There are a slew of men who are getting engaged in YBL small groups these days. This is an exciting time, and a good reminder of the high and important decision of choosing wisely in marriage. Proverbs has much to say both on decision making and marriage, and it concludes with a remarkable acrostic poem about the wife of noble character in 31:10-31.
Proverbs is at its heart, a training manual in basic wisdom. In the prologue of the book, it says the chief purpose of the book is to ‘receive instruction…impart prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young…” (Proverbs 1:3-4) Certainly all of us are encouraged to hear and benefit (1:5), but it is primarily a tool for parenting. 1:7 makes it clear that all knowledge begins with God: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge”. The next nine chapters (1-9) make the argument that pursuing wisdom is the most important objective of life. Once someone is convinced of the value of wisdom, they can receive the core content of the book of Proverbs (10-31) in a beneficial way.
Which brings us to Proverbs 31. If the focus of the book is about gaining and implementing wisdom, why did the final assembler of the book of Proverbs (under inspiration of the Holy Spirit), choose to close it with a lengthy acrostic poem about the wife of noble character? I see at least three important reasons:
1) Finding a virtuous wife is often a result of pursuing wisdom. I recall when I was first learning tennis, I would frequently try to crush forehands, only to watch most of them fly into the net or out of bounds. I might get lucky one out of ten–but excellence is rarely accidental and such things tend to be unpredictable and unrepeatable. It takes time and practice to develop a repeatable and solid forehand. So it is with wise choices. Though God is gracious and consistently gives us better than we deserve, practically speaking, finding a virtuous wife is not accidental. It is the culmination of a young man’s prayerful and intentional pursuit of wisdom.
2) Finding a virtuous wife is a great help to one who desires to live a wise life. The man who marries well will find his wife helps him and prays for him. She spurs him to grow and make wise choices. Her wise counsel reinforces the truth in His life. She helps to correct the sin and errors that linger. Marriage can certainly also draw out awareness of hidden faults; the owning and repenting of which is made easier by a wise and patient wife.
3) Finding a virtuous wife is a key to passing wisdom on to our children. This is the capstone of Proverbs, because of the central theme of the book is the training and raising the next generation in wisdom. If a man wants to teach his children, of utmost importance is the selection of a wise mother. The combination of two loving and nurturing parents is an incredibly powerful gift to your children.
All of this should motivate men to pray to choose wisely in marriage. No one is perfect, and we all fall short of God’s perfect standard and wisdom. By God’s grace, he covers our sin and our imperfect decisions. Wherever you are on this journey, seek God and his wisdom. God’s highest wisdom is in His son Jesus Christ, “in whom are all treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3)