We Need Guides
by Sharon Betters
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
Proverbs 31:26 ESV
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Proverbs 31:30 ESV
When life came crashing down and I wanted to run away from life and faith, those many years of intentionally seeking out the wisdom of those ahead of me in life kicked in. One woman in particular imprinted a warrior woman image on my brain when I was just starting out as a young mother and a pastor’s wife. I will never forget discovering not just puddles of grace, but a virtual ocean of grace, that helped me navigate life. You can love her or hate her, but the description of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 is a roadmap through the seasons of a woman’s life. It’s likely this is not a specific real woman. Perhaps Lemuel’s mother was describing a woman she admired and hoped her son would find a young woman with similar character qualities. Nevertheless, the description of this woman is a roadmap that has helped guide millions of women as they have tried to live godly lives. We won’t spend a lot of time unpacking this passage – volumes have been written about her. If you have never studied this passage of Scripture, I heartily recommend that you take the time to unpack each verse, (I especially enjoy Elyse Fitzpatrick’s description of the virtuous woman in her book The Afternoon of Life).
As we consider how this woman is a wise guide, let’s look at the word for virtuous, the Hebrew word hayil. Hayil is a military term meaning strength, efficiency, wealth, army. It is translated “army” eighty-two times, “strength” and “strong” ten times and “valiant” or a similar word 69 times in the Old Testament.
King Lemuel’s mother, the original author of this passage, uses the military meaning to describe her dream of a wife for her son. She doesn’t want a “rug on the floor – stomp all over me” kind of woman for her son. She wants a valiant woman who is brave, courageous, invincible. She wants her son to marry a “warrior woman”.
Notice the military connotations of the words used to describe her. She girds her arms with strength, strengthens her core, looks well to the ways of her household, is a spy, checks out the terrain of the battle, shores up the weak spots, maps out a strategy for winning, for protecting, and leaves no one behind.
There are many women today who take on the garb of a warrior as they live life. Yet I often see an “in your face” anger, rather than strength sheathed in mercy and love. What makes the “warrior woman” of Proverbs 31 different? This woman pushes her actions through her theology: She fears the Lord.
When life falls, if our default mode is fear of God, then we know obedience to His commands is non-negotiable. He is our Captain. As women who claim Jesus as King and our Captain, we have the opportunity to live as warrior women, under His authority and compelled by His love to walk by faith, even when life falls in on us, when our dreams are shattered. We eventually push all of our decisions through the grid of His Word, even when we face losses we never expected, even as our bodies are growing old and He calls on us to be ever growing, evergreen.
Who are your guides? Be careful to choose guides who share your biblical worldview and transparently leave puddles of grace designed to help turn other’s hearts toward Jesus.
In the darkest moments of my life, there came a point when I surrendered to the purposes of God in the pain, and felt the Lord raise me up as a warrior woman, commissioned by Him to fight the enemies of depression, anger, betrayal, grief, and my own sin. The fight in my spirit came from His call, not my flesh. Can you hear the battle cry to be a warrior woman, too?
Dear King Jesus, I surrender once more to you as my Lord, trusting You with the hard places of life, to energize me when I feel too weary to take another step, to lift my spirits when darkness drags me down. Lord, when my emotions refuse to submit to the joy You promise, I pray for strength to walk in obedience. May I be intentional about looking to those godly people ahead of me in life’s journey for guidance in the Valley of Tears.