In the opening lines of his ode to excellent womanhood, Lemuel expressed his great admiration for someone close to him. He obviously wrote from personal observation of someone truly great—perhaps his own wife or mother.
The Hebrew word translated “wife” is the general term for “woman,” and the wise man described the excellent woman as a wife and a mother because, in his culture, most women were both. Even so, the character traits he mentioned still apply to all women regardless of their circumstances. The poet’s rhetorical question “Who can find?” and his comparison of this woman to a precious stone highlight the fact that a truly excellent woman is indeed rare. A wise husband, therefore, fully appreciates the value of his mate.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
“Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.” (Proverbs 31:11–12, 23, 28–29)
Note the affirmation and respect in those words. There is also supportive companionship between husband and wife: this woman works alongside her man as his faithful partner. He, in turn, praises her publicly and affirms her in private. He makes sure their children appreciate her goodness.
From Living the Proverbs by Charles R. Swindoll, copyright © 2012. Reprinted by permission of Worthy Inspired., an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.