If you’ve read Proverbs 31, then felt like you could never measure up – you’re not alone. However, this Scripture is not a checklist of Christian womanhood or an unattainable bar set too high.
Let’s dive into Proverbs 31 and see what this book of wisdom means for you. I hope that by the end of this blog, you will be inspired to be free from striving and encouraged to be the best version of YOU.
First, this Proverb was written by King Lemuel, most likely a pagan king, (he was not listed among the kings of Judah or Israel), who put his trust in God, and through the fear of the Lord, he learned wisdom.
The name Lemuel means “Belonging to God.” As he shares in this Proverb, he may have had a Jewish mother who imparted wisdom to her son. Proverbs 31 is the last chapter in this book of wisdom, ending with a tribute to finding a wife of noble character.
The beginning is warning a young man to steer clear of sexual lust, the fallout from drinking too much alcohol, and the importance of taking care of those in need by defending the defenseless.
In Proverbs 31:10-31 each of the 22 verses begins with a Hebrew letter in the alphabet, which make up an acrostic poem. These are the “virtues of a wise wife” or the ABCs of wisdom. The purpose was to make this passage easy to remember and memorize.
Jewish men would sing the words in this passage to their wives to say “thank you” and to honor them. A man’s gratitude carries power and appreciation for his wife, filling her sails with the winds she needs.
This passage is Godly marriage advice and insight from a mother to her son. Those of you who are moms of boys, wouldn’t you be thrilled with a virtuous, honorable, committed wife for your son? AMEN!
One of my favorite commentators at Blueletterbible.org, David Gusik, explains this portion of Proverbs 31:10:
“Who can find a virtuous wife? In this last section of Proverbs 31, Lemuel’s mother spoke to him about the qualities of a virtuous wife.
The following verses speak of her character and activity, giving Lemuel an idea of the woman to search for and to prize. This passage is traditionally understood as being addressed to women but is more accurately spoken by a woman to a man so he could know the character and potential character of a good wife before marriage, and value and praise his wife for her virtuous character once married.
It is primarily a search list for a man, and only secondarily a checklist for a woman. This passage describes the kind of wife the Christian man should pray for and seek after.”
· This passage describes the kind of wife the Christian man should pray for and seek after.
· This passage gives a guide, a goal for the Christian woman, showing the kind of character she can have as she fears and follows the Lord.
· This passage reminds the Christian man that he must walk in the fear and wisdom of God so that he will be worthy of and compatible with such a virtuous woman.
– David Gusik, Blueletterbible.org
As women of God, and sisters in Christ, reading Proverbs 31 can feel too challenging to attain and leave one feeling inadequate.
Remember, this is a profile of an ideal person, and it would be rare to find a woman who could meet every one of the character traits on this list.
It is not meant for comparing ourselves to others or this “ideal woman.” Instead, it offers a look at the values, character, and life of a woman whose strength comes from her wisdom as she walks closely with the Lord. Let’s let her inspire us!
In this passage, the virtuous wife has the same language and meaning as the valiant wife, as she has hard-fought wisdom through life experience, grit, hard work, diligence, and effort.
The work and activity described do not mean that she accomplishes every task daily or weekly, but that she wears many hats, handles different kinds of work, and has a lot to properly manage in running a home and family.
She has joy in her work. It reminds me of Colossians 3:23, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” NLT.
The end of Proverbs 31 warns that charm can be deceptive and beauty fades, but the woman who fears the Lord is to be revered.
There is freedom in working on our character and spiritual growth versus working on anti-aging routines. In our society, women receive worth based on an outward, youthful appearance. This Scripture warns men to look beyond appearance for something more profound and lasting.
“Physical appearance is not necessarily dismissed — it simply does not endure as do those qualities that the fear of the Lord produces…one who pursues beauty may very well be disappointed by the character of the ‘beautiful’ person.” – (Ross)
What can we take away from this today?
- God recognizes the importance and significance of wives and moms. We may display a part of this Proverbs 31 woman at some point in our journey, depending on our season.
- Remember that our worth is in Jesus, not in our “to-do lists.”
- “The fact that she truly fears the Lord shows that she had a real relationship with Him. She was not only a Martha, busy with service; she was also Mary, walking in fear and reverence toward the Lord.” – (David Gusik)
A woman who is truly walking with the Lord has an inward beauty that is not deceptive or apt to fade with age. She moves with confidence, grace, dignity, humility, and strength. She is independent, capable, wise, loyal, and trustworthy.
She is who I aspire to be when I “grow up.” I hope she inspires you on your journey of womanhood.
What are your thoughts on Proverbs 31? Please share in the comments below.
- Ross, Allen P. “Proverbs: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary” Volume 5 (Psalms-Song of Songs) (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1991)
In case you’d like a fresh read:
Bible Version: The Voice (a beautiful expression of God’s Word)
Who can find a truly excellent woman? One who is superior in all that she is and all that she does?
Her worth far exceeds that of rubies and expensive jewelry.
11 She inspires trust, and her husband’s heart is safe with her,
and because of her, he has every good thing.
12 Every day of her life she does what is best for him,
never anything harmful or hurtful.
13 Delight attends her work and guides her fingers
as she selects the finest wool and flax for spinning.
14 She moves through the market like merchant ships
that dock here and there in distant ports,
finally arriving home with food she’s carried from afar.
15 She rises from bed early, in the still of night,
carefully preparing food for her family
and providing a portion to her servants.
16 She has a plan. She considers some land and buys it;
then with her earnings, she plants a vineyard.
17 She wraps herself in strength, carries herself with confidence,
and works hard, strengthening her arms for the task at hand.
18 She tastes success and knows it is good,
and under lamplight she works deep into the night.
19 Her hands skillfully place the unspun flax and wool on the distaff,
and her fingers twist the spindle until thread forms.
20 She reaches out to the poor
and extends mercy to those in need.
21 She is not worried about the cold or snow for her family,
for she has clothed them all in warm, crimson coats.
22 She makes her own bed linens
and clothes herself in purple and fine cloth.
23 Everyone recognizes her husband in the public square,
and no one fails to respect him as he takes his place of leadership in the community.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them in the market,
and she supplies belts for tradesmen to carry across the sea.
25 Clothed in strength and dignity, with nothing to fear,
she smiles when she thinks about the future.
26 She conducts her conversations with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is ever her concern.
27 She directs the activities of her household,
and never does she indulge in laziness.
28 Her children rise up and bless her.
Her husband, too, joins in the praise, saying:
29 “There are some—indeed many—women who do well in every way,
but of all of them only you are truly excellent.”
30 Charm can be deceptive and physical beauty will not last,
but a woman who reveres the Eternal should be praised above all others.
31 Celebrate all she has achieved.
Let all her accomplishments publicly praise her.
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