At some point, if you have been in church for any length of time, you have heard of the amazing Proverbs 31 woman. She is the epitome of the perfect Godly woman. She’s smart, capable of almost anything, and she is strong. She rises up early and her lamp does not go out at night. Her husband and children rise and call her blessed. She’s the woman who has it all, including an entire chapter in the bible dedicated to her wonderfulness.
I have tried forever to measure up to the Proverbs 31 woman. AND, in my desperate attempt to understand her and myself a little better, I have read books on this amazing woman, studied her in history, and even googled tons of information on how to become more like her. Yet, I often find myself falling short of such lofty expectations.
Along my journey to become more like the Proverbs 31 woman I realized something amazing. This passage is actually written from a mother to her son, the future King. The target audience is MEN. What I wouldn’t pay to see a Christian Men’s conference in which the theme text was Proverbs 31!
Proverbs 31 is not written to Christian women to instruct them on how to improve and measure up, but rather it was written for young men to instruct THEM for what type of woman to look for. This wise mother is basically telling her son to think clearly…don't make stupid mistakes, don’t get drunk, don’t chase around crazy women but yet search for a good, Godly woman. Someone you would be proud to bring home to your mama!
In my study of this passage I learned that in the Jewish culture it is the young men who memorize Proverbs 31. They learn it as a song of praise to the women in their lives-their wives, daughters, sisters, mothers, and friends. Yet many Christians interpret this passage as a command to women.
I discovered something in my research…the first line of Proverbs 31
“a virtuous woman who can find?”
Is translated in Hebrew as
"a woman of valor who can find?”
A Jewish woman explained to me that in their culture that she and her friends cheer one another on with celebrating everything from work promotions, pregnancies, weddings, and even battles with illness. Oh, to have friends like that!
As I continued my search for womanly valor I came upon the biblical story of Ruth. She was a poor widow foreigner who spent her days in a hot field gathering and threshing wheat. For most of her story she is neither a wife nor a mother. She’s just a woman working in the fields.
Ruth didn’t spend her days making clothes for a husband as she was widowed. She had no children to rise up and call her blessed.
She didn’t spend her days at the market place finding the best deal or keeping a spotless house. No, Ruth spent her days in the hot sun gathering the leftovers of others. And yet, Boaz says of this woman BEFORE she married him and has his child…
“All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character.” (Ruth 3:11)
Ruth is a woman of valor, integrity, and strength. She is truly a Proverbs 31 woman.
As a mother of five girls I have always read them stories of the great woman of the bible. I have encouraged them to rise up and follow their example. But maybe, I should have been reading those same stories and encouraging my five boys to find that Proverbs 31 woman instead.
Yes, with one happily married son (I adore my beautiful daughter in law), and four more handsome young men who will someday venture out to find his bride, I think a good study on Proverbs 31 is in the future for the Donnelly boys.
So cheer up my lady friends! Don’t be too hard on yourself. Seriously, some days I have all the laundry done, homeschooling was engaging and I have a delicious meal on the table. Other days, it looks like a hurricane swept through the house, the kids had terrible attitudes in school and we are eating cereal for dinner. It’s all about balance!
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