The Fruit Of Her Hands – Honoring You Or Harming You?: Proverbs 31:31, A Closer Look

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Give her of the fruit of her hands,
    and let her works praise her in the gates.

Proverbs 31:31 (ESV)

During the life of Woman of Noble Character, we have examined Proverbs 31:10-31, verse by verse, line by line. We have been awestruck by this godly woman. She sews garments, cares for her family, buys and harvests land, extends her hands to the needy, and above all, fears the Lord.

We may have been inspired by her, we may have been intimidated by her, but, as I explained in the very first post about this virtuous woman, she is unique to her husband and his needs.

The last verse, Proverbs 31:31 is a summary of this woman of noble character. The various tasks and responsibilities of a Christian woman as well as her virtues and characteristics. Let’s take a closer look at the meaning of this final verse in Proverbs 31.

image of woman's hands with  text The Fruit Of Her Hands - Honoring You Or Harming You?: Proverbs 31:31, A Closer Look

Give her of the fruit of her hands

John Gill’s Exposition of the Whole Bible explains the verse this way:

According to Aben Ezra, these are the words of her husband to her children; exhorting them to give her the praise and glory that is due unto her. Jarchi interprets it of the world to come; at which time, it is certain, the graces of the church, and of all believers, which are the fruits of the Spirit in them, and of their hands, as exercised by them, such as faith, hope, love, humility, patience, and others, will be found to honour and praise; and every such person shall have praise of God, 1 Peter 1:7; and also of men and angels; to whom these words may be an exhortation to give it to them;

What is the fruit of her hands? It is everything that this amazing wife of noble character does in the course of her day and week. All of the virtues listed in Proverbs 31:10-30.

You may read them and think, “Sheesh! All she did was work and serve others! She had no free time whatsoever!”

To that I say, yes, she worked hard to provide for and serve her family and others, but, Jesus said “

Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.

Luke 17:33 (ESV)

The Proverbs 31 woman understands the paradox of the ways of Christ. If you lay down your life, you’ll get it back.

 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

John 12:25 (ESV)

Our society teaches women to be independent to fight for rights. This focus of society has caused a downward spiral for marriage and women. This selfish thinking, less biblical and more worldly has resulted in broken marriages, broken relationships and lack of satisfaction.

If we lead selfish lives, the fruit we reap will not be sweet. Our actions, motivations and behaviors are to be sacrificial.

While the wife of noble character works hard, she is satisfied and blessed. According to Proverbs 31, she dresses well, eats well and has a husband and children who rave about her. Her husband, family and community honor the fruit of her hands.

She works hard to serve others and has laid down her life, but is she blessed!

and let her works praise her in the gates

The second half of the verse “and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”, show that she receives praise in her community for the life that she leads.

Her proud husband will “let her own works praise her in the gates.”

While “her husband is respected at the city gate” (Proverbs 31:23) , he does not take credit for her accomplishments. He will brag on her to his friends and associates for her contribution to the household and its success.

To wrap up our series, here are some additional facts about Proverbs 31:

image of man and woman's hands together in church for the post The Fruit Of Her Hands - Honoring You Or Harming You?: Proverbs 31:31, A Closer Look
  • It was written as a poem.

Packed with vivid and militaristic imagery, the poem is an acrostic. The first word of each verse begins with a letter from the Hebrew alphabet in succession. It is meant to praise the life and achievements of an upper-class Jewish wife. A woman who does much to keep her household functioning day and night by buying, trading, investing, planting, sewing, spindling, managing servants, serving others, caring for the needy, providing food for the family, and preparing for each season.

  • It was written my a mother to her son.

The intended audience is men. In fact, in the Hebrew tradition, it is the men who memorize this and recite it on the Sabbath as an honor to their wives.

  • She’s not a real person, but an ideal.

Written by Lemuel’s mom, this poem is describing an ideal partner for her son to marry. He should find someone who is adept at domestic tasks, takes care of herself, loves others, is resourceful and most of all fears the Lord. She is saying that if you look for a woman with these attributes, the marriage will bloom and honor God.

The Proverbs 31 Woman: We may have been inspired by her, intimidated by her, but this virtuous woman is unique to her husband and his needs. Click To Tweet
  • Love for husband and wife are not mentioned (nor is submission).

Love is a feeling but demonstrating love is action. When married couples fear the Lord and do their part, marriage can blossom and be fulfilling. Fearing the Lord means that love and submission are happening.

  • It’s not a complete list.

Sure, there’s a lot of responsibilities and attributes mentioned in Proverbs 31, but  there are many other virtuous of godly women mentioned in other parts of the Bible that are not listed here. For example, Abigail went around her foolish husband’s back to save her family (1 Samuel 25) or Deborah giving military advice. God has gifted us each differently. Some are teachers, some are nurses, others office managers or musicians. We are to use our God-given gifts to serve our families and communities, not just follow a checklist.

If you would like to dig deeper and learn more having a God centered marriage, check out my book, The God Centered Marriage.

For deeper reading on what it means to be a Proverbs 31 wife, consider one of these recommended books:

Becoming the Woman God Wants Me to Be: A 90-Day Guide to Living the Proverbs 31 Life by Donna Partow

Demystifying the Proverbs 31 Woman by Elizabeth Ahlman

You may also enjoy hearing Proverbs 31, spoken aloud, so that you can truly listen to God’s Word on the virtuous woman.

What does “honor the fruit of her hands” mean to you? Are you respected at the city gates? What is God telling you after reading and praying over this verse?

Because of Him,

Sue

ESV – “Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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