by Gina L.
from Virtuous Daughters, October/November 2018~Volume 18, Number 4
"Panning for Gold" Proverbs 31 Study Series Part 21
My sons have developed the business of buying ATVs and fixing and selling them. It has been an eye-opening endeavor. When purchasing ATVs, my sons have seen every imaginable trick in the book by slick sellers trying to make their 4-wheelers appear something they are not. The deceptions are many. There are the cosmetic tricks, painting over blemishes, pumping up flat tires, and putting stickers or such over broken plastics. There are the motor tricks, hiding a knock with thicker oil, JB welding (gluing) together a broken part, and promising it only needs a small adjustment to run when it is blown up. Then there are the identity tricks, saying it has a title, but never producing it, giving the wrong title intentionally, or worse, having no title at all. Sometimes people are so sincere and genuine-looking that they are easy to believe, but my sons have found that the Bible's words, “all men are liars” are true. In fact, the outer appearance of many of these machines isn't always an accurate reflection of what is “under the hood.” They have become quite adept now at spotting the fakes, the tricks, and the deceptions, but it took many trials and mistakes to get to this point.
Quads are one thing, but later my sons will make a much bigger choice. I often wonder when they go to pick a wife, if this experience will serve them well and give them wisdom to avoid a much greater pitfall. You see, women have their bag of tricks too. There are fake words and feigned smiles that can cover a sour spirit. There are charm and personality that can deceive and hide a selfish, unthankful, lazy, or prideful pattern. And there are beauty and style, all made up into a perfect little package, that can draw attention away from a shallow character or a worldly mind. Even smooth words and flattery fool one who is unsuspecting and willing to ignore wise counsel.
Indeed the tricks women employ are many and varied and have taken down many. My sons endured many trials and mistakes, taking many chances, to reach their current level of wisdom with the sneaky quad sellers. They won't have this luxury of mistakes only costing them dollars when they go to try to find a Virtuous Woman for a wife. In fact, often they can change out a motor, transmission, or carburetor, or replace the exterior parts, changing tires, recovering a seat, or getting new plastics and work their way out of a hole with a bad quad. Not so with a wife. What they get is what they got. Who she is on the inside is who she is, and any amount of make up, stylish clothing, sparkly personality, pretty hair, and even outward beauty can't hide the true heart. Now in quads they know what to look for. They know what attributes are important and what is worth searching for and admiring. What about in women? Do they know? Do we even, as women, know what is worth esteeming and procuring or are we chasing the wrong things?
God tells the secret to what makes a women truly praiseworthy. It is found right near the end of the list of the ideal woman—the Virtuous Woman—portrayed in Proverbs 31. While it is near the end of the story, I would venture to say that this characteristic is the reason for the story. This single thing is the source of all her greatness and the real reason she has become who she has become—A Virtuous Woman. If there is one thing that is a must in finding a good woman, or becoming a good woman, it is this. But before we reveal this secret, let us look at what Proverbs 31:30 says is not so important in a woman.
The verse opens with the phrase “favor is deceitful.” While charm and favor draw us to a person and give us a wonderful feeling when we are around them, we must take time to look “under the hood” and see if there is an inner core that is solid and authentic. Buying into charm, popularity, and favor can be like purchasing a speedy quad with great handling that you are anxious to get behind the wheel of and take out on the trails, but not looking closely could cost you money and misery when you are later stuck out in the middle of nowhere with your wonderful “find,” lamenting your foolish and hasty decision. Look beyond favor.
Next, Proverbs 31:30 states that “beauty is vain.” That is a hard truth for many to realize, but outward beauty is just a shell.....hollow and empty without a matching beauty of heart. And outward beauty fades. A “love” based on physical attraction only is no “love” at all, and a woman beautiful in body and clothing only lacks all real beauty altogether. Physical appearance is guaranteed to change. Aging is certain, and even the best physical beauty, when paired with a sour spirit, ceases to even be pretty. Hence choosing a woman merely by her looks is as foolish as buying a tricked out, souped up, modded out quad that is all show, but no go. This is not worth praising. In fact, outward beauty without inward beauty is a like a beautiful gold nose ring on a pig. It is out of place and not very attractive after all. I am certain that my sons, and all young men, would not want to end up married merely to a pretty pig with a fancy ring in her snout! Look beyond beauty.
If neither beauty nor favor are the answer, what then is truly praiseworthy in a woman? What quality or attribute must she posses to earn true admiration?
God Himself gives us the answer in His infallible Word with this truth about the Virtuous Woman, “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.” While this may be shocking perhaps to many, the important quality which earns praise is indeed the fear of the Lord. It is the quality worth finding, and it is the quality worth attaining in our own lives. Sit back and hear fully the benefits God showers on one who fears Him. You may be surprised.
The whole duty of mankind is summed up in the words, “Fear God and keep His commandments.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13) Furthermore this duty delivers many rewards. God honors them that fear Him and lays up for them a great goodness (Psalm 15:4, 31:19). To be honored by God is quite a reward and one can only imagine the depth of what He has laid up, but also by fearing God, we catch His eye and acquire the best teacher! Yes, the eye of the Lord is actually upon them that fear Him, and they will be taught by God Himself (Psalm 33:18, 25:12). Are you concerned for your safety? Fear the Lord, for the angel of the Lord encamps round about them that fear God and He delivers them (Psalm 34:7). What a body (soul and spirit) guard that is! God-fearing people can rest in His perfect provision, for those who fear the Lord have no want (Psalm 34:9), are given meat (Psalm 111:5), shall come forth of them all (Ecclesiastes 7:18), and are given a banner (Psalm 60:4)! God has secrets too, and we can be in on them. The secret of the LORD is with them that fear Him; and He will shew them His covenant (Psalm 25:14). God shines forth many benefits to those who fear Him, and yet there are more.
We all need God's salvation, compassion, and mercy, and to whom does God direct “great” mercy toward? Salvation is near those who fear God; the Lord pities them, and God's mercy is great toward them that fear Him (Psalm 85:9, Psalm 103:13, 11). Need help, protection, and blessing? God is a help and shield to those who fear Him, and He will bless every one of them, and indeed they are already blessed (Psalm 115:11,13; 128:1,4). Additionally, God actually takes pleasure in them that fear Him, and He will also fulfill their desires (Psalm 147:11, 145:19)! Amazingly, the Lord has a book of remembrance written before Him for them that feared the Lord and thought upon His name (Malachi 3:16). I wonder what is written by my name in that book. What about yours? Solomon, the wisest man was sure of something, “Surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before Him.” (Ecclesiastes 8:12) That is comforting; it shall be well. Additionally, those who fear God's commandments shall be rewarded (Proverbs 13:13). God's promises to those who fear Him are astounding!
Scripture is filled with people God used who feared him. Abraham, David, and Jonah are a few examples, and there are more. The sailors aboard with Jonah feared the Lord “exceedingly” and offered sacrifice. Noah, moved with fear, prepared the ark to save souls (Hebrews 11:7). Job feared God and eschewed evil (Job 1:8, 2:3). The fear of the Lord was Hezekiah's treasure, and Obadiah is credited with fearing the Lord “greatly” (Isaiah 33:6, 1 Kings 18:3). Also, the Church in Acts 9 walked in the fear of the Lord and multiplied. We can be used by God too if we fear Him and grow in wisdom.
God tells us that wisdom in the principal thing and that we should get it (Proverbs 4:7). God also reminds us that everything we could ever desire can't be compared with wisdom (Proverbs 8:11). We must realize, however, that the road to wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord. Indeed, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, the beginning of knowledge, and it is also instruction in wisdom (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7, 9:10, Proverbs 15:35, Job 28:28).
Many search in vain for treasures. For centuries, people have searched for the elusive “fountain of youth,” but there is a “fountain of life.” It is the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 14:27). In fact, to live longer and live satisfied are probably what most of the world is seeking for, but in the wrong place. The fear of the Lord prolongs your days. It tends to life, and he that has it abides satisfied (Proverbs 10:27, 19:23). Much is said today of the importance and attractiveness of confidence. However, confidence in ourselves is ill-placed, but in the fear of the Lord is strong confidence (Proverbs 14:26). While many search for the road to riches, God gives the unlikely road map, for by humility teamed with the fear of the Lord come riches, honor, and life (Proverbs 22:4).
Fear is a peculiar thing, however, for merely possessing it is not enough. Misdirected fear is sin. We are told plainly whom to fear and whom not to fear. In fact, we must render fear to whom it is due (Romans 13:7). Many fear man who can only kill the body, but we are told rather to fear God Who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28). David says to fear the Lord, and he also proclaims that he will not fear what flesh or man can do to him (Psalm 34:9, 56:4, 11)! Likewise, the Lord is our helper, and we ought not fear what man can do unto us (Hebrews 13:6). Furthermore, the fear of God can aid us in many ways. We are told by Paul to perfect holiness in a unique way, by the fear of God, and also to submit ourselves to one another in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7:1, Ephesians 5:21). Peter says to pass the time of our sojourning here with fear, to fear God, and to be ready to give an answer with meekness and fear (1 Peter 1:17, 2:17, 3:15). The way to serve God acceptably is with reverence and godly fear (Hebrews 12:28).
The fear of the Lord is a choice. Those who hate knowledge don't choose the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:29). But what really is the fear of the Lord anyway? “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil...” (Proverbs 8:13) It is by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil (Proverbs 16:6). Your walk can show whether you fear the Lord, for he that walks in uprightness fears the Lord (Proverbs 14:2).
We have conclusively determined the value of the fear of the Lord, but how does one actually acquire it? God says if we come and listen to Him and His wisdom, He will teach it to us. Would you like a long, good life? “Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD. What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.” (Psalm 34:11-14) The fear of the Lord entails keeping the tongue...running from evil...doing good...seeking and following peace!
God also tells us how to understand what the fear of the Lord is. Read this carefully, for it is the map to the buried treasure that millions have searched for but never found. Maybe they didn't know what they were looking for or maybe they just didn't know where to find it. "My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; so that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God" (Proverbs 2:1-5)
Growing up, I received a watered down version of what the fear of the Lord was. Years ago, I recognized this and began a search for what it really entailed. Mostly, I asked God to give it to me. I never saw an actual verse telling me to ask for it, but when I grew to understand its immense importance, I wanted to posses it and so asking God for it became my battle plan. Later, when I was reading Psalms, I found that it actually is a scriptural request and a prayer that David prayed. Join me in seeking this crucial characteristic, praying along with David, “Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in Thy truth: unite my heart to fear Thy name.” (Psalm 86:11)
Getting tricked by a slick seller who passes off something for what it is not is never fun, but being deceived by following after favor, charm, or beauty could be much more costly. While the world may praise outward beauty, which is vain and fleeting, God tells us what truly is praiseworthy in a woman—the fear of the Lord.
The fear of the Lord will lead you on the path to wisdom and knowledge and plant in you the source of greatness possessed by the woman of Proverbs 31. This is the seed which must be present in order to blossom into a true woman of virtue. There is no praise due a woman without it, for hand skills, business acumen, a bright mind, hard work, and even caring deeds done without God are done in vain. Cultivate the fear of the Lord and seek it as a high priority, for such does the Virtuous Woman.
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