Over the years, I’ve studied Proverbs 31 a few different times. There are books (I’m looking at you, Captivating) that treat this woman as someone to be pitied, not aspired to. Here’s the thing. The Bible commends this woman. So should we.
Verses 10-31 apply to both men and women. Regardless of your temperament or gifting. If we let Him, God can make us virtuous followers of Jesus Christ. Let’s get started.
Who can find a virtuous wife?Proverbs 31:10-31
For her worth is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
And willingly works with her hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
She brings her food from afar.
She also rises while it is yet night,
And provides food for her household,
And a portion for her maidservants.
She considers a field and buys it;
From her profits she plants a vineyard.
She girds herself with strength,
And strengthens her arms.
She perceives that her merchandise is good,
And her lamp does not go out by night.
She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hand holds the spindle.
She extends her hand to the poor,
Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
For all her household is clothed with scarlet.
She makes tapestry for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies sashes for the merchants.
Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.
Who is this passage referring to?
The subject (v. 10) is translated most often as wife, but it’s also translated “woman” in the King James. The original word is literally “Female, woman, or wife.” This passage isn’t just talking to married women, it is talking to all women.
Virtuous? What does that mean?
The ESV uses the word “excellent” instead of virtuous, but virtuous is a pretty specific term that reaches far beyond a general “excellence.” The Hebrew word means “a force; an army, wealth, virtue, valor, strength, able, competent, excellent, mighty, prominent, substance, warrior, worthy.”
The virtuous woman is a strong woman of substance! She is not weak, she is a warrior. Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines “virtuous” this way:
“Morally good; acting in conformity to the moral law; abstaining from vice; being in conformity to the divine law; chaste.”
What can we learn from just the first phrase of Proverbs 31:10? This woman is a strong woman that fights for morality. She shows determination to follow God’s commands in her life. In the next few weeks, we will break this passage down and determine what God intends for us as His followers, and especially as Christian women. I hope you’ll join me as we go!