Further study on Proverbs 31:27

     The Amplified Bible references some related verses for study on verse 27, the first of which is 1 Timothy 5:14.  We can get a clearer picture of how it applies if we go back a few verses, to 1 Timothy 5:11-14:

          5:11  "But refuse [to enroll on this list the] younger widows, for when they become restive and their natural desires grow strong, they withdraw themselves against Christ [and] wish to marry [again].

             12  And so they incur condemnation for having set aside and slighted their previous pledge.

             13  Moreover, as they go about from house to house they learn to be idlers, and not oly idlers but gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not say and talking of things they should not mention.

             14  So I would have [younger] widows marry, bear children, guide the household, [and] not give opponents of the faith occasion for slander or reproach."

These verses deal specifically with younger widows, but apply also to younger women in general as the King James translation suggests, where the word widows is simply rendered "women."  Paul says, "But refuse [to enroll on this list the] younger widows ..."  What list? The roll of widows as defined in verse 1 Timothy 5:5:

          "Now [a woman] who is a real widow, and is left entirely alone and desolate, has fixed her hope on God and perseveres in supplications and prayers night and day ..."

What Paul is saying in verse 11 is that younger widows will eventually want to fulfill their natural desires -- i.e., to be wives and mothers -- and, after a time, will not wish to spend their lives in prayer and supplication day in and day out, communing with and living for God alone.  Rather, the time will come when they will wish to marry again, and by doing so open themselves up for reproach from those outside the faith who might judge them for withdrawing from their prior resolve to dedicate their lives to God.  The basis premise is that Christians are to be ever-evangelizing, in part, through their example to others, and as such should make life decisions that they can fulfill, and only those which reflect a dedication to righteousness and stability of character.

     Paul goes on to say that the idleness which occurs from not having a husband or home to care for -- i.e., no daily purpose -- might also cause young women to fill their time with gossip and unwholesome discussion.  We have to bear in mind that, except in rare cases, women did not actively or routinely engage in commerce in this society during this time.  No other options were available to them until much later, when a woman might opt to become employed by another family or choose to teach.  In these times as well as ours, however, the admonishment still applies to younger widows:  Paul subtly suggests that marriage is the best choice for a woman to make, regardless of the other goals she might wish to fulfill in her life as well.

     Paul's purpose in this passage was to prevent younger women from having no purpose in life and thus too much idle time, alone, leading to vice.  The Proverbs 31 woman possesses this same wisdom and sees that everyone in her household, including herself, has tasks to perform (vv. 15, 27).  It's interesting to note that in the original American colonies, during the 17th and early 18th centuries when Puritans mores prevailed, single people were compelled by law to live with families -- never alone -- so that "disorders may be prevented, and ill weeds nipped before they take too great a head."  1

 

     The second verse referenced for study is Titul 2:4,5, which we've already applied to prior verses:

          "So that they" (the older women) "will wisely train the young women to be sane and soberminded -- temperate, disciplined -- and to love their husbands and their children;

          "To be self-controlled, chaste, homemakers, good-natured (kind-hearted), adapting and subordinating themselves to their husbands, that the word of God maynot be exposed to reproach -- blasphemed or discredited."

Again, Paul is concerned with a woman's character and deportment as a Christian; her "right-living" which would identify her as such.  Just as in our society today, non-Christians watch the behavior of professed Christians; when we err or fall away, reproach inevitably follows.

     Here, specifically, Paul is instructing Titus on how the younger women should be trained up and what their roles are to be in Christian society.  Again, God's chosen and perfect way is being conveyed to us through Paul.  A woman who willingly follows the example set forth in these verses reaps contentment and fulfillment; and her family, as a single unit within our society, will fare well.

     The whole book of Titus is a great little Christian handbook.  In it, Paul explains to Titus exactly how to set up the church in Crete and what to teach its people in order to live productive lives.  He talks about church leadership; about men and women of different age groups and their respective roles; how to deal with government and government officials; and, generally, how everyone should interact with one another, conduct themselves, and live harmoniously together.

     Married women are so vitally important to their husbands, their children, and the family's household in general.  When wives and mothers are forced to spend considerable time and energy away from their families each day, either by choice or necessity, their home suffers varying degrees of loss, or deprivation.  Thus, yet one more unit of society is slightly, or in somce cases, not so slightly, broken down.  One of the most obvious and potentially detrimental factors is that children are not supervised by their mothers personally.  At best, they are learning someone else's values; at worst, they are neglected and/or being taught by television, the internet, or undesirable companions.  A continuum of generations with this sort of early development will surely have ill effects on future society, exponentially increasing with each decade.  Sadly, these individual children, as adults, will find themselves lacking in the qualities and knowledge necessary to effectively care for their own families, or even themselves.  A wife's role should never be taken lightly, for it is the cornerstone of hearth and home, which is a fundamental facet of keeping society well-balanced.

 

      In closing on Proverbs 31:27, Dake's footnote is perfect:

          "She manages her household with economy and discretion.  Her children behave well and none keep company with persons of unclean and immoral habits.  She instructs her house in practical religion and industry and sets them an example of godliness, diligence in business, and untiring improvement of mind, soul and body."  2