“An excellent wife who can find?”
On this day (as I write) marking my 25th wedding anniversary to Robyn, I wish to reflect on this age-old proverbial question both theologically and personally. As you will find in the Book of Proverbs, after 31 chapters of portraying and pursuing the wonder of wisdom, a poetic finale invites the reader to consider the way of a virtuous woman (Proverbs 31:10-31).
The poem itself is an acrostic, meaning each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet — as if to celebrate the ideal wife fully, from “A to Z,” as “all that,” as worthwhile and worthy of praise. Upon reading this artful poem, many may be left to wonder whether this woman actually exists, let alone is findable (or yet still available)! Is she out there?
In theological terms, the answer to the question is robust. This gets revealed, in part, throughout the Proverbs as a wise woman is placed in contrast to a wayward woman (for example, compare chapters 5-7 with chapters 8-9), leading to this conclusion where the wise heroine can be seen diligently at work: purposeful and profitable; capable and compassionate; loving and loved. Significantly, this woman’s wisdom-in-action flows not from her outward charms and fading physical features, but from a reverent “fear of the Lord” that shows she has learned to hear wisdom’s voice, take it to heart, and put it into joyful service. Such a life is worthy of honor (Proverbs 1:1-9; 31:28-31).
Accordingly, I pivot here to speak personally in praise to God for my own wife, Robyn, who strikingly exemplifies the excellence extolled in this alphabet (for example, “strength and dignity are her clothing … she opens her hand to the poor … she opens her mouth with wisdom … she looks well to the ways of her household … her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her”). “She is more precious than jewels.”
In such ways as described here, I not only have “found” an excellent wife; I have been “crowned” with her by God’s grace (Proverbs 12:4; 18:22; 19:14). Expressed another way, my wife is both “beauty-ful” and one who “beauty-fies” — as others enjoy the fruit of her wisdom and worth as God’s Spirit works fruitfully through her (Proverbs 31; Galatians 5:22-23).
Now could I develop this personal picture in more detail by relaying relevant Robyn-centric stories? I could. But this would not only horrify her (she is humble), but it might also steer away from the even grander story being unfolded by God in his word.
This is his story that reveals his wisdom in a crucified Christ (I Corinthians 1:18-31), and the beauty of his sanctified bride, the church, which expresses a profound mystery (Ephesians 5:25-32)! Yes, when God’s wisdom is found and expounded, both theologically and personally, treasure abounds.
And on this 25th anniversary-to-date, I pause to say to my wife, and to our True Bridegroom: Thank you, Robyn; Thank you, Jesus.
Rev. Dr. Craig P. Davis is minister at Grace United Reformed Church in Kennewick. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.