How well do you know the Proverbs 31 Woman?
Other than she´s the envy of many Christian women, the epitome of righteousness and the measuring stick to everyone trying hard to be the super woman who could do it all, the Proverbs 31 Woman has become too commercialized and too rigid a rule that many women today feel they´re not good enough, unable to measure up.
I recently read a fantastic article, Stop Trying to Be the Proverbs 31 Woman. The author made some powerful points which inspired this article.
Let´s look deeper into who and what actually is the Proverbs 31 woman beyond the surface of what we were led to believe everything that she is—someone who “makes her own clothes, keeps an immaculate house, homeschools her children, cooks organic meals from scratch, and supports her husband’s public figure, all while wearing a perfectly-matched outfit and laughing all day”.
1. The virtuous Proverbs 31 Woman represents “wisdom”.
If we go back to some of the early passages in the book of Proverbs—Prov. 1:20-33, 3:13-20, 4:5-9 and Proverbs 8—we will understand that the author had more in mind than the godly woman or the ideal wife.
He personified “wisdom” as a woman for two reasons: 1) the Hebrew word for “wisdom”, chokmah, is a feminine noun, and 2) it allowed him to draw all kinds of concrete practical lessons for our daily life.
The author meant to picture “wisdom” not as an imposing and unreachable ideal but rather a very practical and approachable woman.
2. The features of “wisdom” in Proverbs 8 and the “virtuous woman” in Proverbs 31 are congruent.
She is precious and worth finding (Prov. 31:10 vs Prov. 8:35).
Her worth is more than rubies (Prov. 31:10 vs Prov. 8:10, 11, 18, 19).
She provides food (Prov. 31:14 vs Prov 8:19).
She is strong (Prov. 31:17 vs Prov. 8:14).
She is wise (Prov. 31:26 vs. Prov. 8:1).
She is praised (Prov. 31:28 vs Prov. 8:34).
We can see in these verses the true value of wisdom. It is more than just being knowledgeable, the first-to-know, the on-trend, or the popular. It´s more about the practicality and worthiness of what we say and do.
3. To be spiritual does not mean we should be idle.
The Proverbs 31 woman works hard and is very active. She is not lazy.
This means that as we seek to be godly and spiritual, we should not neglect our responsibilities. We can´t read the Bible all day and not cook for our little kids. We can´t spend months and years seeking spiritual enlightenment while turning our back on our responsibilities to our family. We can´t use religion to justify idleness.
The Proverbs 31 woman made her own clothes, clothed her household with scarlet, and used silk and purple for her clothing. She´s pictured that way because it was the trend during that time, but it doesn´t mean that an ideal woman or wife has to do exactly the same if those practices no longer apply to her time.
[Tweet “A wise woman works hard, but she also knows how to balance.”]
It´s perfectly okay to NOT be a stay-at-home wife. It´s perfectly okay to take a day job in order to help your husband with the finances, to provide for your own needs if you don´t have a husband, or to use your talents in serving others and for the glory of God.
It´s perfectly okay not to homeschool your children if you´re unable to, and it´s also okay to ask your husband to help in the house if you´re worn out or overwhelmed.
4. She has a heart for the poor and the needy.
She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy. She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. ~ Proverb 31:20,25
There are two important features of the virtuous woman described in these two verses:
- She´s ready to help the poor and the needy. We know that she works hard and provides food and clothing to her family, but she also shares what she has to those in need. She doesn´t keep her increase only to herself, she also takes care of those who have nothing.
- She doesn´t fear the future. We can take this verse into different contexts on faith, but we can assume that because she is wise, she does not work for immediate rewards but rather, for the harvest that she will reap in the future.
5. Wisdom and kindness are related.
Kindness is a form of wisdom. We can see from studying the attributes of the Proverbs 31 woman that not only is she wise, she is also kind. She showed her kindness both in her deeds and the words she spoke.
When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. ~ Proverbs 31:26, NLT
It´s certainly not easy to guard our mouth all the time, but if we seek wisdom, kindness will follow and the words we´ll speak will be guided by that law of kindness.
6. Attitude is more important than beauty.
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. ~ Proverbs 31:30
My aunt, a beautiful woman, once told me that her beauty gained her many favors from people, even from strangers. It made things easier for her. That´s because as women our worth is often rated by our outward appearance.
But the Bible points out otherwise—the fear of the Lord brings forth godly virtues, and while beauty is fleeting, passes away and dies, character endures forever.
7. The Proverbs 31 Woman can be anyone, man or woman.
Now that we know that the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 is the personification of the godly wisdom, we can say that these characteristics are important to all of us, whether we´re a man or a woman.
The proverbs 31 woman is wise, practical and approachable. She is kind, hard-working and she fears the Lord.
But instead of feeling guilty or thinking we´re not good enough for not measuring up to her characters and skills, we should seek the Lord, know Christ and strengthen our relationship with Him and He will reward us with wisdom.
Source: SDA Sabbath School Lesson Study