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But you excel them all
by Glenn Pettit
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Proverbs 31:28-29
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
29 "Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all."

At my late wife's memorial service, I spoke for several minutes about her vision, about what it was that drove her life and how she had hoped to influence others to do the same. At the beginning and the end, I read Proverbs 31:25-31, and I reiterated that it was important to recognize what my wife had done with her life so that others would learn and grow and do similarly great things. At the reception after the service, I was pleasantly surprised how many of her fellow professors told me they didn't know she did so much else, and how her fellow social workers told me they didn't realize she was also a full-time professor. And a few of her students came up and told me they didn't know she cared for other people's children and counseled the families of kids with disabilities. And almost everyone told me they didn't realize my wife had a disability herself. In short, her life surprised everyone, and there were many who finally understood just how God had blessed the world with this wonderful woman.

In today's verses, Solomon says that a woman's children and husband will honor her and praise her. Do we praise our family members - children, wives, husbands, parents? Do we encourage them by recognizing the blessing they are and the blessings they have? I really cannot speak for all families, but as often as I hear spouses speak ill of each other, and as often as teenagers rebel against and revile their parents, my inclination is to believe that family praise is seriously lacking.

Some might say, "Doesn't Jesus tell us that when we do good things, not to do it in order to receive the praises of men? Aren't we to seek only the Father's praise and reward for obeying Him and doing His will?" Yes, in Matthew chapter 6, Jesus talks about those things. However, just because we are not to SEEK praise, that doesn't mean we are never to RECEIVE it. Just because we seek the Father's will in all things, that doesn't mean that His will is not a blessing upon others.

Looking a little closer at these verses we can see a few interesting points:

"Her children rise up" - In other words, the fruits of her womb show her respect and honor.

They "call her blessed." - The word translated here as "blessed" has the same root as the word used at the very beginning of the Psalms:

Psalms 1:1-2
1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.

Can we see why she is blessed? Her children recognize that she follows the Lord, and they realize that whatever blessings they know themselves are because of their mother's faithfulness.

"Her husband also, and he praises her" - I don't need to remind anyone that there are still far too many households where the husband sets himself up as a petty tyrant in his own home. The stereotype is of the man coming home and demanding service from wife and children - and that stereotype too often has basis in fact. But here in the words of the wisest man ever, we see that men are to respect and praise their wives. Read Ephesians 5:25-28 to see how husbands are to love and respect their wives.

"'Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all.'" - As much as I like the New King James Bible, there are times when the translators miss the mark - and this is one of them. Let's look at a couple of other translations to get a better sense of what's being said here:

English Standard Version
"Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all."

New American Standard Bible
"Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all."

This wife has done more than simply "well": she has done excellently, nobly, worthily, and even virtuously. And this wife surpasses ALL others in her virtuous deeds! But notice, too, that the honor is not hers alone, because she excels above all other "daughters." In other words, she brings honor and glory to her family, her parents - and especially her Father.

In a very literal sense, Solomon is telling us to talk to our parents and spouses, and let them know how excellent they are. We are to tell others about how they reflect the love of God in their own lives, how they bring honor to the Father. Recognizing faithfulness and godliness in others helps us to measure our own lives, to see how our faith lines up with the holiness of God and with His Word.

These verses today are about praise, but not just praise for our families but also for our blessed God and Savior. How are we to recognize excellence in our families if we do not recognize the excellence of God? The first and foremost object of our praise needs to be our Father in heaven.

So rise up today, and give honor and praise to our Almighty God. Rise up and praise God the Father for His excellence and for the blessings He has given us through Christ Jesus His Son. Rise and praise Jesus for being our Rock and our Redeemer, our Lord and our Savior. Rise and praise Him, too, for the honor and glory He brings to His Father. Rise up, and simply praise!

Psalm 97:9 (King James Version)
For thou, LORD, art high above all the earth:
thou art exalted far above all gods.

And we exalt Thee, we exalt Thee, we exalt Thee, O Lord! Amen.

© 2010 Glenn A. Pettit-Noel

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