Enter the Holy Spirit and the following dialogue:
HOLY SPIRIT: "...AND WHAT DOES GOD REQUIRE OF YOU?"
HOLY SPIRIT: ..."TO DO JUSTLY, AND TO LOVE MERCY , AND TO WALK HUMBLY WITH YOUR GOD."
ME: (long sigh---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Immediately after the above exchange with the Spirit of Truth, I had this thought: " What exactly does the word 'virtuous mean and how did Jesus apply this truth?" And so...
Virtuous: the Hebrew word is "chayil"; meaning strength, might, efficiency, wealth, army, ability and force
Therefore, by application, the "Virtuous" woman is a woman that possess strength, might, efficiency, wealth, warfare like abilities, and is forceful. (reads more like a list of personality characteristics that might get someone in the church setting labeled as having a "Jezebel" spirit or in the culture wars an ALPHA-DOMINATING FELINE...ugh!)
Which brings us to the second question posed by the Holiest Spirit: "How did Jesus apply this truth?"
The following is what I gleaned from the Word and the guidance of the One who has been sent to lead us into all truth.
A VIRTUOUS WOMAN IS A STRONG WOMAN. I FOUND THAT THERE ARE AT LEAST THREE AREAS THAT ARE COMMENDED BY OUR LORD IN WHICH WE SHOULD BE STRONG:
1) Strong in "secluding" ourselves:
Mark 1:35 " And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed."
Song of Solomon 2: 10-13 " My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, and the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one and come away.
Jesus shows us by example that our first priority each day is time spent with him. It is the one-on-one that grows our friendship and endears us to His divine presence. We are invited to "come away with Him" early because it is in that secluded place of intimacy we drink deeply of his mercies that are new toward us each morning. (Lamentations 3:21-26) Drawing ourselves apart as a daily first-fruit offering underscores our hearts determination to "love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our mind, all our soul and all our strength (virtue)."
2) Strong in "abiding."
John 15:1-9 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. ABIDE in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it ABIDE in the vine; no more can you, except you ABIDE in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that ABIDETH in me, and I in him the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing. If a man ABIDE not in me he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If you ABIDE in me and my words ABIDE in you, ye shall ask what you will and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall you be my disciples. As the father hath loved me, so have I love you; continue in my love. If you keep my commandments, you shall ABIDE in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and ABIDE in His love."
The key word here is, of course, ABIDE. Defined: to remain, tarry, not to depart, to continue to be present, to be held, kept, to last, to endure, to remain as one, not to become another or different.
Abiding with the Lord will, of necessity make us different from others. Our priorities will change, our desires purified, our ambitions destroyed, all at the feet of Jesus. We all recall the account of Jesus' visit to the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. It was a big social event and many people would have been present: the disciples, friends and family members, neighbors and seekers. It fell upon the host home to provide food and refreshment for all who entered their home. Martha was taking this "cultural responsibility" very seriously. After all, someone had to do it! Mary, on the other hand, was completely smitten with the presence of Jesus and the gracious words pouring forth from Him like living water. Lost in His divinity, she positioned herself humbly at His feet to indicate His Lordship in her life and her desire to prefer Him above all earthly demands. When harried Martha had endured all this domestic abuse she could take she raised her voice in objection: "Lord do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.!" And Jesus answered her, Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things; ONE THING IS NEEDFUL; AND MARY HATH CHOSEN THE GOOD PART, WHICH SHALL NOT BE TAKEN FROM HER."
The virtuous woman is the woman of strength that chooses to ABIDE with the Lord even when the pressures of life would carry us away, even when family and friends paint us with a broad brush of neglect of laziness. When we prefer the position of humbly sitting at the feet of Jesus people will notice. The virtuous woman will choose the 'good part' and it will not be taken from her.
3) Strong in obediance.
Matt. 26:7-13 " There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying: To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much and given to the poor. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them" Why trouble you the woman? for she has wrought a good work upon me. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily, I say unto you,Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her."
What was involved in this extraordinary display of love and devotion. An alabaster box of precious ointment. Bible scholars agree that the fine oil was purchased at the cost of a whole year's salary and kept for the time of anointing a loved one for burial. This nameless pilgrim, so gave by the direction of the Holy Spirit, that her extravagant act of worship drew the ire of the religious and the praise of Jesus. Her strong obedience fulfilled prophecy as the Lamb of God was prepared to be offered and earned her recognition that has endured for over two thousand years.
Mary Magdeline found herself alone, weeping at the empty tomb of Jesus. Broken hearted, she mourned for the only One that had ever cared for her, the One that had brought sanity into her life, the One that had offered her worth and peace. So distraught was this devastated disciple that she failed to recognize the Lord's voice, "Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus saith unto her, "Mary."
When Mary heard her name on His lips she immediately turned to see Jesus and called to , "Master!" Jesus then commissioned Mary to go and tell the other disciples that He was alive and it was time for Him to ascend to the Father. "Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her." (John 20: 11-18) Mary obeyed the Lord and she did so quickly.
Back to our famous "virtuous" woman in Proverbs 31. The 10th verse states: "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her worth is far above rubies." If we take the liberty to translate the word "virtuous" as it is translated in the majority of other passages in the Bible that use the word "chayil," it would read: "Who can find a strong woman? for her worth is far above rubies." And what are the strengths that Jesus himself commended ? Strong to seclude themselves, "come away with me my beloved." Strong to abide with him, " ABIDE in me and I and you...apart from me you can do nothing." And strong in obedience, "those that love me obey my commandment."
The virtuous woman. The strong woman. The woman Christ commends.