Her Husband is Known in the Gates
Her husband is known in the gates,
when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
1. In verse 23 we have yet another unique description of the strong and noble woman – the virtuous woman. This passage indicates that she is partially responsible for her husband’s high position in the community.
2. This is not stated explicitly, but is stated implicitly.
3. If we ripped vs. 23 out of its context, we might be hard pressed to make that conclusion.
a. Looking at vs. 23 all by itself one might conclude that the verse is praising the husband and his standing in the community.
b. But IN its context, the author’s point is pretty clear.
c. The whole section is about the virtuous woman and all that she has achieved for herself, for the poor, and especially, for her family.
d. In context, the fact that her husband is known in the gates is to be reckoned or credited (at least in part) to his virtuous wife.
e. It is because of her that he stands out.
The Virtuous Woman’s Husband Has a High Position
A. His Prominent Position
1. In Bible times the “gate” of the city was the place where public business and legal transactions took place.
a. Prov. 1:20 – It was the place for public speaking. It is where Lady Wisdom spoke publically to the young men: “She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates.”
b. Gen. 23:10, 16 – It was the place where public business was transacted.
c. Deut. 16:18; 21:19 – It was the place where courts of justice were held.
d. Deut. 17:5; Jer. 20:2 – It was a place for public punishment. (stoning; stocks)
e. The gate of a city was a place for prominent leaders to gather—public speakers; lawyers; judges; prominent business men; the elders of the city; etc.
2. The fact that the husband of the virtuous woman was “known” in the gates indicates that he had a prominent position in that city.
a. He was well known by the prominent leaders—elders, judges, lawyers, business leaders, etc.
b. He was known by the elders and the leaders there because he was one of them.
3. The husband of the virtuous woman “sitteth among the elders of the land”.
a. He did not sit next to the elders or behind them.
b. He sat AMONG them… because he was one of them.
4. This man had arisen to a high position as one of the elders in the land.
a. It is not necessary to know exactly what position he held (other than elder) or what his specific responsibilities were.
b. The point is that he had arisen to prominence and was well known by the leaders.
c. He is well known, respected, and admired in the community.
d. This is really all that vs. 23 states explicitly. This man is a well-known and respected leader in the city.
e. But the context of the proverb states much more implicitly.
The WIFE of the Well-Known and Respected Leader
1. Vs. 11 – The heart of this husband can safely trust in his wife.
a. Other husbands in the community may worry about their wives—what they are up to.
• Is my wife being faithful?
• Is she getting the chores done at home or is the house a mess?
• Is she slandering me behind my back?
• Is she spending money lavishly – beyond our means?
• Is she taking care of the kids?
• All these worries on the hearts of other men drive them to distraction.
• Worry prevents them from concentrating on their work… and they therefore do not excel at what they do.
• Worries at home prevent them from rising up to a high position.
b. Other husbands may have to worry about their wives; but not this man. His heart safely trusts in her.
c. She has created a safe environment and a worry free zone from which her husband can flourish at work.
2. Vs. 11b – The husband of the virtuous woman has “no need of spoil.”
a. Because of his virtuous wife, he has everything he needs.
b. He’s not the guy at the office who is always borrowing money, asking for help, in need of a ride.
c. People might run in the other direction when this guy comes down the hall—he’s always asking for something.
d. But that is not the case of the husband of the virtuous woman.
e. Because of his wife’s industry and diligence, this husband has no need of goods. She takes good care of him.
3. Vs. 12 – The virtuous, noble woman does GOOD to her husband every day… consistently… throughout his whole life.
a. They say behind every successful man there is a strong, noble, virtuous woman.
b. This is the essence of verse 12. The success of the husband in verse 23 is to be traced back to vs. 12 – to his virtuous wife.
c. She stands behind him doing good things for him every single day. She supports him.
d. There are soldiers fighting on the front lines. But behind them is an army of other soldiers in a supportive role—bringing supplies, ammunition, food, watching the skies, keeping good communication, etc. Without this supportive role, the soldiers on the front line would never make it.
e. The husband in vs. 23 rose to a prominent position BECAUSE his wife (in her supportive role) has been doing him good behind the scenes every day… quietly and selflessly.
4. Vs. 14 – This husband became prosperous and rose to a prominent position (in part) because his wife was a shrewd shopper; she was not a spend-a-holic. She was wise and cautious with the family money.
a. She brought her food from afar. She traveled to get the best products and the best deals for her husband and family.
b. The virtuous woman took her responsibilities as homemaker seriously.
c. Prov. 31:27 – “She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.”
d. When guests came to their house they were impressed with her setting… with the wonderful variety of foods and furnishings.
e. This put the husband in a good light. Her wisdom was a good reflection on him.
5. Vs. 15 – The husband in vs. 23 is well known and respected (in part) because his wife does such a good job in taking care of business at home.
a. She gets up early—before sunrise—to prepare food for her family for the day.
b. They get a good breakfast. Their day starts off well.
c. She gives a portion (actually it means law or orders) for her servants so that everything is taken care of on the home front—decently and in order.
d. Thus, her husband can go about his business without distraction… without worrying about the kids… about the house… about the home front.
6. Vs. 20 – This husband is well known and respected in the community (in part) because of the kindness and charity of his wife.
a. She works diligently, spends judiciously, saves carefully, and has money enough to give generously.
b. Over the years, her charity and kindness became well known.
c. This too was a good reflection on her husband.
d. Perhaps he was known in the gates as the “husband of the kind and charitable woman.” Everybody has heard of Dorcas. Does anyone know her husband’s name?
e. The good reputation and good character of the virtuous woman enhances his reputation and character.
7. Vs. 21 – Her household (including her husband) is well clothed.
a. They have warm clothing for the cold weather.
b. They are dressed in scarlet – an expensive and fashionable cloth.
c. Vs. 24 – She makes and sells fashionable girdles – sashes.
d. Her husband would be the beneficiary of all of these labors.
e. He would stand out in a crowd as a well-dressed man.
f. Clearly, this can be traced back to his virtuous wife.
g. Because of her labors, he stands out—he is well known and respected.
h. As an elder and leader in the community, it would be quite inappropriate and unseemly for him to walk about in sloppy, tattered garments. His wife took care of that.
i. People noticed. He stood out.
8. Vs. 22 – His virtuous wife also took care of herself.
a. She didn’t come to town unkempt and dressed like a slob; or dressed immodestly. She did not embarrass him; she took good care of her appearance.
b. She made herself coverings of tapestry—for her home and perhaps also tapestry embroidered on her clothing for beauty and design.
c. Her clothing was “silk and purple”—fine clothing and colorful and fashionable.
d. She too stood out… and enhanced her husband.
e. Prov. 12:4 – “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.”
f. She made him feel like a king… he was proud to have her by his side… honored to be seen with her.
g. He was certainly not ashamed of her.
h. She was an impressive lady and was a great asset to him; she enhanced her husband’s stature in the community.
1. If you take verse 23 out of its context and read it apart from the context, it says nothing about the wife.
2. It simply states that this man is a prominent elder/leader in his city.
3. It seems to give all the credit to him.
4. But seen in its context, it takes on a different tone.
a. Yes he is a prominent leader in the community.
b. This is not to take away from his own personal achievements. But that is not the point of this chapter.
c. King Lemuel’s point is that a good measure of his success is to be traced back to his strong, noble, diligent, wise, creative, well organized, virtuous wife!
d. Her influence is seen far beyond the confines of the home. Her influence is seen in the “gates” – the center of community life: politics, business, justice, etc.
e. She is truly his “helpmeet”—and because of her help, her diligence, her wisdom, and her support, he became a well-known and well respected leader.