Proverbs 31 famously asks,“Who can find a virtuous wife?” Proverbs 31 is a song of praise that outlines what this virtuous woman is like. She is like Lady Wisdom: her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her. She has several clothing lines, she dabbles in international trade, participates in real estate deals, runs a mercy ministry, and her home is warm and well ordered and guarded carefully. And her husband is famous for being married to such a babe.
Literally, the word for “virtuous or excellent” is valiant, mighty, strong. The word is frequently used to describe men in battle. It’s a martial term. And the text underlines this theme: she girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms. In all her ventures and enterprises, she wears the armor of strength. She stretches out her hands to make clothing, but she stretches out her hand like Yahweh to deliver the people of Israel from bondage. When she makes clothes it’s like going into battle. When she weaves fabrics, she’s taking down enemies and saving the needy and the poor. Strength and honor are her clothing, her uniform, her warrior tunic, her armor for battle. And because she is girded with this strength, because she is mighty and valiant and strong, because her arms are stretched out in faithfulness, she rejoices in time to come. Literally, she laughs at the days ahead. She laughs at the future.
This laughter reminds us of Isaac, whose name literally means “he laughs.” This was an ironic fulfillment of Yahweh’s promise to Sarah in her old age (Gen. 18:12-15, 21:1-6). When God told Abraham that she would have a son when she was old, she laughed. She laughed in disbelief. But when she conceived and bore a son, she named him Isaac because she got the joke. He has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me. And we all still laugh with her whenever we say his name. But the point is that time is in God’s hands, and therefore the future is not limited by what our circumstances seem to be. Old age and barren wombs are no obstacle to the Lord, and therefore wise women laugh at the future. And this is what makes them strong. Yahweh laughs at those who plot against Him (Ps. 2:4, 37:13, 59:8) because their defeat is certain. The wise woman laughs at the days to come because the threats of the future are nothing to her. She does not worry about the future. She does not fear what might happen. And this is because her heart safely trusts the Lord who holds all things in His hands.
Timothy and Anna, as you raise up your daughter, train her to be a mighty woman, a strong woman of God. At the very end of the passage, it is striking that the blessing that is given her by her husband and sons is that ‘many daughters have done well but you excel them all’. The great blessing given by her husband and sons is a recognition of her parents. She is an excellent daughter, and therefore she becomes an excellent wife and mother. Train up your daughter in this excellence, in this might, and teach her to laugh at the future, to smile at her enemies, and to see her calling as a woman (and Lord willing one day as a wife and mother) as warfare. And teach her to do this by clinging to the Lord Jesus in faith.