Don't Pass over Proverbs 31
“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. . . Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. . . Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:10, 25-27, 30
The woman described in Proverbs 31 might be the most hated woman in the Bible. Even figures like Jezabel or Herodias don’t twist our stomach in knots quite like the one in Proverbs’ final chapter.
I have even sat in Sunday morning congregations where the pastor’s only takeaway from this passage was, “This is unattainable; you don’t need to worry about it.” And while I get that it feels impossible to live up to the expectations described by this most excellent woman, I urge you (and myself) not to give up on her too soon.
I believe these verses create stress among female believers for two reasons. First, we simply (and sinfully) don’t want to pursue this kind of godliness. It’s difficult. It requires sacrifice. It means we have to give up our cherished luxuries and laziness. Second, all we see in the passage are lists of specific tasks to accomplish rather than broader principles to strive for. But its message is not that a godly woman must make her own curtains or get only two hours of sleep; its message is about exhibiting a beautiful kind of strength, abandon, and faithfulness in the midst of life’s common challenges.
And the only hope we have for doing this is by having an eternal, Christ-centered perspective.
Father, help me cherish all the parts of Your Scriptures, even those that deeply challenge me. Give me understanding and make me willing to change, if need be, to fit what you have prescribed. Make it desirable to me if it isn’t desirable. Show me what obedience to this passage looks like in the context of the season and situation I’m in. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
What are the general principles or attitudes you see in the woman described here? What has been your attitude toward this passage of the Bible? If you have a negative perspective, what are some sinful attitudes or cultural carry-overs that may have influenced it?
Jessica is a native to the Appalachian mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, although she now resides in northern Virginia with her husband. She has been a lover of reading since elementary school and a lover of Christ since high school. She is a full time English major, in hopes that her studies will help her more effectively minister to other through written words. Her favorite things in the world are British tea, old books, autumn leaves, dry humor, and rainy weather. Her goal as a writer is to demonstrate how the Gospel, objective truth, and sound theology are not only applicable, but essential, to all aspects of life as a woman, especially in a world that celebrates sin, false doctrine, and self-sufficiency.