Prov 31:10                            The Church Militant                                   5/17/2009      ßà   

  • The Parables of Solomon (Prov 31:10-31, 30:17, Num 24:3, Psalm 78:2, Luke 4:23, Matt 13:10,13, 2Pet 1:21)

 

 

 

 

#1.       A Virtuous Woman? (Prov 31:10-31, Rev 22:18-19, Isa 64:6, 42:8, 48:11, Mark 8:36, Isa 40:17)

 

 

 

 

 

  • It Is Open Warfare (Prov 31:10-11, John 14:26, 15:2,19-20, Matt 12:30)

 

 

 

 

 

#2.       Acts of the Church (Prov 31:14-16, John 3:5, Isa 5:7, Matt 21:33)

 

 

 

 

 

  • The Gates (Prov 31:23,31, John 14:23, Mark 10:29-30, Matt 16:18)

 

 

 

 

 

#3.       About Studying the Bible (Prov 31:24-27)

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Proverbs of Solomon, Prov 31:10 (2X).

  • The Parables of Solomon (Prov 31:10-31, 30:17, Num 24:3, Psalm 78:2, Luke 4:23, Matt 13:10,13, 2Pet 1:21)

Last week we considered a parable out of Prov 30:17, and we saw that this was a situation where the word “proverb” definitely must mean “parable”. In general, the word “Proverbs” means “Parables.” For example, in the OT the word “Proverb” has Strong’s Concordance number <04912>. But in Num 24:3 the same word is called “Parable”, and in Psalm 78:2 the same word is also called “Parable”. The same meanings trickle down into the NT where the word “Proverb” has a Strong’s Concordance number <3850>. In Luke 4:23 it has been translated “Proverb”, but in Matt 13:10,13 it has been translated “Parable.” And so, when we plan to study the “Proverbs” of Solomon, we should be prepared to find that all these are parables which fit into God’s plan of salvation. Some preachers look at this part of the Scriptures as a collection of wise sayings about our conduct in this life. But that is not what these proverbs are for. Remember, according to 2Pet 1:21, these words were dictated by God to His servants the prophets, and thus these words were so important that they were chosen to be in the Bible because God desired to save some people. The Bible was written so that men might be saved; and salvation is also what the Parables of Solomon are for. All these proverbs are actually parables, through which we gain a deeper insight into salvation, and through which we get to know our heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, when we come to Prov 31:10-31 we notice that this is actually a poem written like a Hebrew acrostic. The 22 verses begin with the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet consecutively, like Psalm 119 does for every eight verses in that Psalm. Let us now read Prov 31:10-31,

Pr 31:10-31 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.  She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

What impression do we get when we read this passage of Scripture? Most preachers consider this a song of praise to a virtuous woman, just like verse 10 says, “Who can find a virtuous woman?” Every year, on Mother’s Day, preachers all over the world use this passage and are praising this woman. This is a sickening practice, for they do not realize that they are insulting all the mothers whom they intended to honor with this passage, for there is not a single mother who can come even close to the performance that this wonder-woman of Prov 31 displays. If we want to consider this wonder-woman of Prov 31 to be a real person, we want to know how she can condense a 240 hour job into 24 hours. We can clearly see that this is an imaginary woman, for there is no person on earth who can fulfil all these tasks in one life time. And yet, most preachers continue to hammer away at this passage on Mother’s Day, or on any other day when they are honoring mothers, praising this virtuous woman. And they have been doing this insanity for centuries. I thought that Solomon was a very wise man. But if this was the real intent of Solomon, then he was not the wise man that I thought him to be. Moreover, God chose these words to be recorded and to be placed in the Bible. And certainly we must consider God to be infinitely wise. Let us then look at these words again, from the viewpoint that God has. Let us ask Him that He will give us the mind of Christ, so that we will understand this passage.

#1.       A Virtuous Woman? (Prov 31:10-31, Rev 22:18-19, Isa 64:6, 42:8, 48:11, Mark 8:36, Isa 40:17)

What is the infallible Word of God? Only the Bible in the original Greek and Hebrew languages is the infallible Word of God. All translations from the Greek and Hebrew text are works of man, and cannot be perfect. And even though the KJ translation is one of the most accurate word by word translation, we should not be surprised to find a few errors here and there. In fact, if we declare the KJ Bible to be the infallible Word of God, we have violated God’s commands in Rev 22:18-19, which says that we may not add or take away from the words of this Book. Now here, in Prov 31:10-31 we have a passage which conflicts with almost all that the Bible has to say about glorifying God and Christ. This is a passage which brings glory to this woman, for we read in Prov 31:31, “let her own works praise her in the gates.” Her own works? Since when are man’s own works to be praised? God says in Isa 64:6, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Even our best works, after we have been saved, are like filthy rags before God, for even our best works are tainted with sin. We must keep in mind that God does not share His glory with anyone. God says in Isa 42:8, “I am Jehovah: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another”. God says in Isa 48:11, “I will not give my glory unto another”. The Bible was written to glorify God, rather than man. But when we read this passage of Prov 31:10-31 as a praise to the virtuous wife, we are actually lifting this virtuous wife on a pedestal for her good works. Should we praise her for her works without giving God the honor and the glory? If so, we would actually do her a disfavor, for Prov 31:30 says that she fears the Lord. Therefore she would not want us to praise her, and if we do, we are violating the principle that the Bible was written to glorify God rather than man. Is it then possible that we have misinterpreted this passage, and that it does not refer to a virtuous woman? Let us look at the precise wording of this in the Hebrew text. The word “virtuous” is the Hebrew <02428>.

Pr 31:10 Who can find a virtuous <02428> woman <0802>? for her price is far above rubies.

In the place where we find “a virtuous woman” the Hebrew text reads “a male noun followed by a female noun”.  The male noun refers to an army in time of war. The female noun is correctly translated “woman.” But the male noun <02428> has been translated in the KJ Bible as:

<02428>        army 56, man of valor 37, host 29, forces 14,  valiant 13, strength 12, riches 11, wealth 10, power 9, substance 8, might 6, strong 5, virtuous 3, misc 30; to a total of 243 times.

Now we see that “army, man of valor, host, forces, valiant, strength, riches, wealth, power, substance, might, strong” all have to do with an army in time of war, but “virtuous” does not fit in there. It is obvious that the choice of “virtuous” was a liberal choice of the translators. Literally verse 10 should read as:

“Who can find an army woman?” or “Who can find a woman as strong as an army?” Only God can find such a woman, and therefore she is a choice from God, which means she refers to God’s elect. And now we begin to see the light. This woman refers to the church, for only the church can be considered as strong as an army. The church is as strong as an army, for within 300 years the church took over the Roman Empire. And WHO can find such an army? Only Christ can find such an army in the world, for the church consists of all the individuals which the Father has given Him. Christ had to atone for the sins of all these individuals, and thus Christ knows where to find them. And now the entire verse 10 makes more sense, for now we can read Prov 31:10,

Pr 31:10  Who can find a woman as strong as an army? for her price is far above rubies.

The church of the Lord Jesus Christ is as strong as an army, and her price is very great. Each member of the church has a soul that is worth more than all the material goods this entire earth can provide, for the Lord Jesus said in Mark 8:36, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” You see, once we have been saved, once we have been born from above, the worth of our soul in the sight of God has risen to astronomical values, for we have become the treasure of great price in the sight of God. But the unsaved are still of no value to Him. God says in Isa 40:17, “All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity”. And the word “nations” refers to all the unconverted Gentile nations, all the heathen nations. On the last day, when Satan and all his hosts are cast into Hell, Satan holds a bag full of worthless trinkets. The value of his prize is nothing, yea even less than nothing. But the treasure of the Lord Jesus Christ is worth much more than all the rubies this universe can provide. But right now, this treasure of the Lord Jesus Christ is an army, with Christ as the leader of our army, and we are the Bride of Christ. We are the church militant, for now we are in the midst of a warfare. Our aim is to rob Satan’s treasure chest, for each time we are instrumental in bringing one soul to the Lord Jesus Christ, we have robbed Satan’s treasure chest of a value that is more than all the material value of this world.

  • It Is Open Warfare (Prov 31:10-11, John 14:26, 15:2,19-20, Matt 12:30)

Let us continue in Prov 31:11 (2X), and there we read, Prov 31:11 “The heart of her Husband doth safely trust in her, so that He shall have no need of spoil (or plunder)”. Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel According to John, John 14:26 (2X). The heart of Christ, our Bridegroom, safely trusts our actions in this world, for we are led by our Comforter the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus said in John 14:26, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” Initially the Lord Jesus was addressing His eleven faithful disciples. But then, a few verses later, when He spoke of “I am the vine and ye are the branches”, He indicated that they would expand and acquire other disciples. Please drop down to John chapter 15 (2X) The Lord Jesus said in John 15:2,

Joh 15:2 “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” What does this mean? What kind of fruit was the Lord speaking about? He was not speaking of giving alms to the poor, and He was not speaking of bringing clothes to the homeless, and He was not speaking of bringing food to the hungry. In fact, these acts of kindness will be done by all kinds of people in our society, by people from the church as well as by people outside the church. The real fruit that the Lord spoke about is the fruit that brings everlasting results. The fruit the Lord is looking for are words flowing out of the mouths of His disciples; words that are represented by the water of the Gospel. Remember that we are in a warfare with the armies of the devil, and the war is primarily a war of words. We want to bring the true Gospel, and the enemy wants to bring a false gospel. And if our words are accompanied by God the Holy Spirit we are the winning party. Please drop down to John 15:19 (2X). We need to be constantly aware of the fact that we are in a warfare, and it is certain that we will be persecuted. The Lord Jesus said in John 15:19-20,

Joh 15:19  If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

Joh 15:20  Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

This is open warfare. But let us be comforted by God’s assurance that He approves of all that we undertake for the furtherance of His kingdom. That is why we read in Prov 31:11, “The heart of her Husband doth safely trust in her, so that He shall have no need of spoil (or plunder.)” Our Bridegroom shall have no lack of plunder, for with the help of God the Holy Spirit we are plundering the house of Satan. In fact, it is mandatory that every saint must be on the warpath to win converts out of the house of Satan. The Lord Jesus already told us this when He said in Matt 12:30 during His ministry,

Matt 12:30  “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”

This is how the Lord is going to plunder the house of Satan. He first binds Satan at the cross, and then He will plunder his house. How will He plunder Satan’s house? He will use the army of volunteers who have been rescued out of the house of bondage. We are in that army, and we do this task with great pleasure. Please turn again to the Proverbs of Solomon, Prov 31:14 (2X).

#2.       Acts of the Church (Prov 31:14-16, John 3:5, Isa 5:7, Matt 21:33)

When we consider the remaining verses of this passage, we find that they all fit within the scope of the woman of verse 10 representing the church. For example, when we look at verse 14, Prov 31:14,

Pr 31:14  “She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.”

What is the spiritual food of the church? The spiritual food is not just the Bible. We can read the Bible al day and all night without getting any wiser, and without getting any spiritual growth. Our true spiritual food is the Bible plus the inspiration from the Holy Spirit. To begin with, both elements must be present to bring salvation and to regenerate our soul. And both elements must be present to make us grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord. The Lord Jesus referred to this combination when He said to Nicodemus in John 3:5, “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Both the water of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit must be present to make a man “born again”. This spiritual food for the church comes from far. It comes from beyond the galaxies we can see in our universe. This spiritual food comes from heaven, for the Holy Spirit comes from heaven.

Let us now turn to Prov 31:15 (2X) “She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion (a statute) to her maidens.” The word “portion” is a very liberal translation, and it should be “a statute or an ordinance”. The church gives spiritual food to her members at any time in the day, even early in the morning. But to her servants she gives a statute or an ordinance. Who are her servants? Her servants are the unsaved in the church. The church is not able to distinguish between saved and unsaved people, but God knows who they are. And thus the spiritual food that is distributed to every one in the church equally is received only by the saints as true spiritual food. To the unsaved it is nothing more than a form of statutes and ordinances. They still live under the covenant of the law, and are not able to see or understand spiritual things. Those who have been saved live under the covenant of grace, and they are able to understand spiritual things, and thus they receive the spiritual food.

Please turn now to Prov 31:16 (2X). We read there “She considereth a field, and buyeth it (takes it): with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.” The word “buyeth it” is a very liberal translation, and it should be “taketh it”. The field can also be a country, or a land. The church does not buy a country, or a land. The church is the army of Christ, and thus the church moves in and takes it, spiritually speaking. The church moves in with her missionaries. Then, with the fruit of her own hands the church plants a vineyard,  which represents the planting of a new church.  God speaks of a religious congregation as a

vineyard both in the OT and in the NT. We read in Isa 5:7,

Isa 5:7  For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.

This OT vineyard was an unfruitful vineyard for the Lord of Hosts. Then the OT people such as the scribes and Pharisees were put in charge of a newer vineyard. The Lord Jesus said in Matt 21:33,

Mt 21:33 ¶  Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:

This too was a vineyard that was doomed to failure, for this was the vineyard that delivered the Lord Jesus for crucifixion. The bottom line is that the meaning of Prov 31:16 is that the church evangelizes a country, and plants a new church there. She does this with her own hands.

  • The Gates (Prov 31:23,31, John 14:23, Mark 10:29-30, Matt 16:18)

Let us move on to Prov 31:23 (2X). Her husband is our Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Pr 31:23  “Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.”

Here for the word “sitteth” we should read: “dwelleth”.  Christ, our husband, has risen from the grave, and has ascended into heaven and does not sit among the elders of the land but dwells within them. The Lord Jesus tells us in John 14:23 of this great truth for all who have been born from above:

Joh 14:23  Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

And thus the entire triune God will dwell within us if we have been saved. But what does it mean that Christ is known in the gates? We will get the answer by looking at the last verse in this parable: Pr 31:31

Pr 31:31  “Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.”

In other words: Give the church the reward for her labors. Now we know that the reward for our labors on this earth is not given in the life hereafter, but is given on this earth. The gift of eternal life  is simply so great, so enormously wonderful and majestic, that we cannot modify it by adding a reward to it which looks great by earthly measures, but in the life hereafter it is incredibly small. Peter began to ask the Lord Jesus: Lo, we have left all, what then shall we get? The Lord Jesus answered in Mar 10:29-30,

Mr 10:29  And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,

Mr 10:30  But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

Read this carefully now. The Lord Jesus said that we shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, with persecutions, and in the world to come eternal life. The common denominator is eternal life in the world to come. And thus, when we go back to Prov 31:31, then where is the church going to receive a hundredfold now in this time? It will be here on this earth. Where are her own works going to praise her? It will be here on this earth. But Prov 31:31 says, in the gates. And so, there is where the church shall be praised. There is where the church shall receive the reward for her labors. The gates are representing this earth. Why did God choose this kind of a symbolism? Where else did we see those gates? The Lord Jesus said to Peter in Matt 16:18,

Mt 16:18  And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter (Petros), and upon this The Rock (Petra) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

The gates of hell shall not prevail against it. If one sinner must be saved and be converted from a sinner to a saint, then this sinner must be dragged out of the realm of Satan’s domain, past the gates of hell, and into the camp of Christ. And the gates of hell shall not be able to hinder the actions of the church, for the strong man has already been bound by Christ. And how are the gates of hell identified with this earth? Well, the gates of hell are the enticements of Satan. For every unsaved person these are very strong enticements. But when the Holy Spirit is together with the preaching of the Word of God, the gates of hell, or the enticements of Satan, have been reduced in strength, so that God will be praised for the salvation of this soul.

#3.       About Studying the Bible (Prov 31:24-27)

There are many more nuggets of truth buried in Prov 31. For example, in verse 24 the “merchant” is not a merchant but a “Canaanite”. In verse 25  the words “she shall rejoice in time to come” should actually be “she shall rejoice in the last day”. In verse 26 “the law of kindness” should actually be “the law of mercy”. In verse 27 “She looketh well” should be replaced by the words “She is a watchman”.

The main problem, however, is not with the KJ Bible, or with the errors the translators have made. Any translation of the Bible will have such discrepancies when we compare it with the original languages. The main problem is with the pastors who have spent a long time in seminaries where they were supposed to learn Greek and Hebrew. They were supposed to apply this knowledge when they prepare for sermons, and they should have discovered a long time ago that these differences with the basic Greek and Hebrew texts exist. But for hundreds of years pastors have been preaching on Prov 31:10-31 as if it refers to a virtuous woman. You can see that the faulty translation does not only harm to the correctness of the translation, but it also introduces a dangerous concept. In this faulty translation a woman is elevated to a status of superwoman, and she is glorified, not for the cleanness of her soul, but for her works. And this goes on, year after year. We can only guess what the damage will be to the souls of many who have swallowed this baloney for many years. And then we can understand why there are people who believe that “the Gospel of James” teaches that a man is saved by works, instead of by grace. We say to ourselves that we will not fall for such gross errors. But what do our children say? How did the Arminian gospel take a foothold in supposedly conservative reformed churches? Is it not because our beloved pastors and elders have not done their homework? Why does it take a chemical engineer to bring this out into the open? I am not a genius. But when I study for a sermon I try to understand the Greek or the Hebrew that are relevant to the subject matter I will be preaching. But when I find that I am the only one who is doing it, I must ring the alarm. Too many pastors and teachers rely on the directions they receive from their denominational headquarters. How would they know if their denominational headquarters have already been infiltrated by Satan? And so, the bottom line is that each pastor must study the Scriptures himself, and he must use his knowledge of Greek and Hebrew to the best of his ability.

AMEN.                 Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.