So back to Proverbs 31. So often we women (and maybe the men, too...I don't know...) read it as a checklist of things a good wife needs to do. Read like that, the list is exhausting and defeating. But Evans quotes Old Testament scholar Ellen Davis who says Proverbs 31 was written "not to honor one particularly praise-worthy woman, but rather to underscore the central significance of women's skilled work in a house-hold economy." Evans later tells of a Jewish friend of hers who says men sing the chapter to their wives before sabbath meals. How affirming! Reading it like this, I thought it was a shame such a chapter doesn't exist in the Bible that helps women know how to really praise their good men. It's amazing how being told you are something in this way makes you feel appreciated and also makes you feel like rising to the occasion. We all need these sorts of praises sung over us from time to time, and today is the day for Fathers.
In keeping with my current ideas about Proverbs 31, I didn't want to write about just one husband in particular, so I asked women and children in our church to let me know some of the good works the fathers in our church should be praised for. I got quite a response and easily filled verses with the good works fathers I know do every day. My hope is that men will see themselves somewhere in these words and know that they are appreciated and encouraged as they continue on in good works. Chances are we all have some valiant fathers in our lives. Let's give them the praise they deserve!
A valiant Father, who can find?
He is worth more than diamonds and gold.
His family has full confidence in him
and has everything that is truly valuable.
He brings good to his family
every single day.
and he grasps the grill lid with seasoned fingers.
With his own hands, he grows food
and guests and neighbors always have a seat at his table.
After dinner, he faithfully does the dishes.
He gets up while it is still night
to pray with and encourage his brothers.
He considers a business and buys it,
and out of his earnings, provides for the community.
His mind and body are strong for his work.
With excellence, he selects wood
to build toys that fuel his children’s imaginations.
All through the day, he goes with them on adventures,
showing them how to have courage and fight the good fight.
Even when they are grown, he works day and night
to help his children achieve their dreams,
working to ensure their success.
He considers it nothing to drive miles and miles
to ensure his children can spend time with their family,
even with their mothers.
He opens the passenger door for those in need
and extends his mileage to help out.
And he gracefully shares her burdens.
and love is in his gaze.
His ears are always ready to listen.
They are patient in their task.
and is able to trade with neighbors.
When times are hard, he has no fear,
but faithfully uses all his abilities, laboring hard to provide for his family.
His teaches his children how to conduct business
and they are able to follow in his steps.
At bedtime, he kneels and prays.
He sings over his children. His voice is the delight of their ears.
All through the night, he provides relief for their mother
by answering their call for help and comfort.
He has a place among the decision-makers and do-ers in this city,
striving for a good place for children to learn and grow.
He is clothed in strength and dignity.
He can look forward to the years to come.
His advice is trustworthy,
for he speaks over his children the very word of God.
Their mother, also, praises him.
“Many fathers are good, but you are the BEST!”
Flattering words are deceptive and muscles are fading,
but a father who puts God first is to be praised.
Honor him for all that his hands have done,
and let his good works make headlines!