“Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.”
The conclusion of this chapter and also the conclusion of Proverbs finds us reading Proverbs 31:31. There is controversy among theologians as to the meaning behind Proverbs 31:10-31. According to various theologians, this passage could be referring to wisdom which is referred to as a “she” in the book of Proverbs. We can easily relate to this as a person of wisdom is a willing worker, cares for her family, cares for the poor, and has the “teaching of kindness on her mouth.” (Proverbs 31:26). However, if this were the meaning behind these verses, King Lemuel’s mother would have been more direct in her counsel letting him know that these are the characteristics of wisdom, since she was direct in her opening comments of Proverbs 31. Others have said this is the make-up of many women and not just one women.
Why is it as Christians we try to put God and His commandments into a box? Why do we seek to take the commandments of God and make them doable in our own strength? Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit penned these words, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (II Corinthians 12:10). Why is it that Paul says “when he is weak then he is strong?” We must look at Jeremiah to find the heart we must desire, “Thus says the Lord: Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:23, 24). Paul later elaborates on this in I Corinthians 1:27 “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.” In essence, living the Christian life in our own strength is not doable.
God wants us to be dependent on Him to accomplish great things, because then we have no other choice but to give Him the glory. In our own strength, Proverbs 31 living is not doable, but with the strength, wisdom, and proper fear of the Lord living out these verse is not just probable but very much within our reach.
The last three verses of Proverbs 31 are spoken by the King about his wife, and he understands that without giving his wife some of the fruit from her hands she will become discouraged and want to give up on the daunting task before her. She is still a woman with needs, both physical and emotional. Though she does not seek a reward, praise, or compensation for all of her good deeds, her husband realizes that without some fruit and praise she will become weary. He must do his part as a husband by encouraging her with his words, actions, and gifts so she continues to make such a valuable impact in her family and her community.
The praise she receives at the gates would not fall on her ears, as the “gates” were a place for the men to gather and discuss business matters or make judicial decisions. As the wife fulfilled her responsibilities, the more praise and honor would fall on the husband’s ears and be bestowed on his character. It would be the husband’s responsibility to relay this to his wife which would provide encouragement for her to keep leaning on God to fulfill all she was asked to accomplish. “A word fitly spoken, is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11). “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband.” (Proverbs 12:4). No matter how our husbands treat us, we must strive to be the virtuous woman God asks us to be. In the end, we alone will stand before God, and how we were treated is not what God will judge. How we responded and what we did with what God gave us is how we will be judged. My dear sisters, “Do not grow weary in well-doing for in due season, we will reap if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9).
- Is it wrong to seek praise for the sake of praise or for the intention of building ourselves up?
- Do we need encouragement?
- One of my favorite things to make in the kitchen is fruit pies. If I made a pie and was not able to enjoy a piece of pie, I would not be as apt to make a pie in the future. “Give her of the fruit of her hands.” (Proverbs 31:31). God understands the needs of us as women and understands we need some of our fruit to enjoy in order to encourage us. What fruit do you need to encourage you?
- One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year is to notice things about people such as qualities or needs and send them a note encouraging them with what I have noticed. I try to notice the little things that may go unnoticed. How would this be an encouragement to others if you did this? How would it be an encouragement to you if you received this type of encouragement?