Thursday, March 10, 2011

What does a woman who fears God look like?

This is a something I was reading today by John Piper. I can only pray earnestly that I even scratch the surface on becoming more inclined to this "woman". She is so beautiful on the inside that it radiates around her! Her fear of God is perfectly balanced with her faith of his best for her....

What is a woman like who fears the Lord? What sorts of things can we praise her for? I'll just mention four things that the wise man has chosen to celebrate about the woman who fears the Lord (and which I want to celebrate in my wife!). First of all, a woman who fears the Lord is not anxious about the future. Look at verse 25. I love this line, and I praise all you women who are like this: "Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come." Satan dangles in front of her the specter of tomorrow's troubles, but she glances up at the almighty God at her right hand (her magnificent German Shepherd!) and laughs at Satan's folly. She fulfills in her own life Proverbs 14:26, "In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge."

Her fear of the Lord makes her fearless of man. But it doesn't make her naïve. She knows that the Lord has appointed some means for our safety. For example, verse 21, "She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet." Winter is a fearful thing in Minnesota, and God has appointed that we do more than pray that our feet not freeze. Clothing must be made or bought. When a woman fears the Lord, she will not be anxious about tomorrow, she will do what God has appointed for her to do and trust him in everything to show her mercy.

Second, the woman who fears the Lord has practical wisdom. Verse 26, "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." We've been taught from grade school on that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Proverbs 9:10), so it's no surprise that the woman who fears the Lord "opens her mouth with wisdom." And isn't there a very close connection between a practical, gracious wisdom and freedom from anxiety about the future. The wisest people I know are the people who hope in the Lord and have quieted their soul like a child at its mother's breast. But the people who are most anxious, most tense and fretful about tomorrow, are those whose counsel I bank on the least. Women, there is a wisdom that your family and friends and associates need which will only come from a heart that can laugh at the future because it fears the Lord.

Third, the woman who fears the Lord is strong. Verse 25, "Strength and dignity are her clothing." Verse 17, "She girds her loins with strength and makes her arms strong." She will be morally strong. Proverbs 23:17 says, "Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day." The woman who continues in the fear of the Lord will have power to resist all the allurements to envy, to desire what she shouldn't have. The fear of the Lord will also increase her intellectual strength. The fear of the Lord is the impulse to wisdom, and rouses the mind to search for knowledge as for hidden treasure. And the fear of the Lord will even increase her physical strength. One of the reasons we let our bodies languish and get weak and out of tone is because we are bored and feel no excitement or hope about the future. But the woman who fears the Lord is confident and hopeful and eager to enter the future with God at her side. This kind of hope always gives us pep and vigor and increases the strength of the weakest among us.

Fourth, a woman who fears the Lord will live not for herself alone but for others, especially her husband, if she is married. Verses 11, 12, "The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not harm all the days of her life." A woman who fears the Lord will not squander the family's livelihood on frivolous purchases, but will have the complete trust of her husband because she is for him and not against him. Wherever possible she supplements his earnings rather than wastes it. But, wives, far more important than this financial support is the moral support of your husband. Verse 23 seems out of place in a song of praise to women. It says, "Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land." How is that a word of praise to the wife who fears the Lord? Proverbs 12:4 gives the answer: "A good wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is the rottenness of his bones." A wife who fears the Lord increases the esteem of her husband at the gates of the city. In twelve and a half years of marriage my wife has never done or said anything in public that would have caused me to be ashamed. She has my absolute trust as a representative of what our family stands for. There is no place I might go where I would be ashamed to take Noël. She is a crown to my head and a signet ring on my right hand. She is for me 100% because she is a woman who fears the Lord. And I pray that every wife here will, under God, give that kind of support to your husband.

Now one last mark of the woman who fears the Lord: whether married or not, she lives for the good of the needy. Verse 20: "She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy." God has drawn near and secured her future in his care. Now she draws near to those who need most help. This woman in Proverbs 31 is well-to-do and esteemed, but she does not allow her station to hinder her association with the lowly.

"Charm is deceitful, beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." She keeps before her eyes the fearfulness of running away from God into sin and so stays close to God and his mercy. She should be praised by us all because that will strengthen her hand in God, honor the Lord, and make our own lives happier. And she can be recognized because she is confident and not anxious about the future, gracious wisdom is on her lips, she girds herself with strength, she brings her husband honor by her support, and she reaches out her hands to the needy. "A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised!"


  1. I read this yesterday and again today. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Thank you, Annie!! This is really, really good stuff.