31 Days of Women from Scripture
Lessons from The Woman in Proverbs 31
I googled “the woman in Proverbs 31”, there were 3.5 million results returned. “Proverbs 31 woman” returns 2.1 million results. “Proverbs 31” returns 42 million results. This woman is being talked about (though sadly, not as much as Kim Kardashian), and being talked about a lot. Some see her as an ideal that can never be met, others see her as a burden put upon women from which they must be freed. I put forth that we see her as God’s Woman. This is God’s answer (among others) to all of our questions about “how do I be a woman who is pleasing to God” or “what does being a godly woman look like”. Knowing that she is from God, then she is for our benefit (Mt. 7:11; 2 Cor. 9:8-15).
In the beginning of this series I mentioned how it fascinates me that God covers everything we need. There are various types of women in Scripture – all of whom He is pleased with and encourages us to imitate. We have discussed Eve as the first woman EVER. We have discussed Sarah, who had bad days, but we are told to be her “daughters”. We have talked about a harlot turned strong woman in the lineage of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have seen Deborah judge the nation of Israel while keeping an eye on her home and letting men keep their natural place. Abigail rebuked a king, but in such a way that when she was available, he married her. There is a lot of variety for us to learn from! I put forth that Proverbs 31 is the conglomeration of what all of these represent in one way or another – a woman led by the wisdom of God.
King Lemuel’s mother gave him advice on how to run his kingdom and what to look for in a wife. Proverbs 31:10, says, “An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.” That is how the New American Standard Bible reads. The King James Version says “virtuous woman”, which I actually like better as far as translation goes. The Hebrew word that is translated “excellent” or “virtuous” is a military term. Its first definition reads “strength, might, efficiency, wealth, army”. Strong’s defines it as “probably a force, whether of men, means or other resources”. We get the image of what the word portrays in the verses that translate it “mighty men of valor” (Josh. 1:14; Judg. 6:12). King Lemuel’s mother is telling him to seek a rare jewel, a strong woman who is committed to the battle of caring for her home and her people. This woman is a warrior! In Proverbs 31:29 the same word is translated “nobly” or “virtuously”, but the New English Translation gives the idea by saying “Many daughters have done valiantly, but you surpass them all!” That word “valiant” conveys the idea of a soldier or a knight. So enter for “excellent wife” a woman who does not run from the battle before her, is prepared for anything that comes her way, and is a force to be reckoned with, while always holding herself to the highest of moral standards. Our English language just does not have one word that fully describes this woman. Good thing God gave us more than one word to go on!
For this woman, the battle takes place at home. Like Deborah, Jael, and the woman in Abel Beth-maacah, this woman is daily fighting off hunger, cold, and negativity. She arms herself with “strength and dignity…and she smiles at the future” (Prov. 31:25). Her strength and dignity are not things that come from within her, they come from God. In Proverbs 31:30 it says, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Her fear of the Lord is what makes her an excellent wife. The two ideas go hand in hand. As verse 29 points out, “Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.” Many women will be good at being wives and mothers – but the woman who is excellent, virtuous, valiant – she excels them all because of her fear of the Lord.
Titus 2:11-14 says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” A woman who fears the Lord and is obedient to His grace through obedient faith is going to look like the woman in Proverbs 31! Her life emulates denying ungodliness and worldly desires, she shows us how to live sensibly, righteously, and godly because her time is full of being zealous for good deeds.
This woman is trusted by her husband and loved by her family (v.11-12, 23, 28-29).
- Song of Solomon 8:5-7 shows love that cannot be quenched if reason for jealousy is kept away.
- An elder or a deacon (and free to do the work of one) requires the support of a wife who is faithful in all things (1 Tim.3:11).
- Like Eunice and Lois (2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15) years spent sharing good things bring good to the family and back to the mother. Proverbs is full of verses teaching a child to respect their parents, their teaching, and to be a credit to them (Prov. 2:1; 6:20; 10:1; 23:22, 25).
- Proverbs 12:4 says, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, But she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones.” (same word translated “excellent”)
- Ephesians 5:22-33 and 1 Peter 3:1-6 show a woman a husband can trust is a woman who is obedient to the Lord.
- Any good wife in scripture – Ruth, Abigail, Esther, etc. – shows the difference in doing good and not evil
This woman is a hard worker (v.13-19, 21, 24, 27, 31).
- 2 Thessalonians 3:10-13 shows the value of hard work while waiting upon the Lord’s return
- Ephesians 5:15-16 says to make good use of the time that we have.
- 1 Timothy 5:11-16 says a woman should be married and be busy with the work of keeping the house and caring for children rather than being lazy and a gossip.
- Titus 2:4-5 shows a wife busy caring for house and home.
- Proverbs 6:6-8 glorifies the work ethic of the ant who makes sure that winter is not a time of worry
- Jesus tells the parable of the ten virgins (Mt. 25:1-13) to show the value of planning ahead while waiting for His return.
- The parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 and the parable of the minas in Luke 19:11-27 show that working and turning a profit are good things in money matters, and He applies the concept to spiritual matters.
This woman sees and meets the needs of others (v. 20, 24, 27)
- Dorcas in Acts 9:36 and the widow in 1 Timothy 5:9-10 reflect this quality
- James 1:27 teaches that caring for those who cannot care for themselves is as important in our service to the Lord as keeping ourselves separate from the world (sin).
- Titus 3:8 says, “This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.”
This woman appreciates her value to the Lord (v. 17, 18, 22, 25-26).
- Her clothes reflect her inward peace like those in 1 Timothy 2:9-10 and 1 Peter 3:3-5.
- She is not weighed down by guilt because she knows that she has been doing what she should (Prov. 19:23).
- She shows a healthy esteem of herself (Rom. 12:3)
- She works to fulfill her first purpose (Eccl. 12:13; Prov. 1:7; 1 Peter 2:17).
We should not be intimidated by the woman described here. As with other things in the book of Proverbs, she is a description of an ideal. But she IS an attainable ideal! Proverbs 22:6 is truth, but some children grow up to not WANT that truth (Prov. 2:12-13). They do not prove that the training does not keep its promise. The promise of the woman in Proverbs 31 is as real as the salvation that is attained by grace through faith (Rom. 5:2; 2 Cor. 7:10; Eph. 2:5; Rom. 6:3-7). The promise is fulfilled when we follow the pattern (1 Cor. 15:2; 2 Tim.1:13; Titus 2:7; Gal. 3:27).
It is not about perfection, it is about FOCUS. What did the woman in Proverbs 31 FOCUS on? Where was her attention? What purpose was she serving? The “bookends” of the passage show this – a virtuous, excellent woman, who puts on strength and dignity as clothing, is a woman who fears the Lord (Prov. 31:10, 25, 30). What is the exultation? “Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”
Do not allow yourself to feel guilty about not being the “Proverbs 31 woman”. Instead, FOCUS on being a Proverbs 31 TYPE of woman. If you do not sew, fine – buy the clothes for your family. If you can find good deals so that your dollar stretches even further, GREAT! Make good use of your day – get organized, work from a plan instead of a whim. You do not need to get up before the sun, unless you NEED to get up before the sun to accomplish what needs to be done. Learn how to cook from scratch – or make use of services that bring healthy food to your door. It does not matter how you do it – well, so long as you are not stealing from others!
I believe the Proverbs 31 woman should be a buttress to women at any stage of life. A single woman can give of her time and energy to care for others. A married woman with a full-time job and no children can focus her energy on meeting people’s needs. A widow woman all alone still has work she can do. ALL of them can be a Proverbs 31 woman. ALL of them can build others up, speak good things, share wisdom, and provide necessities. All women can fight the battle against bitterness and despair by a helping hand and smile. The trick is to draw from the strength of the Lord FIRST (Mt. 6:33; Ps. 18:2).
What are your thoughts about the Proverbs 31 Woman?
Comment below and let’s talk about how we can learn from her life!
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To Be a Handmaid of the Lord – The Woman in Proverbs 31 and the Widow in 1 Timothy 5
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