What is often missed while discussing Proverbs 31 is that this is not for women! It is actually a list of instructions that a godly mother gave to her son (King Lemuel) on how to find an awesome wife. So while even I go over this list and preach it to women (mainly because it has been stressing them out for years) I will now condense it and share it with you!
Here’s what God’s Word says you should look for in a wife: (after ‘mom’ here reminds you (her son) not to go after loose women, not to be a drunkard, and to stick up for those who are being mistreated… Apparently you do not deserve a ‘good’ woman if you cannot handle this!)
1. First we are reminded that a godly wife (one who has noble character- notice it does not say ‘one who is ‘hot’!) is worth more than riches (rubies).
2. She should be a person who you have full confidence in. This is a woman who can handle things while you are away, with ease.
3. She does not play games. She does you ‘good’ all of the time. Pouty, passive-aggressive, drama queens need not apply.
4. She works hard and is not afraid of manual labor. This wife does not care if she ‘breaks a nail.’ She can go to the store, buy what she needs and get the job done. (Here she is working with wool, presumably to make clothes, and flax, presumably to grind for flour and bake.)
5. She looks for the best deal. Like a merchant she does not waste money. She is not afraid to search out the best in both quality and price.
6. She wakes up early and takes care of those who are under her authority. Here she makes sure her servants and her family are fed. This is a woman who will have the children’s lunches made and everything they need in their backpacks before the bus gets to the door. Notice that she has servants though. This does not mean that she does everything herself, just that she is conscientious enough to make sure everything gets done.
7. She can buy a field with her own money and manage it herself. Now remember, this is a wife fit for a king, who will have lots of money, so she must be capable of handling this lifestyle. Think about the lifestyle your future wife will live and make sure she is capable of doing so. If you plan to be poor, make sure your wife can handle cutting coupons and living without the ‘luxuries’ many enjoy. What this implies though, is that the ‘projects’ she starts, she takes care of, and her husband is not burdened by them. Instead the things she does bless the family.
8. Her ‘arms’ are strong. She is not a wilting flower who needs help with everything. She is used to doing her fair share of the work, and works hard doing so. Remember, most of the wives God picked for men in scripture were hard workers, usually shepherdesses, before they were married. (Rebekah watered a huge amount of camels, and Ruth worked to feed herself and Naomi.) They were not sitting at home waiting for Prince Charming to come and take care of them. That was Disney, not the Bible.
9. She makes sure the things she does are profitable. Her hobbies do not drain the bank account, but benefit the home.
10. She does not allow her lamp to go out at night. Today this means that she does not forget to do the things she is responsible for. She remembers to turn the curling iron off, makes sure the garbage is taken out and does not miss appointments. She takes care of the little details.
11. Even though this woman is rich, she knows how to do menial tasks and does not mind doing them. Using a spindle was rough, tedious work, but this woman was capable of doing this if necessary. (Though being wealthy she probably did not do so often. There were servants available. But, if the kingdom toppled, and their fortunes changed, she would not abandon her husband and would be able to do these things for her family.)
12. She is generous to the poor and needy. She does not say ‘Ew’ when walking by the homeless, and does not put less fortunate people down.
13. She is prepared. Here her family is clothed when winter comes. She is not running around trying to buy boots and coats when it snows as if she was ‘surprised’ that the seasons changed.
14. She takes care of her home and decorates it well. Remember, she is going to be a queen. Her home needs to look nice. If you are going to live on a farm, she needs to not be so extravagant that it gets in the way of work, wastes money and/or makes the neighbors feel uncomfortable visiting. Be honest about the type of lifestyle she needs to fit into, and make sure that she can live like this.
15. She is the type of woman who causes others to look at her husband with respect. This means that she is not the type of woman who puts her husband down. Avoid girls who ‘male-bash.’ It also means that she behaves in such a way that she is an ‘asset.’ No one is thinking, ‘Man, I’m glad I’m not the one married to her,’ after they meet her. She behaves in such a way that people think you are lucky to have her and respect you for making such a good choice and being a man she would say ‘yes’ to marrying. She is not an attention seeking flirt.
16. She is self-confident. She has strength and dignity. This is a woman men would be afraid of disrespecting just by the way she holds herself. She knows she does ‘good’ and does not need to worry about the little things in life.
17. She is wise, and instructs others. She does not pretend to be ‘stupid,’ and is has knowledge that she can share appropriately (not looking down on people).
18. Her future children and husband will call her ‘blessed.’ She is not the type of person people look down on, but one to be praised. Because she is godly, she will be a blessing, not a burden, to her family.
19. When you meet this woman, you will believe that she is the most wonderful woman in the world. Why? Because she ‘fits’ you. She has the qualities that will make her the best wife you could ever have. Every man has slightly different needs, so every woman has the potential to be this wife. You cannot see anyone being better for you than the woman you have picked.
20. Do not worry about her looks. Beauty fades. Do not be taken in by complements and flattery; they go away. What you want is a godly woman. This is the type of woman you will be able to praise for the rest of your life!
Proverbs 31 ends with a reminder to the son to give this woman the rewards her hard work has earned her and give her credit for what she has done so that even the respected men (the ones who decide cases in the city gates) will praise her. Wives do not work without reward, and husbands who take all of the credit, when she has done much of the work are despicable. (This is a problem in the church where the pastor’s wife is often considered an ‘accessory’ who comes with the pastor and provides free labor.) If you want a ‘godly’ wife then you must be willing to let her have what she has earned and give her the credit she deserves. If not, there are plenty of ungodly ones out there, who will treat you just as poorly in return….