"Who can find a virtuous woman? For her worth is far more than rubies." (Proverbs 31:10)
Ah yes…The infamous “Proverbs 31 Woman of Noble Character.” Even when I say it in my head, I’m saying it in a voice-over with an echo. No matter how many times I have read this chapter, she always seems to make me feel inadequate, like I can never measure up.
A few years ago, my friend and I were preparing for a photo shoot to depict modern day interpretations of women of the bible, of course one being this infamous Proverbs 31 woman. At the time, I was this frazzled single mom balancing three children, a demanding career and taking college courses part time. Even with all my efforts, I still felt insignificant because the Proverbs 31 woman was a wife, not an unwed mother. She balanced everything, all while still maintaining a happy marriage; one of the toughest ministries in life.
Sighing through my frustration of not measuring up to this signature woman of the bible, I still stayed up late one night studying her, ending with: "Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord shall be praised" (Proverbs 31:30).
I fell asleep with my bible as my pillow so when the alarm went off to teach 8:00 a.m. class of 50+ people, I overslept. I jumped out of bed, got in the shower and into my car, speeding. Being that it was a Saturday morning, the streets were bare so I was making progress to get to my destination on time, despite my late start. All of a sudden, a car rushes up behind me and I see police lights flashing in my rear view mirror. I pulled over, reacted solely on gut instinct by throwing off my glasses, pulling out my hair-clip and flipping my hair, transforming into “The ding-bat blonde who told Mr. Officer that she didn’t realize that she was going ten miles over the speed limit.”
Thanks to my drama classes in high school, the police officer fell for my acting skills, let me off with a warning and a smile and I made it to my destination with two minutes to spare. I felt so accomplished that I had the power to manipulate and charm my way out of a speeding ticket. Then of course, that last line in Proverbs 31 came rushing back into memory of “Charm being deceptive.”
Geeesh! I can’t even measure up to that either. I put my glasses back on and pulled my hair back up feeling ashamed that I resorted to manipulating a man to get out of a ticket that I deserved. I thought, “At this point, I would be better at interpreting a modern day version of Delilah.” That night I picked up my studies and starting digging deeper into the character of this woman. I decided to research the ruby, as the first stanza said “She was worth far more than rubies.” (Proverbs 31:10)
“Rubies are only created when very specific minerals are combined together, the most necessary of which is corundum. They are formed mainly in high-grade metamorphic environments where hydrothermal fluids meet limestone,” (Waltham, 1999, p. 144). When there are rutile inclusions present in cabochons, there is a star effect.Corundum is naturally colorless and is one of the hardest minerals known on Earth. When combined with certain elements in trace amounts, corundum produces a wide variety of reds. When the aluminum oxide and trace elements are exposed to high pressure and extreme temperatures, they become the molten mixture in which the ruby crystals will form. When chrome, titanium, iron, vanadium or rutile, or even a combination of the metals, are included in the aluminum oxide mixture, the result is the fiery red color associated with the ruby. Rubies can be uniform in color, have hues of blue, purple, or orange, be bi-colored or even multi-colored, but are always a variety of red.”
After my studying of the formation of a ruby, I was blown away. Although the scripture didn’t give us much detail about this woman on her life before becoming this power house, digging deeper into the formation of a ruby gave me a lot of insight.
1. She was created from a combination of influences. She probably loved to read, learn and sought after knowledge and wisdom. This means she probably listened more than she spoke absorbing information and likely prayed and studied the bible faithfully, getting God’s attention. She made mistakes but due to her hunger for wisdom, she likely learned from them.
2. She came from high grade metamorphic environment. In geological terms, that means increased levels of energy, high temperature and pressure with increasing degree of metamorphism. In plain English, that would mean that she probably came from a tough environment. She may have went through some form of suffering and pain, possibly even being a former servant or a slave, which may have led to her strong faith as she likely had nothing else to depend on. That may have been the root of her compassion for the poor, willingness to work hard and humility as a leader. As she sought after God, she went through a metamorphosis. He allowed her to come under extreme heat and pressure, burning off all the impurities and hard edges, transforming her from a rock into a priceless ruby. Her pain became her gain.
3. No matter what her base color was, the dominant color was always a variety of red. This tells me that no matter her race or culture, background or ethnicity, Jesus lived in her. Sure, this scripture was written before his birth, death and resurrection but it had long been prophesied. His grace, mercy and love dwelled in her heart and soul. It is what set her apart. Like a star, her light shined bright which set her apart from the rest, attracting her husband. This is where God likely blessed her by upgrading her to a noble woman, much like Ruth and Boaz because she had proven herself worthy. In fact, this chapter/verse could very well be referring to Ruth as Boaz was known to sit at the city gates.
God loved this little rock so much that he used all of her imperfections to transform her into a ruby. But remember, she was far more precious than rubies. (Proverbs 31:10)
After I completed my research on this magnificent woman, I no longer felt insignificant. I felt like she was the end result of seeking Christ and pushing past the pain and heat of the refiner’s fire. I was just in the metamorphosis stages with all the burning and pressure. If I just keep seeking Him from the inside, eventually it will be apparent that He dwells me on the outside. When the time came for the photo shoot, I depicted her as a woman emerging from the dark, holding a ruby in her hands.
“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48:10).
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10).