|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
31:10-31 This is the description of a virtuous woman of those days, but the general outlines equally suit every age and nation. She is very careful to recommend herself to her husband's esteem and affection, to know his mind, and is willing that he rule over her. 1. She can be trusted, and he will leave such a wife to manage for him. He is happy in her. And she makes it her constant business to do him good. 2. She is one that takes pains in her duties, and takes pleasure in them. She is careful to fill up time, that none be lost. She rises early. She applies herself to the business proper for her, to women's business. She does what she does, with all her power, and trifles not. 3. She makes what she does turn to good account by prudent management. Many undo themselves by buying, without considering whether they can afford it. She provides well for her house. She lays up for hereafter. 4. She looks well to the ways of her household, that she may oblige all to do their duty to God and one another, as well as to her. 5. She is intent upon giving as upon getting, and does it freely and cheerfully. 6. She is discreet and obliging; every word she says, shows she governs herself by the rules of wisdom. She not only takes prudent measures herself, but gives prudent advice to others. The law of love and kindness is written in the heart, and shows itself in the tongue. Her heart is full of another world, even when her hands are most busy about this world. 7. Above all, she fears the Lord. Beauty recommends none to God, nor is it any proof of wisdom and goodness, but it has deceived many a man who made his choice of a wife by it. But the fear of God reigning in the heart, is the beauty of the soul; it lasts for ever. 8. She has firmness to bear up under crosses and disappointments. She shall reflect with comfort when she comes to be old, that she was not idle or useless when young. She shall rejoice in a world to come. She is a great blessing to her relations. If the fruit be good, the tree must have our good word. But she leaves it to her own works to praise her. Every one ought to desire this honour that cometh from God; and according to this standard we all ought to regulate our judgments. This description let all women daily study, who desire to be truly beloved and respected, useful and honourable. This passage is to be applied to individuals, but may it not also be applied to the church of God, which is described as a virtuous spouse? God by his grace has formed from among sinful men a church of true believers, to possess all the excellences here described.
Verse 30. - SHIN. The writer confirms the husband's praise by assigning to it its just grounds. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain. Chen, "favour," may signify either the good will with which one is regarded, or gracefulness, beauty. As being in close parallelism with the next words, it is best taken as referring to loveliness of form. Mere gracefulness, if considered as a token of a wife's work and usefulness, is misleading; and beauty is transitory and often dangerous. Neither of them is of any real value unless accompanied by religion. As the gnomic poet says -
Μὴ κρῖν ὁρῶν τὸ κάλλος ἀλλὰ τὸν τρόπον.
"Judge not at eight of beauty, but of life." But a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. So we come back to the maxim with which the whole book began, that the foundation of all excellence is the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7). Such, too, is the conclusion of Ecclesiastes (Ecclesiastes 12:13), "Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." Septuagint, "False are charms (ἀρεσκειαι), and vain is the beauty of woman; for a prudent woman is blessed, and let her praise the fear of the Lord."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain,.... A well favoured look, a graceful countenance, symmetry and proportion of parts, natural or artificial beauty, are vain and deceitful; oftentimes under them lies an ill natured, deformed, and depraved mind; nor is the pleasure and satisfaction enjoyed as is promised along with these; and particularly how do they fade (e) and consume away by a fit of illness, and through old age, and at last by death? And so vain and deceitful are the favour and beauty, the artificial paintings, of Jezebel, that whore of Rome; all her meretricious deckings, dressings, and ornaments; her gaudy pomp and show in her worship, and the places of it; see Revelation 17:4. Jarchi interprets this of the grandeur and glory of the kings of the nations;
but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised; any single individual, man or woman, that fears the Lord; or a collective body of them, a society consisting of such persons, as the true church of Christ does; who have the grace of fear in their hearts, which is the beginning of wisdom, and includes the whole of religious worship, internal and external, private and public: such are taken notice of and highly valued by the Lord; his eye is upon them; his hand communicates to them much grace; and many benefits are bestowed upon them here, and great honour is conferred upon them, and great goodness is laid up for them.
(e) "Forma bonum fragile est", Ovid. de Arte Amandi, l. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
30. Favour—or, "Grace" of personal manner.
beauty—of face, or form (compare Pr 11:22). True piety alone commands permanent respect and affection (1Pe 3:3).
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