Who doesn't LOVE a good Proverb?!?
This brilliant book has defined
human thought and history for thousand of years.
book based on metaphor.
It is packed with word-pictures of
Throughout Proverbs, wisdom is anthropomorphized as a woman.
As early as Proverbs 1:20,
wisdom is compared to a woman
shouts in the streets, chastising fools and scoffers.
Proverbs 31 provides a detailed metaphor
of feminine wisdom in the context of a
family and a community.
The most quoted section, verses 10–31,
is a chiastic poem, that is, a poem that cycles through repeated thoughts
in a particular order.
The chapter speaks of
the worth of a good wife to her husband,
manual labor that she does,
fulfillment of responsibilities
those who need her,
her ability to provide for her family,
and her wisdom in caring for herself
so she can
share her strength with others.
These ideas are presented
in a kind of circular pattern throughout the section.
The chapter begins with King Lemuel recounting advice
his mother had given him.
She exhorted him to not fall to weaknesses
that would compromise his position as king,
but to care for the poor.
One of the weaknesses the king’s mother mentioned
was the susceptibility
of his strength—or “noble character”
—to be harmed by improper relationships with women.
verses 10-31 do not directly follow this warning in the original,
they do illustrate a fitting description
what kind of woman Lemuel should seek.
An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
A good, supportive, trusting wife is a blessing to a man.
A woman who partners with her husband, who is reliable and looks out for his interests, gives a man a security that is greatly lacking in the world.
She is worth more than a substantial paycheck.
To bring in the metaphor,
wisdom provides the same benefits—it is
'worth more than money,
you can always trust it
to make the right decision,
and it provides blessings for those who have it.
She looks for wool and flax,
And works with her hands in delight…
She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hands grasp the spindle…
She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
The wife of Proverbs 31 isn’t afraid
She gets up in the morning and gets things
In the time of Solomon, this involved
making fabric and sewing clothes,
but verse 27 certainly applies directly to us today—taking care of our
responsibilities is a characteristic of wisdom
She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens…
She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
She extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.
Another characteristic of wisdom is the grace to help others. The Proverbs 31 wife ensures that those under her care receive what they need—food, clothing, protection. And she is able to serve others out of the excess of her work and the leaning of her heart. She has so internalized her role as a provider that it extends past her immediate responsibilities and into the community.
She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar…
She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants
She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night…
She makes linen garments and sells them
And supplies belts to the tradesmen.
Beyond that, she’s savvy.
She’s educated about the world and the world of business.
She knows how to use her skills
to provide for her family,
and she’s not afraid to go interact with that world,
whether it be as a merchant or a buyer.
She knows how to use her strengths to her best advantage,
and she fully realizes
how valuable her efforts are.
She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong…
She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
The Proverbs 31
woman not only
knows her worth,
her responsibilities to herself.
She would not be able to provide for others
if she neglected her needs—both physical and spiritual.
Her greatest strength is her wisdom—her accurate judgment
about the world and her influence in it.
And she is quick to share the wisdom
she has gained to encourage others to
reach their potential.
Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land…
Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
"Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all."
Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.
She knows that, as a partner in her marriage,
she has a tremendous influence on her husband’s ministry.
She can integrate her life—both domestic and professional--
with her ministry in such a way
that her husband has the freedom to serve.
In fact, her reputation is so established, that it bleeds off onto him.
The Proverbs 31 wife is a fierce provider
and protector for those she cares about.
She is wise to the ways of the world, but lives by
the wisdom of God.
As in the rest of the Proverbs, these specific examples
provide a metaphor for the larger truth.
How any individual woman exemplifies these characteristics
will depend on her
situation, gifts, and abilities.
The key is in verse 30, just as it is in the beginning of Proverbs, in 1:7:
But a woman who fears
she shall be praised.