If you’re an unmarried man, what do you look for in a wife? For that matter, this verse could easily be adapted for a woman looking for a husband. This verse gives a couple of things that are best not to be so concerned about: charm, and beauty.
Do you want your partner to be charming, witty, funny, with a good sense of humour? As far as the Bible is concerned that is deceitful. They might make you laugh, but will they sorrow with you when you’re tearful? Is their charm just a facade for a careless character?
Maybe you want your wife to be beautiful. But will she be as beautiful when she’s all wrinkly and old? Just to go on someone’s looks is pretty fickle. If that’s your measure, you might get rid of your partner for a newer model down the line.
Instead, Proverbs emphasises the woman who fears the Lord is greatly to be praised. She praises God greatly; she is to be praised greatly. She’s got her priorities right: God will always be number one, and it’s a good place to be second to Him, because He loves and cares for you too.
“Holy Father, I praise You for the gift of marriage. Help those looking for a wife to not look for charm and beauty as much as a woman who fears You. For Your glory, amen”
She looks well to 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 women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”
The Proverbs 31 woman isn’t a lady of leisure by any stretch of the imagination! She looks after her household- her family and her servants. And she’s not lazy.
Her children honour her. They’re well brought up. With a mum that good, the kids are likely to turn out well. They recognise that she’s blessed of God: that’s the secret of her success.
Her husband too lavishes her with praise. Husbands are commanded to love their lives. Part of that is to praise all that is praiseworthy. A husband should ideally see his wife as the best woman for him.
Her husband recognises that many women are excellent. He may be biased, but he doesn’t need to put others down to big up his wife. I personally am thankful and rejoice to have married a Proverbs 31 woman!
“Dear Yahweh, we want to thank You for the blessings of marriage and family. May we rejoice in Your good gifts, and aspire and strive to be exemplary families. In Your Son Jesus’ name, amen”
Many people are filled with fear at the future, which seems to promise wars, rumours of wars, natural disasters etc. Not so the Proverbs 31 woman. She’s strong and dignified as she looks to the future.
Many cry fearfully at the time to come. But she laughs at the time to come. As the old song goes, “I know who holds the future, and He guides me with His hands”.
This lady isn’t just a shrewd businesswoman. She’s full of spiritual wisdom as well. If you want to know more of God, listen to her!
In case you associate spiritual wisdom with judgementalism and legalism, we’re told that the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Kindness and wisdom are friends, not enemies. If you have one, you should have the other.
“Yahweh, may we have wisdom and kindness in equally liberal measure. Help us have confidence that the future is in Your hands. In the name of Jesus, amen”
She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes bed coverings 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; she delivers sashes to the merchant.
The Proverbs 31 woman isn’t afraid of inclement weather for her household. They’re all clothed in rich and warm red clothing. She’s an industrious lady, making bed coverings for herself.
She herself is clothed in linen and purple. The equivalent today would be to wear designer clothes. She doesn’t just look after herself. It appears that her good reputation has rubbed off on her husband, who is also a pillar of the community.
The equivalent of the gate of the city today would be a boardroom, where the great and the good make decisions. Her husband has done well for himself, but the focus is all on her and her success. She doesn’t just wear designer clothes, she is the designer.
She makes, she sells, she trades. When I read this passage I’m tempted to ask, “is there anything this woman can’t do?!” She’s enough to make anyone feel inadequate. But the great thing about her is that her greatness is about character rather than looks or charm. Any woman is capable of being strong like her.
“Thank You God that You’re not interested so much in our looks or how charming we are, but in the content of our character, which You can mould into Christ’s likeness by Your Spirit. In Jesus’ name, amen”
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.
The Proverbs 31 lady isn’t just a businesswoman, she’s a successful one at that. Not only does she rise before dawn, but she’s up late at night, manufacturing textiles. She isn’t just someone who’s a manager in name only. She leads by example.
When we consider businesspeople, the kind of words that come to mind probably aren’t things like kindness and compassion. Quite the contrary! We expect businesspeople to be hard nosed and unsympathetic. But thankfully this Biblical woman isn’t like that.
She may well be successful, but that doesn’t mean to say she’s tight fisted. She doesn’t pass by on the other side of the road when she sees a beggar. Instead, she’s generous.
It’s true that for many homeless people, money given may well feed their addictions. But that doesn’t mean to say we shouldn’t seek to give food, water and even help provide shelter to those in need. There, but for the grace of God, go we.
Yahweh, our God, please help us to be successful in business and generous in our lives. For Your honour and praise we pray, and in the name of Jesus, amen”
Just reading these verses makes me feel tired. The Proverbs 31 lady is a hard worker. She goes out of the way to get the best deals on groceries. She doesn’t necessarily go to the nearest expensive shop, but goes further to the better value shop.
She rises while it’s still dark to prepare food for her household. My mum used to joke about getting up at 5am to prepare food for us, but she didn’t, as good as she was at providing for us. And she is still a blessing to us.
It’s not just that the Proverbs 31 lady has her household to provide for. She has young women working for her who she provides packed lunches for. She’s not just a housewife, she’s an employer.
It’s high time the church ditched a 1950’s stereotype of gender roles. The Proverbs 31 woman doesn’t fit that picture of a docile housewife. She’s a businesswoman.
“Lord, I want to personally thank You for my own wife and how hard she works. Please help us all to be diligent in whatever You call us to. In Jesus Christ’s name, amen”
People often equate the Biblical woman with a stereotypical 1950s housewife. But if we read Proverbs 31, we’d see that that isn’t accurate. A wife doesn’t do her husband good by being chained to the kitchen sink!
The Proverbs 31 woman works. She’s not just looking after the home, she’s investing in textiles. Note her attitude as well: she’s not begrudging, but works with willing hands.
Of course, a man should do his wife good, not harm, as well. But this chapter is about the wife, and she’s exemplary. See too that she never retires from doing good. There’s no retirement in the kingdom of God.
Traditionally in the UK, the man brought home the bacon, and the wife kept the home. But not in Proverbs 31. This woman is working hard to help provide for her family.
“Dear Father God, may we always do good, not harm, all of our days, and so fulfil your teaching. In Jesus Christ’s name, amen”
So begins the famous passage about the celebrated so called “Proverbs 31 woman”! We’ve heard a lot in Proverbs about dodgy women to avoid like prostitutes and adulteresses. We’ve heard a little bit about the value of a good wife. And now we get several verses about “the wife of noble character”.
This passage is one for every wife to aspire to, as every husband should aspire to be a “Job 31 man” (less famous, but check it out!). An excellent wife is priceless, she’s invaluable. She’s worth more than all the wealth you could accumulate.
Trust is a valuable thing, gradually built up over time and easily lost. But the husband of an excellent wife has full confidence in her. I’m blessed to say that my wife is trustworthy, and pray and strive that I can be worthy of her, by the grace of God.
The husband of an excellent wife has no lack of gain. I don’t think Solomon is even primarily on about material wealth here, as he’s already said the noble wife is of more value than stuff. The honourable wife though bestows honour on her husband, and he takes pleasure in her.
“Father in heaven, thank You for the gift of marriage. May we be noble people who others take pleasure in. For the glory of Your name, amen”