Saturday, October 12, 2013

Who Is the Proverbs 31 Woman?


Photo by Peter van der Slujs 2012


Whom do you picture when you think of the ideal woman described in Proverbs 31:10-31? Feminists might think that a Biblical model would portray a self-effacing, mousy, stay-at-home woman who is a doormat to her husband, but nothing could be further from the truth. May this passage teach us more about the person that God would have women to be as a blessing and strong support to their husband, children, and all in their household, community, and sphere of influence.

The book of Proverbs contains practical wisdom to help us in our relationships with one another, and conveniently contains 31 chapters – one for each day of the month!  Reading one chapter of Proverbs each day would help us beyond measure in how we treat people and are treated in response. The author of Proverbs is Solomon, who prayed to God for wisdom and was rewarded with all blessings, in addition to being the wisest man who ever lived (1 Kings 3:7-14; 4:29-34). In Proverbs 31:10-31, Solomon describes to his son the type of woman he prays he will someday marry.

In Hebrew, the verses of this passage describing the ideal wife begin with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet in order. This Divinely-inspired organization may reflect the woman described here – her life and her priorities are ordered around her relationship to God. She is virtuous (v. 10), or morally strong and courageous. She possesses Godly wisdom, or fear of the Lord (v. 30; Proverbs 1:7;;9:10) which is priceless (Proverbs 19:14, 3: 13-18).

Under Divine inspiration, Solomon describes the virtuous woman as being more precious than rubies (v. 10). These gems are prized even more than diamonds because the internal qualities of the stone shine out, whereas diamonds reflect whatever is around them. Similarly, the light of the Holy Spirit indwelling the virtuous woman shines forth, making her a new creation (John 3:5-8; 2 Cor. 5:17). In contrast, the unsaved woman conforms to the world and is molded by its ungodly values and character (Romans 12:2).

A good example of the virtuous Proverbs 31 woman is Ruth (3:11), who put her faith in the true God and her loyalty to her mother-in-law above the false gods her people worshipped. God rewarded Ruth’s faith and virtue by leading her not only to the perfect husband for her, but also by allowing her to become part of the genealogy of Jesus Christ! (Ruth 4:13-22)

The Proverbs 31 woman is faithful (v. 11), hard-working (v. 13-16, v. 27), morally and physically strong (v. 17). She “girds her loins” with the strength and truth of God’s Word, as part of the armor of God (Ephesians 6: 10-18), obtaining spiritual wisdom and meditating on God’s Word to protect her virtue and to keep her chaste and righteous.

She is loyal and faithful not only with her love, but with all her resources, and she does not spend foolishly. She is a shrewd and capable business woman who provides for her household in all seasons, working joyfully (v. 13). She spins, plants, invests, shops, makes clothes and sells them (v. 13-19)

But faithfulness, loyalty and honor in a woman mean far more to her family than any financial gain – these character traits are priceless. We can be an example to our children of faithfulness to our spouse and of considering his best interests. He won’t need to look elsewhere for companionship, nor will he have to wage war to get profit or gain, if he knows his wife is trustworthy in her love and faithfulness to him.

Next time, we’ll discuss other qualities of the Proverbs 31 woman: her generosity (v. 20), kindness (v. 26), realistic self-appraisal (v. 18), provision for her family (v. 21, 24), and praiseworthiness (v.10, 28, 29). Most important, she fears the Lord! (v. 30).


© 2013 Laurie Collett
 


Proverbs 31:10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
14 She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.


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36 comments:

  1. Dear Laurie,
    I have had feminists and men supporting feminism approach me with Proverbs 31:16: She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
    Therefore, according to them, it is right for women to go to university, then to persue a high flying career, climb the social/career ladder, drive aggressively in fast sports cars, live in expensive homes, and treat men as disposable assets, delaying having children until into their late thirties, then as recently discovered, found to their regret that it's already too late and resort to IVF.
    On the other hand, could this verse refer to what we have today as the weekly grocery shop, making sure that the home is well stocked for both the family and the passing visitor?
    Then again, I suppose King Solomon had never seen a supermarket store!
    An excellent post.

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    1. Dear Frank,
      I believe that the Proverbs 31 woman places God first in her life, her family second, her household and community third, and her personal desires after that. But I believe God wants her to use the talents He gave her to His glory and to bless her family and community. So I see nothing wrong with a woman being educated, having a career, and being a good steward with money, in accordance with God's will. It would not be God's will for her (or for a man, for that matter) to advance by unethical practices or by neglecting or abandoning her spouse and family.
      But I also think she hunts out good bargains to provide for her household, even if it means bartering or haggling (in the culture of those days) or coupon clipping and ebay-ing today!
      Thanks as always for your thought-provoking comment!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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    2. Dear Laurie,
      No offence intended. In fact, with my wife unwell in hospital, I am grateful for the staff, both doctors and nurses, in looking after her and bringing her towards healing. Without such university degrees and doctorates, I think our life expectancy would be no more than thirty years, as was in the Middle Ages.
      What I was aiming at was the motive of getting to the top, to achieve supremacy to the detriment of benefit to others.
      My latest blog touches on this subject.
      God bless.

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    3. Dear Frank,
      No offense taken! I believe God designed men and women to serve one another using the unique gifts and talents He gave them. But I certainly agree, neither sex is justified in climbing to the top by stepping on others.
      I enjoyed your latest blog post, as I do all your posts!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  2. I've always loved that this was a teaching from a mother to her son, training him in what kind of wife to look for. I realize it can generate controversy within the church as well as outside but I think the over arching theme is that she loves God and is faithful in every task given to her, she loves and cares for her family and is a blessing to them in all she does.

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    1. Amen, Marty! God is her first priority and her family second. Her love for God orders her steps and shines through all she does to bless her family and community.
      May you have a blessed week in Him!
      Laurie

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  3. Hi Laurie! Let's hear it for all the strong women in the Bible! Ruth and Esther and Mary...just a few of those women who do not spend their faith foolishly, but soar in strength at the call of the Father. Wonderful!

    Sunday blessings!
    Ceil

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    1. Amen, Ceil! May we learn from Ruth's loyalty, Esther's courage, and Mary's obedience and faith. He has great plans for each of us, if we follow Him!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  4. Great post, and thank you! There are teachings out there even by Christians who DO promote the "doormat to your husband" philosophy. Some of us think there is a ton out there on Proverbs 31, but there apparently isn't nearly enough. Let's get the TRUTH out there! Thanks again and have a blessed week!

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    1. Thanks so much, Dalynn, for your lovely comment! God's plan is for us to use the gifts He gave us to glorify Him and to bless our husband, family and community in the process.
      Love in Him,
      Laurie

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  5. Hi Laurie,
    I love Proverbs 31,
    I believe absolutely that the priority is to fear God. I know when I first came to the Lord and received the Holy Spirit my relationship with my husband began to grow stronger, I was shown my faults and knew I had to remove all selfishness and sin from my life if my marriage was to survive. We have now been married for forty seven years and we have a loving relationship. Although we are two opposites in many ways it works wonderfully. He does what he does well and I do what I am capable of doing. One of the things that I love doing is looking after the finances, I love being able to get the best that I can from the money we have and do not like debt. II might have inherited it from my grandfather who was Jewish and marvellous with money. My husband says that if he looked after the finances we would be completely broke, and I say to him that there are things that he does that I could never do. Thank you for sharing. God bless

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    1. Amen, Brenda! Thanks for sharing your story. I was not saved until 11 years into my marriage (and my husband and son were saved shortly thereafter). Only by fearing and respecting God, and by submitting to His perfect will for my life, could I begin to understand the marriage relationship as God intended it (It worked wonders for our dance partnership too)! We are opposites in many ways, and many people warned us that we would face challenges, but Praise God, we are approaching our 25th anniversary!
      Many blessings to you and your ministry,
      Laurie

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  6. This has always been one of my favorites Laurie! I think that when women are gracious to not only others but also to themselves, they have an inner power and foresight that can move mountains! And as for us ladies, grace should spring from a love of God and His word, because He validates our worth and reminds us that we deserve to experience all that our heart desires and as a result, benefit all those around us.

    Hope your week is full of grace and strength!
    Denise

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    1. Beautifully said, Denise! When we yield to His Spirit, His love pours through us to others, and we act with the grace of daughters of the King!
      May you have a blessed week also,
      Laurie

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  7. Thanks for linking to Sunday Stillness. I pray that other women will read the truth as revealed in the Scriptures. Honour, respect, love are important to all relationships but particularly in a marriage.
    Blessings,
    Janis www.janiscox.com

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    1. So true, Janis! We must first honor, respect and love God, and then our spouse. If we yield to Him, the Spirit will enable us to treat all others in this way.
      Thanks for hosting & for your lovely comment!
      Love in Him,
      Laurie

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  8. While Proverbs 31 teaches very important lessons about the ideal woman, as one of the comments pointed out, some teachers do hold the doormat principle. I find it interesting that the good wife's husband is not afraid to trust her to buy a field or carry on a business of her own. He enables her to attain the most she is capable of just as she enables him. If either one becomes selfish and controlling, both will be prevented from attaining their best.

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    1. Very well said, Donald. If the husband and wife humble themselves to work together in unity, God will exalt the couple. Together they do His will better than either could alone.
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  9. Hi Laurie,

    Stopping by from Ann's link up. Nice to see you again.

    I am thankful for the verse in Prov 31 (1o and 11?) where it says "she brings him good not harm all the days of her life." and am striving for that, with God's help.

    have a great week, Laurie.
    Jennifer Dougan
    www.jenniferdougan.com

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    1. Amen, Jennifer! Prov. 31:12 (She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life) reminds me of Proverbs 14:1: Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.
      May He enable us to do good to our husband and to all our house!
      Love in Him,
      Laurie.

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  10. another inspirational post my friend. God Bless xo

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    1. Thanks so much, Katherine! God bless you too!
      Laurie

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  11. I think every godly woman, who deals with daily duties with God, can be woman from Proverbs 31. Last time I read Mark 11, 12 - 14 and it was lesson for me, that Jesus is King of time and every creation - so I don't have to feel fear that I will not have time.
    Greetings for You from rainy South Poland! :)

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    1. Very true, Zim -- we can praise and worship Him even when we are cleaning the house. He gives each of us the same amount of time -- 24 hours in every day -- and He's not going to ask us how much of our daily chores and work we completed, only how much of that time did we spend honoring Him.
      Greetings and blessings to you -- hope you stay dry!
      Laurie

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  12. Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop! God Bless♥

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    1. Thanks for hosting, & God bless you too!
      Laurie

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  13. What a wonderful write-up! I like studying the women in the Bible.

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    1. Thanks so much, Rosey! God gave us some great role models, didn't He?
      Love in Him,
      Laurie

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  14. Thanks for linking this wonderful post up to my “Themed Blog & Shop Hop!”
    God bless!
    Angie
    godsgrowinggarden.com

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    1. Thanks, Angie, for your sweet comment & for hosting & God bless!
      Laurie

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  15. I loved this post Laurie :)

    I especially loved where you shared -

    ' Under Divine inspiration, Solomon describes the virtuous woman as being more precious than rubies (v. 10). These gems are prized even more than diamonds because the internal qualities of the stone shine out, whereas diamonds reflect whatever is around them. Similarly, the light of the Holy Spirit indwelling the virtuous woman shines forth, making her a new creation (John 3:5-8; 2 Cor. 5:17). In contrast, the unsaved woman conforms to the world and is molded by its ungodly values and character (Romans 12:2).'

    Isn't the ruby such a great example of what God calls us to be :)

    God is so wonderful in how He provides the detail we need for our lives. If only we spent more time reading His Word and applying it, we would then be happier, as we would be following God's instructions.

    Blessings

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    1. Thank you so much, Anita, for your lovely comment! May we be as rubies, reflecting His light, love and grace! The Bible truly is His love letter to each of us -- may we cherish every word!
      Blessings to you and your ministry,
      Laurie

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  16. There is so much beauty in this chapter of the Bible. The beauty of women that the world shows us that so many strive for couldn't be more different.
    God inspires us to be women of beauty according to His design.
    Thanks for linking up at Essential Fridays.

    Blessings

    Mel from Essential Thing Devotions & Connect With God

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    1. Amen, Mel! May we follow His ideal and not be conformed to the world. Thanks for hosting & God bless.
      Laurie

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  17. Hi Laurie - just to let you know this wonderful post is being featured on my blog right now - you received the most "clicks" from last month's "Themed Blog & Shop Hop": http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/2013/11/october-results-for-themed-blog-shop-hop.html
    Thanks
    Angie
    PS - I hope you will join us again tomorrow!

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    1. Wow -- thanks so much, Angie! I'm honored and blessed, and will most certainly link up again tomorrow!
      Thanks for all you do to spread His Word, & God bless,
      Laurie

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