wisdom’s ways

aaronlinford

Rev. Aaron Linford

A WOMAN OF LUSTRE

“A woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised” – Proverbs

To praise means to use shining words (for so the root of the word implies), to celebrate, to speak in lustrous terms of anything or anyone that excites our admiration or wonder. In this final burst of adulation, this paragon of females is praised in five different areas of interest.

She is praised for her LOVING CARE. Her children bless her for their tender upbringing. They “rise up” in respect at the mention of her name. She is precious to them for bringing them up wisely and well. A good mother is a priceless gift from God.

She is praised for her LOYAL COMPANIONSHIP.  “Her husband….. praiseth her”. She was more than faithful to her marriage vows, she packed into them all they could contain -and more. He never had cause to doubt her conjugal fidelity, or to question her domestic ability. She was “tops” all the time.

She is praised for her LAUDABLE CONDUCT. Were these words spoken by her grateful spouse? “Many daughters” – a term of endearment. She was a shining example of and to her sex. Her virtue is above praise, her excellence beyond comparison.

She is praised for her LIVING CONFIDENCE in God. Her fear of God was not only genuine, it was active. It became the spring of all her activities, the source of all her capabilities, the spur to all her noble endeavours. She did good because she was good. She may not have been beautiful in face or graceful in figure beauty is only skin deep anyway – but she was gracious in personality, bountiful in service and sweet in disposition. The true criterion of excellence is character. She had, “the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God a great price”. (1 Pet 3:4).

She is praised for her LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTION to womanhood, “a beautiful ideal of how noble a thing a busy mother’s life may be, an exhibition to young men of what they should seek, and to young women of what they should aim at” (Maclaren).

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for godly, gracious and noble women.

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wisdom’s ways

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Rev. E. Anderson

THE LADY OF THE LOAF

“She …. eateth not the bread of idleness” – Proverbs 31:25-27

Because she denies herself of “the bread of idleness”, her household benefits from the “bread of industry”, the family of such a woman will never starve for want of food; she is not only the bread-baker, she is the bread-winner. She manages the house so well that her husband is free to mingle and make his mark with “the elders in the gate”, that is, the important town officials. Notice five qualities of this “virtuous woman”.

Regard her DIGNITY. “Strength and honour are her clothing”, that is she is a pillar of the household, upholding all its affairs with her strength of character. Not only so, she does this with a dignity that calls for the esteem of all who know her.

Regard her DESTINY.She shall rejoice in time to come”. Rejoice that her industry and effort has set the house on a firm economical foundation. Rejoice that she has given her children the best of beginnings. They make their way in the world because she has moulded their characters in the home. Rejoice in that she can look back with complacency on a life well-lived, a home well-kept, a husband well-content, and a reward well-earned.

Regard her DISCRETION. She guides her household with good sense. “In her tongue is the law of kindness”. Yes, there is “law”, for someone must give orders and maintain discipline in the home; but it is done with “kindness”. She is firm but compelling. She gives instructions, but not in a domineering tone of voice. She is wise, but winsome; strong, but tender.

Regard her DIRECTION. “She looketh well to the ways of her household”. She not only plans the day’s routine, selects the menus and orders the duties, she sees that her wishes are duly carried out. There is nothing slipshod about her management.

Regard her DILIGENCE. She disdains “the bread of idleness”, being always well occupied with her many commitments. She derives her energy from a strong sense of loving care, and from her devotion to the ideals of womanhood implanted in her by the fear of God, a fear lest she should fall short of what the Lord would have her be and do. She is a fulfilled woman because she fulfils the will of her Creator.

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wisdom’s ways

aaronlinford

Rev. Aaron Linford

THE LADY OF THE LOOM

“She layeth her hands to the spindle”Proverbs 31:19-24

 

In earlier times spinning and weaving were done at home. The spinning was usually the task of unmarried daughters, hence “spinsters”. The weaving the lot of the matron, hence “wife” or “weaver”. This noble lady was adept at both distaff and loom, her deft fingers could handle any process of weaving or tailoring. Five more features of this remarkable woman appear in this section.

SHE IS VERSATILE (VS 19). From distaff to finished article she plies her varied skills. “She layeth her hands to the spindle – not as many women, whose hands are often employed in decorating themselves before the looking-glass” (Fausett). So the commentator!

SHE IS A VEHICLE OF CHARITY (VS 20), Open-handed and kind to the unfortunates. She does not merely subscribe to commendable causes, she personally ministers, “stretcheth out her hand” to the poor. Her ability is expressed in personal contact.

SHE IS VIRILE (VS 21) When her chores are completed she devotes her leisure profitable exercises for her household. Outsiders, too, benefit from the vigour of this remarkable housewife. Her husband and children fear no weather, she provides warm clothing for the winter. She may seem lavish in the richness of the garments; “scarlet” implies costly, not necessarily gaudy. The Septuagient makes it “double garments”; the material is so well woven that each single article is as good as two.

SHE IS VIGILANT (VS 22,23) She not only provides for wintry cold, she also attends to household drapings. Her tapestries add to the splendour of the home, her drapings make it comfortable and cosy. But not content with internal effects, she sees that her husband makes a favourable impression by his well-cut and well fitting attire. “The apparel oft proclaims the man”, said Shakespeare. This man’s clothes speak wonders of his wife. 

SHE IS A VENDOR (VS 24) She has an eye to the prosperity of her kin, and sells her fine linens to augment both income and outgo. Her girdles, richly embroidered sashes, were a speciality. The trade snapped them up, they made ready sales.

PRAYER: What a ministry, whether at home or abroad, to be diligent for God!

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wisdom’s ways

 aaronlinford

Rev. Aaron Linford

THE LADY OF THE LAMP 

“Her candle goeth not out by night”Proverbs 31:14-18

 With his vast harem of a thousand wives and concubines, Solomon could not find one “woman” among them (read 1 Kings 11:3 and Eccl 7:28). But here is a woman worth a thousand females: a great argument for monogamy – find her, and you don’t need another. Consider five additional virtues of this paragon among women.

SHE IS A GOOD SHOPPER. She travels far to get a bargain, or to supply variety to the household benefits. She is like the merchant’s ships:- not as elegant as a yacht, or as aggressive as a battleship, but she brings back the goods.

SHE IS A GOOD SUPPLIER. She rises before day break to bake bread and prepare victuals for the day. Her husband awakes to a freshly – cooked meal; and the maidservants, too, are the objects of her industrious care. You begin the day well in her house.

SHE IS A GOOD SALESWOMAN. With an eye to adding to the family estate, she scans the sales-catalogues, examines with a critical eye an adjacent field, bids a reasonable price and gains a valuable asset.

SHE IS A GOOD SUPPORTER OF HER FAMILY’S FORTUNES. She buys a vineyard with money she has saved by her astute management of the household economy. This helps to supply present needs of wine for home-use, and to support the family’s status for the future. A vineyard was looked upon as part of a properly equipped homestead. “Every man under his vine” (1 Kings 4:25) was looked upon as the social ideal. Under her wise management the household has a stake and a status in society, upheld by the dignity and the diligence of this great woman.

SHE IS A GOOD “SERVANT” OF ALL. She girdeth her loins that is “she fixes her skirt firmly round her waist so that she shall not be incommoded in her work” (Oesterly). “And straighteneth her arms”, that is, she rolls up her sleeves and sets to work with vigour. She examines her wares to test their worth and see if her purchases are profitable. “Her lamp goeth not out by night1′. In the houses of the time, small latticed windows admitted little light. She countered the fading light of day with the light of her household lamps, and kept mem burning well into the late hours. Her diligence and industry was not regulated by sunrise or sunset. She anticipated the former and exceeded the latter. Wonderful woman!

PRAYER: May I ever be industrious in things that matter, O Lord!

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wisdom’s ways

aaronlinford

Rev. Aaron Linford

THE LADY OF LOVE

“Who can find a virtuous woman?”Proverbs 31:10-13

This panegyric on womanhood is an alphabetic acrostic – each of the twenty-two verses begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet: it is the ABC of ideal domesticity. Matthew Henry dubbed it, “the looking-glass for ladies”; we may call it, “the spy-glass for eligible bachelors”. Look out for such a woman! How fitting that this Book, that so often criticises the weakness of woman, should end with a glowing tribute to the good wife! “According to traditional usage, ‘this poem is recited in the Jewish home on the Sabbath eve” (Rabbi Cohen). A good practice for Christians! This portion describes five qualities of the ideal wife.

SHE HAS PERSONALITY. The word “virtuous” means strong, that is of strong character, virtuous disposition, sound intellectual capacity. Such a woman is indeed a “find”.

SHE IS PRICELESS. Rubies, that most precious of gems, cannot compare in worth with such a wife. She is a precious acquisition to any man; he who has her is rich indeed.

SHE IS PRAISEWORTHY. Her husband does not need to lock his treasures away; or even worry about household management; she is absolutely trustworthy. He can leave domestic affairs in her capable hands. Her love makes her loyal, she reflects ideal matron hood.

SHE IS PROVIDENT. She does not squander, she saves; she does not waste, she exploits her acquisitions to the full; she fully justifies the confidence her husband places in her. She is a paragon of economic expedience.

SHE IS PRACTICAL.   “She works” – what energy oozes from this diligent spouse! “She works willingly” – out of affection for her household.  “She works……with her hands”, involving herself in domestic toil, not shirking the chores of household duties. She dusts, she bakes, she washes, she irons, she makes, she mends – an example to all who take on the status of wife and mother.

PRAYER: God bless all virtuous wives. Amen!

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wisdom’s ways

aaronlinfordRev. Aaron Linford

TIME TO SPEAK

“Open thy mouth”Proverbs 31:8,9

The wise man often counsels restraint in speaking, but now we find an admonition to speak up. There is “a time to speak”, said the Preacher (Eccl 3:7), and “a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgement” when this should be so (Ecc 18:5). Under certain conditions it is a sin to be silent.

“OPEN THY MOUTH” FOR THE DUMB. Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Why should we take advantage of another person’s affliction, and be silent when injustice smites them?

OPEN THY MOUTH” FOR THE INARTICULATE, those who cannot express themselves clearly. Don’t mock their efforts to put their case, assist them, be their mouthpiece if necessary.

“OPEN THY MOUTH” FOR THE RIGHTS OF THE POOR WHO HAVE NOT THE ABILITY OR OPPORTUNITY TO DEFEND THEIR CAUSE. Don’t be a devil’s advocate to embarrass an unfortunate with specious arguments, be God’s advocate and present a fair case for dismissal or a strong plea for mercy. Don’t allow money to plead for unjust men.

“OPEN THY MOUTH” AND SPEAK UP FOR THOSE WHO ARE VILIFIED AND SCANDALISED. Gossip can be unkind, backbiting unjust, debunking cruel: speak a good word for those whose reputation is being assassinated. Find out the truth and declare it; or decline to expose what is questionable.

“OPEN THY MOUTH” AND REBUKE EVIL. There is a time to attack the attackers. Cynical intellectuals can wipe the floor in argument with less-endowed people; but we must stand up for verity and integrity. No one should be allowed to brow-beat the truth, or those who hold it.

“OPEN THY MOUTH” TO SPEAK WORDS OF COMFORT TO THE MALTREATED. Stick up for the down­trodden. It is easy to be dumb when troubles oppress. Pass on good cheer.

“OPEN THY MOUTH” IN ENCOURAGEMENT TO THE DISAPPOINTED OR DISTRESSED. People, especially the young, often find a voice of exhortation an inspiration try again, to press on the way of righteousness. Don’t let them down.

PRAYER: Let me bless someone today, O Lord, with the words of my mouth.

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wisdom’s ways

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Rev. Aaron Linford

WINE

“It is not for kings to drink wine” – Proverbs 31:4-7

Wine was a common beverage in Bible times, and its stimulating qualities were recognised. But also were its seductive powers. Our forefather, Noah, learned this by experience. Genesis 9:21 (a chapter that begins with a blessing and ends with a curse) shows two things. Intoxicating liquor lowers a person’s moral sensibilities at the same time as it heightens his fleshly urges. This makes it dangerous, especially to those who hold high office. It was under the influence of drink that Nadab and Abihu offered “strange fire” in the Sanctuary – and were slain by God’s fire (Lev 10:1-11). The priests were thereupon prohibited from drinking wine on active service.

Lemuel’s mother, after warning her son against the danger of many women, now admonishes him concerning much wine. And if you have seen the evil drunkenness can do, you would do the same. It may be true that the Bible does not forbid wine. But we should remember three things: first, wine in those days was not the sophisticated preparation of our day, it was little more than grape-juice (it took “much wine” to inebriate, cf 1 Tim 3:8). Spiced drinks were not unknown to the ancients, but the wise man warns against their use (Prov 23:31). Secondly, in New Testament times it was usually taken with two-parts water. Thirdly, there are so many non-alcoholic alternatives today that we need not subject ourselves to the dangers of which Lemuel’s mother spoke.

And dangers there are. Alcohol is poison; shall I corrupt my body which is “the temple of the Holy Ghost” (1 Cor 6:19)? Alcohol is addictive: all drunkenness begins with one sip. Thirdly, you may plead moderation, but weaker brethren may fall foul of its power. Could not Paul’s words about stumbling a weak brother be applied in this case? (cf. 1 Cor 8:13). Lemuel’s mother did make exception in the cases of execution and extreme poverty, as Paul did with Timothy’s gastric problem (1 Tim 5:23), and wine was used at the Communion Service – but apart from sacramental (a sip) and medicinal use (a sop) it is better today to use a cordial or a stimulant of less-addictive qualities.

PRAYER: Help me Lord, not to subject my brother to temptation. Amen!

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wisdom’s ways

aaronlinford

 

 

Rev. Aaron Linford

WOMEN

“Give not the strength unto women”Proverbs 31:1-3

Who was Lemuel? The name means “to God”. We may prefix the word “devoted”, and it gives us the ideal of true kingship. For Lemuel was a king. But was this name a patronymic or a pseudonym, that is, a family name, or a fanciful title applicable to all kings who serve God and the people with a wise and upright heart – the model sovereign?

MOTHER-CARE. “What, my son,” is repeated twice, giving threefold emphasis to her motherly concern. Having borne such throes for him (“the son of my womb”) she loves him intensely. Not only so, but she had dedicated him to God from his birth (“the son of my vows”). But she was not just a caring mother, she was a teaching mother; and no better instructress can there be than a devout and devoted matron. This is seen in Jochebed (Ex 2:9), in Hannah (1 Sam 1:28) and with Eunice, assisted by her own mother (2 Tim 1:5). What impact Moses, Samuel and Timothy made in their day! Don’t be too ready to put out your child to others: mould your child’s nature and welfare, as far as opportunity allows, for God. Aided by Godly fathers (Eph 6:4), Christian mothers can contribute much to their children’s welfare. Society has been enriched by mother-care. Have you ever noticed the frequent mention of the queen-mother in Kings and Chronicles. They evidently had great influence – as Lemuel’s mother did.

WIFE-HOOD. The first piece of advice she gave her son was concerning women. This was a snare to kings in those days. Their power gave them impunity. And the custom was to build up a harem of many women. This was often political policy, for to marry a king’s daughter usually ensured peace between two nations. But the dangers! Solomon, wise as he was, went beyond all bounds of good sense. He had 1,000 women in his harem. But they led him astray, and we see this paragon of diplomacy being turned after other gods than Jehovah. He lost his Kingdom. Had Lemuel’s mother this in mind? Woman, made to be man’s “help”, can also become man’s hindrance; but their powerful influence, when used for good, can establish a king on his throne, and enhance his happiness.

PRAYER: Help our Christian women, O Lord, to exercise their formidable influence for good!

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wisdom’s ways

aaronlinford

 

 

Rev. Aaron Linford

TWO SIDES 

“The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him” – Proverbs 18:17

There are two sides to every story. Its an unspoken motto of every wise parent, every discerning judge, every smart teacher, and every diligent boss. There’s no way to accurately assess a fight between siblings, a difficult court case, a squabble among classmates, or a conflict between co-workers without hearing from all the parties involved. Each person tries to pres­ent his case in the best possible light; it’s only as all sides are heard that the incon­sistencies are revealed and the truth begins to emerge.

We may not be in a position to hear cases or settle disputes at work, but if we practice the principle spelled out in this verse, we could save ourselves a lot of grief and stress. How many times do we jump to conclusions about something our com­panies, our bosses, or coworkers are doing without finding out all the facts first? We might hear that the CEO has been meeting with all the department heads, and the

When that happens, we have two choices: We can start losing sleep over the fact that our job might be in jeopardy, or we can ask our boss what’s really going on. The truth may hurt, but at least we’ll know it’s the truth.

On a more personal level, think about what would happen if one co-worker told you that another co-worker—one whom you like and respect—had been critical of your work. Your first reaction might be to get angry and start gossiping about the other person, but if you follow the advice in this verse, you’d check your anger and find out the rest of the story. It may well be that the co-worker you trust actually did say something about you, but your other co-worker may have taken it completely out of context.

Are you willing to reserve judgment until you have heard all sides? If not, you’re setting yourself up to be misinformed, perhaps even deceived.

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wisdom’s ways

aaronlinford

 

 

Aaron Linford

RESPECT YOUR ELDERS

“Gray hair is a crown of splendour” –  Proverbs 16:31

In our youth-oriented culture, gray hair isn’t considered to be desirable. When the gray strands start to outnumber the coloured ones, our first inclination is to hop in the shower to “wash that gray right out of our hair.” We’d rather apply chemicals to our hair than run the risk of looking old before our time, especially if we’re in a profession that places a premium on youthful good looks.

In Old Testament times, however, gray hair was not something to be dreaded. In those days, people respected their elders. People naturally assumed that older people—easily identified as such by their gray “crowns of splendour”—knew more and had more wisdom than their younger counterparts.

Sadly, that is often not the case today, especially in the workplace. In a rapidly changing, extremely competitive corporate environment, it is usually the young, energetic, aggressive, innovative twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings who get noticed. They’re the ones with all the potential and all the fresh, new ideas. Or are they?

While it’s true that many workers in their fifties and early sixties are simply bid­ing their time until retirement, many others have just as much to offer as their youth­ful colleagues. In fact, when you factor in the wisdom and knowledge that often comes with experience, the gray-haired employees might even have more to offer.

If you’re in a position of leadership at your company, don’t bypass someone for a promotion or key position just because he might qualify for the senior citizen’s discount at Denny’s. His expertise might be just what’s needed to take that depart­ment or project to the next level. And if you’re one of those aggressive twenty- or thirty-somethings, make it a point to seek out advice and counsel from your older co-workers. They might teach you more than you think—about work and about life.

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