by Gina L.
from Virtuous Daughters, October/November 2017~Volume 17, Number 4
"Panning for Gold" Proverbs 31 Study Series Part 16
I remember when I was in sixth grade in California there was a girl named Holly. It seemed like all the girls wanted to copy how she dressed. Now she didn’t dress immodestly in any way, but she seemed to have a knack for style—the latest style—and the girls noticed. She wore little vests over polo shirts and stuck the collar straight up. “Preppy” I guess was the name of the “new” craze, and everyone was trying to jump on board and find the path to pretty. But as the world’s finicky system goes, where the trends change as quickly as the weather, Holly was soon replaced by the latest fashionista who the girls ran next to imitate. And such is the world’s fashion merry-go-round, which goes round and round, trying to entice each generation to buy a ticket in the name of glamour, style, and beauty.
The Virtuous Woman didn’t have this wardrobe trouble. She followed a different fashion philosophy and procured her clothing in an unusual way, finding the true path to pretty, for she knew Who to imitate and where to get her clothes.
In speaking of the Virtuous Woman, Proverbs 31:25 says, “Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.”
While we have already seen elsewhere in Proverbs 31 that the Virtuous Woman’s literal clothing is silk and purple, here we find the Virtuous Woman clothed figuratively in strength and honor. Where did she get a wardrobe like that? How does one find that kind of clothing? Certainly, they can’t be purchased at the mall or a big box store. They can’t even be found at a thriftique, antique or boutique store. Amazon, eBay, or any online seller doesn’t offer those garments for any price. So where did she find them...and where did she get the notion to dress in those garments anyway? Who is she imitating?
Part of the Virtuous Woman’s dress for success secret is that she indeed knows who to copy—Who to imitate. While the ladies of the day frantically seek the path to pretty by copying the attire of those they think the prettiest among themselves, the Virtuous Woman sets her eyes higher and emulates the dress code of God. And you will see as a result of that, that she is not only found among the best dressed, but she is also found rejoicing in time to come. But first, how does she copy God?
We find out from David that God himself is clothed with honor (Psalm 104:1). The Lord also is clothed with strength (Psalm 93:1). In answering Job, the Lord reveals much about His own clothing. God essentially tells Job that if you have an arm like Me and can thunder with a voice like Me, then dress like Me. Then God describes this attire: “Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty.” (Job 40:9-10) This word “beauty” is the same Hebrew word Hadar, which is the word “honor” that the Virtuous Woman clothes herself in (Proverbs 31:25). This clothing of honor is indeed one of beauty. Yes, the Virtuous Woman is wise to be a follower of God in emulating these clothing choices. There is no one better to copy, but where in the world would one go to find this clothing of strength and honor that both she and God wear?
Actually, one can find nothing of its kind in the world but must look elsewhere—to a higher storehouse. In fact, looking very high—to the presence and place of the Lord Himself—one finds the source and location of this strength and honor. “Glory and honor are in His presence; strength and gladness are in His place.” (1 Chronicles 16:27) Indeed honor and majesty are before Him, and strength and beauty are in His sanctuary (Psalm 96:6). So we have found the source and location, but this is not an easy destination to get to (or park at if you could even find it). No GPS can lead straight into His presence, place, or sanctuary.
For all of life’s travels, Scripture contains the only trustworthy directions. Everything else leaves you lost (2 Corinthians 4:3), constantly trying new routes (Ephesians 4:14), missing the way (John 14:6), or heading to a dead-end (Proverbs 14:12, Romans 6:21). But Scripture’s directions are very clear. There is a way to get there, a way into His presence. One way is to walk uprightly, for the upright shall dwell in His presence (Psalm 140:13). This is a wonderful key and not to be rushed over because uprightness allows us to actually dwell—remain—or park in His very presence, where strength and honor abound. Also, one can enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise (Psalm 100:4). It seems simple, but it is true. God says to come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms (Psalm 95:2). How wise we would be to learn the habit of actually giving thanks to God always for all things because thanksgiving leads straight to Him (Ephesians 5:20)! We shouldn’t underestimate the power of joyful singing either, since we can also come before His presence with singing (Psalm 100:2). Hence uprightness, thankfulness, praise, and singing are ways into God’s presence and place where strength and honor are found, the clothing of the Virtuous Woman.
There is another way to find honor that Scripture speaks of, and with it you will find life and righteousness, too. However, this may baffle many seasoned shoppers because it is in seeking after something else that the truly sought-after item is secured. Seek righteousness and mercy, and you will find the prized clothing of honor! For he that follows after righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness, and honor (Proverbs 21:21). However, it is also important to realize that the prerequisite for honor is humility, for “before honor is humility” (Proverbs 15:33, Proverbs 18:12). Once found, honor is glorious clothing which wears wonderfully. Moreover, there is another way to attain honor, and it is a way whereby God Himself will give it to you.
Jesus taught us that servanthood—serving the Lord—is a way to attain honor. “If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be: if any man serve Me, him will My Father honour.” (John 12:26) Honor is one of the Virtuous Woman’s clothing choices and indeed one of God’s own, and it is found by serving the Lord. Isn’t that always God’s way? You humbly serve Him and He honors you. It is so diametrically opposed to the world’s way of propping yourself up—listing your achievements—to attain honor. In the world, you grapple to climb higher and higher to try to earn the badge of honor. But in God’s economy, you stoop lower and lower to serve, and thereby receive the glorious clothing of honor. But what about strength? How can one find and procure the beautiful clothing of strength, which both God and the Virtuous Woman are clothed in?
One way seems very intuitive. Any good shopper knows this secret. If you know where something is, seek it there....go get it! Do you want strength? We are told to seek the Lord and His strength (1 Chronicles 16:11). That sounds pretty straightforward, but did you notice what it actually said? It said to seek His strength, and here we thought we were on a quest to find where to get strength of our own to be clothed in. This seems like a lead we should follow....this looking for His strength.
In fact, Paul does give us a tip in the New Testament when he says that our weakness is the way to God’s strength. This search for God’s strength is not found in a stroll through the mall of ease. Rather, trials of many sorts seem to line this rough road to His strength. After asking the Lord three times for the thorn in the flesh to be taken from him, Paul is given this answer from the Lord, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Paul then decides, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) Again we stand amazed at how God’s ways, where His strength is perfected in weakness, differ absolutely from the world’s ways, where strength is gained through triumph. This search for the clothing of strength, which has led us to trials and weakness, will also lead on to the deep wells of salvation, for His strength is there too.
When God is truly your strength, you can say like Moses that He has become your salvation (Exodus 15:2). When God is truly your salvation, you can say like Isaiah that He also is your strength (Isaiah 12:2-3). The people of God receive strength from the Lord, for the Lord will give strength unto His people (Psalm 29:11). The Virtuous Woman feared the Lord and was one of His people, hence we uncover again the source of her clothing.
It was from Him. It was His strength. It was perfected through weakness. It was found through thanksgiving, praise, singing, and uprightness. It was was secured by seeking Him, His strength, and righteousness and mercy. It was given to one humbly serving the Lord.
While the Virtuous Woman’s clothing of strength and honor is figurative, and not a literal garment that one can purchase and put on, it is nonetheless real and rewarding. Although there is certainly a present-day reward for being clothed in strength and honor, the real reward lies in the future. Proverbs 31:25 promises this: “Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.” Her reward is a future time of rejoicing. In her patient expectation, the Virtuous Woman exhibits another very significant character quality, which distinguishes her greatly from most in our day. She is not living for the present pleasures but living with the hope of future rejoicing.
Many women live for the present and value only the outward appearance. They despise and fear growing older with its promise of wrinkles, grey thinning hair, and sagging skin. Some desperately try to preserve their youth and fight the future. Not the Virtuous Woman. She neither fights nor fears the future, but looks forward to it, for she will rejoice in time to come. To the foolish a promise of rejoicing in the future is worthless, but to the wise it is worthwhile.
Looking closely, we see that the Virtuous Woman’s future time of rejoicing seems to be connected to her current choice of clothing. This then begs the question, can what you wear today effect your tomorrow? Most definitely, yes!
The deliberate choice today to clothe yourself, like the Virtuous Woman, in honor and strength, promises a day of rejoicing in the future—in time to come. But one must be wise enough to desire to live with an eternal focus to value and seek this wardrobe.
While the world falls for fad after fad, we can imitate God and copy His attire. The directions have been given to the storehouse of strength and honor so that we too may find such clothing in God’s presence, in humbly serving Him, and in seeking Him and His strength.
As we literally dress in the styles and garments we deem best, we must remember the more important figurative clothing. Yes, clothed in strength and honor, we can rejoice in time to come, for such does the Virtuous Woman.
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