The most intimidating woman in the Bible

How do we measure up?

In reading the last chapter of the Proverbs of Solomon, we encounter a description of the wife of noble character. This outline provides an intimidating look at a woman who is faithful to her husband (v. 11-12), helps provide for her family (v. 27) and reaches out to others in need (v.20).

While this woman has intimidated many wives throughout history and continues to do so today, I think we can glean a bit more wisdom in this description if we look at her as being representative of how a faithful wife interacts with her family and those around her, and not a description of a real person. More importantly, I think we gain clarity when we see that this passage describes the wife that God has called to himself: those in the Kingdom of God.

Isaiah 54:5 – “Indeed, your husband is your Maker — his name is Yahweh of Armies — and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of the whole earth.

Jeremiah 3:14 – ” ‘Return, you faithless children ​– ​this is Yahweh’s declaration ​– ​for I am your husband, and I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.

Hosea 2:16, 19-20 – In that day — this is Yahweh’s declaration — you will call me, “My husband,” and no longer call me, “My Lord.” … I will take you to be my wife forever. I will take you to be my wife in righteousness, justice, love, and compassion. I will take you to be my wife in faithfulness, and you will know Yahweh.

Revelation 21:2 – I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.

The vigilance of the wife of God is evident in this passage in Proverbs 31, as we see all of the noble and positive characteristics of this woman. She works with willing hands, rising while it is still dark to provide food for her family, working late into the evening making clothing for her household. She invests in vineyard production, and demonstrates strength in all things.

Proverbs 31:29 – “Many women have done noble deeds, but you surpass them all! “

This surpassing of all other women demonstrates how this “super-woman” is a representative ideal and not an historical individual. Her vigilance in all things is captured in a few lines:

Proverbs 31:25-27 – Strength and honor are her clothing, and she can laugh at the time to come. Her mouth speaks wisdom, and loving instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the activities of her household and is never idle.

If this is the case, can we say that this picture describes us, those whom God has chosen to represent him in this generation? Do we act with strength and honor, or do we give up when things get difficult? Do we speak wisdom and loving instruction or are we constantly talking others down? Are we watching over our household (i.e., kingdom) activities with diligence, or are we idly letting it go its own way?

The woman of Proverbs 31 is not just an intimidating character for wives, but when rightly understood as the representative ideal for God’s people, she stands to challenge us all to be our best at all times for him.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The immense but achievable responsibility of believers

Being faithful requires constant, intentional commitment.

Philippians 2:12-13 – Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose.

Many times this passage is reviewed by looking only at verse 12 regarding the working out of one’s own salvation, and stopping short of verse 13. But verse 13 is the engine behind the ignition key of verse 12, because Paul is conveying that the work that was being done was actually God working in them according to his good purpose.

This passage touches on the duality of the believer’s existence: seeking to be a conduit for the outworking of God in both principle and action. The way to accomplish this effectively, according to Paul, is to do this “with fear and trembling.” I have a sense that many believers today have either lost this sense or never been instructed in it in the first place. This fear and trembling is a principle which conveys that we need to be thoughtful and circumspect in our lives, considering the gravity and eternal impact of our actions upon ourselves, our families, and others.

To be a believer in the Messiah carries with it a strong purpose which demands constancy and vigilance in intentional living. It means making choices for righteousness in situations that may not be the consideration of others who are not believers. Sometimes it means sacrificing elements of comfort or ease for the sake of others. Many times our time, energy, and resources will be spent for the sake of someone else.

All through this epistle, Paul is conveying the principles of this way of life to the Philippian believers.

For example, he touches on the principle of understanding what is right:

Philippians 1:9-11 – And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, so that you may approve the things that are superior and may be pure and blameless in the day of Messiah, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Yeshua Messiah to the glory and praise of God.

He also shares the responsibility they have in suffering for doing what’s right:

Philippians 1:29-30 – For it has been granted to you on Messiah’s behalf not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are engaged in the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I have.

These were real experiences based on real decisions that they had to make every day that played into their experiences as believers in Messiah.

Now while all of this may sound very heavy and burdensome, we can also be encouraged from their example, as Paul was convinced of God’s ability to bring all righteousness to pass. He encouraged them that once the work that was begun in them was underway, it would ultimately come to fulfillment.

Philippians 1:6 – I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Messiah Yeshua.

If Paul is to be believed, the “working out” of their salvation was indeed accomplished. They had proven faithful in what he had taught them regarding the faith once received for all the saints, as Jude calls it (Jude 1:3).

If we learn nothing else from the early believers in Messiah, the life of faith was one of constant struggle and commitment with real consequences. This required a whole level of commitment that I believe is rarely seen among modern believers today. It is up to us to demonstrate the same vigilance in outworking the principles of righteousness in this generation. And even if we don’t yet have a full understanding of all that God expects of us, we have this continuing encouragement from Paul as a guiding principle:

Philippians 3:16 – In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Going all-in for the kingdom of God

Once your hand is set to the plow, don’t look back.

Luke 9:57-62 – As they were traveling on the road someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus told him, “Foxes have dens, and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Then he said to another, “Follow me.” “Lord,” he said, “first let me go bury my father.” But he told him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me go and say good-bye to those at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Contrasted by today’s standards of trying not to offend “seekers” who may be interested in the things of the Bible, Yeshua did not hold back when it came to the cost of discipleship and following him. In fact, many times, he made it easy for people to turn away, and did not seek after those who had rejected him and his message of the kingdom.

John 6:57-58, 60, 66 – “Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. “This is the bread that came down from heaven; it is not like the manna your ancestors ate ​– ​and they died. The one who eats this bread will live forever.” … Therefore, when many of his disciples heard this, they said, “This teaching is hard. Who can accept it? ” … From that moment many of his disciples turned back and no longer accompanied him.

To those he was calling, the cost of following Messiah could have meant the loss of a home, or a regular place to stay. It could have meant separation from the life of the local community synagogue. It would have meant foregoing the social responsibilities and relationships associated with family. He knew his disciples were going to face some of the hardest persecution during unparalleled times of tribulation, and he knew they could not be distracted with social convention.

Matthew 10:34-38 – “Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. “For I came to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; “and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. “The one who loves a father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; the one who loves a son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. “And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

The cross of self-sacrifice is the standard of true discipleship. The covenant that God established through Messiah is a martyr’s covenant; one must die to self to live to God and his kingdom. The flesh with its desires and ambitions must be subjugated to the will of God in the expression of his kingdom on the earth.

When Lot and his family were escaping the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the angel instructed them not to look back.

Genesis 19:17, 26 – As soon as the angels got them outside, one of them said, “Run for your lives! Don’t look back and don’t stop anywhere on the plain! Run to the mountains, or you will be swept away! ” … But Lot’s wife looked back and became a pillar of salt.

Yeshua instructed his disciples with the same sense of urgency for the destruction that they were about to face.

Luke 17:28-33 – “It will be the same as it was in the days of Lot: People went on eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building. “But on the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all. “It will be like that on the day the Son of Man is revealed. “On that day, a man on the housetop, whose belongings are in the house, must not come down to get them. Likewise the man who is in the field must not turn back. “Remember Lot’s wife! “Whoever tries to make his life secure will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.

While those first-century disciples facing the impending destruction of Jerusalem were the intended audience for these words, many times today disciples of the Messiah encounter similar decisions and circumstances that, to us as individuals, have similar levels of consequence. Perhaps it’s the potential loss of a job for ethical reasons, or the separation from destructive relationships with friends or family. It’s a matter of priorities: one must always place the kingdom first.

Matthew 6:31, 33 – “So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat? ‘ or ‘What will we drink? ‘ or ‘What will we wear? ‘ … “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

Once your hand is set to the plow, don’t look back. The commitment to follow the Messiah is one that does not allow for a divided heart or a divided mind. In the analogy of a poker game, all of the chips we have must be invested in the hand that Messiah has dealt us; in faith, we must go all-in. Every generation is called to singleness of purpose within the kingdom of God, and it is up to us to steadfastly maintain that focus for his glory.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Balance and self control requires vigilance

The fear of God will keep a person from all excesses.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua dramatically illustrates the necessity to avoid sin at all costs.

Matthew 5:29-30 – If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into hell. If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into hell.

Through the use of hyperbole, he emphasizes the drastic need to maintain right actions in the life of the believer.

One of the aspects of vigilance in this area is expressed through the idea of balance. The Greek word sophron was used to indicate the quality of those who were to be entrusted with leading God’s people, and a quality exhibited by all believers, old or young, men and women.

1 Timothy 3:2 – The overseer then must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher,

Titus 1:8 – Instead he must be hospitable, devoted to what is good, sensible, upright, devout, and self-controlled.

Titus 2:1-7 – But as for you, communicate the behavior that goes with sound teaching. Older men are to be temperate, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in endurance. Older women likewise are to exhibit behavior fitting for those who are holy, not slandering, not slaves to excessive drinking, but teaching what is good. In this way they will train the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, fulfilling their duties at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the message of God may not be discredited. Encourage younger men likewise to be self-controlled, showing yourself to be an example of good works in every way…

In these passages, the word translated as “self-controlled” and “sensible” is the Greek word sophron. According to the Helps word studies, this self-control and balance is achieved by remaining obedient to the commands of God; i.e., fearing God:

sṓphrōn (“acting in God’s definition of balance”) makes someone genuinely temperate, i.e. well-balanced from God’s perspective. True balance is not “one-size-fits-all” nor is it blandly static. Biblical moderation (sṓphrōn) describes “a man who does not command himself, but rather is commanded by God'” (K. Wuest, Word Studies, 2, 46). This root (sōphro-, “soundness”) then reflects living in God-defined balance.

Ecclesiastes 7:15-18 All this have I seen in my days of vanity: there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who lives long in his evildoing. Do not be overly righteous, neither make yourself overly wise. Why should you destroy yourself? Do not be too wicked, neither be foolish. Why should you die before your time? It is good that you should take hold of this. Yes, also from that do not withdraw your hand; for he who fears God will come forth from them all.

The Pulpit Commentary provides this concise summary of this passage in Ecclesiastes: “The fear of God will keep a man from all excesses.”

Also speaking on this passage, John Gill, in his Exposition, highlights how the fear of God provides the necessary balance in the life of the believer.

…for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all; or escape them all; the phrase is become Rabbinical, that, is, he shall be free or exempt from them all; from over much righteousness and over much wisdom, and over much wickedness or over much folly; the fear of God, which is the beginning of wisdom, is the best preservative from, and antidote against, these things; for a man that fears God is humble, and renounces his own righteousness, and distrusts his own wisdom; he fears to commit sin, and shuns folly.

This concept of balance between two extremes is also brought out in the Proverbs:

Proverbs 4:23-27 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.

This temperance and balance will keep us from having to “gouge out our eyes” or “cut off our hands” to avoid sin, however that imagery used by Yeshua highlights the urgent commitment required of all believers. There is true and dire risk that we face when challenged with taking our eyes off of God and his Word. But by being vigilant with our hearts and maintaining a respectful fear of Yahweh, we will keep from swerving to the right or left, and remain on the path of righteousness that God has laid out for us.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.