When one faithfully looks to God’s word to find guidance about how to know who your soulmate will be for the rest of your life, who will be the best wife and mother and true and faithful, faith-filled and genuine servant of God they can be, we simply cannot escape the words of Proverbs 31. Who wouldn’t want to be married to as talented, productive, strong, caring, and fearless as this woman?
But as normal human beings, many of us are more likely to cringe when this seemingly perfect woman is set before us as the example. Who can find her, indeed! Not everyone has good business sense or opportunities. Many do not have the gifts and creativity to provide for the home, make the clothes for the family and household. I don’t know if I’ve met anyone who is both a morning person and a night person like this woman. I know my wife is the closest for me.
But who is it who is even closer to us than even our own God-gifted soul mates?
Proverbs 31:10-31The Message
Hymn to a Good Wife
10-31 A good woman is hard to find,
and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve,
and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously
all her life long.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
and brings back exotic surprises.
She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast
for her family and organizing her day.
She looks over a field and buys it,
then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work,
is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
diligent in homemaking.
She’s quick to assist anyone in need,
reaches out to help the poor.
She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows;
their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.
She makes her own clothing,
and dresses in colorful linens and silks.
Her husband is greatly respected
when he deliberates with the city fathers.
She designs gowns and sells them,
brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.
Her clothes are well-made and elegant,
and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her;
her husband joins in with words of praise:
“Many women have done wonderful things,
but you’ve outclassed them all!”
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
The woman to be admired and praised
is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!
Adorn her life with praises!
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
Lady Wisdom is compared to the virtuous woman in this closing poem of the book of Proverbs: the very personification of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of all that we all should be in Him.
The book of Proverbs closes with an acrostic poem which commends the virtues of a certain (literally) “strong woman” (Proverbs 31:10).
If we have been reading through the book up to this point, we will find that we have met her already. This woman of worth, whose “price is above rubies” – is Lady Wisdom itself (cf. Proverbs 3:13-15).
We find Lady Wisdom is like Jesus. Wisdom, like Savior Jesus, is to be sought after; to be most highly valued and desired and treasured: to be found. Wisdom, like Jesus, is to be trusted; and will do us good (Proverbs 31:10-12).
This efficient homemaker and provider for her household (Proverbs 31:13-15) is one and the same as the Wisdom who furnishes a table before us and calls us to ‘Come and eat’ (Proverbs 9:1-6). In fact – viewed in this light – we can see in her the LORD our shepherd, who prepares a table before us (Psalm 23:5).
We can hear Jesus’ summoning, who cries ‘Come unto me’ to the broken in spirit, the weary soul and heavy laden (Matthew 11:28-30; cf. Isaiah 55:1-3).
This lady’s perfect industriousness stands as an upstanding, beyond reproach, ever living example to all of us, both women and men (Proverbs 31:16-19).
Yet behind the imagery we see that the LORD God is the landowner, and that we are His vineyard (cf. Matthew 21:33).
We also perceive that Jesus is the true vine (John 15:1).
The Lord strengthens His arm for our salvation (cf. Proverbs 31:17).
Wisdom stretches out her caring and compassionate and merciful and forgiving hand unto the poor, as should we when we are called, and able (Proverbs 31:20).
In like manner, the needy find their solace in Jesus: He is the LORD our provider (cf. Proverbs 31:21).
There is great honor in being attached to Wisdom (Proverbs 31:23).
We are not the least bit foolish to follow Christ. When we walk with Him, talk with Him we’ll be prayerfully respected, even by those who don’t agree with us.
We read of this woman’s coverings (Proverbs 31:22), and merchandise (Proverbs 31:24): but her greatest adornment is her strength and honor (Proverbs 31:25).
We, like her, will have assurances as to the future when we are ‘clothed’ with Christ.
We have put on Christ (Galatians 3:27); we must put on Christ (Romans 13:14).
In the poem, this woman opens her mouth with wisdom, and speaks truest kindness (Proverbs 31:26).
In this, as in so much else that we can discover, she is the very personification of Wisdom (cf. Proverbs 4:5-6).
If the law was our tutor, pointing us to Christ (Galatians 3:24); then Wisdom serves us in the same way: steering us away from worldly folly, and pointing us towards Jesus who is the Word of God, the ultimate manifestation of Wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:24).
Just as Lady Wisdom looks to the way of her household (Proverbs 31:27), so the LORD also is industrious (John 5:17).
The Father continually watches over His people (Psalm 121:5); and the Son feeds His flock and tends the lambs with the tenderness of a good shepherd (Isaiah 40:11). The Holy Spirit preserves us in a living hope, even in adverse circumstances beyond human description and understanding (Galatians 5:5).
The person who is married to Wisdom safely trusts in her (Proverbs 31:11) and is honored to be associated with her (Proverbs 31:23).
In a similar way the people of Jesus (Hebrews 2:12-13) deem Him to be blessed and praise His holy name (cf. Proverbs 31:28).
Wisdom is the principal thing, so by all means get wisdom (Proverbs 4:7) – and wisdom will teach you that ‘there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved’ apart from the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12).
There is a kind of beauty which is only skin-deep.
We find this personified in the woman whom I call Mistress Folly (Proverbs 6:25). Yet Lady Wisdom’s attraction is of a spiritual order: she fears the LORD (Proverbs 31:30).
Our ministries, our works stand as the evidence of wisdom’s virtue (Proverbs 31:31).
The works the Father was doing in the Son stood as a verification of Jesus’ words (John 14:10-11). Works are evidence of faith in the believer (James 2:18-20), who is ‘called unto good works which the Father has before determined’ (Ephesians 2:10).
Proverbs 31:20-31 Authorized (King James) Version
20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor;
yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household:
for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry;
her clothing is silk and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates,
when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it;
and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
25 Strength and honour are her clothing;
and she shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom;
and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She looketh well to the ways of her household,
and eateth not the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praiseth her.
29 Many daughters have done virtuously,
but thou excellest them all.
30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain:
but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands;
and let her own works praise her in the gates.
The virtuous woman has more on her mind than just her family. Her ambitions, energy, and plans extend to the poor and needy that God has placed in her path. Rather than be content with having her husband, children, and home well cared for and happy, she has a conscience that drives her to take care of others who cannot provide for themselves.
Her thoughts toward the poor and needy are more than wishful thinking or kind words. Her thoughts result in diligent and personal action, which are the only thoughts that count in the sight of God and men (Proverbs 3:27-28; 20:11; James 2:15-16). She knows that true love is in-deed and truth, not merely in word and tongue (I John 3:16-18). Moved by God’s love for her, she has bowels of compassion to share her ability and substance with the needy.
The charitable giving here is not easy or passive action. “She stretcheth out her hand,” and, “She reacheth forth her hands.” These words do not convey casual donations or convenient acts of charity. A virtuous woman goes out of her way to meet the poor and needy and help them, even if it requires strenuous effort to accomplish the service. She is not merely available for charity; she volunteers and does the work without any prodding.
The virtuous woman has sympathy for the truly poor and needy (James 1:27).
She does not exchange mock charity with friends, subdivision neighbors, or peers at work. She knows that giving to the rich will bring God’s judgment (Proverbs 22:16). Neither does she care or worry about the foolish, lazy, or wasteful (Proverbs 13:23; 20:4; II Thessalonians 3:10). She, like the Good Samaritan, waits for the Lord to put an act of God in her path (Luke 10:25-37).
She knows charity begins with true needs in extended family – parents, aunts and uncles, and grandparents (I Timothy 5:4,8,16). She then serves the poor and needy in her church (Acts 2:44-45; Romans 12:13), then those in other churches (Matthew 25:40; Galatians 6:10; Acts 11:27-30), and then those God puts in her path (Job 31:16-22; Luke 10:25-37). She is given to hospitality for brethren and for strangers (Romans 12:13; I Timothy 5:10; Hebrews 13:2).
A man with a virtuous wife should allow her a budget for this good use of money, and it will later praise her and him (Proverbs 31:23,31; II King 4:8-10). It will also bring God’s blessing on the couple for their charity (Proverbs 11:24-27; 19:17; 28:27). Stingy husbands can discourage their wives and deprive the poor, and they will suffer for it now and later.
A virtuous woman is loved by all and praised by husband and children (Proverbs 31:28-31; Acts 9:36-42), and this affection and honor is a great blessing and comfort. But her greatest glory is yet to come, when the High King of heaven will take special notice of her godly charity before the universe (Isaiah 32:8; Matthew 10:40-42; 25:31-40; I Timothy 6:17-19; Hebrews 6:10).
It stands to reason, then, that she would want to be generous with what she has and to go forth, to help those who are less fortunate. I might be walking way out on a limb here, but when I see that she “opens her arms” to the poor, I believe she is gifting them with money to get their necessities. Here’s where I’m out on a limb: the next portion of the verse says she “extends her hands to the needy.”
When someone we know is fallen down into a hole, or needs help climbing out of a low place, what do you do? You extend your hand for them to grab hold of and pull up — you are giving them “a hand up.” (Acts 3:1-10) I believe that may be what this Spirit-filled, God-fearing woman of Proverbs 31 is doing; she not only gifts them financially, but she helps them in sensible, practical ways.
Ways that help them stay out of that tight spot, that low place. Perhaps she is going far out of her way, teaching them a skill or giving them encouragement from her own experience. Perhaps she is giving them what they need to move forward and keep moving. Perhaps she knows of a job for them to apply for and to do. Maybe it is just the perfect example that she sets, for them to imitate.
This Spirit-filled woman is truly challenging us to be the best that we can be!
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us pray,
Father, faithful One, teach me your divine wisdom. Empower me to understand wise teaching. Give insight to my simple mind. Help me to live a life that is disciplined and successful, based on the wise teachings of your word. Give me the knowledge I need to make smart decisions. I know that reverence for you is the beginning of wisdom. Help me listen when you correct me, and not neglect your instruction. I know when I take heed of wisdoms voice and to follow your wisdom, I will receive grace and honor. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.