Over at The Homeschool Lounge I am involved in a verse by verse study on Proverbs 31.  Here are my thoughts on verse 23  – Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.

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There are two parts to this verse

  1. Her husband is known in the gates
  2. When he sits among the elders of the land

The gates: We all know there are gates around Jerusalem – places of entry – places of business, the marketplace, a place of gathering. I imagine every walled city had gates. So this woman’s husband was known in the market place. This says a few things to me

  • He didn’t live off the productivity of his wife, he had his own business dealings
  • He had a reputation – presumably good.

We need to remember that this passage is a mother talking to her son so in affect she is saying – if you get a wife like this you will be known in the gates, you will be known in the market place, the gathering place. You will have a good reputation.

So as women reading this, and wanting to be that woman – worthy of our man – what do we need to do? Reflecting on the whole of the passage (which is sometimes neglected when we do a verse by verse study) but here are some thoughts that came to me as to how we can give our husband such a reputation:

  • be consistent in doing him good not evil (v12)
  • run a smooth household (v 15, 18b)
  • be involved in the community herself (v20)
  • help him dress well (v21)
  • live with honour (v25)
  • be a wise companion (v26)

The old saying “behind every good man there is a good woman” is true. In the Old Testament – and I can’t see why it isn’t so today – what goes on in a man’s household, his realm of responsibility will reflect on how he handles other realms of responsibility. What are we doing to ensure that our husband’s reputation is one of respect?

Sits among the Elders

Sitting among (or with) the elders is so often intertwined with sitting at the gates but I believe they are two different things. The gate, as already discussed, was a meeting place for commercial, social and justice reasons. The elders who sat at the gate concerned themselves with the juridical system. Though this was general practice in the region we can see the beginning of the office of elders from Moses time. Deut 1:13 “Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you.” This was because Moses wasn’t doing so well at ruling all by himself – he needed help. The role of elders was formally established.

This role was determined by age, experience and wisdom. They didn’t necessarily rule the land as in a King (King Saul asked to be honoured before the elders, and King David recognized and respected the Elders) but they did play a role in the society.

Elders served as local magistrates dealing with:

murder – Josh 20:4

disobedient sons Deut 21:10

slander Deut 22:15

marriage laws Deut 25:7

enforcing the law in general Lev 4:13

These were men of influence and wisdom – they were approached when people wanted to live a lawful and peaceful life. They knew the law.

So this woman’s husband had influence in society. Remember this Proverb is the words of a King’s mother – spoken to her son – the king, or soon to be king. Ruling was to be expected, he needed a wife that was going to not hinder him, hold him back, or mar his reign.

What about us? Anyone married to a prince in waiting? Probably not – but we are all called to rule, to reign with Christ. Through our wisdom, through our diligent lifestyle, through our love of God and reliance on Him we can influence our husband to reign in whatever realm God has placed him in. Each and every Christian needs to be a leader in their community. It may not be in the judicial system, it may not be in the political arena but there is a realm that your husband’s heart wants to be involved in – are we ready to support him. Not just the support of our words but does our lifestyle support him.

What could that realm possibly be? The Elders of old knew the law and they knew how to apply it to their lives, and they helped the people do likewise. I think this is the application we need to look at for ourselves, and our husbands. It is dangerous to look at the fact that they are not leaders in business, that they are not leaders in the community, that they are not leaders in whatever realm we deem significant. To be a leader we need to be wise in the word of God (the Law) and we need to apply it to our lives. Let this be our prayer for our husbands: that they know the Word of God and that they find applications of it in their daily lives.

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