Not long ago, I overheard some women saying how they were rather irritated with the Proverbs 31 woman. She was so perfect. They felt there was no way they could ever measure up. In essence, they were discouraged with their calling.
We could peruse the subject of how intimidating the Proverbs 31 woman is, but for now, let’s focus on one description of her:
The heart of her husband safely trusts in her.
We can find those words in verse 11, which in its entirety says, The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. We could argue that a husband shouldn’t trust in a wife, but rather in God. But the husband here isn’t trusting in his wife for salvation, or other spiritual benefits that only God can supply. People trust in other people all the time. We trust the driver in front of us not to slam on his breaks so hard we don’t have time to respond before crashing into him. We trust the pilot to stay awake. We trust the loan officer not to steal our personal information and go have a heyday at the mall. You get the point. The kind of trust that is mentioned here is the trust that necessarily takes place between two people.
Husbands do have a need to trust in their wives. The reason God gave Adam a wife was to supply a helper fit for him, and a helper is not a helper if she can’t be trusted.
The duties of a wife are many. Some are the same across the board, but some are unique to each marriage. What my husband needs, perhaps your husband does not need. Some examples of wifely duties that would be the same across the board are:
-not overspending the budget (Prov. 15:27)
-respecting and obeying the husband, even if he makes a decision with which the wife doesn’t agree (I Pet. 3:1)
-making it a pattern to respond sexually (I Cor. 7:4)
-being faithful to him, emotionally and physically (Mark 10:9)
These are just a few Biblical concepts and commands to which every wife is called. Then there are unique duties that are not specifically listed in the Bible, but are still necessary to perform.
In my own marriage, Shaun trusts me to get our big meal of the day on the table by no later than noon, as he needs to be to work by 1:00. But he also trusts me to be flexible and forfeit my cooking plans if he decides he’d rather have a day out. So I may manage the meals in my marriage, but maybe your husband loves to cook and would rather manage the meals.
Shaun trusts me to write out the checks and pay the bills on time. Shaun and I both have undertaken these tasks at different times, but at this point and time in our marriage, he prefers I do it. So I pay the bills, but perhaps your husband recognizes you’re not so swell with numbers (or whatever!), so he pays the bills.
Shaun trusts me to manage the menus, the grocery trips, the birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, etc., which includes deciding what the gift will be, and making sure it’s purchased and wrapped before the big day. Occasionally, I will need his help with the sons-in-law, in which case, Shaun will choose the gift. But I will most likely make sure whatever he chooses is ordered, arrives on time, and gets wrapped. He trusts me to do most of the footwork on these things, and to do them cheerfully and in good time. So I manage gift giving, but perhaps your husband is the talented one at gift giving, and the two of you have your own system for managing holidays and family birthdays.
This is more than acceptable. The specifics of how cooking, shopping, gift giving, bill paying, etc get done is not what I’m stressing. What I’m stressing is … does your husband’s heart trust you to respect his leadership? Do you recognize that he is the head, and you are the body? When he directs, do you whine/scream/insist on your way, or clam up and sulk (these are opposite reactions to the same problem of trying to gain control of him or the situation)? Can he trust you to support him, even if it means completing the terribly tedious task of writing out monthly checks? Or picking up and moving to another state? Does he trust you to not flirt with anyone but him, even in his absence? Does he trust you to support him in his spiritual, familial, and professional endeavors?By now, you may be conjuring up a lot of your own questions. How could I possibly respect a man who said what he said to me the other day? Do you know how often we would move if I simply picked up and followed him whenever he got a wild hair? Do you know how frugal he is when it comes to gifts? It takes me four times longer to find what we’re looking for because he insists on saving so much money! What about my needs? Am I not ever allowed to be too tired to submit to his leadership? His sexual advances? I’m raising five kids under the age of seven here!
Every wife is married to an imperfect husband. Every husband is required to love his wife as Christ loved the church. Nobody is advocating for a husband to be a bull in a china shop, navigating his way through his marriage without regard to his bride. But I do not speak to husbands. I speak to wives. We are simply covering our side of the deal today, which is that we have been instructed on how to be godly wives who make a husband’s heart happy because he can freely trust us to do the right thing. Sometimes the right thing will be to (respectfully) admonish a husband to do the right thing. Wives are not robotic slaves without mouths and brains and spiritual discernment. But a helper helps. A helper does not direct or lead or boss. Certainly, a helper does not nag.
I wonder what God could do with a marriage where the wife was as concerned about governing her own actions and reactions as she was about governing her husband’s actions and reactions. It’s easy to fall into thinking that God is trying to make us miserable, whether we are talking about Biblical marriage patterns or sexual orientation or something else. But remember – He is our Maker. And as such, He knows what is best for us.
It is in our hearts to buck against His ways, including the command to be respectful, submissive, and responsive to our husbands. But if we knew what He knew, we’d want what He wanted. And as intimidating as the Proverbs 31 wife may be, the truth is that her example is still our calling. If we, in the power of the Holy Spirit, endeavor to fulfill that calling, our joy will be genuine. Our cups will be full. In obedience, we will find the freedom (dare I say liberation?) we so desperately seek.
Does the heart of your husband trust you? Or does the heart of your husband sneak in the back door every night with saggy shoulders, dreading an inevitable spat, knowing his instructions were probably unheeded? These are the questions I find myself asking about my marriage.
I love the words near the end of Proverbs 31, where the benefits of being a godly woman surface:
Her children rise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”
Remember our question about what God could do with a marriage where a wife was most concerned about her own actions and reactions? The answer is that God, because of our obedience, will make our children thankful and our husbands verbally appreciative.
In other words … He will perform a miracle! If you are in a place in your marriage that makes you you feel like receiving that kind of praise truly would be a miracle, that’s the point. God does amazing things through our obedience. And while praise from the lips of others should not be our motivation for obeying (the glory of God should be), the fact is, God often loves us through the words and actions of others.
Perhaps that’s exactly what He was doing when He saw fit to record the heart and actions of the Proverbs 31 woman. Our reaction to reading her account may be intimidation, but she is meant to be an encouragement. So give that girl a break. Make her your friend and mentor … not your enemy. Not because you’re in competition with her. Not because you want to feel good about yourself. But because having the genuine trust of your husband’s heart is precious. And having the Lord be pleased with your obedience isn’t too bad either.