Proverbs is a book of wisdom, and chapter 31 is not lacking in that respect. In fact, there is so much wisdom in that one chapter that one post will never do it justice. I hope to touch on this topic again later, and let this post suffice to be an introduction into what I’ve personally learned from Proverbs 31.
Who was she?
I’ve often wondered who the virtuous woman was, who was so carefully described and praised in Proverbs 31. I’ve also heard so many different opinions about her!
Personally, I’d like to believe she was Lemuel’s mother, praised by her son; but I don’t think we can ever know for sure. I like to think this because the description comes right after the ‘prophecy that his mother taught him’. I also think the verses describe a woman of status with women serving under her, and a woman of wealth who can invest in a vineyard. Such a woman could be the mother of a ‘kingly’ man. Though history does not note a King Lemuel, he may have been admonished to behave like one because of his inherited wealth and position. Who knows?
What I do know is that the chapter gives us an example so we can walk in the steps of a wise and virtuous woman. I believe that many woman fit this description, and I believe that I can one day fit it as well! I believe, that if we take this chapter in context, we can do each of the things that the ‘virtuous woman’ has done. For example, we can take the context that the virtuous woman makes careful and long term investments “she …and planteth a vineyard”. We can realize that we do not have to literally all plant vineyards to be virtuous women, but we can look at our talents, and invest them wisely for future gains.
What was she like?
The virtuous woman is a woman of the Word of God and of prayer. “But it never mentions her reading or praying!” you might say. Does it not? Let’s look…
She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.Proverbs 31:26
In this verse we see the phrase ‘the law’ the word that is translated from Hebrew to ‘the law’ is the word ‘Torah’… sound familiar? The Torah is the common term for the first five books of the Old Testament, or ‘the law’ of God. Where would she get this law that is in her tongue? I believe it is clear that she studies the scriptures. Did she read them? I can’t prove that, but she had to receive them somehow either through reading or hearing. If I were to say of someone ‘she is always speaking the words of Jesus’ I think it would be unnecessary to elaborate that she studies the New Testament. So, though it doesn’t clearly state she ‘read’ the scriptures, we do know she knew them, or they couldn’t have been on her tongue.
Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.Proverbs 31:25
When looking into how to become a virtuous woman, I looked into this verse and found an absolute gem! I was looking into the words ‘strength and honour’ because even though I had a hunch what they might have meant I wanted to be sure. What did the virtuous woman clothe herself with? Well strength is pretty obvious and can mean physical and spiritual, but honour was a bit more perplexing to me at first. When I looked it up for context I found that the Hebrew word is ‘hadar’ and is only used a handful of times. Notably in these two verses:
Glory and honour are in his presence; strength and gladness are in his place.2 Chronicles 16:27
To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD.Psalm 149:9
What kind of honour does she clothe herself with? The honour that comes from God’s presence- which we enter into in prayer. The honour that a saint wears- a servant of the most high God! The virtuous woman was a woman of prayer. She clothed herself with the presence of God and wore it as a saint wears the armor of God today.
Her actions are purposeful as well, we see in verse 12 that “she will do him good and not evil” vs 13 “she seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands” (bold is mine). Being a virtuous woman then, is not accidental, coincidental, or happenstance. A virtuous woman is intentionally virtuous.
A woman of the Word, a woman of Prayer, and a woman of Action. That’s what I see in the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31.
I could go on and on…
But I feel I must summarize it here. There are so many directions I want to take this. They will have to wait for future posts or this will be extremely long and possibly confusing.
So, in summary: we cannot know exactly who she was, but we can see what she was like and that’s the important part. She was wise, and knew the Law (word of God) so she knew the scriptures. She was a woman of God, and a woman of prayer who spent time with God. She was a woman of action, intentionally and purposely doing good to those around her.
What must we do to be virtuous women then? Firstly, we must know and serve God. We must actively be studying in the Word of God, the Bible, so that it is in our mouth. Secondly we must be women of prayer, clothing ourselves in The honour that comes only through God. By prayer and reading in God’s word we can discern what he would have us do in our season of life. Then, lastly, we must be active in doing God’s will. We must be seeking how we can do good to our families and those around us.
I hope to continue in this chapter, and look at the many applications that are in it for marriage, family, and prayer. I hope also that you were blessed in reading this simple introduction to what I see here in Proverbs 31. Let me know in the comments what you think!