The Proverbs 31 Woman

woman-praying-840879-mThe Bible is really ahead of the times. Some people think of it as a bunch of fairy tales, others that it “contains” truth. The Christian understands that the Bible is God breathed, even as Man himself was God breathed in the beginning. So it should come as no surprise that the Bible addresses things for which we need guidance in the twenty-first century.

I doubt if the people back in Solomon’s day were engaged in gender wars or that there was a lot of confusion about the role of men or of women. Yet here at the end of Proverbs is this amazing chapter detailing attributes of “an excellent wife.”

I remember a good number of years ago that the Proverbs 31 woman was who we women were all studying to become. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be excellent in our role in the home?

But then someone—I forget who—came along with a counter. This new view sort of mocked the Proverbs 31 woman by making a caricature of her getting up early, buying property, making the family’s clothes, procuring their food, and on and on. The way this person laid it out, it was so obvious that NO woman could ever do all the stuff the Proverbs 31 woman was supposed to do.

And yet, fast forward, a few decades and lo and behold, women in our culture are expected to do all the jobs the Proverbs 31 woman was doing.

So is Scripture giving us a blueprint for how to live? Not in a legalistic way—and that may have been the problem with the earlier approach. Nevertheless, it does portray women in a positive light—not as drones or slaves trailing their men by ten paces with heads covered and faces veiled.

Instead, the specifics mentioned about the relationship with this wife and her husband are two: he trusts her and she does him good, not evil.

The rest of the chapter details things she does to care for her household, to work as a businesswoman in the community, to help those in need, to be prepared for the future, and to pass on to others what she has learned.

Only toward the end does her relationship with God surface, but it appears to me to be the foundation of all else:

Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
“Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.”
Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates. (vv 28-31)

The recognition she gets from her husband and her children, augmented by the praise she receives from others because of her works of kindness, generosity, and all the rest, are a direct result of the fact that she fears the LORD.

By implication, she also is not wasting time on being a charming person or trying to enhance her beauty. Those things are deceitful—here today, gone tomorrow. But the qualities of character and the service to her family and community—those things last.

The bottom line is this: in today’s gender wars, the Proverbs 31 woman gives us a pretty great model to pattern our lives after. She is hard working, focused on others, and motivated by her reverence for God.

For these things she’s called excellent and she receives praise from the person who she’s closest to: her husband. Her children will also express their gratitude for her, and all the good she’s done others will reflect favorably on her.

Proverbs 31 is not a schedule of a woman’s day, as some might have tried to make it in the past, but it certainly outlines the principles that can guide a woman through the rough gender-war waters of today.

In truth, it’s not so different from love God and love your neighbor—just a little more specific.

Published in: on February 5, 2015 at 5:50 pm  Comments (2)  
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