Her husband is known in the gates When he sitteth among the elders of the land.
It is remarkable that in a passage devoted to a godly and virtuous woman we find this verse which says nothing about the woman but only describes her husband as a prominent leader of the land. It was at the city’s gates that public business was transacted and cases were decided (the “gates” served as the city’s courtroom). What then do we learn about the virtuous woman from this verse?
A well-known proverb says, “Behind every good man is a good woman.” A godly wife contributes greatly to the success and prosperity of her husband. “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband, but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness to his bones” (Prov. 12:4). Where would the man mentioned in Proverbs 31:23 be without his godly, industrious, loving, faithful wife? The value of a godly wife is illustrated from the life of Daniel Webster. The following is from High Call High Privilege by Gail MacDonald (pages 99-100):
|By age 31 he had become known as one of America’s most effective speakers. One of Webster’s earlier biographers, Norman Hapgood, assigns much of the great orator’s success to the quality of his marriage to a woman, Grace Fletcher, whom he married at the age of 26. Of her the writer says:
She had the goal of keeping alert to those high principles which her husband held. Her upright New England faith and sweet loyalty must have been one of the strongest barriers resisting the temptations which lay before the impressionable statesman (Norman Hapgood, Daniel Webster, Boston: Small Maynard & Co, 1899, page 64).
When Grace Fletcher Webster died, Daniel remarried a year later. The biographer said of Carolyn Roy, his second wife:
She brought him money and social position and nothing else that could be traced in his life.
Two years into that second marriage it was said of Webster:
He steadily declined from a height at which his altering nature could no longer sustain itself.
Daniel Webster began overeating and drinking. His spending habits soared out of control, and his moral life disintegrated. By the end of his political life, the man once known for his great integrity had become typed as a political compromiser. Tragedy mounted upon tragedy, and when he died, he was a beaten and bitter man.
A wife can be a tremendous influence for good or for ill; nevertheless, the husband is responsible before God to live rightly regardless of the spiritual and moral state of his spouse. If a man fails spiritually, it is first and foremost his fault. He must not blame anyone but himself. His wife may be a negative influence, but he is responsible to follow God, not her. Think of the example of Job. His wife said, “Curse God and die!” but in spite of her negative influence, Job remained faithful to the Lord. “Behind every good man is a good woman” is not always true. “Behind every good man is a great God!”