A Woman that Fears the Lord
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain:
but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.
1. In this passage we discover the secret to the success, the wisdom, the works, and accomplishments of this woman: she fears the Lord.
2. For this she is praised.
Favor Is Deceitful
a. Defined: Grace; charm; elegance; favor; popularity (to find favor in the eyes of men).
• Gen. 39:21 – “But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour (same word) in the sight of the keeper of the prison.”
• Esther 2:15b – “And Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her.”
c. In the context of Proverbs 31:30, the term speaks of a gracious woman, an elegant and charming woman.
d. It may also speak of her as being well liked and favored—because of her charm—popular.
e. And of course, these are good qualities.
f. The virtuous woman probably possessed these qualities too.
• Injurious falsehood; untrue; unreal; a lie; misleading; fraud; a mistaken belief; a deception that disappoints.
• Psalm 119:128 – “Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.”
• Ex. 23:7a – “Keep thee far from a false matter…”
• Proverbs 10:18 – “He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.”
» Notice that lying lips cover up what is really taking place on the inside.
» The lips lead you to believe one thing—but it is a lie.
» The reality is that you were deceived… and that leads to disappointment.
c. The term is used most often of deception with the tongue—a lie—words that are misleading and unreal.
3. The point of the proverb is that a charming personality can be deceptive.
a. I don’t understand the words of Prov. 31:30 to be absolute in every case.
b. Note that the word “is” is italicized. It was added by the translators. Something NEEDS to be added.
c. I would have chosen to add “can be” rather than “is.”
d. The word “is” sounds absolute; but it even with that translation, it needs to be understood that this is a proverb. It doesn’t cover every case.
e. Certainly the author is not saying that ALL gracious, elegant, charming women are deceivers!
f. Rather, this proverb is sounding a warning that a gracious, elegant, charming woman CAN BE deceptive.
g. Charm, poise and elegance are good in their place.
• This woman may have gone to finishing school.
• She may have learned just how to behave in public.
• She may wave like Queen Elizabeth.
• She may know just how to hold her silverware, how to stand, how to do all the things that is considered elegant, sophisticated, charming, and proper.
• This woman may be polished – like royalty.
h. However, if that is all a woman has, her charm COULD BE deceitful.
• Charm and polish are good.
• It’s better than being rough, coarse, and rude.
• But charm and polish are merely external.
• They say nothing about her heart… her attitudes… the kind of person she is… what kind of wife or mother she would be.
• In fact, charm CAN BE nothing more than outward show.
• That’s the warning.
i. It might be easy to see a charming, cultured, sophisticated, polished woman and ASSUME that her outward grace and charm are a reflection of her inward beauty.
• That is NOT always the case.
• The outward packaging may be deceptive.
• You can package snake oil elixir in beautiful wrapping—but that doesn’t mean that it IS what you were expecting.
• You might be deceived—and thus very disappointed.
• Many a young man has been deceived by the outward charm of a woman—only to discover after marriage that she was not the kind of person he thought she was!
• It is a deception that disappoints.
Beauty Is Vain
1. The parallel:
a. The second part of the proverb is saying virtually the same thing as the first part.
• It may be a synonymous parallelism.
• Favor and beauty
• Deceitful and vain
b. However, “favor” and “beauty” are not exactly the same. It is possible that it was intended to be a synthetic parallelism – one that builds upon the first section.
a. Defined: The term is like our English word beauty.
• It speaks of physical beauty – and is often used of the beauty of a woman, as is the case in Proverbs 31:30.
• Like charm, elegance, and favor, beauty is good. There is some value to beauty.
• The Bible does not belittle or demean beauty; but it does send out some warnings… especially to young men.
• Esther 1:11 – “To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on.”
• Proverbs 6:25 – “Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.”
• Physical beauty is eye catching, attractive, and very appealing. It can even be seductive—so be careful with beauty.
c. There is a place for beauty.
• The virtuous woman was very likely a beautiful and attractive woman.
• She attracted the eye of a king (King Lemuel)—who could have virtually any woman in the kingdom he wanted.
• The virtuous woman obviously took good care of herself. She didn’t just “let herself go.”
• Proverbs 31:22 – She was very well dressed. She was fashionable. She paid attention to detail.
• Again, notice that the word “is” is italicized. It would prefer adding “can be”, as in the first section.
• It is not that beauty IS vain in every case. But beauty CAN BE vain.
d. The thought is similar to Proverbs 11:22: “As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.”
• In this proverb, Solomon describes a woman without discretion.
• Her outward beauty and grace are compared to a jewel of gold. They are visible and attractive.
• But that is not what the woman IS. The woman IS a pig who happens to have a nice piece of jewelry in her snout.
• The nice jewelry does not change the nature of the pig.
• Charming women can be the exact opposite of charming on the inside.
• This woman was fair (the fairest of them all?) on the outside. But she lacked discretion on the inside.
• Peter tells us that you can wash a pig on the outside spick and span, but pigs will be pigs. They will eventually return to rolling in the mud.
• Jesus said that cleaning the outside of the cup is good; but the inside of the cup is what really matters.
3. Beauty is VAIN.
a. Vain defined: Empty; a vapor; passing; meaningless.
b. Beauty is good, but only skin deep.
c. If that’s all a woman has, she is shallow and empty.
d. Beauty is like a vapor in that it doesn’t last.
• The stunning beauty that you marry at 20 may not be so stunning later on in life.
• In time, she will become old, gray, and wrinkly. It’s just a fact of life.
• And eventually that beautiful body becomes dust.
• Earthly beauty in a mortal body is vain… like a vapor. It doesn’t last.
• It is foolish to commit the rest of your life to a woman on the basis of physical beauty alone. That is truly vain.
• It’s not just the body that you marry; but the PERSON who lives in that body.
A Woman Who Fears the Lord
1. Here Lemuel encourages his readers to look a little deeper than the skin. Beauty is only skin deep… and it doesn’t last. It’s the mind and heart UNDER the skin that counts.
2. II Cor. 4:16 – “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.”
a. The physical body is in the process of “perishing.”
b. But for a godly person—one who fears the Lord—what really counts is that the PERSON inside that body is being renewed daily—into the image of Christ.
c. What really makes a woman beautiful is on the inside.
d. External beauty does not guarantee internal character.
e. A very ugly woman may be dwelling in a gorgeous body.
3. I Peter 3:3-4 – “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”
a. Peter is not saying that outward beauty is evil or that women should not take care of the outside of the cup.
b. But rather, Peter is saying that while outward beauty has its place—that is not what makes a woman truly beautiful.
c. True beauty is on the inside… it is “hidden” in the heart. It is a meek and quiet spirit.
4. The most important question is, “Does she fear God?”
a. If she truly fears God, then:
• She will be faithful to her husband.
• She will walk in humility before God.
• She will obey God’s Word—and thus be a good wife and mother.
• She will be wise – for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
• She will honor her husband, who has been appointed by God as her head.
• She will do her best to BE the kind of woman described in Proverbs 31:10-31. She will be a virtuous woman.
• Fearing God is at the root of all the virtue in this woman.
b. Interestingly, this is the first mention of God in this section on the virtuous woman. This is the climax of the poem.
• So far it has been all earthly qualities—but qualities that obviously were present in this lady BECAUSE she feared God.
• Fearing God changes everything. That’s what to look for!
She Shall Be Praised
1. We see the virtuous woman being praised by her husband and children (vs. 28-29).
2. We will see more of her being praised in the community (vs.31).