Proverbs 31:23

Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.

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One measure of a wife is the reputation of her husband. When she fulfills her role well, all know he has a charming wife, delightful children, a wonderful home, and a growing estate. He will have the confidence and freedom to engage in higher callings among men.

Her faithfulness and productivity provide the help that make ordinary men great and great men greater. Others will respect him for his blessing and wisdom in marrying such a woman. As God intended in Eden, a woman can help a man in most every area of his life.

Of course, the man who marries an odious woman is also known, for he cannot hide her appalling traits (Pr 27:15-16; 30:21-23). A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband, but an odious woman shames her husband and rots his bones (Pr 12:4). When his friends meet her, all they can see is the smelly pig wearing his wedding ring (Pr 11:22). Many pity him for his pain, but others despise him for choosing her and putting up with her.

Business and legal matters were once settled at the city gate. Cities did not waste money on bureaucracy and costly buildings. Wise men met at the city’s entrance, where they settled business conflicts, legal issues, and civic questions. They also established contracts and enforced the criminal code. It was a high honor, and it reflected business success and wisdom for a man to sit in the gate. Fools were not allowed there (Pr 24:7).

This proverb is about women, not men. Do not get distracted by a wise man being known among the elite of his city. Part of the reason for his reputation is the jewel he married. This proverb is in the middle of a queen mother’s description of the perfect wife for her son (Pr 31:10-31). Arrogant, lazy, or rebellious women resent these character traits, because they expose their faults. Wise women accept that God and a mother wrote them.

A good man can be great with a great wife. It has been said, “Behind every great man, there is a great woman.” This woman can be his mother (Pr 1:8; 4:3; 6:20; 31:1-3). But it can also be his wife (Pr 12:4; 18:22; 19:14; 31:10,28). King Lemuel’s mother knew her son needed a special woman to be a successful king. She could help him domestically, emotionally, financially, mentally, morally, sexually, and socially (Pr 5:15-20; 31:10-31).

An odious wife drives a man crazy: she breaks his heart, crushes his spirit, and steals his courage: he has an enemy in his home and bed (Pr 12:4; 19:13; 21:9,19; 25:24). A lazy wife that putters around the house and limits herself to maid duty destroys his estate (Pr 14:1; Eccl 10:18). A sexually-selfish wife drives him to frustration and adultery (Pr 5:19-20; 31:3; I Cor 7:1-5). A woman that tries to be the spiritual leader corrupts his doctrine and steals the role God gave him (Gen 3:16; I Cor 14:34-35; II Tim 3:6-7; I Pet 3:7).

A bad wife can limit above-average men, who otherwise might have been great. Average men can be enhanced by a great wife, or reduced to nothing by an odious woman. A good woman can even shelter and assist a below-average man to amount to something by filling her role well. Woman! What effect have you had on the abilities and reputation of your husband? What are you planning to do to make your husband greater in the future?

How much disappointment and shame in your first father Adam is partly due to his wife? How much of Ahab’s wickedness was due to his wife Jezebel (I Kgs 21:25)? What do you esteem about Boaz? He married Ruth! How great could Samson have been, if he had obeyed his parents and married a good Israelite girl (Judges 14:3)? Did Elkanah know he had a very special gift from God in Hannah, even without children (I Sam 1:5,8)?

How bad was Nabal’s sin for wasting one of the greatest women ever (I Sam 25:2-3)? How blessed was David for marrying the widow Abigail after God killed Nabal (I Sam 25:32-42)? How much did Bathsheba help David by training godly character in Solomon to be the best of his sons (Pr 1:8; 4:3; 6:20)? How great was the team of Aquila and Priscilla, even converting the mighty Apollos (Acts 18:24-28)?

The traits that build up a husband are those of the virtuous woman (Pr 31:10-31). The context provides clear duties for godly wives that want to obey God. If a woman were to keep these inspired rules for greatness, her husband would be honored for marrying her, and he and his children would bless and praise her (Pr 31:28). He would direct more money her way, and he would publicly praise her many accomplishments (Pr 31:31).

He can always trust her, with men or money (Pr 31:10-12). She is creative and diligent to make sure the household is well cared for (Pr 31:13-15,21,27). She does anything to build the estate, including outside jobs and investments (Pr 31:16-19,24-25). She eagerly helps those in need (Pr 31:20). Her speech is always kind and wise (Pr 31:26). She keeps her body and appearance up to please him (Pr 31:22; Song 1:2; 2:3-7; 3:1; 5:9-16; 8:1-4).

What drives and motivates a woman to be this perfect wife? Her fear of the Lord (Pr 31:29-30)! Her love for God and desire to obey the Bible makes her this gracious wife that is always respected (Pr 11:16). She will do anything to fulfill her God-given role. Other men respect her husband, for they know he has a better life than they do, because of the woman he married. The same men also know he has a better wife than they do.

Wife! How do others measure your husband? Do they pity him, because you are an outspoken nag? Because you never accomplish more than a nanny, maid, or cook? Do they despise him, because you try to be the spiritual leader and cannot keep your place? Or do they know that he was favored by God to find you, and that he is the happiest and most successful married man they know? This is God’s measure for you to consider here.

It is easy for a wife to think she is pretty special and a real asset to her husband, because her heart is deceitful and tends to self-righteousness without any prompting. She may even ask her husband, but his answer is not worth much either, because he will likely compromise the truth for domestic tranquility. The real test is his reputation among other men, for only a married man with a great wife at home can amount to much of anything.

Young man! How do you measure marriage prospects? Does beauty control you? Do favors win you? Both are dangerous and deceitful (Pr 31:30). You will never hit your potential, unless you marry the woman that fears God the most. She will build your mind, comfort your heart, satisfy your soul, guard your walk, please your body, prosper your estate, and give you godly children. Why limit yourself by marrying anything less?

If you are a Christian, you are the bride of Jesus Christ. What do others think of God and His Son by your life? Do your good works cause praise and bring about conversions (Matt 5:16; Phil 1:18-21; I Cor 10:31-33; I Pet 2:12)? Your church is also Christ’s bride. Does it diligently follow the Bible to honor Him so that others are convicted to worship God when they meet with you, or is it odious by choosing contemporary worship instead?