by Shelley Poston
Proverbs 31 gives hope and a challenge to any modern day Christian woman. For single men who are looking for an honorable wife, it is a sketch of a godly woman. The proverb begins by stating that an excellent wife is difficult to find, but when she is found, “she is far more precious than jewels,” (v. 10). It appears that the proverbs woman spent her days doing good unto others, starting with her husband (v.11-12). She was a woman of character who could be trusted (v.11).
This woman was busy with her hands and her mind. Far from the idle caricature that modern feminism paints, she was not afraid to get her hands dirty, was a friend of economy, and kept a tight schedule (v. 13-15). She invested wisely and she was far from a spend-thrift. Because of her wisdom with money, she had her own property, a vineyard (v. 16), and she was business savvy (v.24).
She is a strong woman (v.17) who thinks ahead of the game (v.18, 21). Because of her hard work and preparation for her family, if hardship struck, she would not be taken by surprise and left destitute (v.25). Her wisdom and kindness not only extended to her family, but also those who were poor (v. 20). She was not consumed only with her household, but paid attention to the needs of the family of God and the world. The proverbs woman was not able to accomplish these things merely because of talent. It appears that the focus is more on this woman’s character. She is hardworking, faithful, and wise, as seen by her actions.
She is also noted to be a woman who, “opens her mouth with wisdom” and kindness (v. 26). This was not a cut-throat business woman, but a woman who put others first, including her family and her husband (v.27). It is probably because of her behind-the-scenes, selfless work that her husband could have a prominent position (v.23). Had she not taken care of these things, the household would have been in shambles.
Her family knew this. They praised her for her work (v.28-29). Yet it was not simply the praise of her family that was her reward for her labors—those labors spoke alone in front of God and man (v.31). Many women spend their days trying to preserve beauty, which only fades, and be alluring, which is simply not real (v.30). However, Proverbs 31 concludes by pointing to this woman’s source of beauty—she feared the Lord (v.30). She honored and rejoiced in the Lord. That was the source of her strength.
Many wonder whether this woman was one person. She accomplished so many tasks that modern women might feel intimidated by her. It is possible that this was a portrait of one Israelite woman during Solomon’s days, but it is also possible that this is merely many portraits of what a godly woman should be. This is supported by the fact that this is called an “oracle” (v.1) which the mother of King Lemuel passed down.
King Lemuel is often believed to be King Solomon. His mother taught him these words (Proverbs 31:1). If this was in fact King Solomon’s mother, then this oracle was passed down by Queen Bathsheba, giving this Proverb a redemptive tone (2 Samuel 11-12). Still, King Lemuel’s identity is uncertain.
A godly woman should have the underlying character, but each woman’s schedule will look different than the next woman. She is something to aspire toward, but not something to be completely attained because she probably is not one woman. She gives the challenge to rise above the bar, and the hope that through God’s grace, a woman can live a life that brings glory to her Lord and blessing to her household.