A godly wife of worth
“And the name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail; and the woman was of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance; but the man was churlish and evil in his doings; and he was a Calebite.” (1 Samuel 25:3)
Maybe you have noticed this: the Word describes the appearance of this godly woman besides her intelligence, while it only describes the morality of the ungodly man. But without having any description of the external appearance of this ungodly man, we imagine him as an ugly person. Not that he was ugly in the eyes of the world — maybe he was very handsome… — but for God he was ugly. Indeed, we have seen that for God the external beauty is directly linked to the internal virtues.
And as we have seen, a beautiful woman who likes to be called “sexy” is like a ring of gold in a swine’s snout… Indeed, she lacks discretion, for if she didn’t lack it, she would not be happy to be called “sexy”. And all women who are without Christ, even if they don’t like to be called “sexy” but DO concentrate on the pleasures and the beauty of the flesh, are without discretion. The woman who doesn’t want to lack discretion should follow the instructions of the Wisdom of God:
The Book of Proverbs (which is the Word of God) was written “to give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. He that is wise will hear, and will increase learning; and the intelligent will gain wise counsels: to understand a proverb and an allegory, the words of the wise and their enigmas. The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge: fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:4-7)
So a woman who doesn’t obey what the Word of God teaches, and thus doesn’t have the fear of God, is a fool and does not have discretion, because discretion is given by the Wisdom of God revealed in His Word, the Bible. And a woman who concentrates on the pleasures and the beauty of the flesh lacks discretion, because she doesn’t listen to the Word of God that says:
“In like manner also that the women in decent deportment and dress adorn themselves with modesty and discretion, not with plaited [hair] and gold, or pearls, or costly clothing, but, what becomes women making profession of the fear of God, by good works.” (1 Timothy 2:9-10)
A godly woman is decent and modest in her outward appearance. She doesn’t concentrate on the pleasures of the flesh, and she doesn’t want to look beautiful in the eyes of the world, but in the eyes of the Lord, by good works.
Older women who have learned wisdom from the Word of God should encourage younger women to walk in godliness, as described here:
“that the elder women in like manner be in deportment as becoming those who have to say to sacred things, not slanderers, not enslaved to much wine, teachers of what is right; that they may admonish the young women to be attached to [their] husbands, to be attached to [their] children, discreet, chaste, diligent in home work, good, subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be evil spoken of.” (Titus 2:3-5)
A godly woman is attached to her husband and to her children. In other words, she cares for them and she loves them. All what she does in life works for the good of her household to the Glory of God. She’s discreet, chaste, and diligent in home work. Yes, it is “old-fashion” for women to be workers at home, but we’re not to follow the fashion of the world but the Word of God. In the Greek original, there is one word used, and it is translated as “diligent in home work”; it literally means “home keepers”. In other words, a godly woman cares for her household and diligently bears the responsibility of all home work. It is really sad that in these days many husbands come home and do not find the care of their wives but the care of servants instead… How bad for mothers to leave the upbringing of their children to servants… The godly mother is not like that. We will see later how an ungodly husband becomes a hindrance in this virtue of the godly mother. The godly wife also does good to all people, under the leadership of her husband. We will see how this leadership is affected in the case of an ungodly husband. The godly woman is also subject to her own husband, and she doesn’t live an undisciplined life according to her pleasures, as if she didn’t have a head to obey. We will see more details about this later. Note that all these virtues are related to the Word of God: if a Christian woman doesn’t walk according to this wisdom shining from the Word of God, she will cause that the Word of God be evil spoken of.
In Proverbs 31, we find a very beautiful and important description of a godly wife. It is especially interesting to note that the Holy Spirit closed the Book of Proverbs with this description of the godly wife. As we have seen above, the behavior of a Christian wife is so important that it is linked to whether the Word of God will be evil or good spoken of!! Therefore, it is not strange that the Book of Proverbs is closed with a description of the wise and godly wife… So, Christian sisters, understand the importance of your behavior… This passage in Proverbs 31 is about the godly wife, whether she’s married to a godly man or to an ungodly man; there is no difference. The Word of God does not teach that a Christian woman should be godly with a godly husband and ungodly with an ungodly husband! I don’t know from where some women get that idea that they should be godly only with a godly husband! Does your nature change according to the behavior of other people?? Are you a Christian only in some circumstances? Are you a sheep when there are no wolves, and a wolf with the wolves??! We will see how Abigail was a godly wife with an ungodly husband and how she had all these virtues described in this study.
In Proverbs 31, we read that the godly wife should be excellent or of worth (v.10). Being a godly woman doesn’t directly mean that you’re an excellent wife (cf. v.29). The same is true about a godly man, of course. I don’t say this to discourage godliness, but I don’t want to water down the strength of the biblical message. In fact, if you’re a child of God, you will be happy that I am telling you the truth, and what I will now say should encourage and not discourage you to godliness. Indeed, the whole Book of Proverbs was written so that “A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel” (Proverbs 1:5). A man (or a woman) who has received Christ, has received the wisdom from God (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:30) and thus is a wise man (or a wise woman) and is a man or a woman of understanding. But what does the Proverb say? It says that THIS wise man or woman should hear and increase in learning! That THIS man or woman of understanding should hear and acquire wise counsel. The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge, so we should grow up in this fear and knowledge. I don’t understand why it looks like we hurt the self-esteem of some Christians when we tell them to learn from the Word of God how to obey God more and more and in a wiser way. It is even more bizarre that some so-called Christians are ready to learn from humans how to obey God, more than they are ready to learn from the Word of GOD how to obey God… And it is even more and more bizarre when this human teacher is the ungodly husband himself!! We will see more details about this later, if the Lord wills.
A godly wife should be of worth or excellent. She should have learned from God and should have acquired some maturity in faith. Many godly wives who have ungodly husbands have fallen in grave errors as they tried to find solutions for hard situations, because they lacked this maturity in wisdom and understanding. Abigail is praised because she had good understanding. She had some maturity in godliness that made her find a wise solution for a hard situation, as we will see. A godly wife should be like Abigail, and she should not stop there! She should increase in understanding and wisdom. Proverbs 31 says that THIS kind of wives is hard to be found, for her worth is far above jewels. Her faith was tested like gold in the fire of tribulations: “put to grief by various trials, that the proving of your faith, much more precious than of gold which perishes, though it be proved by fire, be found to praise and glory and honour in [the] revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7) A godly man knows that he has found a great treasure when God gives him such a wife, while an ungodly man does not value such a pearl!… On the contrary, an ungodly man tries to hinder this godly wife’s growth in Grace, as we will see. Instead of helping her grow IN GRACE, he keeps judging her for her lack of maturity and he keeps asking from her to fill the lack of maturity with some self-righteousness, thus justifying his refusal of repentance and his self-righteousness. Only those wives who have experienced this can really understand what I just said. We will see more details about this when we study the subject of the submission of the godly wife to her ungodly husband.
Proverbs 31 also says that the godly wife makes her husband’s heart trust in her (v.11). She does him good and not evil all the days of her life (v.12). The husband of a Christian woman should naturally trust her as he sees how faithful she is by nature in Christ. He knows by experience that his wife prefers to die rather than to bring dishonor to her head. He knows by experience that she is faithful to him. He knows that his wife respects him even in his absence, as she neither obeys him only to show how righteous she is, nor does she obey him for his sake only or for the sake of his carnal desires, but for the sake of God. And as God is everywhere and as she walks in His light, so her godliness and faithfulness don’t change in the absence of her husband. She knows that she’s one flesh with her husband, and she knows that he is the head, and she respects him in Christian love. And this is true not only for a Christian wife who has a godly husband, but also for a Christian wife who has an ungodly husband. She does good to him all the days of her life. This is of course the general attitude of a mature godly wife. She may have fallen sometimes in some errors, but that’s not the pattern of her life. If she committed a sin, she repents and walks in righteousness. As she grows in Grace, her errors decrease, because she learns more and more how to deal with hard situations. But the problem is that an ungodly husband does not understand what this growth in Grace and in maturity means, as we have seen above and as we will see in more details later. In hard times, the godly wife stands besides her husband. When he is sick, she provides for his health. She passes sleepless nights besides his bed. When he passes through times of trouble, she passes through them with him; she encourages him with the Word of God and not against the Will of God, even if he is ungodly and doesn’t want her to follow the Word of God. She’s not to obey her husband against the Will of God, as that will be obeying him against righteousness and against what is good for him. A godly wife does good to her husband, even when he doesn’t understand how what she does is good. We will see more about this later. In brief, she obeys God according to the purpose for which He created her: “a helpmate” for man (cf. Genesis 2:18). She does all this from all her heart, and not as a hard duty. She loves and respects her husband just as the Church respects Her Head, Christ. And she respects the family and the people of her husband. Even after his death, she respects him and his family! (cf. Ruth 1). The same should be true about a godly man also, but our study is now about the godly wife.
Proverbs 31 also says that this godly wife is not lazy; she works with her hands in delight! (v.13. Read also vv.17,27) We have seen above that Christian women should be “diligent in home work” (Titus 2:5). In a Barbie-generation like this, wives are unwilling to do home work, as that is something for the servants to whom they are ready to pay salaries instead of them doing the home work… They are the “class” women, so how can they do such an “inferior” work?… Besides this, don’t forget that there is another justification: the family needs more income, so both the husband and the wife should work outside home… So how can the “poor” wife do both works? In this case, the husband should at least do a part of the home work… While it is not bad if a husband help his wife a little in home work (as that is a fruit of love), but the normal place for her husband is outside, while her normal place is inside home. When she works outside her home, it should be with the purpose of home keeping, and not with the purpose of gaining money as the ungodly husband wants usually. I remind you what the Lord said about His disciples: “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.” (Luke 14:33) This applies to ALL true disciples of Christ, including the married Christians… So her husband should be honored in the gates (v.23), i.e. outside home, and she should be “diligent in home work” (Titus 2:5). That’s how the Word of God describes the godly woman’s position and responsibilities. If you read Proverbs 31 carefully, you will notice that all the works described as done by the godly wife are works related to her home work and/or represent the works that a godly wife does as a help for her husband, and NOT as her own business or her own work unrelated to her house. Her activities are driven by the priority of caring for her family (read for example vv.18,27,28), and not by the wish to gain more money, as “the love of money is [the] root of every evil; which some having aspired after, have wandered from the faith, and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:10). Look how the Word describes the works of the godly wife:
– “She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.” (v.13) And what does she do with them? “She putteth her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.” (v.19) So a godly wife prepares clothes for her household! That’s why “She is not afraid of the snow for her household; for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverlets; her clothing is byssus and purple.” (vv.21-22) Of course it’s not bad to buy clothes from stores that are available everywhere in these days… But this passage is not only about clothes. While godly women are to be encouraged to work with hands to prepare house needs similar to clothes, there are also other jobs today for a woman that are other ways of taking care of her household. One of those jobs is to take care of children in kindergarten, for example. In this case, she may be with her children besides other children to teach them in their first steps in life. Teaching in school is not much different. And other similar jobs may suit a decent woman who wants to take care of her house and at the same time work diligently to provide for her household. But a godly woman should NEVER do a work that may expose her decency to any harm and may also dishonor her husband. And in all cases, the choice of the work should be done in total agreement with her husband and with careful and close consideration of the rights of their children. All this is easy with a godly husband, as all is done prayerfully, but it is very hard with an ungodly husband, as we will see.
– “She is like the merchants’ ships: she bringeth her food from afar” (v.14). In those days when these Proverbs were written, the wives usually helped their father or their husband in all what was related to home-keeping. One of those works that were related to home-keeping was the tending of flocks: “While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess.” (Genesis 29:9) Another work was the work in the field with the father or the husband or a relative: “And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after one in whose sight I may find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.”” (Ruth 2:2) This is also seen in Proverbs 31:16,19. Another job is also described in v. 24: “She maketh body linen and selleth it, and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.” (Proverbs 31:24). In all cases, the protection and the supervision of the father or of the husband should be present whether directly or indirectly so that the decency of the wife should not be hurt (cf. Proverbs 31:25), as you can see easily if you study the contexts of Genesis 29:9 and Ruth 2:2. We will see how the ungodly husband doesn’t care for this, and how the godly wife needs to find wise solutions for such hard situations. Even today, in many countries of the Middle-East, you can find wives helping their husbands in works like tending flocks or working in the field. And a wise wife knows how to use the results of those works, whether milk or grains etc, to exchange them with merchants or people who bring from other countries some products that she cannot find in her country. A godly and wise wife knows how to do this, of course under the supervision of her husband, as we have seen above. These basic works that were available in those days are replaced today with many other modern forms of works. The Christian wise woman should learn how to apply all the principles that we are seeing in this article in the choice of her job, even when the ungodly husband becomes a hindrance in this wise choice. I remind you that the godly wife should obey her husband NOT against the Will of God but ACCORDING to the Will of God, just as Christians should obey Caesar NOT against the Will of God but ACCORDING to the Will of God, giving to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. We should never give the things that are God’s to Caesar… This is the principle that all Christians, including godly wives of ungodly husbands, should follow with authorities, whatever that authority is. We will see more details about this when we study the subject of the submission of the godly wife to her ungodly husband.
Proverbs 31 gives a detailed description of this wise wife, and we can study this passage in more details later, if the Lord wills. In this article, we have seen a summary of what this chapter of Proverbs says about the wise godly wife. This is how Abigail was: of good understanding (or intelligent and wise). She was beautiful, but not according to the principles of the world, as we have seen. She was beautiful in the sight of God, as she was a wise godly woman:
“Gracefulness is deceitful and beauty is vain;
a woman [that] feareth Jehovah, she shall be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her own works praise her in the gates.”
In our next study, if the Lord wills, we will study the submission of such a godly wise wife to her ungodly husband. Keep in your prayers these studies and all those who participate in them and those who read these articles.
Grace be with you!
Disciple of Jesus Christ