The Proverbs 31 Woman, She’s Not Who You Think She Is
I will always remember the day I first realized Proverbs 31 isn’t a check list of impossibility for women. You don’t know the utter relief I felt… then again maybe you will.
Here’s the skinny:
A woman (1), under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2), composed an acrostic poem that is recorded as Scripture (3), used to teach men how to praise their wives (4).
You heard that right! It’s not a job application. It’s not a check list. It’s not a literal manual for a woman’s life. Actually, the Proverbs 31 woman isn’t even a historical character. She is a symbol of a wisdom in the form of a woman, of all women (married or single) who live valiantly (5).
“An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.” -Proverbs 31:10 (NASB)
“Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” -Proverbs 31:31 (NIV)
Notes and Sources:
(1) “The words of King Lemuel, the oracle which his mother taught him:” -Proverbs 31:1
(2) “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” -2 Timothy 3:16-17
(3) “Verses 10-31 are an acrostic poem, the verses of which begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.” - BibleGateway, Footnotes
(4) “In Jewish culture it is not the women who memorize Proverbs 31, but the men. Husbands commit each line to memory, so they can recite it to their wives at the Sabbath meal, usually in a song.” -Rachel Evans, A Year Of Biblical Womanhood, page 88
(5) “From beginning to end, Proverbs is a practical handbook for leading a life based on wisdom. In the end, there are only two choices for both men and women: to embrace wisdom or to love folly. The woman of Proverbs 31 may well be meant to inspire both men and women with a picture of what a virtuous life, male or female, is capable of producing: shelter for others, serenity, honor, prosperity, generosity, confidence about the future—true blessedness. Who wouldn't want to be like such a woman? Who wouldn't sing her praises?” -Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda, Commentary