We have now come to the last four verses of Proverbs 31, and in them we see that there is an earthly reward for the faithful wife who follows in the footsteps of the homemaker portrayed in this chapter.
Make no mistake, God’s love, salvation, gifts, talents and abilities do not come to us because we have earned them by our obedience to Him. In like manner, neither do His blessings and rewards. They are all by grace alone, completely free and totally unmerited, We recognize and experience them only as we learn to trust (walk by faith in) our Heavenly Father as He Himself works out in our lives what He has called us to do.
So, the reward promised here in Proverbs 31 is consistent with the calling for which God created woman, as we saw in Genesis 2, and it makes all other rewards pale into insignificance. In today’s world the freedom to pursue those rewards is limitless. Entering any glamorous, powerful, lucrative occupation they desire is not only encouraged, but women are even given, by government mandate whenever possible, actual preference over men in entering those fields. What would make an enthusiastic, competent, intelligent woman choose to stay home, far from the spotlight, and be a homemaker?
However, many women, even non-Christians, are discovering by trial and error that God’s design for them, as portrayed in this chapter, is the only one that works in the long term, and they are coming back home, in some cases, because of physical or emotional necessity. But why would a young Christian wife start out her married life with the intent of being a homemaker, particularly when that profession is the subject of much ridicule and even contempt today?
The answer is in verse 30: “…But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” The fear of God is said to be the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). A wise woman will find herself following the plan of the awesome, all-powerful, creator God (Jeremiah 32:17,27) who created her and who loves her fully and completely. It has been said that the Christian life can be boiled down to two things, and two things only; 1.) discovering what God wants me to do, and then 2.) going after it with all my heart. When I understand the fear of the Lord, my life is given to that end.
The Proverbs 31 woman has done that very thing. She has discovered what God wants her to do (yes, He does have a definite, vocational opinion for wives), and she is doing it, and the reward is, “…she shall be praised” in this life, a foretaste of the praise she will receive directly from God on “that Day,” when He says to her, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
It is a kingdom principle that the one under authority lives his life to please, and therefore bring honor and glory, to that one under whose authority he lives. As Jesus prayed in His final prayer to His Father, “I have glorified you on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do” [John 17:4]).
The one in authority then, His Father, in turn, honors and glorifies that One He has loved and led (“And now, O Father, glorify me together with yourself…” [John 17:5], “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him…”[Philippians 2:9]).
Just as God the Father heaped glory and honor on His Son, who was obedient to Him unto death, God showers praise upon that daughter who seeks to honor Him through her faithful obedience as a worker at home. This praise is more deeply satisfying than any other reward she could receive. His praise comes to her through three channels, according to the final four verses in Proverbs 31.
First, “Her children rise up and call her blessed” (vs. 28). Those little ones who never seemed to notice or appreciate their mother’s selfless giving, her unceasing encouragement, her tireless labors, her willingness to be inconvenienced, and her seemingly endless time for them and their activities, have now, in their adulthood, and in their mother’s old age, given her the recognition she has earned. They remember!
I don’t believe a mother could possibly have a better, more satisfying reward. My mother was in a nursing home for a few months before she died, and I watched the adult children of many of the elderly women who lived there. Some exuded love and care, and by their very actions, brought glory to their mothers, demonstrating what kind of mother she must have been. On the other hand, There were some who seemed to come only out of a sense of duty or obligation, as infrequently as possible, probably reflecting the lack of time and energy their mother had given them as children.
Second, “Her husband also, and he praises her, `Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all'” (vs. 28b, 29). This praise is from the one directly in authority over her, her husband, the one she has learned to please in all she does, the one who loved her and has found her praiseworthy as she has responded to his love over their lifetime together.
He is but echoing God the Father’s evaluation of His thirty-year-old Son at His baptism that is today a model evaluation to be used by all who are in authority; “You are my beloved Son (wife, child, employee, etc.), in Whom I am well-pleased” (Mark 1:11). “Beloved,” is a keyword, because it is the husband’s unfailing love for his wife that is based always on who she is and never on what she does. It is that love that causes him to be pleased with her, no matter her performance, that has thus won her heart and has ultimately called forth her outstanding performance as a homemaker.
The husband in Proverbs 31 recognizes that there were other options open to his wife, if not other occupations in his day (there certainly are in ours!). There were certainly other attitudes besides the desire to please him—namely the independent attitude of seeking to please herself instead of her husband. His evaluation is not just of her external performance, but of her heart toward him, and therefore toward God.
Many around her thought she was wasting her talents, not fulfilling her potential, or not being realistic by trying to live in another era. Even other homemakers may have thought she didn’t live up to their standards, didn’t discipline her children right, or a thousand and one other imperfections she may have had.
But she refused to be discouraged by any of them, for, even though she may have valued and profited from their criticism, it didn’t matter to her what they said. She focused on pleasing only one person, God’s delegated authority in her life, her husband. Now His public praise is her reward, an earnest toward God’s praise on “that Day.”
The third source of praise for the Proverbs 31 woman in these last four verses is surprising and even shocking. Those who have bought the world’s vision of “feminism,” Christians or non-Christians, have themselves followed another vision for their lives and have felt that this homemaker was wasting her life. But in the final analysis, even these who, for whatever reason, have followed another path, will have to praise her as well when they see the “fruit of her hands” (vs. 31).
They cannot argue with what they see—her marriage, her home, and her children. Isaiah 2 says that the world, when faced with its own miserable failures, will one day come to the church and say, “…teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths” (Isaiah 2:3). I believe a great factor in the world’s ultimate turning to the Lord will be godly homemakers who have a vision of the joy, peace and fulfillment involved in being a Proverbs 31 women.