“She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.” (Proverbs 31:17, KJV).
I never dreamed I could learn so much about clothing from Proverbs 31. However, as I was studying for this verse, I noticed something very interesting. To “gird” your loins means to wrap something tightly around you, usually so that you can move your legs and get moving.
As you can see from the woman in this photo, she’s got an awful lot to carry. She’s got no hands left to hold all her skirts, so she just tucks her skirts up into her belt and takes off on her way. Here in America, we’d just trade in the skirts for a soft pair of blue jeans, so we could get our work done with nothing in the way.
In the Bible, the phrase, to gird up the loins, is used for people who want to get serious about something.
- In 2 Kings 4:29 and 2 Kings 9:1, a man girded up his middle eastern robes around his belt so he could walk quickly. In Jeremiah 1:17, a man girded up his loins so he could stand up.
- In fact, it seems that men were generally more likely to gird up their loins. In Job 38:3 and 40:7, God tells Job to gird up his loins like a man, meaning, “Job, be responsible! Be a man!” So this is a very masculine phrase, yet here it is, in the epitome of feminine qualities of the woman of Proverbs 31.
Like the woman in our photo, there are many days when we wives and moms just have too much to carry, too much to do, and too many stresses. Our Proverbs 31 woman wrapped strength around her so that she could get her jobs done.
What was the source of her strength?
- God Himself is wrapped in strength. “The LORD reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved” (Psalm 93:1).
- God makes our arms strong. “His bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob” (Genesis 49:24). (See also Hosea 7:15.)
- Strength comes through faith in His name. “And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all” (Acts 3:16).
However, I have to come to a point of weakness, where I see myself as I really am, before I can receive His strength.
- “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).
- “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
What happens is that we stagger along in unbelief (Romans 4:20), collapsing under the load of living, burdened down with too many cares, when Jesus comes and offers to be our strength for us. We must admit our weakness, confessing our sin to Him, and ask Him to reside within us, giving us His strength.
- “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1).
- “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10).
How do we put on His strength rather than our own? Through praise!
- “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God” (Romans 4:20).
- “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3, an excellent Psalm to study!).
- “Be thou exalted, LORD, in thine own strength: so will we sing and praise thy power” (Psalm 21:13).
When we praise God for what He has done for us in the past, He wraps His strength around us.
Through our praise (which is often a difficult choice in difficult circumstances), we have the ability to
- Have strength beyond our capabilities. “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13).
- Have a strong mind. “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13).
- Overcome the evil one with the Word of God. “I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one” (1 John 2:14).
- Lift up weak ones around us. “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves” (Romans 15:1).
In closing, let me remind you of the time that Nehemiah brought God’s Word to the people and it literally changed their lives. God’s Word always does this, if we’ll let it! We hear His Word and it washes away our sin, filling our hearts with praise and joy. This is the strength with which we need to “gird up our loins” and “strengthen our arms.”
“They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read. Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, ‘This day is sacred to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep.’ For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.
Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.’
The Levites calmed all the people, saying, ‘Be still, for this is a sacred day. Do not grieve.’
Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them” (Nehemiah 8:8-12, NIV).