Proverbs 31:31

Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

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A great wife should be rewarded and honored. God cares for hard working oxen and apostles (Deut 25:4; I Cor 9:7-14); He also cares for great and godly women (I Pet 3:5-7). If masters honor great servants, husbands should honor great wives (Pr 17:2; 27:18). Rewards and honors motivate men to their duties, so will they motivate women to theirs. For those who think the Bible denigrates women, they have never read the Bible to know.

But the rule does not apply to all women, for many wives do not deserve honor or rewards. Foolish or lazy servants are not to be honored. It is a sin to honor a fool or sluggard (Pr 20:4; 26:1,8). The virtuous wife is rare (Pr 31:10), exceptional (Pr 31:29), and godly (Pr 31:30). Most women are common, average, and not godly; many are worse. The wisdom here is from a queen mother to her son to properly care for a great wife.

If all women were honored from this proverb, many evils would be encouraged (Pr 12:4; 27:15-16; 30:21-23) and reward and honor abused (Pr 19:10; Ec 10:5-7). Each woman must measure herself by the virtuous woman before thinking she is worthy of reward or praise. But the man blessed with the great woman in context should reward and honor her in her own name before others. He should praise and exalt this great earthly blessing.

He should “give her of the fruit of her hands.” She was created for the man, and her productive labor is at his disposal (Gen 2:18; I Cor 11:9). But heaven orders him to give her a portion of it for her own use. He should not give her all the fruit of her hands, or the wise design of marriage is overthrown. But he must give her some of it. Such a just and fitting reward will encourage her spirit and provide for further productivity (Pr 31:16).

The virtuous woman – a very exceptional woman – was involved in significant projects outside the home. She analyzed and bought commercial real estate and developed it for productive returns (Pr 31:16). She manufactured upscale material, ran a sales operation for it, and supplied girdles to wholesalers (Pr 31:24). There was much fruit to divide with her! Many men search in vain to find assets or revenue generated by wives to divide, for they have either been slothful in labor or too foolish to leverage their abilities for gain.

A wise husband will “let her own works praise her in the gates.” Her accomplishments should be known in her own name, rather than her husband taking the entire credit for his growing estate. A wise man will praise an exceptional wife for her great deeds. He will not stifle or restrict the honor that she receives, even if it might match or exceed his own. If he does this fairly and wisely, it will turn to his praise in the same city gates (Pr 31:23).

Noble husband, when did you last honor or reward your wife for labors on your behalf? If you have been negligent and selfish while she has been faithful and industrious, it is time to confess your fault to her and return some of her earnings to her for her own use. Do not let any miserly or proud spirit steal the praise or reward she deserves. You will not lose for the decision any more than your employer loses for honoring or rewarding you!

A virtuous woman does not seek the praise of men or women. Self-promotion or pursuit of public attention is entirely contrary to her gracious and modest nature, which is the actual reason others perpetually esteem her (Pr 11:16; 27:2). No one but a fool esteems a boaster. But nonetheless, it is the duty of husbands and children to promote their wives and mothers for proper recognition and the holy example they give to others (Pr 31:28).

Paul, the great apostle to the Gentiles, was known for praising faithful Christians by name, and the church of Jesus Christ has read his honors to them for near 2000 years, and John did the same (Rom 16:1-16; I Cor 16:15-18; Phil 2:19-22; II John 1:12).

The Lord of heaven praises His churches and saints, when they do well, and their works follow them to that glorious place by His gracious design, where they receive the rewards for their labors (Rev 14:13; 22:12; I Tim 5:25; Heb 11:26; Matt 25:40; II John 1:8).