Proverbs 31:23 (NLT): Her husband is well-known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders.
Proverbs 31:23 (NIV): Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
Proverbs 31:23 (NKJ): Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.
Proverbs 31:23 (KJV): Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
Does anyone find it odd that the virtuous woman is not mentioned in this verse but rather her husband? I don’t in that sense, but I do find the placement of verse 23 odd. Seriously, look at the previous verses and the verse following it:
Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber. 20 She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy. 21 She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm[c] clothes. 22 She makes her own bedspreads. She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns. 23 Her husband is well-known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders. 4 She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants.
The verses before and the verse after all deal with the virtuous woman’s duties, activities, or endless jobs. It just doesn’t seem to flow for me. I actually did some extensive research on this topic and could come up with no real answer. The answer God laid on my heart was that making sure our husbands are respected is another duty of a virtuous woman. Respect for our husbands begins and ends at home. If I, as a wife, do not respect my husband, others will not respect my husband.
I recall from many Sunday school lessons that honor and respect were very important in biblical times. A man’s reputation could have rippling effects for generations. The terms “is known” and “well known” means that a virtuous woman’s husband is respected not only by his own but by his community and elders. Taking a seat with the elders at the city gates was a great honor as it was where all public business occurred and was like the city’s courtroom. In fact “sitteth” means in counsel or judgment; thereby, a virtuous woman’s husband is well-respected and sits among city elders counseling others and judging disputes and such. In order to gain the respect needed to sit among elders, a man would have to be well-dressed, clean, and have his family life in order. Part of having his family life in order would mean having a good wife because a good wife would make sure her husband was neat in appearance, dressed in the finest clothing they could afford, and work hard so that her husband would have time to participate in these community events instead of having to work his fields or other type of job. (Adam Clarke and Matthew Henry commentary) The Matthew Henry commentary went a little further stating that one could tell a man had a good wife because of his cheerful manner and pleasant humor. I think that all boils down to the fact that a man with a good wife is a happy man. Do you agree?
Have you ever heard the saying, “behind every great man is a great woman?” I know most of you have, but have you really put it in the proper prospective? As a wife, my job is to help my husband to become who God created him to be, help him be successful, and support him throughout it all. Yes, he has a part in that as well, but God made a helper for man for a reason. As we discussed previously, we are to do our husbands good all the days of our lives (Proverbs 31:12) and be their crowns (Proverbs 12:4). What does that mean, “be their crowns?” It is a simple metaphor meaning virtuous women honor their husbands or bring about respect and admiration. We bring about respect and admiration when we behave according to the will of God. Ladies, whether we like it our not, our words, deeds, and actions are a reflection of our husbands and we must remain conscience of that fact. Furthermore, we must recognize our value as a virtuous wife. The gist of the saying above is that a great man usually has a great (virtuous wife) behind the scenes paving his way. You see, once again, a woman’s behind the scenes activities go a long way and are extremely important to the success of her husband and family. I know I have often felt my efforts were for not or are for not, but that is a lie of the devil. We must be willing to submit to the will of God and that means submitting to our husbands (and sometimes swallowing our pride). Submission is not as bad as the world has made it out to be, but that is a topic for another day.
I would like to also point out that while a wife can be a tremendous asset to her husband, she can also be a curse. I have seen a great many good men held back by unrelenting or controlling wives. I have seen pastors who were clearly anointed by God fail or stumble because they listened to their wives instead of God. I have seen pastors with great ideas and strong passions give up because they do not have the support of their wives and they become overwhelmed. I have seen other leaders not step up because their wives could not stand for the spotlight to be pointed at someone other than themselves. I have seen Godly men brought down because they could not or would not take hold of their wives. If you are being honest, I bet you have seen the same thing. This may sound harsh to someone of you, but I am honestly not trying to put women down. I have been and still am (more times than I would like to admit) an outspoken controlling woman. I feel God calling me to change in this area and I think it is biblical to say and do so. I see nothing wrong with a woman taking part in ministry or being a leader of any kind. We can have ministry and such outside our husbands; however, I will caution us all to make sure our families are our first priority after God.
I encourage you all today to take a good, long, hard look at yourself. Are you an asset to your husband or are you more like an anchor? If you feel like you’re an asset, I applaud you for your hard work and ask that you pray and seek God’s guidance on any area you could improve. If you are an anchor, don’t be discouraged; be motivated to change. Pray and ask God to help make the changes necessary to be an asset to your husband; seek education through personal bible studies, books, and the internet; get help from your pastor or a counselor. I applaud you anchors as well (myself included) for taking the first step and recognizing your shortcomings. If you would like me to pray for you as you address this issue, just send me a little message.
Until next time, stay safe and God bless,