Anglican Morning Devotion, 27 June 2021 Anno Domini
A ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.”
(Proverbs 31:10; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
Proverbs 31:10-31 is most noted for its description of a virtuous woman as wife and mother of her children. The Word of God is very discreet in its choice of descriptive nouns, and this passage is no exception. God did not choose pearls, diamonds, or any other gemstone to describe the virtuous woman – He chose the ruby, but why? Rubies have had a mysterious appeal to mankind from our primitive beginning. The value of the modern ruby is based on clarity, cut, color, and size as measured by the gemologist. However, it is none of these that makes the ruby so attractive. True, the crimson color is perhaps one of the great appeals of the ruby; but there is another quality that exceeds even that appeal – the warm glow that emanates from deep in the heart of the ruby. The color and the fluorescent glow are created by trace amounts of chromium in the crystal structure of the stone.
But, you may say, the multi-colored sparkle of a diamond is more radiantly beautiful than the ruby’s single blood-red glow. Fair enough! But from what source does the sparkle of the diamond come – from within, or without. The gleaming rays of the diamond do not originate in that stone. The hues of blues, yellows, greens, and white are generated by light entering the diamond from the OUTSIDE. These are refracted back to the observer. Moreover, the diamond is one of the hardest of stones and not a good description of the soft heart of the ideal mother or a wife. A diamond in the rough is not very beautiful and lacks the sparkle before being cut, but a ruby, even in soiled surroundings and poor form, still maintains its warm glow.
So how is the ruby like the virtuous woman? We would begin by pointing out that red is the color of love and sacrifice. The blood of our Lord from the cross is the best example of that extreme measure of love He had for us. Likewise, a loving mother will sacrifice her last drop of blood to save her child. The loving wife of a good man will sacrifice all for the benefit of her family. She labors endlessly in providing a warm and love-filled home to her husband and her little ones. She is never idle but constantly seeking out means of industry to improve her home and its comforts. She may even sacrifice her career ambitions so that her children will be nurtured in the love of God and the morality of His Word.
The greater value of a virtuous woman is not a beautiful outward countenance, but a deep and abiding inner strength that emanates from a loving and faithful heart. The remaining verses of Proverbs 31 describe those qualities in greater detail. The ruby is a rare gem, so is the virtuous woman a rare find for any young man. She is not found in the swamps or the desert sands of the world, but the granite stones of mountains and highland plateaus. The beauty of the ruby, like that of a virtuous woman, emanates from deep within its being. That inner beauty makes the outward appearance of the woman beautiful as well.
The ruby is not a gaudy stone like some cuts of diamonds. It is relatively small in size compared to the larger diamonds, yet it readily attracts the eye of the observer in ways a diamond cannot. A virtuous woman is not ostentatious in her manners, but mild and refined in both speech and etiquette, and she makes the very best use of the resources made available to her. She manages her household enviably.
In the Book of Job, God compares the ruby to wisdom as well. Of wisdom, Job says, “The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold. No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies.” (Job 28:17-18)
Of course, wisdom is another salient characteristic of the virtuous woman for it points to the Creator God in all things. Fathers, sons, and daughters, please return that pure love of a virtuous woman in kind to her. Heed the counsel of the wise scribe of Proverbs: “Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.” (Proverbs 31:28)