”
AND BIBLE SCHOLARS WOULD TELL YOU TO READ WHAT IS THERE INSTEAD OF WHAT YOU THINK IS THERE WHEN YOU COME TO FAMILIAR PASSAGES.
This week I want you to really look at the Proverbs 31 woman, for so many have come to this passage with a picture already in their mind of a mousy
“Bill Gothard” kind of woman.
Considering the patriarchal culture in which this was written,
instead, she was a paradigm changer!
She reminds me of the 7 women in the new book by Eric Metaxas:
women like Susannah Wesley and Rosa Parks who cared intensely about their families, but also about a lost, hurting, and unjust world.
What was their secret and the secret of the Proverbs 31 woman?
She feared the Lord and did the next right thing.
Her beauty is not beyond us.
EVEN TIM KELLER SAYS IT IS DIFFICULT NOT “TO GUSH” ABOUT HIM.
HAVING JUST READ 7 MEN,
I EAGERLY AWAITED THE RELEASE OF 7 WOMEN A WEEK AGO.
IT WAS THE ANSWER TO PRAYER AS I APPROACHED PROVERBS 31.
WHO IS ERIC METAXAS?
I BECAME FAMILIAR WITH HIM THROUGH HIS BIOGRAPHY ON BONHOEFFER.
BUT THERE IS SO MUCH MORE. ABOUT ERIC METAXAS
HIS ARTICLE ON THE SCIENTIFIC EXISTENCE FOR GOD WAS THE MOST READ PIECE IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL IN A DECADE: SCIENCE AND GOD
HIS SCALPEL FOR EXPOSING HYPOCRISY IS HUMOR,
SUCH AS HIS SATIRE ON DONALD TRUMP’S PROCLAIMED CHRISTIANITY
IN THE NEW YORKER: THE “TRUMP” BIBLE
YOU’LL WATCH AN INTERVIEW WITH METAXAS THIS WEEK,
AND THIS IS A GLIMPSE
OF HIS INTRODUCTION TO 7 WOMEN:
When I consider the seven women I chose, I see that most of them were great for reasons that derive precisely from their being women, not in spite of it; and what made them great has nothing to do with their being measured against or competing with men. In other words, their accomplishments are not gender-neutral but are rooted in their singularity as women. All of them existed and thrived as women and stand quite apart from anything touching the kind of thinking I encountered. …Joan of Arc is a good example…There was nothing even slightly “manly” about her. On the contrary, it was her youth, innocence, purity, and holiness that made it possible for her to do what she did. …Similarly, Rosa Parks was specifically chosen to do what she did because she was a woman. …Her feminine dignity was vital to the case.
What was the secret behind each of the women’s greatness? Because they feared and loved God, they did not fear man and were emboldened to do what was right, and in so doing, whether hiding the Jews, as Corrie ten Boom did, or training her children, as Susanna Wesley did, or influencing the culture about the evils of slavery through her poetry, as Hannah More did. And one day, their biological children and/or their spiritual children will rise up and call them blessed. You have the same power of the Almighty God in you, and He created you as a woman with special gifts that can be used to influence for good wherever He has placed you.
SUNDAY, Week One
1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
MONDAY-WEDNESDAY BIBLE STUDY
Proverbs 31 begins with a short piece of a mother’s warnings and exhortations to her son, the future king. None of us who are mothers or spiritual mothers know what these children will become, but we are called to be faithful. Many great men and women look back and praise their mothers.
2. What warnings and exhortations does this mother of a future king give to her son in Proverbs 31:1-9?
The next famous passage that we will spend our time on has intimidated many women. But instead of being intimidated, I want you to see how valuable you are as a woman in God’s eyes. There is nothing in Near Eastern literature, Ellen Davis says, that measures up to this biblical description of the value of a woman. Christianity has elevated the status of women. When Eric Metaxis writes about Hannah Moore, he tells of how her faith in God and her understanding of her value to Him helped her change the culture in which she lived — not only to see the African Americans who had been enslaved as equals with dignity, but to see wives, as equals, deserving of education.
Hannah’s idea that a large part of women’s education should be to make them better companions in marriage may seem backward today, but it was forward thinking for the time. “Indeed,” says Karen Swallow Prior, “the companionate marriage — rather than the economically expedient one that had been the norm for all human history — was an idea advanced by evangelicals, including Hannah, who understood that marriage to be be an institution established to advance the kingdom of God, not property.” Hannah was not married, but she had a profound impact on William Wiberforce which was portrayed well in the movie Amazing Grace.
Ellen Davis says that there is nothing like this description of a woman in other religions, and in fact, she may personify the Lady Wisdom we have seen throughout proverbs. She definitely elevates the importance of the homemaker, but was not confined to that. She is a composite of all that is good in femininity, but do not be intimidated by her, for in many ways she represents the Bride of Christ. We can’t each do everything, but together we are, as the Song of Songs says, “like an army with banners.” By abiding in Him and listening to His calling for each day, our impact can ripple out through the generations.
3. What thoughts do you have on the above way of looking at the Proverbs 31 woman?
Another great believer who was friends with John Newton and William Wilberforce was Charles Wesley, the son of Susanna Wesley. His conversion experience is recorded in his most famous hymn (other than Hark the Herald Angels) Prepare your heart with this:
4. Read Proverbs 10:10-12 and describe an excellent wife.
I am so inspired by Susana Wesley and the mighty sons she raised: John and Charles. One of her famous quotes has been a bar for my life:
Do not live lives as the rest of humankind, who
pass through the world like straws upon a river,
which are carried which way the stream or wind drives them
Susanna raised very godly children, often without the help of her husband. He was often absent, in debt, or discouraging to her. When her church was failing under poor leadership and Samuel was gone, she began to read Samuel’s sermons aloud in her house on Sunday evenings. Soon her home was packed. Samuel wrote her to stop. She wrote back in a way that I think who respects God’s command for submission, but also fears the Lord.
“If you do, after all, think fit to dissolve this assembly, do not tell me that you desire me to do it, for that will not satisfy my conscience; but send me your positive command, in such full and express terms, as may absolve me from guilt and punishment for neglecting this opportunity of doing good, when you and I shall stand before the great and awful tribunal of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
5. What do you think of Susanna’s response to her husband?
6. If you are married, do you think your husband’s heart trusts in you? Why or why not?
This Proverbs 31 woman is obviously wealthy and has servants. She also is certainly not confined to the home.
7. According to Proverbs 31:13-24, what are some of her various business endeavors?
8. How do you see her interest in helping the poor?
9. Meditate on Proverbs 31:25-27. I’m hoping you can read it over and over. Share anything that quickens you.
This is long — but so interesting and entertaining. Videotaped just this month, the day of the 2nd Republican Debate.
10. Share your notes and comments on the above.
11. What is your take-a-way and why?