So many of us are familiar with this set of verses. We've heard it preached in sermons and have seen it gracing the covers of Bible devotionals and journals alike. This chapter has a reputation all its own. While some may absolutely love this well-known chapter of Proverbs, and find the words to be motivational and affirming, other women are simply exhausted at reading the seemingly endless list of qualities the Godly woman should have—and for good reason! It can be daunting and a bit unnerving to see what this woman is capable of. A domestic goddess of sorts, the woman outlined in this chapter is certainly a tour de force in society. She cooks, she mends, she is a businesswoman, she watches over her house, and the list goes on. Is this something that we, as women of God, must mirror as well, and to what extent?
Today, we'd like to unpack this pivotal chapter and its true message. Let's push through all the uncertainty and emotions felt upon the first reading, and get to the heart of what God is telling us. When reading this passage, if you feel fatigued, instead of motivated, this blog post is for you! Let's dive in, shall we?
"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."
A Poem, First & Foremost
There's a lot going on here, but something we can see right off the bat is that this is a poem. This series of verses is acrostic, meaning that the first word of each verse begins with a Hebrew letter from the alphabet in succession. This ancient poetic literature is beautiful to read, but often repetitive. With lots of imagery and emotional words included, the reader is immersed into the world of an Old Testament Jewish couple navigating the joys and tasks of day-to-day life. Yes, a couple. The one beholding the beauty and work ethic of this impressive woman is indeed her husband. Instead of reading this as a list of to-do's in order to gain the title of a Godly woman, we can see this as a narrative of adoration and respect, from the husband to his wife. In this glimpse of their life, we see a determined woman accomplishing her daily tasks with unparalleled energy, wisdom, and grace—and her husband taking note.
A Nod to the Beauty of Everyday Life
In this way, we don't have to see her accomplishments as an exhaustive list of how-to's, but a glimpse into the ordinary, daily life of our husband and wife. Both find great joy and purpose in completing these little, seemingly mundane tasks. Perhaps that's something worth noting here. There is deep fulfillment to be had in doing your daily tasks with intention. She doesn't have to be someone of high status or nobility to lead a deeply meaningful life—she simply does what God has tasked her within her neighborhood, and does it exceedingly well. Her will is aligned with God's. What a beautiful thing!
An Invitation to be Purposeful & Spirit-led
With this outlook, this doesn't have to be seen as the precise end-all for every woman. Not every woman must have children, get crafty, plant a garden, etc. However, the Proverbs 31 woman is an invitation to be more purposeful, more connected, and more in step with God's will. This goes for all of us.
A Reflection of God Himself
It's clear to see this woman is an active member of her family and society as a whole. Where does she get this seemingly boundless energy to be all and do all? How does she find the motivation to serve her family and community alike? To be quite honest, who is that good? Well, the answer is God. The perfection of the Proverbs 31 woman may seem hard to match, and that's because it should be, in a sense. If we interpret the woman as a reflection of God, it makes sense to us why she is who she is. As someone who deeply knows Him, she's sure to act like Him, too. Isn't that the hope for all of us? As we grow in our apprenticeship to Christ and strengthen our relationship with Him, that we would become more and more like Him in the end.
Where True Beauty is Found
This leads us to question what true beauty is and where it's to be found. As women, we know the common answer to this. We know beauty is only skin deep, and we've been told time and time again that inner beauty is far more important. However, we're constantly bombarded with messages saying the exact opposite. If only we buy this beauty product, follow this workout regimen, do our hair a certain way, buy this style of clothing, then we will indeed match the exhausting beauty standards of our current day. We will be beautiful. Again, this passage welcomes a new perspective.
"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."
This popular verse gets straight to the point here. What is God's standard of beauty and fulfillment? Fear of the Lord and an obedience to His will. That's it! No mile-long tutorial on how to be the perfect woman, but a simple answer to His everyday call. Again, this is an invitation to see ourselves as God does and to value what He values. When our vision aligns with God, we're able to cut through all the murk and mire of social media expectations and lies and live simply. We're able to protect our hearts from the lies of the enemy saying we're not good enough. We're able to know God a bit more. We're able to serve our community and love more freely than we ever have before. We're able to look at ourselves in the mirror and know we have been fearfully and wonderfully made, and that God has a purpose for our life.
This is what Proverbs 31 is all about—an example of someone who is answering God's call and making every moment of every day count. Someone who is a direct reflection of God, Himself. We can walk away from this passage with a newfound sense of energy and joy for our daily lives, because these tasks are in our lives for a reason! Whatever your vocation, whether you're a stay-at-home mom, a teacher, or a barista, you can be a Proverbs 31 woman. The question is, will you answer God's call for your life today? Will you accept that He has something wonderful planned for you?
A Final Word
Lastly, if you're still feeling overwhelmed with this passage, we'd like to invite you to meditate on Matthew 11:28-30.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
If Jesus is who He says He is, then his presence is one of peace. There is no anxiety to be found in His presence, no critical list of works you must do to earn His love. He is peace. With this in mind, we can rest assured knowing that this same God, the one who inspired the energy and nobility of the Proverbs 31 woman is the exact same God who calls us to rest in Him. Do not be burdened by calls to be "perfect." In God, you are fully loved.
A Blessed Reminder
You have been created with a wonderful purpose! Do you realize that? We hope you walk away from this message with your head held high and your hands open to receive the amazing things God has planned for you. You can rep your favorite Proverbs 31 verses in our shop! Shop our selection of our Christian apparel, with collections featuring some of your favorite verses and imagery.