Saturday, 26 March 2011

Making a Home is a Good Work!

With Mother's Day approaching and needing to be a better help to my wife in this task I am challenging myself to read Praise Her in the Gates with the aim of getting a better sense of the Biblical Calling of being a Mum. I hope to share some of the highlights in the course of this week. 
Nancy Wilson starts in Ch 1 with a nicely large perspective:

Any time we take on an important job, it is very helpful if we have a vision for the end result.  (p11)
Though much may not be accomplished in a day (!!) it all adds up day by day … in one of two direction:
The wise woman builds her house,but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1
In a deep sense from beginning to end only God can build the house:
A song of ascents. Of Solomon.
Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labour in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat-- for he grants sleep to those he loves.3 Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth.5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate. Psalm 127
Here is another Psalm rich in home & motherhood imagery: 
A song of ascents.
Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways.
2 You will eat the fruit of your labour;
blessings and prosperity will be yours.
3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house;
your sons will be like olive shoots round your table.
4 Thus is the man blessed who fears the LORD.
5 May the LORD bless you from Zion all the days of your life;
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem,
6 and may you live to see your children's children.
Peace be upon Israel. Psalm 128
So Nancy Wilson comments: 
Blessings for the one who fears God include happiness around the dinner table where the fruit of hard labour is enjoyed. The wife is described as a fruitful vine. And where is she? ‘In the very heart of you house.’ The mother is central to the picture of blessing and prosperity.  … A mother who fulfils her fruitful calling is a means God uses to bring blessing for her entire family, her husband, the church, and the community. (p12-13)

Continuing in the Psalms/Proverbs vein: 
The virtuous wife in Proverbs 31 has succeeded in her duties because ‘her children rise up and call her blessed.’ The fruit of her hands praise her in the gates, her husband and her children testify to her obedience in her calling, and she is commended for this fruitful obedience. (p12)
10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.
 16 She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
 18 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
29 "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all."
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Proverbs 31:10-31

Hence the title of the book!
She then quotes a key and wonderful verse: 
Has not the LORD made them one?
In flesh and spirit they are his.
And why one?
Because he was seeking godly offspring.So guard yourself in your spirit,
and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. Malachi 2:15
and connects this to the woman of Proverbs 31 who is a satisfied woman: 
It takes diligence, hard work, and faith to raise godly offspring for God, but it is a soul-satisfying work. This biblical view of a God-fearing motherhood is one laden with images of fruit and abounding in spiritual excellence and honour and blessing.  (p13)
So, back to the big picture: 
The mother of young children must have an eye toward the day when all her children, by the grace of God, will be adults who rise up in her presence and bless her. It may be difficult to maintain this long view in the midst of diapers and discipline and schooling and a hundred other things. But the Christian mother must look to see the house finished. (p13)
And to end a New Testament perspective:
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no-one will malign the word of God. Titus 2:3-5
What happens when mothers are fulfilling their God-given calling in the home?
When women devote themselves to their husbands, children, and to building their house, the whole Church is strengthened. This is actually their ‘ministry’ to the Church: being obedient wives who are raising godly children. (p14)

Praise Her in the Gates

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