They Call Her Blessed

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page to follow along every day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Proverbs 31:28–31 (ESV)
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

The Wise Spouse

Reading the Word

Proverbs 31:20–27 (ESV)
20 She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Understanding and Applying the Word

We continue looking at the final verses of the Book of Proverbs, which describes the excellent wife. This is the wife that is more precious than jewels (cf. Proverbs 31:10). In yesterday’s reading, we looked at how this woman was skilled in so many ways for life. In today’s passage, we see that she is cares for others, including her family and the poor. She is well regarded in the community and exercises wisdom in all she does.

The context of this passage describes the excellent wife, but the application of this text is broader than that. It applies to the type of person we should all aspire to be and the type of person we all would desire in a spouse. We should be kind and caring towards others and we should be wise in all we do. It is such a blessing to have a spouse that is the same. As we seek to live wisely in the world, to have a spouse who strives for the same is truly a precious thing.


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Skilled in Living

Reading the Word

Proverbs 31:13–19 (ESV)
13 She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This section continues a description of the “excellent wife” that we looked at yesterday. From today’s verses, we see a description of a woman who is not idle, but busy and who is highly skilled in the affairs of life. She does many things to provide for her family. Of course, the woman pictured here is not an actual person, but a picture of the ideal.

Many argue that the woman described in these verses is wisdom personified. Wisdom is skill at life and the woman described here is highly skilled in all she does. The excellent wife is one who, in all she does, shows wisdom. She shows practical skill in decision making and life. She is truly an ideal partner in life to her husband.

As we read of this ideal wife, let us think how we can apply this passage to our own lives. How can we be an excellent partner in life for our spouse? How can we be wiser in our daily living in the world? How can we become more skilled at life?


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An Excellent Wife

Reading the Word

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.(Proverbs 31:10, ESV)

Understanding and Applying the Word

The last portion of the Book of Proverbs deals with the “excellent wife”. The word translated “excellent” can have different meanings based on context. It can mean a woman of good character or one of strength. It can also mean a woman of worth or wealth. The idea of worth is what is present in this passage. This is a rare woman. This is the type of woman who is hard to find. In fact, she is more precious than jewels.

A further description of this rare woman will follow and we will look at parts of the description in the days ahead. For now, understand that having a spouse of high character and godliness is a valuable thing. It is a rare thing and we must never take it for granted. Let us strive to be that type of person for our spouse and let us give thanks to God for the godly wife or husband he has given us.

For those who are not married, but will be in the future, pray for your future spouse even now. And if you are single and have no plans to marry, know that a godly character is still a precious and rare thing for all who know you. Pray that God will continue to develop that in you for his glory.


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Defend Their Rights

Reading the Word

Proverbs 31:8–9 (ESV)
8 Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute.
9 Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This passage comes at the end of a section that is ascribed to King Lemuel. These words are things his mother taught him (cf. Proverbs 31:1). After Lemuel’s mother told him not to allow himself to be distracted by women or strong drink, he was told to stand up for those who could not stand up for themselves. He was to be a king who concerned himself with justice and protecting the rights of all, especially the rights of those who are often deprived of such things.

We live in a world where justice and rights are often trampled on, not just in foreign lands, but right here in our own country. This has been true throughout human history and will continue into the future. It is a symptom of mankind’s core problem: sin. The rich and powerful seek to take advantage of the poor and vulnerable. As followers of Christ, we must heed the words of Lemuel’s mother and stand up for the rights of the oppressed. And as we do so, we can look to the future, when Christ will reign over all and will do so with perfect justice and righteousness. Consider the words from the Prophet Isaiah:

Isaiah 11:1–5 (ESV)
1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.


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Put Your Hand on Your Mouth

Reading the Word

Proverbs 30:32–33 (ESV)
32 If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth.
33 For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife.

Understanding and Applying the Word

We need to be wise in our actions and consider their consequences. It is foolish to exalt ourselves rather than act in humility towards others. It is also wrong for us to “devise evil” or scheme evil plans in our actions. We often do these without even thinking about them as we say and do things that we know will hurt others or get back at them for hurting us. We often justify our actions by assuring ourselves that we know better than others and that the outcome we are seeking is the correct one. Therefore, any means to obtain it is good.

The second line warns us that actions have consequences. We are given three examples of this truth each using the word “pressing.” The first speaks of pressing milk, which is a picture of churning. The second speaks of pressing the nose,which produces blood. This pictures a fight in which someone strikes another person on the nose and gives them a bloody nose. And the last speaks of pressing anger and producing strife. This last picture is of one who stirs up the anger of another until there is a response of conflict.

Learning to walk wisely involves learning to “put your hand on your mouth.” We need to learn when to keep quiet. To scheme evil through our words and actions, or use them to stir up conflict, is the way of the fool. Of course, the fool does not mind the conflict and may even enjoy it, but the wise understands that such is not to be desired. Even the New Testament warns the church against those who like to stir up division, calling such people “warped and sinful” (cf. Titus 3:10). Let’s learn to walk in wisdom and humility, not looking for conflict and strife.


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Small, but Wise

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page to follow along every day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Proverbs 30:24–28 (ESV)
24 Four things on earth are small, but they are exceedingly wise:
25 the ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer;
26 the rock badgers are a people not mighty, yet they make their homes in the cliffs;
27 the locusts have no king, yet all of them march in rank;
28 the lizard you can take in your hands, yet it is in kings’ palaces.

I Have Done No Wrong

Reading the Word

This is the way of an adulteress: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, “I have done no wrong.”(Proverbs 30:20, ESV)

Understanding and Applying the Word

We read of the adulterous woman who eats and wipes her mouth. The picture is of one who eats her meal, cleans up, and goes on. The adulteress treats her sin in the same way as eating a meal. It is just the normal, daily activity and no thought is given to the wrong. In fact, she says, “I have done no wrong.”

It is a dangerous place to be when we no longer even consider our sin. When our conscience is so seared that our sin becomes routine and we begin to lose sight of right and wrong, we can be sure that we have gone far from God. The sinful heart can lead all of us away from God’s will and can cause us to reject correction and even justify our sinfulness. We need God’s word, God’s Spirit, and the people of God to help us along. It is through these three means that we learn how to live as the people of God as we are both encouraged and corrected in our daily lives. Be sure to read the word, pray, and be a part of a loving church.


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Never Enough

Reading the Word

Proverbs 30:15–16 (ESV)
15 The leech has two daughters: Give and Give. Three things are never satisfied; four never say, “Enough”:
16 Sheol, the barren womb, the land never satisfied with water, and the fire that never says, “Enough.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

How much is enough? Today’s passage speaks of two leeches that are named Give and Give, as in “Give me more. Give me more.” They are never satisfied. We then read of four things that never say, “Enough.” The four things are the grave, the barren womb, the desert wanting more water, and fire as it consumes its fuel.

It is interesting to note that this passage follows on the heels of a verse that speaks of those who devour the poor and needy for their own gain (cf. Proverbs 30:14). We certainly live in a world where wealth and possessions is the chief concern of most. Wisdom tells us that we must find satisfaction in what God has given us and also look out for those in need. We must be different than the world. We must find our satisfaction in knowing and being known by Jesus Christ and serving him.


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Neither Poverty Nor Riches

Reading the Word

Proverbs 30:7–9 (ESV)
7 Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die:
8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me,
9 lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The author calls out to God for two things: that he would not be a liar and that God would not give him poverty or riches. The first is obvious enough, but why the second desire? Why not a desire for riches? It sure seems like that would be considered a blessing. Who does not want a blessing?

The last verse gives us the reasoning for why the writer asks to be fed “with the food that is needful for me.” He wants just enough. No more and no less than what is necessary for life. If there is an excess, there is a danger that one might forget God because there is no need for him. If there is a lack, there is the danger of resorting to stealing to obtain food. Such behavior would profane God. So, this is a prayer of one who desires to honor God and wants all obstacles to doing that removed. We should all desire the same thing in our lives. Lord, give us the things we need and withhold those things that would pull us away from you.


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