Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
As Jesus was raised up on the cross and as he looked down below him, he saw his dear mother. Jesus honored her, virtually called her blessed, while he is laying down his life for us all. Upon Mary his mother, she who gave him a mother’s love, laid down her life to bring him into the world through the perils and pains of childbirth, she who raised him in wisdom and in favor with God and man, Jesus now calls blessed as he honors her. He saw to it that the Apostle John would now care for her. Jesus keeps, fulfills, the Fourth Commandment for us as he loves and cherishes his mother.
Proverbs 31 is about a Christian woman. This chapter 31 of Proverbs is 31 verses and it is a Hebrew alphabet acrostic poem. Such a format makes it very easy for a little child, knowing Hebrew, to easily memorize it. Boy and girls all should be raised to know the blessedness of a Christian woman, wife and mother. We rejoice in a number of things: first and foremost: Jesus gives us the resurrection and the life and also Jesus again gives us countless other blessings such women, wives and mothers. As God’s word says: “Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her: a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”
The Fourth Commandment: “Honor thy father and thy mother” is about such “rising up” of children to call parents blessed. To honor is more than love but to view them as God’s representative and gifts to us. We are to fear and love God that we may give them honor, serve and obey them and hold them in love and esteem. Though we may often do this in thanks to Jesus, from faith, from fear and love of God, and many children have done this often for moms, we must confess, all of us, that we have not always done so with perfect holiness as God demands.
We often sin against God by breaking this commandment alone. We may recall how many times we disappointed our sisters, moms and wives. We did not treasure them as we ought but took them for granted. We brought them much worry as they prayed for us while we only thought of our wants, our pleasures. We can recall even hurting them in our sassy words, our foolish deeds and our crabby thoughts. When our moms are in heaven, these guilt pains can be acute as we have no longer time to mend things here on earth.
As children, we often outlive our parents, and a time comes when there is no more time to call her “blessed” to her face. Husbands and wives separate in death and so a husband may find his time to praise her and speak of his love to her, face to face on earth, come to an end. What can we do to make it right? We can’t. Who of us can remove our sin by our own reason or strength.
Jesus does. Jesus did. First He kept the law for us. The classic example is his honor to Mary the Mother of our Lord from the cross. Here is fulfills the Fourth Commandment for us. He also suffered and died for us. He died so that his holy precious blood, his innocent suffering and death has atoned for the sins of us all, for our sins in our families, marriages and homes. Jesus says in no uncertain terms of the blessings of his Easter bodily resurrection: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25).
For it was through a mom, a woman, that the salvation of the world would come. In Genesis 3:15 God says to Satan after the fall into sin by man and woman: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” This seed or descendant born of a woman is of course Jesus himself. He is born of the very Mary whom He adores in love as she stands in grief below his cross.
Recall aged Simeon’s words to Mary as he held her baby, Jesus, 33 years earlier, in the temple, saying to Mary the mother: “yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also” (Luke 2:35). Mary’s standing below the cross must have been saddest day of this mother’s life.
However, it is also the gladdest day, a real good Friday, as she and we, know and believe and trust that this promised seed of the woman has come and brings her and us all the full forgiveness of our sins in his holy precious blood and his innocent bitter suffering and death. In Jesus’ death and resurrection you are forgiven, you have peace with God, all your childhood sins and adult sins, and family sins are paid in full. Rejoice, Christ is crucified and Christ is risen!
Jesus tells all of us in John 14:1–6:
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
Faith in Jesus is the fear of the Lord. Our text says: “But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” This is the fear of faith, the fear of reverence and love and trust. It is saving faith in Christ. This is the highest praise which can be bestowed upon a woman at any time: she “fears the Lord.” This is the praise we have to God for our Christian moms and wives. By God’s grace we are blessed with such a woman, such a mom, such a wife. That is why we rejoice to know that they are safe in Jesus and will in time be safe in heaven, for her body will rise to be joined to her soul on the day of resurrection of all flesh. Her fear and trust is in Jesus her Savior, her life.
Jesus gives us salvation but also goes on with more blessings. Jesus loves us to provide for us through our mothers. That is why her children rise and call her blessed. That is why our moms are praised or honored or called blessed by her descendants, her offspring, her gifts of the Lord. That is why her husband praised her. That is why we should value her more as a gift from Jesus. A Christian mother knows what her children are: gifts from her Savior. She knows Psalm 127:
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
so are the children of one’s youth.
These children now call her blessed for Jesus blessed her with them and they with her. This is the love of Christ in action. And we all know that “we love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
“Her children rise to call her blessed.” Why? Laying down her life through the perils and pains of childbearing. She sacrifices herself, a living sacrifice for Jesus, as she brings children into the world for God. She raises them to be the children of the Lord. She brings them to Jesus. She brings them to Jesus’ baptism to receive new birth of water and the word. She brings them to hear and abide in Jesus’ saving Word. She teaches them the Holy Scriptures which testify about Jesus our Savior. She prepares them for their vocations and thus their serving in their families and world, thus serving the Lord Jesus. This is why she is called blessed, for through her we are all blessed by God.
As Proverbs 31 says: “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. … Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” The Hebrew root for praises used here is the same in the Hebrew word: Hallelujah. What really calls for a “Hallelujah!” is a woman who is in the hand of the Lord whom God uses to bless us all, especially her husband and children. “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised….‘Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.’”
As Jesus looks past the soldiers, through the blood streaming from the crown of thorns, through eyes that are in a moment to be closed in death, he honors his mom. He is perfect and holy, and now so are we. Why? Because Jesus’ perfect life is credited to us as this holiness is received by faith alone, we are saved by grace alone. Jesus death and resurrection declare us forgiven by his life, death and resurrection. That is why Christian moms too, are holy, saints and now and also in paradise. Jesus did it all.
But that is not all.
Jesus also gave us Christian moms. Such a woman is a woman who fears the Lord, a woman thus to be praised and one for whom we rise to call her a blessed God gift from Jesus.
The Rev. Robert Harting serves an ELS congregation, Richland Lutheran in Thornton, Iowa, and a WELS congregation, Prince of Peace in Mason City, Iowa. He and his wife Dawn have four children who have been homeschooled. They both have a great interest in Lutheran education, especially classical Lutheran education, in the home and in the congregation.