“She is not afraid of snow for her household for all her household is clothed in scarlet” (Proverbs 31:21)
Proverbs 31 concludes with a series of descriptions of the virtuous woman. Each of these definitions is tied to a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This alphabetic connection was a common and practical way of presenting the thoughts of God. Psalm 119 is our best example of this teaching pattern. That passage, the longest chapter in our Bibles, gives us eight statements for every one of the 22 Hebrew letters.
That’s the form for this chapter of Proverbs, and form mattered very much to the Hebrews for those who could read the Scriptures for themselves were few. Sayings were therefore arranged to be recited and thereby committed to memory.
The content of Proverbs 31 verses also points to the significant marriage imagery that is repeated through the Word. In several places, we are given pictures of God as the Bridegroom or Husband and His people as His Wife and Bride. The most detailed of this passages is found in Ephesians 5, which concludes with this important instruction: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:25-26).
It is most important for us as members of the Church of Christ to view ourselves as the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31. We are loved by Him who is our Savior, and our virtue must speak in these days.
Our news feeds have been cluttered with forecasts about the weather, because my town, Baltimore, always feels challenged by such weather. Our news feeds are also dominated by a glut of toxic thoughts about all manner of things – sexuality, ecology, politics, identity, etc. The blizzard of information has buried so many.
The Covering of Scarlet
Look to the way of the wise bride of Proverbs 31. She has no fear for herself or for her household, her family. Why? For the members of her household are clothed in “scarlet.” This is the word we find in a couple of Bible translations. And scarlet is that color that points us to the Cross and to the Blood of Christ.
We can go to the story of Rahab the harlot in the book of Joshua. She was given a twine of scarlet to hang in her window. This thread of red was to mark her and her household as safe, a sign that those inside were covered from the destruction to fall on Jericho. All who were within Rahab’s doors were spared when Joshua fit the battle and the walls tumbled down.
Another meaning of “scarlet” in the Hebrew text is “doubly covered,” or “twice clothed.” Here we have another picture of Redemption for us to ponder. We are covered, or cleansed by the Blood of Christ and also hidden in Him, in His Church, His Household, His Body. That is, we rest in the positional truth of our salvation.
What washed away our sins? The Blood of Jesus. By it, He covered our sins and our transgressions forevermore. Now, we love in grace for today and expect future grace because of the Finished Work. We have that covering in our experience, in our daily walk with Him. This robe of righteousness is upon us as well.
Ice and snow, the cold and bitter things of life and of this world, do not have to drive us to fretfulness and anxiety.
As the Bride of Christ, we are the one, true virtuous and wise woman of Proverb 31. We are members in particular, and we need not fear because we are loved and we, by the Holy Spirit, love others with His love. We believe all things. We think no evil.
This virtue, if we allow it to become a rule of life, will testify to something great. It will broadcast the message, the Gospel of the Finished Work, to those all around us.
Christ Revealed through Love
We can see this in Proverbs 31:23 — the Husband, the Bridegroom, will be known in the gates and among the elders of the land. Let’s put it this way: the manner of the Church reveals the character of Him. That is the way it should be. Christian thought and influences should be a big part of all discussions on all matters.
Love one another, Jesus said and the world will know Me.
But brothers offended are harder to be won, says another proverb. We, the Body of believers here on earth, do not always operate properly. We get bogged down in cliques and clubs and confrontations and causes are elevated to levels of real idolatry. We set up “repugnant cultural others” as Alan Jacobs writes in his book “How to Think.” We take sides and create enemies with whom we refuse to agree. This tragically happens even among us as believers.
Kindness gets tossed aside. Convictions are significant — we must hold fast to them. But soft tongues are the ones that break bones, and gentle answers are what turn away wrath.The leaders and so-called thinkers of the land should be able to look at the Church and see the work of Christ and what it does in and through her. Click To Tweet
The leaders and so-called thinkers of the land should be able to look at the Church and see the work of Christ and what it does in and through her. The Pharisees watched the disciples, as we read in the book of Acts. They sensed the spirit and power that the followers of Jesus preached and exercised. They could draw only one conclusion: these disciples had been with Jesus. That’s it; that’s what made them different and that’s what made the message attractive.
The virtuous woman, the Church, people will take note of her. Read from the start of Proverbs 31 and see how she lives and she loves.
Her hands are at work. The woman of wisdom and virtue is about holy business: She gathers. She prepares her table and opens her hands and arms to the poor and needy. She sows and plants and reaps.
Consider this: Paul was a tent maker and teacher. God perhaps gives us simple labors to keep our minds and mouths from getting out of control.
The woman of virtue has a lamp always burns brightly. She trims her light with oil so that it shines forth. She is clothed with dignity and strength.
Proverbs 31:28-29 brings us to the reward to come for a life of virtue: “Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but you excel them all.”
This woman’s children, her sons and daughters, the members added to the Church, shall stand in her honor. We read of such a picture in Revelation.
Many do things reasonably well in a natural manner, but it is the Church of Christ, the Bride, who is about the right things, the real things, the eternal things.
She shall be honored. The New Jerusalem shall come down. The Church shall reign and rejoice with Him forever and ever.