“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Proverbs 31:29 (NIV)
“There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!” Proverbs 31:29 (NLT)
“Many women have done wonderful things, but you’ve outclassed them all!” Proverbs 31:29 (Message)
Verse 29 is so very special. Every verse before this spoke in descriptive terms illustrating what the Proverbs 31 woman and her family was like. Here in 31:29 we have a record of the praises the Proverbs 31 husband poured upon his wife. He articulates his love for her. He declares how precious of a gift she is.
My mind is abuzz with many questions and thoughts about this verse.
My first thought is, wow that’s short! There’s an amazingly long list of things that the Proverbs 31 woman does or provides for her husband and she gets one verse of praise. He must be a man of few words.
I almost laugh to myself at the thought of a Proverbs 31 woman getting only a few words of praise from her husband. This erases any doubt I had that she was not in fact a real woman. I can now relate to her better because this shows that we face similar struggles.
Ladies, let’s face it. God blesses us with more words to use in a day then the guys we love. I heard a statistic once that said, as women we use 20,000 words a day, men average closer to 7,000. My husband would tell you that I occasionally have windy days with strong gusts up to 100,000 words. It’s true. I’m wordy. If I don’t speak it, I write it, type it or text it.
Just because men use less words than women, it doesn’t make their words less valuable or less of a treasure. Their words are a gift. Sometimes all that is needed are the few choice words to redeem a miserable day. Often times those few words have a great deal of energy, effort and love poured into their formation.
The words my husband speaks or writes to me are such treasures, which I cherish with all of my being. The only encouragement that means more to me in my life is that which I receive from God. My husband’s words speak to me greater than anyone else walking this earth with me. I would love nothing more than to hear his praises all day every day. That’s probably not going to happen anytime soon. So I’m going to move forward savoring the words I do receive from him, even if they are few and far between.
One of the greatest ways I’ve found to receive more loving, encouraging words from my husband is to thank him for all the ones I get from him. I want to show him that each uplifting word he gives me is a gift. So I pour my words back upon him. What a great cycle to be in – he pours praise on me and I return with praise for him.
It sounds so perfect, doesn’t it. Don’t worry, I’m human. I have a knack for using my words to say dumb and hurtful things. I have returned praise with a disrespectful attitude and complaints that it wasn’t enough. Why couldn’t my husband come up with something better to say than that, I often think and sometimes say out loud. Ouch! Talk about a spirit crusher there. No wonder why I don’t always get words of praise.
Look at what the Bible says about words:
“Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel” Proverbs 20:15 (NIV)
“A man finds joy in giving an apt reply – and how good is a timely word” Proverbs 15:23 (NIV)
“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” Proverbs 12:25 (NIV)
“From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands reward him” Proverbs 12:14 (NIV)
“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24
Words are jewels, they can cheer people up, they are the fruit of our lips and can be sweet and healing. The Proverbs 31 husband is blessing his wife richly by his words. God is blessing all of us by documenting them for us in the Bible.
What do we do when there is a drought in words from our husband. When life is taking it’s toll on him, when he’s preoccupied with work, and when he seems to notice very little that we do, let alone praise us for it. What do we do in those times when we are so thirsty for that gracious word, when we long for the sweet honey to touch our lips and heal what aches inside.
We turn again to God’s message, the Bible.
“Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful” 1 Peter 3:1-5
Isn’t that Amazing?!!! God is giving us instruction in the New Testament and referencing the Holy Women of the past. It’s my guess that the Proverbs 31 woman is included in that.
We win over our husbands through our actions. Like the quote that reads, “your actions speak so loudly I can not hear what you say”, we have got to live out our love for them. Love in action. Love that quietly makes sure the bathroom is cleaned, that his laundry is hanging in his closet, and that his meals nourish his tired body.
Now when we are not receiving those words of encouragement from our spouses, those actions get HARD. It’s difficult to spend an afternoon doing laundry without stewing over the lack of appreciation that we’ve not received. It’s frustrating to clean the same thing over and over and over again when the words, “Thank You” play like a distant faded memory in your mind. To do these tasks with gentleness and respect is going to take God’s help.
God wants to encourage us all. He wants to be the center of our desires and the source of our attention. He wants to fill us up. Look what it says in 1 Peter 5:10, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
God + me = Proverbs 31 shall I be
Thank You for Your direction. Thank You for Your compassion. Thank You for the gift of words.
Please Lord, pour uplifting words of encouragement, of hope, of healing, and of love upon us today. Help us to focus our minds on the blessing the positive words of our spouses have for us. Help us to disregard the negative words and to not misplace words in any silent times that we may be experiencing.
Help us to align our expectations for our Husbands with Your desires. May we come to You first when we are feeling incomplete and may we not place undue burden on the shoulders of those we love.
Thank You for making us strong, firm and steadfast! In Jesus name, Amen