Life Lessons: A Proverbs 31 Woman
What does it mean to be a Proverbs 31 woman and is it still relevant today? I’ve always been told that this passage describes the epitome of what a godly woman should embody but seriously, this passage was written during King Solomon’s reign so it’s been a fair few centuries. Could a woman of the 10th Century BC really have that much in common with a modern woman? Sure life was tough but they didn’t have to worry with elementary school carlines, or broken washing machines or finding the best anti-aging cream. Surely, life was simpler and the wisdom of the passage isn’t quite as applicable to the contemporary woman who is struggling with contemporary problems?
While that may SEEM true we know cognitively that that CAN’T be true because the Bible is either 100% true and trustworthy or 100% not true and not trustworthy. You can’t pick and choose what you believe so with this understanding we go forward believing that a deeper look at Proverbs 31 can not only benefit our growth as Godly women but also benefit our relationships and our impact on those around us.
I’ve read this passage a dozen times and I always end with, “Yes, that’s what I need to be but how?”. So let’s break down the characteristics of a Proverbs 31 woman and view it through the lens of a godly woman of any generation. For the record, when I breakdown passages I like to look at them in a variety of translations because I often find that it gives me a better understanding of what the author was trying to say. Unless otherwise stated the version being used is the New International Version. Let’s get started...
A Proverbs 31 Woman: A Noble Woman
“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.”
First things first, I am obviously not a wife but I hope to be one day and I’m all about preparing for that task as the Lord would see fit so if this is a description of what a godly wife should be then I’m all ears even if I don’t have the hands on experience yet. Just like with any role in life I would hope you would prepare yourself for your new undertaking. Waiting until you’re married to figure out how to be a godly wife is about as useful as waiting until your drowning to learn how to swim. It’s a little too late. That ship has sailed. So in preparation for the future, what does it mean to be a wife of noble character?
“A wife of noble character who can find?”
Merriam-Webster defines noble as possessing outstanding qualities, being illustrious or having dignity. Those all sound like awesome attributes to me. In fact, if I think of some of the great women of faith in my own life I can easily say that they have many outstanding qualities and dignity that make them great representations of themselves and the Lord. They always take the high road, know just how to behave and treat others in a way that personifies light and grace.
The thing that gets me about this part of the passage is that it doesn’t just say a godly woman should be noble but rather it poses this as a question...Who can find a wife of noble character? The New Life Version says, “Who can find a good wife?” This tells me two things. One, this passage is not just meant to help a woman develop the traits that will make her a worthy wife but it is also meant to help a man discern what a worthy wife looks like in the first place. And two, this question tells me that finding a spouse that fits this godly purpose has always been difficult which is reassuring to know that we aren’t facing an unknown problem in the modern era.
“She is worth far more than rubies. Her Husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.”
Now, this noble wife is apparently worth far more than rubies or some versions say precious stones. According to the International Gem Society (Who knew that was a thing?) fine quality rubies are some of the most valuable gemstones in the world with record prices of $1,000,000 per carat!!! That is incredible and truly puts into perspective how valuable this woman is to her husband. Also, think about it in the context of the time this was written. Maybe you have a ruby ring or ruby earrings but in 950 BC the average person walking the streets had never owned, much less seen a ruby. The value was unfathomable. Essentially, she is priceless. The Contemporary English Version states it as, “A truly good wife is the most precious treasure a man can find!”. What an accolade!
The next part of the passage excites me because it shows the secure intimacy that should be shared in a godly marriage. While the NIV states that a husband has confidence in his wife and lacks nothing of value I think I prefer the NLV’s way of saying, “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will never stop getting good things.” or the Expanded Bible’s wording of, “Her husband trusts her completely [entrusts his heart to her]. With her, he has everything he needs.” While traditionally we view the man as the protector I think that a wife has a special position to be protector of her husband’s heart and confidences. This is why you have to be so careful “venting” your frustrations about the man in your life. Vulnerability is tough for anyone and nothing is worse than to think your confidences have been betrayed. I’ve heard women speak out against their husbands struggles, weaknesses and failures in ways that would be so crushing if it ever got back to him and was incredibly damaging in the eyes of those listening. Don’t speak in anger or frustration what can’t be taken back in joy. We all screw up or have bad days but we don’t want to be put on full blast.
You want your husband to know he can find rest and peace for his heart and soul within the confines of your spirit. I think the Voice Bible puts it best when it says, “She inspires trust, and her husband’s heart is safe with her, and because of her, he has every good thing.” Think of that confidant to which you can turn in complete vulnerability and without fear. The person with whom you don’t have to hide anything because you know you are safe. Imagine that security and peace. Now, think of losing that trust and safety. If you’ve ever experienced such a time it can be absolutely gut wrenching. It’s like having the breath knocked out of you and where can you turn? Your inner court of safety has been breached and you no longer have somewhere to hide. That can be a crushing blow to any relationship and often requires years to repair. Knowing this I think we have to be intentional in how we care for each other physically, mentally and spiritually. I find joy in knowing that I can be that safe harbor when the time comes and I hope I never take that for granted.
“She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”
The final part of this section speaks on the good things a noble wife brings her husband all of her life. The Voice Bible says, “Every day of her life she does what is best for him, never anything harmful or hurtful.” and the Expanded Bible words it as, “She does [brings] him good and not harm [trouble] for as long as she lives.” To me this sounds like a woman who is unselfishly loving her husband (and family) in a very real and tangible way. I think this has probably looked different in different time periods and throughout different relationships but I think in essence we are talking about love in action. I think as we move into the next section we will see how a woman of the 10th Century BC showed love and brought about good things in her husband’s life and how that can perhaps translate to the modern age. However, on not bring harm or trouble to your husband, I think we can all agree across the centuries.
When I think of bringing someone trouble I think of negativity and hatefulness. I think of toxic relationships and selfish desires. I think of discouragement and indifference. I don’t care if you are talking about a friendship, work relationship or marriage. When you start bringing this mess into a relationship you are helping the enemy build his lies. The world is harsh enough and we are already dodging enough attacks without facing “harm” at home. So think about it… Is your spouse afraid to tell you of a mistake because you will belittle them? Are you ONLY a voice of pessimism in your home? Do you build your partner up and strengthen their resolve or are you tearing them down bit by bit with little digs you may not realize are damaging? Or worse yet, are you indifferent to your spouse? Are they just an afterthought? Do they merely float in the shadows of your life and not hold a spot of honor?
It’s so easy to get stuck on the slippery slope of negativity and we know that no life will be perpetual sunshine and roses because we all have bad days but when we become the very catalyst for discouragement in the lives of others we need to reconsider where we have our perspective focused. Look around. Are you filled with joy and better yet are you filling others with joy?
My Take Away
Your character not only matters to you but can impact those around you.
Being a trustworthy resting place for someone is a high honor that should not be taken lightly.
The way you treat someone can have a ripple effect throughout their life for good or harm. Walk carefully and intentionally.