Her husband is
known in the gates,
when he sitteth among the
elders of the land.
If you're anything like me you read this verse and skip right over it. You think " 'husband' ok, don't have one of those, this verse doesn't apply to me." But, since my study right now is causing me to look at the Proverbs 31 Virtuous Woman through different eyes I'm starting to see things a little clearer. I might not have a husband NOW, but I certainly would like to have one sometime in the future. So, how can I prepare for this now?
The first thing I noticed here was that this entire passage of scripture is about the virtuous woman. Not her husband. There are only a few places where her husband is even mentioned. But, even then, those verses aren't talking about HIM. They're talking about what her relationship is with him. So, I think we can assume that even though this verse is talking about a husband, there's something for us to learn from it. You've heard the saying "Behind every good man is a good woman?" I'm not saying that's completely true. And I'm not trying to peddle a feminist agenda. :) But, the basis of that idea is that if a man is good, chances are pretty high that his wife is supportive and kind. Encouraging and a good influence. She probably isn't like the woman mentioned in Proverbs 21:9 and 21:19. "It is better to dwell in the wilderness than with a contentious and angry woman." Ouch.
The Husband mentioned in this verse is a respected and well-known man. He has a good reputation. Do you think he built that reputation all on his own? He could certainly do that and if he were single he would have only himself to concern with the upkeep of that reputation. But, we know for a fact that he's married because this verse calls him a husband. So, that got me to thinking about what kind of wife a respected man like that would have. I have an excellent example right in front of my nose. My own father is an elder in our church. He's also a business man of good reputation in our community. His wife (my mom) is supportive, encouraging and does an excellent job maintaining her own good reputation which in turn reflects well on my dad. It always helps me to look at things in the converse. So, I tried to imagine what my Dad's business and church responsibilities would look like if my mom nagged at him all the time. To be honest, I had a hard time imagining my dad even wanting to be a well known person if he constantly had to be dealing with a contentious and angry wife. I've been at many community events and watched my dad proudly introduce his wife to everyone he meets. What if he didn't want to introduce her because she was such a negative person? What if he introduced her to people and rather than smiling and being friendly she was rude? My dad's reputation would suffer for it.
In a conversation with our own Valerie the other day she mentioned that she felt that a lot of guys might be intimidated by the kind of man that most of us girls are looking for. This led to a discussion of what kinds of qualities we should expect to find in a good husband candidate, which of those we should reasonably expect to be matured qualities (like a heart for the Lord) and which character qualities we should only reasonably expect him to be in the process of developing. After all, it takes many years to iron out and develop a Godly character. I'm certainly not perfect and I would hate to feel that I'm being passed over as a good marriage candidate because I'm not perfect. During the conversation I mentioned that I wasn't looking for someone who was perfect. Just so he had a willing heart and a goal about what kind of man he wants to become. I'm totally willing to provide encouragement to help him get there! I'm a good encourager! And that kind of encouragement is exactly what I need in my own life! I know who it is I want to be and I'm working on reaching my goals. A little encouragement along the way would be just splendid. :) But, I digress... The point is that if we have expectations of what kind of man we're looking for as a husband, we should expect that the guys also have expectations about what kind of women they are looking for in a wife. And, if we expect to marry a certain quality of man, we need to be worthy of him.
The husband in this verse is a leader among men. Before he was married, what kind of woman do you suppose he was looking for in a wife? What kind of character traits do you suppose appealed to him? Should we assume that he married a run-of-the-mill girl? Or, that he married a girl who had the makings of being a strong, responsible, well respected women? We have a joke in our house and it takes a little bit of explaining. My dad is in a group of men at our church that we often refer to as "The Elders" :) The elder's wives are usually referred to as (creatively enough) the "Elders Wives." My mom has always encouraged her daughters to be strong women of God, leaders of our peers, encouragers and wise counselors. She set for us the goal of being the kind of women that would be good wives of good men. The kind of men that hold positions of leadership in their communities and churches. She called us "Elders Wives in Training." Or, as we quickly nick-named it "E-WITS." It's funny, and we laugh when we talk about being "E-WITS" but the principle is a good one. We should be preparing now to be the kind of woman that are well-equipped to encourage a man who is "known in the gates." Be worthy of what you desire.