The “excellent woman” of Proverbs 31 casts a long shadow for her sisters through history! Not only is she strong, wise, trustworthy, industrious, and successful, but she also “fears the LORD” (v. 30).

The Hebrew word rendered “fear” has a wide range of meanings, including the idea of respectful reverence. I learned about this kind of fear when, fresh out of high school, I began my formal training to become a mechanical engineer. My education included an apprenticeship in a machine shop where I worked with lathes, presses, grinders, and mills, all of them driven by heavy-duty, high-speed motors. I quickly noticed that some of my coworkers had fewer fingers than when they were born. Surprisingly, however, none had suffered a serious injury as a beginner; they lost appendages when they lost their fear of the machines they operated. Lack of reverence for the power of those machines made them complacent and careless.

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The “excellent woman” reveres the Lord. She walks with God. She holds Him in highest regard. She maintains a close relationship with the One who gave her life, who maintains her health, cultivates her character, preserves her husband, protects her children, supports her ideas, inspires her creativity, fuels her determination, and blesses her. Consequently, she tackles challenges with confidence. Somehow, you get the impression that this woman doesn’t feel like a victim of four walls or a slave to a husband and houseful of kids. She certainly is no social invalid who feels inadequate and overwhelmed. Not in the least! She has found a healthy balance between being herself and remaining extremely involved with, and committed to, her family. She enjoys her husband and the children—and finds other dimensions of fulfillment beyond them.


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