Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
A great woman is strong and virtuous. She will not settle for ease or compromise. She chooses courage and resolve. She lives a godly and noble life. Any woman can be great, but only a rare few are. Her future on earth and in heaven will be blessed and happy.
King Lemuel’s mother wrote this description to help her son marry a great woman (Pr 31:1). This kind of woman would help him be a better king and build a noble family and large estate. Every woman should strive for this character; every man should look for it.
A virtuous woman has an eye to the future. She is diligent and makes strenuous efforts to provide for her husband and children. She values integrity and graciousness very highly and does nothing to spoil her reputation. She never sacrifices the future on the altar of the present. She makes the choices now, and applies the efforts now, to yield great rewards in the future. She knows that slothfulness or compromise now will cost her much more later.
The front end of a wife’s life requires strength and honour for her latter end to be joyful and peaceful. Early in marriage, a wife carries, births, nurses, and raises small children, with a high-maintenance husband, on a small budget. The combination is painful for untrained girls. The contrast from the easy life at home during her youth can be a shock.
But a virtuous woman, made so by God’s grace and good training, will put forth the effort and investment to get through the difficult early years. She knows and accepts the old saying, “A father works from sun to sun, but a mother’s work is never done.” She knows hard work now will bring greater happiness and rewards later, so she perseveres.
When a woman is young, there are also many temptations for folly, which can ruin her productivity or reputation (Ps 25:7; II Tim 2:22; Ezek 23:3,21). She has her own fleshly lusts that she must deal with soberly and strictly. Unless she chooses her friends wisely and guards the inputs to her soul, she can easily fall to foolish habits and sinful thinking.
Especially in a world obsessed with female freedom and frivolity, young women face many difficult tests in faithfulness, integrity, modesty, purity, and sobriety. But the virtuous woman is a chaste virgin before marriage, and she is faithful in heart, mind, speech, and body after marriage. She is strong both in labor and character. She chooses godly virtue in every decision, so she is honored by God and all good persons.
How is strength and honour her clothing? She puts on these character traits like putting on clothes (Eph 4:22-24). She covers herself with them. Every day when a woman rises, she puts on clothing before showing herself to family or the world. A great woman purposes in heart and mind every morning that she will be strong and honorable that day.
What is strength here? It is diligent labor and vigorous efforts in domestic duties to be the best wife and mother (Pr 14:1; 31:13-27). It is courageous resolve to ignore temptations to folly by her own thoughts or the habits and ideas of family, friends, or the world.
What is honour here? It is her gracious and holy life in heart, tongue, and conduct that does not allow folly or sin to spoil her godly reputation (Pr 11:16; 31:11-12,26,30; Eccl 10:1). She always chooses the high road or noble path in every decision no matter what.
A virtuous woman fears God, which enhances her value more than any beauty or acts of service (Pr 31:28-30). She works harder than other women (Pr 31:17). She is an efficient and faithful wife and mother in duties at home and for the estate (Pr 31:13-27). She is always gracious, which secures her future honor (Pr 11:16; 31:11-12,26). She emphasizes godly character for beauty, rather than clothing or accessories (I Tim 2:9-10; I Pet 3:3-4).
Christian woman! Do not sacrifice your future on the altar of the present. Do not be slack in duties now or compromise godliness now, for it will destroy your future. Put in the effort and holiness now, and your future will be blessed. A virtuous woman will rejoice in the future from her prudent provision for it, her godly and righteous life that leaves a clean conscience, and the praise of others she has loved and served well (Pr 31:28-31).
Even a little folly can ruin a good reputation, like dead flies in good perfume (Eccl 10:1). You must carefully protect your virtue and family, lest slothfulness brings your family down, or folly destroys your integrity. Today is the first day of the rest of your life, and you can put on strength and honour today. If you are faithful to strength and honour, your husband and children will praise you, and so will the Lord Himself (Matt 25:21,23).
Your future happiness depends on diligence and virtue today. Consider child training. A child trained well today will give you joy and peace tomorrow; but a child neglected today will give you pain and shame (Pr 10:1; 17:25; 22:6; 23:13-14; 29:15). The child that should have been for your comfort in old age could drive you to an early grave.
Consider sex. If you cheat with romance novels, movies, or fantasies, it will lead to selfish bitterness toward your husband, marital defrauding, and break you or him down for either his or your adultery (I Cor 7:1-5). You will cause your husband’s bitterness that will make him grow distant and harsh and cost you family praise at the end (Pr 31:28).
A strong and honorable woman has a future of happiness. Her husband loves her more than ever. Her loving children are noble and successful with godly spouses and grandchildren. The family estate is significant with no financial fears. Her conscience is clean and thankful. She has been a tree of life to many in God’s kingdom. Her reputation is known far and wide. God is glorified and will praise her when she arrives in heaven.
Christian girl! You are not married yet, but you can still put on strength and honour for your future happiness and success. How? Be more diligent than any other girl in obeying your parents, keeping your room, helping around the house, and doing your schoolwork. How about honour? Be more careful than any other girl in holy thoughts, kind speech, pure relationships with boys, graciousness to all, and charity toward your enemies.
Christian reader, whether man or woman, you are the bride of Jesus Christ (II Cor 11:1-2; Eph 5:25-27). It is your duty also to clothe yourself with strength and honour. What is strength? A well-fought fight with diligent effort (II Tim 4:7)! What is honour? The apostolic faith earnestly kept in spite of heresies and trends (II Tim 4:7)! If you have done these two things, at the end of your course is a crown of righteousness (II Tim 4:7-8).