- Strength or Power: This term is often used to denote strength, might, or power. It can refer to physical, military, or even financial strength. In some contexts, it is used to describe the quality of being strong or capable.
- Virtuous or Noble Character: In the context of the virtuous woman described in Proverbs 31, “חיל” (chayil) is used to describe her character. It denotes her virtues, including strength, wisdom, and nobility.
- Valor or Excellence: “חיל” (chayil) can also be associated with valor, excellence, or prowess in various areas, such as in battle or leadership.
- Wealth or Riches: In some contexts, “חיל” (chayil) can be related to wealth or riches, emphasizing the idea of financial strength or abundance.
In his letter, Peter advises women to find their adornment in the “hidden man of the heart, in the immortality of a gentle and tranquil spirit, which is in the sight of God very precious” (1 Pet. 3:5).
The choice of the term “hidden man” in this context is intentional and carries significant meaning. Peter’s use of “hidden man” does not refer to an “inner woman,” which he could have easily expressed if that were his intention. Peter understood the profound message he was conveying. The phrase “great worth” or “very precious” draws a parallel to the concept of a woman of “noble character,” as seen in the books of Proverbs and Ruth, particularly in Ruth 3:11. In Hebrew, these women are described as “chayil” (חיל), a word connoting wealth, strength, nobility, and powerful influence (See Strong’s #2428).
This attribute of “chayil” is also associated with kings, as demonstrated in Proverbs 31:3, where a mother advises her son not to dissipate his “chayil” to women, emphasizing the importance of preserving one’s strength for the right woman rather than squandering it indiscriminately. “Chayil” is indicative of royalty, nobility, and profound honor, and it holds great worth in the eyes of God. Just a few verses later, the mother underscores the value of a wife of “chayil,” stating, “Her value is far more than rubies” (Prov. 31:10).
The connection between these concepts is clear, as exemplified in Proverbs 12:4: “A wife of chayil is the crown of her husband.” Here, the term “crown” symbolizes pride, honor, glory, and royalty. It underscores the idea that a wife is for her husband, and vice versa, rather than one being an adornment to the other. They both have different ways of adorning one another, and ultimately Christ. A man is called to be like the man Christ, while a woman is called to adorn Christ as a man. Altogether the Church adorns her husband Christ, and Christ adorns his Bride. This perspective is far removed from the notion of “a woman trapped in a golden cage,” as it highlights the mutual and complementary roles of husband and wife, both contributing to the honor and adornment of their oneness in marriage.
In the context of the Kingdom paradigm, Christ indwells a believing woman, and, therefore, the “hidden man of the heart” within her is Christ himself. As she models her character after the holy women of old, she effectively adorns Christ through her actions and attitudes. This is embodied in the statement, “In this way, the holy women of old adorned themselves being submissive to their husbands” (1 Pet. 3:5). This signifies that when a wife submits to her husband, she is not merely adorning her husband, but ultimately adorning Christ himself. This perspective underscores the spiritual significance and depth of meaning in the relationship between a wife, her husband, and their faith in Christ.
I asked AI to write about how the holy women of the past adorned themselves in relation to the men in their lives. Here’s what it gave:
Adorning Virtue: The Holy Women of Old and Their Respect for Men
Throughout history, the Bible has provided us with accounts of remarkable women who adorned themselves with virtues that exemplify respect and honor for the men in their lives. These women, known as the “holy women of old,” played vital roles in the narratives of faith, love, and devotion. Abigail, Esther, Sarah, Ruth, the Queen of Sheba, Leah, Rachel, Rahab, Rebekah, and Hannah are but a few of these iconic figures, and their stories showcase a profound reverence for the men they encountered.
Abigail’s Wisdom and Respect for David
Abigail, a woman of great wisdom, demonstrated immense respect for David. When her husband Nabal acted foolishly and insulted David, she took it upon herself to intervene and prevent David from taking vengeance. Her actions spared her household, and David was moved by her wisdom and respected her for her prudence. This act of wisdom and respect not only diffused a potentially volatile situation but also established Abigail as a beacon of virtue and sagacity, leaving an indelible mark in the annals of biblical history.
Esther’s Courage and Obedience to Mordecai
Esther’s story is a testament to her unwavering respect for Mordecai, her cousin and guardian. She followed Mordecai’s counsel with utmost obedience, even when it meant risking her life. Her courage and devotion ultimately led to the salvation of her people. Esther’s courageous acts of obedience, coupled with her deep reverence for Mordecai, underscore the profound impact one individual’s commitment can have in preserving an entire community and fulfilling a divine purpose.
Sarah and Rebekah’s Support of Their Husbands
Sarah and Rebekah, as wives of Abraham and Isaac, supported their husbands in their journey of faith. They trusted in God’s promises, even in challenging circumstances, and this faith contributed to the fulfillment of God’s covenant with their husbands.
Ruth’s Loyalty to Naomi and Boaz
Ruth’s loyalty to her mother-in-law, Naomi, is a testament to her deep respect for the family she married into. Her actions led her to Boaz, where her faithfulness and respect for him resulted in a loving and honorable marriage. Their marriage had far-reaching consequences, as they became the ancestors of King David, one of the most significant figures in the Bible. David’s lineage eventually led to the birth of Jesus Christ, making Ruth’s story an integral part of the genealogy of Jesus.
The Queen of Sheba’s Wisdom and Solomon
The Queen of Sheba, who visited King Solomon, is celebrated for her wisdom and respect for his wisdom and wealth. Her visit was marked by a mutual exchange of knowledge, and she honored Solomon with rich gifts. Upon her visit to Solomon, the Queen of Sheba’s profound respect and recognition of his wisdom led her to exclaim, “Happy are your men!” as she marveled at the prosperity and wisdom of his kingdom.
Leah and Rachel’s Devotion and Jacob
Leah and Rachel, sisters married to Jacob, displayed devotion and love for their husband. Their desire for his affection led to the birth of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Rahab’s Faith and the Israelite Spies
Rahab, a Canaanite prostitute, demonstrated her respect for the God of Israel when she protected the Israelite spies. She professed her faith in their God and honored the covenant she made with them, ensuring the safety of her family when Jericho fell. Rahab’s remarkable act of faith and her unwavering commitment to the covenant with the Israelite spies not only secured her family’s safety but also made her a living testament to the transformative power of belief in the face of adversity.
Hannah’s Faith and Dedication to God
Hannah, in her longing for a child, displayed faith and devotion to God. She honored her husband Elkanah by her obedience and dedication to God, eventually giving birth to the prophet Samuel.
In the stories of these holy women, we find examples of respect, wisdom, courage, loyalty, and devotion. They adorned themselves with these virtues, which allowed them to positively influence the men in their lives and, in some cases, even shape the course of history. These women’s stories remind us that respect and honor, along with other virtuous qualities, are essential in building strong and harmonious relationships. Their legacies continue to inspire us to emulate their qualities of reverence and devotion in our own lives, recognizing that these values are a testament to the enduring strength of character and faith.
It is notable that AI sees the adornment by these women as having profound long-term effects, underscoring just how powerful this chayil of a woman can be. Far from being manipulative tools of control, just as a man’s humility paves the way for him to be empowered by Christ, so too does a wife’s submission, for as the Scriptures tell us, “He exalts the lowly,” which underscores the profound spiritual significance of humility, submission, and respect within a marriage.