Turn to Proverbs 31: 10-31. Here Solomon paints one of the most beautiful pictures on the canvas of imagination to be found anywhere in the Bible and that is of an "excellent woman ". We know her as the virtuous woman because of the King James translation. It would appear that Solomon is describing to us is a woman who knows what it is to be a woman. She is a woman who obviously knows how to make the fullest and richest expression of her womanhood. She is a woman who succeeds as a woman!
In verse 10, Solomon opens his description with a question: An excellent wife, who can find her?" This would indicate that such a woman is rare. Is this even a thought that would enter the minds of contemporary woman. Oh, precious Saints-in-Waiting, what have we done to ourselves? Is there truly no difference between us and the pagan women? It is very significant to note that the beginning, the middle, and the end of the picture all focus on her husband. In other words, the supreme achievement of an excellent ~ wife is her husband. Everything else she achieves apart from that is of secondary value. She has laid down her life for her husband and is not living out her own life now. Her life is in her husband. She sees her success in him. She rejoices in his achievements more than in her own.
In verse 11, the first statement emphasizes this truth with this statement: The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain." He does not have to go out into the world and prove his worth to anyone else. His wife's approval is sufficient for - him.
Now remember, this is a covenant of marriage where both partners are united in one spirit. Many men without this awareness or commitment strive without stop for success in business and among their peers or in other fields primarily out of the competitiveness within them to prove themselves. This false belief was rooted and grounded in them from their origin family where they never had the assurance of their approval. And then we as a woman further reinforce this misconception. Consequently, they go through life trying to prove themselves and find a sense of worth. God intended self-worth to be established in every male born by his parents and then reinforced by his bride. Men are looking for one person on whom they can totally rely. This is to be his wife.
To be a wife with these credentials is the highest of achievements for womanhood in Heaven's eyes! The scripture gives cause as to why the husband can trust in this "excellent wife" and it is because "She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life." Husbands and wives can disagree but never become disconnected and lose their unity in spirit. Regardless of the circumstances the commitment must always be one hundred percent!
Now looking to verse 23, the central section of this description: "Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land" Again the focus is on her husband. He is a recognized leader among his people, sitting in the gate, the place of - honor and authority. Solomon's language is so expressive. "Her husband is known. " alludes to the fact that he is known as her husband. What a switch from our contemporary society. Women in our society are known as someone's wife or mother. The husband of the "excellent wife" though would not have been able to hold his position of honor without his wife's support. Whether we realize it or not, this principle still holds true today in the Church. Where there is a successful, confident man, we are really seeing the bigger picture which is his wife's success. She has fostered this self image into her husband by her commitment and acceptance of him unconditionally.
Then in verses 28 and 29 the description closes with the focus on her family - first her children, but finally her husband once more:
Her children rise up and bless her, Her husband also, and he praises her saying: "Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all. " Proverbs 31 :28-29
So this picture paints this "excellent wife" to be a truly successful woman and her success begins with, centers around, and concludes with her husband. He is her supreme - achievement, beside which every other achievement is secondary.
What reward does he, on his part, have to offer her? "He praises her" How much a wife desires to be praised for her efforts. That is the highest form of love for her to receive. To be told she does well is her fondest hope! You see this husband realizes that the awe he has of his bride is only expressed through praise. And a man can afford to be lavish with this pay as the more he praises the more she will give.
Let us return again to the wife's part. How can a woman receive this type of success with I her husband? I believe that she has two responsibilities, closely related to each other. The first is to uphold her husband; the second is to encourage him. As we look to I Corinthians 11 :3, Paul tells us that "the man (husband) is the head of : the woman (wife)." In the marriage relationship, final responsibility for decision and direction rests with the head. Yet the head cannot hold itself up. It totally depends upon the rest of the body to support it and without this support, the head alone cannot fulfill its' function. This applies to the marriage relationship. As head, the husband has final responsibility for decisions and direction. But he cannot fulfill this function on his own. He is dependent upon the body to uphold him. In a sense, the wife's responsibility may be likened to that of the neck. She is the one closest to her husband, on whose support he must continually rely. If she fails to hold him up, there is no way that he can function as he should. Just as there is no other part of the body that can take the place of the neck in upholding the head, so there is no other person who can give to the husband the support that he needs from his wife.
The wife's second responsibility is to encourage her husband. This encouragement should not just come when he deserves it but also when he doesn't deserve it. A wife should not just encourage him to do what she wants. That is manipulation. She encourages because she has faith in her husband and trust in him because of Christ in Him. She will always do this through faith in Christ out of obedience. This is particularly hard for women to do especially under pressure. It is much easier to reproach or correct because of the mothering/nurturing nature. However, encouraging is a ministry that must be cultivated in marriage. A woman needs to be considering the desired outcome for "the excellent wife" and that is to receive her husband's praise.
In order for a wife to become a minister of encouragement she must come to the end of herself. She cannot encourage others when she is primarily interested in herself. In laying aside herself and investing her life into her husband she very well can through the power of the Holy Spirit transform a bad marriage and an unsuccessful husband into a good marriage and a successful husband.
If you and your husband are both going through a difficult down time, you will really face your commitment and self denial. This covenant requires sacrifice as you have died to your rights. Covenant commitment alone can provide the grace and power that each party in the marriage need to make it successful. Good advice or a set of do's and don'ts cannot do the work. Not even if you read all the books in the world on how to make a successful marriage. Christian marriage will not work without the supernatural grace of God; and this grace is received only as husband and wife yield themselves to God and to one another in covenant commitment.