Back in the Proverbs 31 Pool: Soaking Up Some Dignity
I’ve plunged back into the Proverbs 31 pool! I’m treading water and have been soaking up some information, learning about what the word “dignity” means and how I’m supposed to “wear” it! Here is what I’ve been finding. Join me! The water is very invigorating!
“Strength and dignity are her clothing…”
What does that mean?
Although today certain clothing is associated with various professions, in ancient societies clothes were an indication of the kind of work, status or rank and even the character of a person. So when Proverbs 31:25 tells us that “strength and dignity are her clothing,” it means that what she wears reflects who she really is, and what she is wearing is strength and dignity! The “clothing” he is speaking of cannot be purchased in any store! These articles of clothing are only received as we believe in God and look to and rely on Him. God Himself places them in our character as our inner man is renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16).
“Strength and dignity are the clothing, in which she wraps herself, that is, enjoys herself, and in which she appears to the world, and so recommends herself.”
What does dignity “look” like?
- Stability or glory, soul stability
- Majesty or splendor, soul majesty, soul glory
- Firmness and constancy of mind
- Spirit to bear up under trial, unjust treatment, and disappointment
- Deals honorably with all
- Her mind is on spiritual things.
- She is elevated above common and trivial things, elevated herself to the nobler issues, having elevated her thoughts above common, mundane, trivial and worldly things
- Her life is not all about things that don’t matter
- Nobility or elevation of character, elevated rank, office, station, etc.
- Has godly character
- This is her clothing, for defense as well as decency
- Reverence, honor, purity in character
“She opens her mouth and has credibility because of her life, conduct, or speech indicative of self-respect. She has an appreciation of the formality or gravity of life.”
In doing some reading, I came upon a well meaning, popular Christian author who instructs her readers to “demand their dignity!” She states: “To possess dignity is to be worthy of respect. Worthy of high esteem. Absorb this: you are worthy of respect. So am I. No matter how foolish insecurity has tried to make us feel, we have the right to dignity because God Himself gave it to us.”
However, as I have been studying what the word “dignity” means, I don’t really see where it is about me at all. It’s not about my self esteem or demanding anything. Dignity is not something we can demand and it is not our “right.”
The kind of dignity that Proverbs 31 talks about is something that God produces in the heart of a person who is pressing into Him, walking with Him, seeking Him, and trusting Him. It is a fruit that God produces for His glory, not for my self esteem!
It is a humble serving and relying on God, realizing that there is no way I can produce dignity in my own life. It is something only He can give me. This is about serving and getting to know the Lord. True confidence can only be found when our life is right with God.
Later in Proverbs 31 we see that her children rise up and call her blessed. The fact that she is honored in her later years is a reward for living in a God-glorifying way, humbly before her God. It is not something she seeks after or demands. She is praised because others have watched her life and seen her faithfulness.
This reminded me of chapter 2 of the book of Titus. This book is a letter from the apostle Paul, written to Titus. Paul had mentored Titus and he was seeking to encourage his brother in the faith, and was instructing him in how to lead the church which he had established on one of his missionary journeys. He was telling Titus what type of qualifications to look for in church leaders. The things he is instructed to teach and look for in leaders reminds me of the word “dignity” in Proverbs 31. It seems as though this heart change is something God desires for all of us!
- Reverent in behavior
- Not a slanderer
- Not enslaved to much wine
- Teaching what is good
- Training the young women
- In all respects a model of good works
- On teaching show integrity, dignity
- Sound speech that cannot be condemned
- Renouncing ungodliness and worldly passions,
- Living self-controlled, upright, and godly lives
The end of the verse tells us that this woman “smiles at the future.” We can only smile at the future when we love, know, trust and have our confidence only in the one who holds our future! That would be the “strength and dignity” we’ve been learning about! I loved what one commentary said:
“It’s worth noting that she is able to smile at the future, an idiom that expresses complete confidence when backing into the unknown, because these two garments provide her with every resource needed to handle whatever might come. Better than Gucci, better than Channel, these Hebrew threads are the glory of every woman who wears them, the hallowing of the God who gives them and the prosperity of the husband who benefits from them.”
I am excited about the prospect of growing into these clothes! I am learning so much from this study God has me doing!
Thanks for joining me in this series in the Proverbs 31 pool!