You Can Be a Proverbs 31 Woman- and Probably Are (Unless You Are a Guy…)
The Proverbs 31 woman has been blown out of proportion. She is larger than life- but really she is not. First, we need a little perspective. This is advice given to a man, who is to be king, by his mother on picking a wife. It is not advice to a woman on what they should do, nor is it a daily check list of what should get done. This man is a king. These are the requirements for a woman who is to be queen. If you are not marrying someone who is destined to be in charge of a country, or are not going to be in charge of a country, then these requirements must be ‘tweeked’ to fit the type of life you will enjoy.
So, let’s look at Proverbs 31 with a new perspective…
-First requirement: She must be a wife of ‘good character.’ I think we can handle that, especially since Biblically any woman, or man, who repents and turns to God is treated as a full child of God. So even Rahab the prostitute now qualifies.
-Her husband has full confidence in her, meaning she is a capable woman who makes good decisions. Her husband does not worry about her doing something stupid when he is not there. This is good marriage advice. Too many boys are looking for a girl who needs to be ‘rescued’ and who makes them feel like a ‘man’ because she ‘needs’ him to solve her problems. This is not the woman scripture tells a man to look for.
-She brings him good and not harm. No matter how she ‘feels,’ she works for his best interests and does not do things that would undermine him. This means no passive-aggressive behavior!
-She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. This means that even though she is to be ‘rich’ (the wife of a king) she has basic skills, so even if her circumstances change and her family needs her to do whatever, she can, and will, gladly. Today this would mean that she would cook and clean, shop at a thrift store and cut coupons happily if need be.
-She shops for the best price and quality. Since people walked to shop, this means she does not just buy the first thing she sees, but is frugal and good with money, even though they have plenty at the moment.
-She gets up early and feeds the servants. She makes sure the people she is responsible for are well cared for. Today this would mean that the children will get breakfast and their lunches are made because she is the type of person who would wake up in time to get them off to school.
-Since she is going to be a wealthy woman she should already have money of her own and be able to use it wisely. She can therefore consider a property and manage the vineyard (business) she creates. This means that she is able to manage any projects she becomes involved with so that they do not add to her husband’s responsibilities. She is not a burden, but an asset, increasing the family’s wealth without increasing the stress on her husband. (By the way, men typically work in a vineyard and she is in charge. She has no problem handling things at work, and has the respect of her employees so this is not an issue.)
-She works vigorously and her arms are strong. She is not a wimp. She is in good physical health, and is able to work hard. Think of the women that God chose as wives in the Bible. Many of them were shepherdesses, able to lift heavy things and do much physical work.
-Her trading is profitable. The projects she gets into make money. What she does in her free time is not a drain on the family finances.
-Her lamp does not go out at night. In Biblical times wicks needed to be trimmed and the oil lamp needed to be filled before bed at night. This is a woman who makes sure that the little things get done. This woman makes sure the garbage is out on garbage day, the iron is off before she leaves the house etc. Her husband does not need to double-check on the little things she is responsible for.
-She holds the distaff and grasps the spindle in her hand. She knows how to sew. If needed, this wealthy woman could make clothes for her family. She has skills.
-She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. She is giving, and is not afraid to mix with the less fortunate. She does not look down on them, and even though she is queenly, she notices people in need and helps.
-She does not fear the snow because her household is well clothed. She prepares ahead of time for things she knows are coming. This means that she is not running out to buy boots and coats on the first snow day because she did not plan ahead.
-She makes coverings for her bed, and is clothed in linen and purple. She knows how to decorate her house and dress as is fitting for her position in life. Her appearance is not going to embarrass her husband. When she needs to be elegant (as a queen often does) she can do so easily. For many of us, this is not necessary, and if we are trying to dress like a queen, when we need to be ‘functional’ because we are actually running after kids, then we are doing the opposite of what is necessary and are behaving contrary to this verse. This woman needs to look the part because her husband is king. If your husband is not a king, and your ‘society’ is blue jeans and flip-flops then you should dress and decorate your house in a way that will not embarrass your spouse.
-Her husband is respected. This implies that she does not embarrass him, and, because of what she does, people look more favorably on him.
-She makes things to sell. Even though she is rich, she does useful, profitable work in her spare time.
-She is strong and dignified. She is not full of anxiety and fear, but can laugh at the future because she is confident that she can handle whatever is to come.
-She is wise and is able to instruct others. She is not a ditzy airhead. She is smart, and paid attention in school.
-She manages her household well and is not lazy.
-Her children call her blessed and her husband praises her. This is a woman who has raised her children to respect her, and she is so capable her husband would feel awkward making derogatory jokes about her.
-She surpasses all other women. This is because she is the perfect wife for her husband. She fits him well. He can imagine no other woman being as good for him as she is.
-She fears God.
There is also a reminder that charm and beauty are fleeting. A man is not to pick a wife based on her ability to flatter him, or how ‘hot’ she is. These things will not last. Instead he is to pick a woman who has godly characteristics. She is also to receive the rewards her work deserves and is to be praised for what she does. This means that she may be pampered and complimented for doing all that she does.
When you look at the list what you will find is that there are many, many godly women out there, and husbands who are lucky to have them! Not married? This is the list to use. Men, don’t be tricked into marrying a woman who makes you ‘feel’ like a ‘man’ for superficial reasons. The point here is that you want a strong, capable woman, who enhances your life, not one who leans on you and cannot do anything on her own! And if tough times come, she is capable of managing in poverty without complaint as well. (Remember, kingdoms topple, and kings often find themselves in exile during this time in history… A good ‘queen’ needs to be prepared for this as well.)