Who is the Proverbs 31 Woman?

Who Is the Proverbs 31 Woman?

“Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.”
Proverbs 31:30

I have a love-hate relationship with Proverbs 31. It is part of God’s inherent Word, and as such, I will spend the rest of my life mining it to understand God’s love for me, His desires for me and His plans for me. However, the woman of Proverbs 31 makes me feel a little guilty; she kind of rubs my failures in my face. Admittedly, I’ve avoided this chapter before. But that was until I recognized her. The Proverbs 31 woman isn’t who you think she is!

Proverbs 1:20, 8:1, 7:4 and 14:1, refer to wisdom as a woman. The woman of Proverbs 31 is wisdom, not a perfect person. However, we are to develop these traits. Proverbs 4:7 says, “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.” And, Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” But how do we lay claim to wisdom? How do we learn to fear the Lord and by this grow in wisdom and begin to live out the characteristics described in Proverbs 31?

Christ is our wisdom. “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,”1 Corinthians 1:30. To fear the Lord and embody wisdom in all aspects of our life, we must seek first Christ and Christ alone.

Abby Kelly’s book, The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story is available on Amazon. She blogs at http://www.predatory-lies.com.

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Naked no more: Clothed in Strength and Dignity

I doubt I’m the only woman who finds the Proverbs 31 woman intimidating. Last year, I wrote a post about this, a paraphrase of that infamous chapter.

However, when I read the chapter in light of my One Word for 2013, a tiny segment of verses stands out. Verses 25-27 seem to skip away from her laundry list of to-do’s and been-done’s. Instead those three little verses give me a peak at her personality, what she’s really thinking and feeling. And surprisingly, in the midst of her busyness, she seems genuinely happy.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future.
When she speaks, her words are wise,
and she gives instructions with kindness.
She carefully watches everything in her household
and suffers nothing from laziness.”

While many in my generation revel in the greatest comfort our word has ever known: myriad conveniences, technology, progress and wealth, there are not many of us who Laugh at our future. What would it take? Where can we find the inner peace and joy to look forward and laugh? I want to laugh even when the stock market crumbles, even when I disagree with political decisions, even if I am unemployed, even if my loved ones die. I want to laugh at the future.

The Bible says this woman is clothed with strength and dignity. The Hebrew words strength and dignity can also be translated “to be fixed (strength) and to claim honor (dignity)”.

Those words remind me of Hebrews 12:2-3

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

If I were to resolve in this new year to be more like the Proverbs 31 woman, I would start here. I will fix my eyes on Jesus, becoming steadfast and immovable –  strong. And I will claim honor by despising shame. I will not accept defeat, shame or discouragement. Instead, like my Savior, I will claim the honor that is rightly mine as a child of God and I will laugh at the future. 

I Just Can’t Keep Up

Who can find a perfect wife? 

She is better than being rich, better than living on a oil field.

She will never let you down, you will prosper in all areas, have all sons, drive a BMW – all of your heart’s desires. 

She will work from home, and import exotic foods and know how to cook gourmet meals.  

She will barely sleep because she will clean your dessert plate at night and serve you breakfast in bed. 

She will handle all the financial issues – maybe even investing in real estate. 

She will be strong and capable. 

She will never be taken by a slick car salesman, all her purchases will be high quality. 

She will sew well and provide for the poor. 

Every winter she will make warm sweaters for you – of high fashion, too. 

She will weave the 600 thread count sheets for your bed and you will always be satisfied there. 

She will wear beautiful clothing.

Due in part to her excellency, you will be well-known in the city, your reputation will precede you. 

She will never stress out about the future.

She will teach your children kindness and truth, and she will never say a harsh word.

She will completely take care of you. 

She will never sit still and never waste time watching TV. 

In return, you and the progeny that she has borne to you, will stand up and applaud her. 

Tell me, how do you feel about that woman?  I would like to slug her.  She obviously has no needs and knows exactly what everyone else’s needs are before they do, and she meets those needs.

Meet the modern version of the Proverbs 31 woman.

Last Sunday, our pastor stated that the Proverbs 31 woman was a real historical figure.  He thinks that Lemuel’s mom sat him down and pointed at the neighbor’s daughter, her choice for her son, and said, “Son, that’s the perfect woman.”

Just a few days ago, I was reading Vonda Skelton’s Seeing Through the Lies.  Vonda says, “I don’t know about you, but I used to hate the Proverb’s 31 Woman.”  She worried, “Why can’t I be more like her?  Why can’t I bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan?”

Vonda’s conclusion is that the woman of Proverbs 31 was not a specific person.  “She was an example of a dream wife – a wife who would exemplify the wisdom of the proverbs.  It would be like me saying to my daughters, ‘Now listen, girls.  If you can find a man like this, he’d be worth a million bucks.'”  She goes on to imagine that 1. he would be rich, 2. all his stocks would do well, 3. he would always be able to protect her from financial difficulties and dangerous weather, 4. he would always speak kindly and give good advice, 5. he must be recognized for his achievements and respected publicly – SERIOUSLY?

Now, I’m not declaring emancipation from the duties of a godly wife.  But, as I pray about my own life and listen to your comments here and my girl friends and my sisters, I believe that today’s Christian woman is all too aware of her faults and short comings.  I spend most of my prayer time begging God to change me, improve me, make me a good wife, forgive me  – or take me out.  It’s exhausting trying to be as perfect as I believe all of my peers are, let alone measure up to the Proverbs 31 woman.

Romans 5:20, 21 “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

The Proverbs 31 woman is what a woman who kept all of God’s law perfectly would look like.  By comparison, I am a disappointment.  BUT, THANKS BE TO GOD who because of His perfect plan and limitless grace, now that I am aware of my short comings, I can come to Jesus who gives me His perfect righteousness.

Stop moaning over your failures.  Step off the treadmill of perfection.  Let His word bring you peace: “O Lord, you will ordain peace for us, for you have indeed done for us all our works.” Is. 26:12