Proverbs 31:28–31

"Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates" (vv. 30–31).

Having explored the industriousness, wisdom, kindness, and other attributes of the excellent wife in Proverbs 31:10–27, the author of this poetic conclusion to the book of Proverbs brings his discussion to a crescendo with words of praise for this woman. Given the great blessing that she is to her family and community, this is the most fitting response that can be offered to her.

Verses 28–29 indicate that this praise comes from her children and husband. Godly children see their excellent mother for who she is, and a godly husband does not hesitate to recognize her. She has made it possible for him to be known in the gates as an honorable man (v. 23), and he praises her for it. He has a special love for her, and everyone knows it. Her worth does not mean that there are not other women who have done excellently, but it does mean that she has provided more for him than all others have (v. 29). This is how it should be, of course. Husband and wife come together as one flesh (Gen. 2:23–25); thus, husbands are to cherish their wives above all women, refusing to take them for granted and seeking to make sure they are recognized for their contributions to their households and society.

The summary lesson that the wise man is to take away from this poem is found in v. 30: "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." Spiritual loveliness in a wife is the trait for which the wise man searches above all else, and the wise woman seeks a husband who prizes the fact that she fears God above all of her other qualities. This is not to denigrate physical beauty and attraction, for Scripture also praises these things as gifts from God, particularly in the Song of Solomon. However, it is to put physical beauty in its proper place. If a woman's heart is not dedicated to the Lord, her physical beauty is of no enduring value to her husband.

We conclude today by noting that in offering praise to his wife, the godly husband honors God. Dr. John Piper, in his sermon "A Woman Who Fears the Lord Is to Be Praised," says: "Since the Lord has made the world and is at work in us fallen creatures, it is possible to praise him indirectly by praising something he made or praising something that exalts him. . . . So God is honored through praises which come to his people for graces which he has imparted and which by their very nature exalt him." Let us who are husbands cherish and praise our godly wives that we might honor God.

Coram Deo

There are many fine qualities that we should seek in a spouse, but above all we should look for the fear of the Lord. When a husband and a wife both fear God, Christ is the center of their relationship and their marriage takes on a greater purpose—the glory of God. If you are seeking to be married, pray that the Lord would bring you a spouse who fears Him. If you are married, pray that your spouse would grow in the fear of the Lord.

For Further Study