Last time we began to explore specific ways the free enterprise system set the “virtuous wife” (v. 10) of Proverbs 31 free to benefit her husband and her entire household. All those things that social justice crusaders have told you about capitalism are wrong. I speak of the capitalist system under which the wife and mother in Proverbs 31 operates. This is capitalism, or the free market, as it was meant to operate.
Acting responsibly and to benefit, not just herself, but her loved ones as well, the noble wife works hard, invests wisely, makes a satisfying profit, and manages her assets well. She has not acted out of greed, but out of duty — but the reader can tell this woman finds both her work and its results intensely satisfying.
Here, in part 2, we resume our study of Proverbs 31:10-31 by examining additional ways this noble woman’s work benefits and blesses so many.
Having noted previously that the noble wife helps the poor with a portion of the profits she has made from her manufacturing enterprise (see v. 20). We see a reminder of this again later in the chapter. This reminder highlights not only her posture toward the poor, but also her natural motherly instincts. She is indeed a mother, as we learn from verse 28. Verse 26 says,
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
Do not miss the connection here. Those with whom this woman interacts, especially her children, hear her speak “the law of kindness.” Kind actions do not merely result from feelings of sympathy for those less fortunate or from a desire to foster unity among people for unity’s sake. Authentically kind actions are tied to a set of laws that are best summarized by the two greatest commandments: the divine commands to love God wholeheartedly and to love one’s neighbor as oneself (see Matt. 22:34-40). We treat people with kindness because God makes them in His image (see Gen. 1:26-28). We’re also reminded that kindness is a “fruit of the Spirit,” and against qualities such as “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, [and] self-control…there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23).
There’s something else we should say about God’s having made us in His image. Acting under a free market economic system, we are free not only to prosper, but to dream and produce creatively, reflecting the reality that we are creative beings whom God made. We are not robots, but independent thinkers; and free enterprise, or capitalism, recognizes this and allows us to act in obedience to the divine command of Genesis 1:26-28.
Why is this wife, who is a mother as well (as we saw in v. 28), confident about the future? Verses 21-22 tell us. In her work, she has considered her family’s future needs and, like the industrious ant of Proverbs 6, has acted to meet them ahead of time. The same quality goods made of linen and wool that the noble Mrs. produces to sell to others (see verse 24), she makes for the members of her own household, including “herself.” Mark it down! This is not a manifestation of greed or selfishness. Engaging in hard work to provide for oneself and one’s own household are virtues, not flaws or traits for which to be ashamed!
The members of the community understand this. This woman’s husband has a stellar reputation, for he
23 is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
He and his family are known as responsible, self-sustaining members of the city or town in which they reside. They are not freeloaders. Not only do they make their own way, but they provide examples others can confidently follow, leadership for the entire community.
A Woman to be Praised
In part 1 we noted that “the wife whose ‘worth is far above rubies’ (v. 10) and who is married to a man with a ‘heart [that] safely trusts her’ (v. 11) is a woman who freely, enthusiastically, and wisely takes advantage of all that the free market system has to offer.” Do not miss this point: Under socialism, everyone but the elite few (the dictators) struggle. Only under a free market system can anyone thrive by working hard. When all are unhindered from exploring their opportunities to work, produce, and create under the free enterprise system as it was designed to operate, everyone benefits.
Under socialism, everyone but the elite few (the dictators) struggle. Only under a free market system can anyone thrive by working hard. When all are unhindered from exploring their opportunities to work, produce, and create under the free enterprise system as it was designed to operate, everyone benefits.
I hope you have seen it: I am speaking of the truth that it is under the free market system that the “virtuous wife” of Proverbs 31 (see v. 10) can watch “over the ways of her household” (v. 27) and by refraining from eating “the bread of idleness” (v. 27) bring prosperity to her family and material and relational blessings to others.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
A Commitment to God
One final insight about the free market approach versus socialism: Operating as it should, the free market system allows people to worship God. By contrast, socialism sets the state up as God and makes slaves of all its citizens. How appropriate, therefore, that the woman who has honored her husband and family, blessed others, and honored God under the free market system is, in Proverbs 31, applauded by “her own works.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.
While she is praised and honored, she, in turn, with her actions, lifestyle, and we can assume, with her words as well, honors the Lord.
This is as it should be. As Moses told the Israelites in Deuteronomy 8:18:
And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
The noble woman in Proverbs 31 didn’t forget. May we not, either.
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Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
In this article, links to Proverbs 31:1-10 via biblegateway.com also showcase the passage in the Christian Standard Bible, the CSB. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.
In this article, links to Proverbs 31:1-10 via biblegateway.com also showcase the passage in the NLT, The New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.