A Fresh Look at the Proverbs 31 Woman**


Picture this scenario.  You’re a young woman, perhaps in your twenties or thirties.  Maybe married.  And maybe with children.  You’re dining with either one or both of your parents in your hometown.  You’re munching on our salad when along comes one of your parents’ friends.  Almost immediately, your mother and/or father starts bragging on you, about your career, your parenting, your children, your talents… pick your topic.  Is your reaction to blush, smile, and say “thank you”, or is it to roll your eyes and say, “Mom, Dad, really.  I’m not nearly as perfect as you’re purporting me to be!”

I think a lot of us women approach the Proverbs 31 Woman in the latter manner (see Proverbs 31:10-31).  I know I used to.  Like, how on earth could I do the following:

  • Do good and not harm to my husband not just today but all the days of my life? (v. 12)
  • Seek wool and flax [maybe in today’s terms make wise shopping decisions]? (v. 13a)
  • Work with my hands willingly [like sew clothes.  Really?] (v. 13b)
  • Rise before dawn and provide food not only for my husband and wife but kids, not to mention the hired help? {v.13)
  • Consider a field and buy it (make big purchases without husbandly input?)? (v. 16a)
  • Work late into the night (and does this coincide with the early rising mentioned above)? (v. 18b)
  • Make her own bed linens and clothing for her family? (v. 22)

Are you tired yet?  I could go on with many, many other examples, but they’re listed right there in Proverbs 31:10-31.  Me?  Usually, I’d groan and flip to another, more encouraging passage, with a resigned sigh as I admitted that no way on earth would I ever amount to anything if I kept comparing myself to the Proverbs 31 woman.

Then came last Tuesday.  You see, I meet with some women of my church for a Bible study each Tuesday night.  This year, we’re studying women in the Bible and have so far handled real women like Esther, Ruth, Sarah, and Rahab.  Then came the fictitious Proverbs 31 Woman.  I approached this chapter with a fair amount of trepidation, especially since I’d tripped myself up and because I thought I’d left the book at work so I couldn’t read the passage (long story there).

When we started discussing the passage, our leader for last week mentioned how she’d heard a different take on this passage.  One of an image where God is bragging on His daughters.  See what they can do?  How they serve their families tirelessly?  How her husband views her as his equal and trusts her in both large and small decision?  How she’s so talented?  Doesn’t that sound like how our own parents brag on us to their friends?

I thought about that for awhile.  And to be honest, it was freeing.  No longer did I have to measure myself against a woman who I viewed as perfect.  Instead, I began seeing myself as a woman who has weaknesses just like every other woman.  But also as a woman who has many talents and strengths.  Talents and strengths that those who love us like to brag on.

So, as you ladies read Proverbs 31, remember one thing.  You are loved by God.  You are His daughter, and He loves to brag on His daughters just as much as His sons.

**Many thanks to Terry for her kind words and a new take on the Proverbs 31 Woman.

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