Photo: From Anne Pratt at Blue Letter Bible
SHE WILL DO HIM GOOD, AND NOT EVIL,It is much in the power of all who dwell in the same household to benefit each other. Hourly opportunities occur of showing kindness, of lending aid, of practising forbearance, and of constantly doing mutual good. But this is most especially the case with husbands and wives. If we except the strongest of all earthly influences—that of the mother on her child, there is none which can equal that of the conjugal relation. Time and eternity are connected with it. Happiness or misery is dependent on the way in which it is exercised; so important is it, that the wise and inspired man said, “A good wife is from the Lord” (Pro 18:22).
ALL THE DAYS OF HER LIFE.
“See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently” (1Pe 1:22), said the apostle Peter, when enjoining on the early converts the duties of the Christian life; and if this is commanded to all, how much more is it to be cultivated by those who are attached by the strongest domestic tie! And as no marriage should be contracted without mutual love, so the principle of love should guide a woman in all her married life, and lead her always to do good to her husband.
A wife can do much good to her husband, by promoting his domestic comfort. This is, indeed, placed almost wholly in her hands; it rests with her to see that the fireside is the place of attraction, that home is the brightest spot on earth. And love will teach ingenuity to the faithful wife, and show to her a thousand ways by which she may endear the home circle. If she wish to enjoy her husband’s society, she must be a keeper at home; and so arrange her family, as that he, when he returns from the care, and noise, and contention of the world, shall find a retreat, in which sweet converse shall beguile him of his cares, and peace, and love, and order, and gentle welcome, and soothing sympathy, shall form a striking contrast to the scenes he has just quitted.
Another way in which we may feel certain that the matron of the text did good to her husband, was by sharing his cares. On many, in modern times, the charge is not incumbent, of labouring with the hands to provide food and raiment for the family, as did this eminent example of female virtue. The different constitution of modern society has placed upon men the duty of maintaining a family, and left to woman the sweeter privilege of ordering the charities of home. Yet, even now, a wife may do much to lessen the cares of a husband. She may not fully understand the nature of his employments, she cannot exactly enter into the details of his business: but she can give the attentive ear; she can endeavour to comprehend his difficulties; she can forbear the mention of any irritating domestic circumstances; she can soften down annoyances. Sometimes she can cheer him by reminding him of some consoling promise of God’s word. She can show him the command of holy writ, to cast his care upon God. She can tell him that “they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing” (Psa 34:10), and perhaps lead him to say with David, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee” (Psa 56:3). And when all these fail, and her anxious eye sees the cloud still darken over his brow, then she can pray, with a firm, unwavering faith, that God would indeed “lift up the light of his countenance upon him, and give him peace” (Num 6:26).
Nor is it less her duty to share in his joys. If her husband have succeeded in some pursuit, with what heartiness should the wife enter into his pleasure. Never should the wandering eye betray that she listens with indifference to the details which interest him. She should value his pursuits, if for no other reason than because they are his; and by an ever ready sympathy should “do him good, and not evil, all the days of her life” (Pro 31:12). Never should the depressing fear, or the ardent hope, be thrown coldly back again on him who utters it. One such repulsion will do more to alienate the love of a sensitive mind, than many little acts of neglect or annoyance.
A wife will also do her husband good by encouraging him to holiness and virtue, and warning him against sin. In the intimacy of domestic life, the first tendency to evil is sometimes evident to the wife, and it is her duty to rebuke with all gentleness, and to plead with all earnestness, against conduct which may be displeasing to God and man. Abigail’s reproof and counsel of David, is a beautiful instance of womanly tact and delicacy thus employed. When Nabal, in return for David’s kindness and protection, had contemptuously refused refreshments to the warrior shepherd, how does Abigail propitiate David’s wrath, and dissuade him from revenge! “And it shall come to pass, when the Lord shall have done to my lord according to all the good that he hath spoken concerning thee, and shall have appointed thee ruler over Israel; that this shall be no grief unto thee, nor offence of heart unto my lord, either that thou hast shed blood causeless, or that my lord hath avenged himself” (1Sa 25:30-31). And in like manner, how often may the wife expostulate with her husband, and thus keep him from evil that it may not grieve him; and in after days, he may look back with gratitude and affection for the warning voice which checked his onward course, and bade him pause and consider.
The wife of the text did her husband no evil. She neither wasted his wealth, nor neglected his comfort, nor was careless of his reputation, nor provoked him to anger. She loved him with a steady love all the days of her life; in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health. Years passed on and saw it fixed, while all around was changing. It was not like the vapoury cloud upon the blue sky, driven about by every wind of heaven, and skimming lightly over the surface; but as the rock in the midst of the waters, against which the waves might dash and bring no change, and on which all the alternations of sun and wind fell harmlessly, and which stood unshaken by all things. Seldom is love like this—love which can bear the test of time, and the shock of adversity—love which can flourish even amid infirmities: seldom is it found but in the home of the loved and loving.
They who love us till we die,
Who in sorrow have been tried,
Who will watch our closing eye
When all grows cold beside:
Where shall friends like these he found,
Search the earth and ocean wide;
On what hallowed spot of ground
Save our own fireside?
~ The Excellent Woman of Proverbs 31 by Anne Pratt, (1806-1893)
The picture and the commentary are found here at Blue Letter Bible. The entire book by Anne Pratt on Proverbs 31 can be found for free at the link above. It is truly a wonderful resource and I highly recommend reading it if you can.