Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Virtuous Wife

"And now, my daughter, fear not...
for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman."
Ruth 3:11

A Virtuous Woman Series - Part 3 of 8 

(If you wish, to better understand this post, please read
Part 1 and
Part 2
of the Virtuous Woman series first.)

Now that we have done one of the hardest things in life
and taken a personal inventory of our own performance as a virtuous wife,
it is not time to despair if we fell miserably short,
nor gloat if we found ourselves absolutely perfect.
It is time to take courage if we fell short,
and open our minds to improvement if we measured up.
We can all improve, right?
None of us are so virtuous that we can't be more so, right?

While some of the verses about a virtuous wife overlap
and bring more than one of her roles into play,
there are four main verses in the 31st chapter of Proverbs that
give specifics concerning how a virtuous woman relates to her husband....
in a marital relationship.

"The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life." Verses 11, 12

Her husband is the most important person in her life.
Her love for him comes second only to her love for God.
She is completely trustworthy.
Her husband never has to wonder what she is doing when he isn't around.
She has his back.
His best interests are always foremost in her heart.
She won't squander his means.
She does not put him down.
Her words never undermine his integrity or cast suspicion on his reputation.
She has no ulterior motives.
She is completely in his corner...under all circumstances.
Disloyalty to him is not even a possibility....not a remote option.
She would rather die than betray his honor,
cast a shadow of doubt on the soundness of his character,
or bring him hurt.
Her love for him is not based on what he does.
His behavior is not part of the equation.
No matter what he says or does, her intentions towards him are good...
and noble...
and faithful.
He never doubts it....nor does he ever need to.
Everything she does builds him up.
When everything else in his world crumbles,
she will be there...
a steady rock,
a firm shoulder,
a helping hand...
to pick up the pieces...
right by his side...
He never has to to doubt it.

"Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land."
Verse 23

She supports her husband's efforts.
She understands his position.
She gives him the space he needs to do what he has to do.
He can succeed, move forward,
and fulfill his God-given obligations,
with full assurance that she is fulfilling hers.
He doesn't have to pull her share of the relationship.
He knows she is doing that.
He he can hold his head high,
and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the most respected,
because she respects him at home.
She lifts him up,
compliments him before he walks out the door,
shows him that he never has to doubt her love.
She realizes temptation lurks around every corner outside,
so she gives him the love he needs at home.
She isn't slack in keeping the vows she made to him on their wedding day.
He is the object of the most intimate affections in her heart.
He can do his job without undue stress from domestic unrest.
He knows his home will be as he left it when he returns,
due to her diligence and faithfulness.
She is not clingy.
She doesn't try to dominate his life and actions.
She doesn't inflict guilt over times he cannot spend and be with her.
He is free to be the man God calls him to be,
because she is in the background helping to make him look his best.

"Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her."
Verse 28 

There is no greater compliment a woman can receive
than that of her husband.
To hear him praise her efforts,
to applaud her accomplishments,
to announce her worth...
is a crowning honor.
It means more than worldly acclaim.
For though we acquire fame
and earn admiration from strangers,
a deep-seated need is not satisfied...
unless we are appreciated at home.

I think it is important to note
that the reason her children and husband rise up
and bless her and her husband praises her,
is because she is who she is supposed to be.

We have a long, telling list of all of her admirable attributes
quoted before this verse
to paint a clear picture that she has absolutely earned
their respect, blessing, and praise.

It makes me think that possibly even the most insensitive husband out there,
could possibly be won over by his virtuous wife.

You might read this and think,
"Yeah, sure.  You don't know my husband.
You've never tried to live with him.
He doesn't deserve my honor,
nor my respect.
Sure it works...
to be a virtuous wife....
if you have a God-fearing,
gentle husband."

What about when you don't?
And you are still required to do your part?

I want to give you an example of a woman who had such a husband,
and yet she was the exact epitome of a virtuous wife.

Her story is found in I Samuel 25:2-42.

Her name was Abigail.
She was beautiful.
And smart.
And very dedicated to her man.

Her husband's name was Nabal.

Here's what we know about him.
First of all, he was rich.
He had a lot of earthly goods.
He was powerful.
And, he was evil.
The Bible says he was "churlish".

"Churlish" comes from the Hebrew word "qasheh".
I sought information from several Bible research sources,
and this is literally what "churlish" means:


On top of all of this,
Nabal drank too much.
He lived way too fast.
He lived as if he had no conscience...
as if he were invincible....
as if he had to answer to no one.

Do you recognize any of Nabal's attributes in your husband?
I hope if you see anything familiar,
it is just one characteristic...
I surely hope you don't have to live with a man who's personality
is an exact match...
with Nabal's.
If you do, by some chance,
please take courage.
Abigail walked your path.
She could relate to the silent pain...
of being and living life as a virtuous wife...
to an obnoxious, ungrateful brute of a husband.
 This guy had all of the above personality traits.
He couldn't have been harder to get along with.

Abigail's life could not have been easy.
She more than likely had every earthly good she wanted.
I imagine they had a fine home,
lots of servants,
creature comforts,
and everything a woman could long for....
except love....
and appreciation...
and affection.

Money can't buy love....
no matter how much it is poured out and bestowed.

I can just imagine that when Nabal did show her attention,
it was to satisfy his own selfish desires.
I doubt that it was to meet the deep longings of her feminine heart.

There was more than likely no tenderness....
at least, not on his part.

How she must have longed for the things Nabal refused to give!
How many nights did she cry herself to sleep?
How many moments did she long for a kind word,
a tender, caring look,
a gentle touch?

I have even wondered if he inflicted physical abuse,
along with all of the emotional distress he must have dished out.

She seemed to live in fear of him
and his violent temper...
terrified of setting him off
or causing him to go into a rage.

Yet, in spite of all,
this was one admirable woman.
A woman who made no allowances for her own behavior,
simply because her husband was difficult.
Abigail's loyalty to Nabal could not be shaken.
In fact, she put her own safety completely on the line,
stuck her neck way out for him,
and ended up saving his life.

Let me explain.
One day, the future king of Israel, David happened to be traveling,
and he and his men came through Nabal's territory.
Nabal was out shearing his sheep,
and David sent his servants ahead of him to ask Nabal
if he would share sustenance with him and his men.

The message David sent was a message of peace.
He told Nabal that he had been good to his shepherds.
He was simply asking for kindness,
as he passed through.
There was nothing in David's message that should have
warranted the ensuing rage and defiance of Nabal.

Nabal, being the brutish man he was,
sent a message back to David letting him know
that he would not comply with his request.

His disrespect and insubordination invoked David's fury.
David and about 400 of his servants took up their swords to go after Nabal.
They meant business.
After all, Nabal had no right...
to show such impudence.
Nabal might be able to bully everyone else.
He may instill fear in the ones who knew him,
including his sweet, devoted wife,
but not so with David.

David was strong.
He didn't back down from bullies.
Remember Goliath?

David's intentions were to kill Nabal
and every last one of his men before the morning light.

One of Nabal's shepherds knew what was happening
and saw the gravity of the situation.
He sought out Abigail and told her what was going on.
It makes me wonder how many times this had happened before?
Obviously, cleaning up Nabal's messes was nothing foreign to Abigail.
And evidently, Nabal's men knew the value of Abigail's peacemaking abilities.

Why else would he go straight to her?
To intercept her husband's wrath?

The shepherd explained how well David and his men had treated him and his comrades
and how Nabal had railed on Davids' servants, in return.
He spoke highly of David,
and he reminded Abigail of her husband's disposition
and how it was impossible to try to reason with him.

How well she knew!

She quickly realized that if she didn't make a move,
David would kill her husband.
She had to think fast...
come up with a plan...
and proceed with stealth.
She couldn't let Nabal know what she was doing.

She loaded her donkeys with bread, wine, meat, corn, raisins, and figs,
and she set out to do her utmost to appease David's wrath and thwart his
efforts to kill her husband.

How she must have loved him!
In spite of his neglect,
regardless of his mean spirit,
never mind his rough, cruel ways.

He was her husband,
and she would defend him....
to the end.

She met David on his way to kill Nabal.
He was in an angry state of mind when he first saw her.
He was intent on murder....
plotting and conversing with his men.
When Abigail saw him,
she fell down at his feet, begging him to place the blame...
not on Nabal, who completely deserved it...
but on her.

Can you imagine?

She explained to David that she wasn't around when his servants
came asking for something to eat and drink.
Had she known about it, this never would have happened.
She would have complied...willingly.
She begged David not to be like her husband.
She reminded him that if he committed murder,
he would be stooping to Nabal's level.

David stopped...dead in his tracks.

He listened to her.
Her advice was sound.
She pleaded with him to reconsider...
so he wouldn't have the regret of murder on his mind and heart...
later on....
when he was established in his kingdom.

After he heard her out,
this was David's response to her...
"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me:
And blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou,
which has kept me this day from coming to shed blood,
and from avenging myself with mine own hand.
For in very deed, as the Lord God of Israel liveth,
which hath kept me back from hurting thee,
except thou hadst hasted and come to meet me,
surely there had not been left unto Nabal by the morning light any..."

David took the food from her hand,
gladly and gratefully.
His wrath was appeased.
Abigail's kindness had changed his mind...
and saved Nabal's life.
Her mission was accomplished...
and it had been successful.

She returned home.
She must have been exhausted...
physically, but especially emotionally.
One would think Nabal would have been happy to see her.
An expected response would have been open arms...
a thankfulness for the sacrifice she had made on  his behalf,
after hearing about the courageous effort she had made.

So, what did she find when she got there?
 She walked in to find Nabal hosting a party....
and very drunk.
The Bible doesn't say, but I can just imagine that
Abigail felt disgust....
a let down.

She didn't even bother trying to talk to him.
One can just picture her taking in the scene,
then turning away,
pain and shame in her eyes...
as she walked away alone.
How she must have longed to share what was in her heart!
There was no use.
He was so drunk, it wouldn't have sunk in anyway.

She waited until the next day.
She poured out her heart
and told Nabal everything.

The result was very surprising.

In verses 37-38, we read,
"But it came to pass in the morning,
when the wine was gone out of Nabal,
and his wife had told him these things,
that his heart died within him, and he became as a stone.
And it came to pass about ten days after,
that the Lord smote Nabal, that he died."

Some Bible scholars believe Nabal had a stroke.
At any rate, ten days later, he was dead.
When David heard about it,
he sent for Abigail.
How she must have impressed him!
Her virtuous ways were still fresh in his mind.
He wanted to repay her kindness.
He did so...
for the rest of his life,
for soon after Abigail became his wife.

No doubt her marriage to David was much different
than her life with Nabal had been.
Judging by the Psalms he wrote,
I believe David was a very tender-hearted,
caring, compassionate,
and gentle man...
and husband.

Abigail was a virtuous wife....
even when it wasn't easy to be.
Under the worst of circumstances,
God gave grace,
and He rewarded her faithfulness.

He always does.
Whether we are married to a David...or a Nabal....
no matter how easy...or hard it is to be a virtuous wife,
God absolutely has the grace we be an Abigail.
To stand firm.
To be the virtuous wife He wants us to be.


  1. Actually I just tried to have this discussion with my husband of 19 years. Again about what I need. We are Christians who happen to be best friends with our preacher and wife. Behind closed doors you would never know how he really is. How I dread the 5:00 hour everyday. I stay, I serve, I try. I love Abigail and read of her often. She is inspirational. Our 5 children will have us both because that's what we do....stay.

  2. Bless your dear heart! I will be praying for you. My heart just breaks as I read your words and feel your pain and heartache. Only Jesus can truly comprehend what we go through in this life, and He is always there...even behind those closed doors. He sees your sacrifice, your love, your undying devotion. How you spite of personal cost. Your 5 children are beyond blessed to have YOU as their Mama. One day they will rise up and call you blessed, my dear friend. How I wish I could make things better for you, but I know One Who can give you the sufficient grace to be the virtuous woman you strive to be. You are loved and appreciated, and you brightened my day by taking time to leave encouragement here. May the peace of God continually dwell in your heart. I don't know your name, but God knows who you are, and I will be remembering you in my prayers. Love, Cheryl

  3. I read your blog frequently now (I'm the one who also wrote a post on our current preachers not preaching the truth, if that helps) and this is the article that brought me here. And I come back to this all the time. Because it IS with a man like this. Mine fits every single description except the rich part. I struggle every day because my anger gets the best of me. I don't know how people can go on like this. I guess it's the Holy Spirit that keeps me going every day. But I still pray multiple times a day that he will change. I'm so thankful for this post because it is proof that there IS hope...when it really feels like there is none left. Thank you. :)

    1. Hello, dear friend! So thankful for your visit today! It is so hard to understand why you are called upon to suffer through the things you do. YES, it is surely the precious Holy Spirit Who enables you to stand and keep going. I cannot tell you how much I appreciated your kind words...I had no idea you are a frequent visitor, but it surely blesses me to find out that you are. I am SO thankful you find hope here....I am praying for you as I write this and believing God for the miracle and change you need to see in your life. Please keep encouraged and know that God is always there. If you ever need to talk, please always feel free to contact me. God bless you and keep you faithful to Him, in spite of all you endure. Much love to you.

  4. Cheryl,

    I stumbled onto this particular post this morning, and want to tell you again that I've never met a writer whose words simply FLOW THROUGH them. It's as if you just stretch out your hands and the thoughts simply move onto the page.

    I've been out of touch with all my blog friends lately, and this is from quite some time ago (our wedding anniversary of LAST YEAR, in fact, and I am every-moment grateful for this kind, loving, sweet man of my heart), but I wanted you to know how much your sweet spirit and kindness simply shine on the page.


    1. Bless your dear heart, Rachel. I am so humbled and touched by your precious words. I can't thank you brightened my day more than you will ever know! God bless you and your husband with many more happy years together! Much love to you, my friend. :)