Bill and Hilary Clinton were riding in the presidential limousine when the driver stopped to fill up with gas. Looking out the window, Bill noticed that the man pumping the gas was one of Hilary’s old boyfriends. He said: “Hilary, if I hadn’t married you, you’d be married to that gas station attendant.” To which Hilary replied: “Bill, if I hadn’t married you, that man would be the president of the United States.”
I don’t normally crack political jokes on The Daily Word, but that one always makes me laugh. And it serves a useful point vis-à-vis today’s devotional thought, namely: Behind every good man is a better woman. I’ve only been married for three years and change, but I know that my wife has made me a better person and pastor. The Book of Proverbs teaches the same truth in its description of the characteristics of the ideal wife.
Consider Proverbs 31:11-12:
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
Notice the words expressing totality in these verses. The husband of a noble wife has “full confidence,” “lacks nothing,” and derives benefit from her “all the days of her life.” When I lead couples in the exchange of rings at their wedding ceremonies, I make them repeat these words as they slip the rings on their fingers: “with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you.” The am-ness and have-ness of that ceremony are on display in these verses. The good wife gives herself and her all to her husband. (And the husband, if he’s any good, reciprocates with the same.)
Proverbs 31 assumes a traditional division of labor between husbands and wives. She runs the household (more on that tomorrow), and he engages in politics. What’s interesting to me is that verse 23 assigns credit for the husband’s political success to his wife’s hard work.
Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
I have noticed this as a pastor. Successful couples, however they divide the workload between them, work as a team. Each contributes to the well-being and advancement of the other.
But the noble wife doesn’t just get respect at “the city gate,” which was the political and economic center of ancient cities. She gets respect first and foremost at home. Listen to Proverbs 31:28-29:
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
On Mother’s Day, millions of Americans call their moms, send them cards and flowers, and take them out for brunch as an expression of their love and respect. Sadly, this is often the only time of year when dads get in on the action and express their love for their wives. Guys, chances are that your wife has contributed mightily to your success. Do what the Bible says! Bless and praise her! Without her, you might’ve been that gas station attendant!