A Sacred Trust WEEK OF May 10, 2015 Proverbs 31:25-31

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1 A Sacred Trust WEEK OF May 10, 2015 Proverbs 31:25-31 Leader, as a rule, answering the questions in engage it should take no more than 10 minutes and are designed to generate conversation around the sermon s main themes. 1. What woman do you most admire? What makes her admirable in your eyes? 2. Explain what are some of the greatest challenges facing women and mothers today? Leader, unpack it questions help provide an understanding of what happened in the passage and a deeper analysis of certain themes in it, oftentimes, bringing in additional passages for comparison or support. Context: Proverbs 31 contains the wisdom a royal mother gave to her son, King Lemuel. In verses 1-9, she advised and warned him not waste his strength on women or give himself to wine or strong drink. Both would distort his thinking as a leader, whose role and responsibility it was to make sound judgments and uphold justice. Verses form an acrostic poem, each verse beginning with the next consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet (twenty-two letters in all), to aid memorization. 1 With much of Proverbs establishing the kind of woman not to pursue, the wise mother described for her son the kind of woman worth pursuing the excellent qualities characteristic of a virtuous woman, that is, a woman who fears the Lord. In application, Proverbs 31:10-31 acts as a guide for people of marriageable age for men, a checklist of qualities to look for in a prospective bride, and for women, an ideal to attain in order to secure a husband. Yet the ideal wife in these verses is personified as wisdom, making this poem a suitable climax for the entire book of Proverbs 2 the book of wisdom. 1 Newheiser, J. Opening Up Proverbs. Opening Up Commentary. Day One Publications, Logos Research Systems, Inc. 2 Smith, J. E. Proverbs 31: The Wisdom Literature and Psalms. Old Testament Survey Series. College Press Pub. Co., Logos Research Systems, Inc.

2 Read Proverbs 31:10-31 for context. This study highlights verses Name the character traits of a godly woman and faithful mother listed in Proverbs 31: In your own words, how are these traits reflected in her daily life? According to the following verses, the godly woman 25 clothes herself with strength and dignity. She possesses an honorable, respectable strength of character that exhibits itself physically in her work, morally in her conduct, and spiritually in her faith. 25 laughs at days to come. She trusts the Lord with the future of her household, which provides for her children a sense of stability. 26 speaks wisely and instructs kindly. Not only does she speak words of truth, but in a manner suitable for a woman of God. She is a trusted advisor, doing good to her husband and children. Her instruction helps build her children s faith in God and teaches them righteousness. 27 watches over the affairs of her household. She is a guardian for her family and home, and her watchfulness and protection give her children a sense of security. 27 is not idle. She works diligently, keeping herself productive and modeling a work ethic to her children. 30 fears the Lord. She worships and reveres God, reflecting wisdom to her children. 4. As described in Proverbs 31:25, a godly woman and faithful mother draws her strength from her confidence in the providence of God. What is the providence of God, and what does it mean for her life? Theologically, providence is the fact of God directing all things animate and inanimate, seen and unseen, good and evil toward a worthy purpose, His will to prevail. 3 For the godly woman and faithful mother, the providence of God means that she can rest in His sovereignty (care and control) over all of His creation. Believing in God and following His ways, she is assured that He will act on the behalf of her and her household. 5. The New Living Translation of the Bible renders Proverbs 31:25 as she laughs without fear of the future. What do Matthew 6:25-34, Philippians 4:4-7, and Psalm 37:1-11 tell us to do so that we can regard our future in the same manner? How do these Scriptures help you in your present circumstances? Matthew 6:25-34 tells us not to be anxious about anything because God knows all that we need. Rather than worry about the future, we are to seek God and His kingdom (His thoughts and ways). God loves us, we are valuable to Him, and He will take care of us. Philippians 4:4-7 tells us not to be worry about anything, but also to take joy in the fact that the allknowing (omniscient) and all-powerful (omnipotent) Lord is present to help us. Therefore, we are to seek the Lord in prayer, presenting our requests to Him and giving thanks for what He has done and will do. When we place our trust in the Lord, His peace will then come and guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and keep us from anxiety and fear. 3 McGee, Dr. J. Vernon. "Providence Is the Hand of God." Thru the Bible. Oneplace.com, n. d. Web. 1 May

3 Psalm 37:1-11 tells us not to fear but to trust and take delight in the Lord, to consistently do what is good and right to others, and to commit ourselves to Him trusting that He will act for us, as He has promised. Moreover, we are to refrain from destructive attitudes and behaviors (e.g. anger, wrath/vengeance), knowing that the Lord will take care of us, deal with any evil that comes against us, and restore us to peace. How these Scriptures are specifically helpful in present circumstances will vary from person to person. Even so, the fact that God loves us and knows what we need provides the assurance that we can trust Him with our future. His peace will keep us from anxiety. And the more we know God and His love for us, the more peace we will have. 6. According to Proverbs 31:26, the speech of a godly woman and faithful mother is kind, as she teaches her children the wisdom of God. What further instruction does Ephesians 4:29-32 provide for godly speech? How does godly speech reflect wisdom? Godly speech is not corrupt, but clean and truthful. good and helpful for building up others in the things of Lord. logical and appropriate for the occasion. Such speech is seasoned with grace, gentleness, and respect. is not spoken from a heart of bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, or malice but from a heart that is kind, tender, and forgiving. Speech that is aligned with the Holy Spirit pleases God (Ephesians 4:30). Godly speech reflects wisdom in that it models God s character e.g. truth, goodness, kindness, grace, gentleness, respect, forgiveness. 7. Proverbs 31:30 indicates that a godly woman and faithful mother fears the Lord. To understand this kind of fear, read Exodus 20:1-21. After the Lord gave Moses the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai, what did the Israelites witness in verses 18-19, and how did they respond? The Israelites witnessed seemingly threatening natural and supernatural acts of God thunder, flashes of lightning, the mountain smoking, and even a trumpet sounding. As a result, their first response was fear. And so they stood far off, not wanting God to speak directly to them but through Moses. Due to fear, they preferred the voice of a human leader to the voice of God due to fear. But the fear the Israelites experienced was not the same kind of fear the godly woman and faithful mother experienced in her relationship with God. So we must look further into the Exodus passage to more fully understand what the fear of the Lord is 3

4 8. How did Moses address the Israelites fear in Exodus 20:20-21, and what two types of fear did he describe? In summary, what does it mean to fear the Lord? While the Israelites remained far off, Moses told them not to fear because God had come to test their faith in Him in order to save them from sin. The two types of fear Moses described were (1) the fear of coming to God versus (2) the fear of disobeying God and His resulting wrath. God wanted the Israelites to know Him and His ways. He wanted them to acknowledge His authority so that they would listen to Him and obey His commands. The call to obedience was for the sake of their well-being, so that they would not suffer His wrath that would result from sin. John Piper describes it this way: "'Do not fear. You are being tested.' You pass the test only if you don't fear. Yet God desires that the fear of him be always before your eyes. You pass the test by fearing the Lord The fear that Moses was telling them to get rid of was the fear of coming close to God and hearing his voice. The fear that Moses wanted them to keep before their eyes was that God is fearfully powerful and opposed to sin. The fear of kindling God's powerful wrath against sin ought not to drive us away from God but to God for mercy." 4 In summary, to fear the Lord means acknowledging God s authority over all of His creation and to seeking to know and do His will. 9. What do Psalm 25:11-15, Psalm 103:6-14, and Proverbs 9:10 additionally teach us about the fear of the Lord? Which of these truths moves you to fear God more and for what reasons? Psalm 25:11-15 God will teach those who fear Him what is right for the sake of our well-being and that of our children (verses 12-13). The friendship of the Lord means that God will counsel and make known His will to those who fear Him (verse 14). 5 The fear of the Lord brings deliverance from the entrapment of sin and its consequences (verse 15). Psalm 103:6-14 God shows His love to those who fear Him (verse 11). According to His love, He works on our behalf (verse 6), reveals Himself to us (verse 7), shows us mercy and grace (verse 8-9), lessens the consequences of our sins (verse 10), cleanses us from sin (verse 12), and shows us compassion because He remembers that we are fragile, having been formed from dust (verses 13-14). Proverbs 9:10 In order to have wisdom, we must first fear the Lord. 10. When we do not fear the Lord, we are often tempted to fear man. What kinds of goals does the world pressure us to pursue? In contrast, what does Proverbs 31:30 assert is the most worthy pursuit of a woman, and why? The kinds of goals the world pressures us to pursue include Physical beauty (outward appearance) Relationships (marriage, family, friends) Vocational achievement/advancement (even in ministry) Avocational achievement (excelling in personal interests/hobbies) 4 Piper, John. A Woman Who Fears the Lord Is to Be Praised. Sermon 10 May Desiring God, n.d. Web. 3 May Psalm 25:14. ESV Footnote. Biblegateway, n.d. Web. 4 May

5 Material gain (possessions) Experiences (education, travel, etc.) In contrast, Proverbs 31:30 explains that charm is deceptive (manipulative, used to get what we want) and beauty is vain (only external, does not last), asserting that godly character which results from fearing the Lord is a woman s most worthy pursuit. Godly character is the only thing that has lasting (eternal) value. All that the Proverbs 31 woman does stems from her character. Her choices, decisions, and actions reveal that she is infinitely more concerned with how God views her as a woman, wife, and mother than how the world judges her external beauty. The woman who fears/worships/praises the Lord with all of her life is herself deemed worthy of the praise. Leader, live it are generally designed for individual application after small group time; though, some may be appropriate for group discussion, if desired. 11. Write down the godly character traits described in Proverbs 31: Which traits need further development in your life? Determine which traits you will work on this week and how you will develop them. Answers will vary. 12. Which goals do you find yourself most pressured by the world to pursue? What about these goals do you find tempting? Read Proverbs 29:25. What will you now do differently to walk in the fear of the Lord and place your trust in Him alone? Answers will vary. 5

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