A Worthy Woman
“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” (Proverbs 31:10)
Okay, ladies, I know what you’re thinking. Oh good, another guy telling me I have to live up to the standard set by the Proverbs 31 Woman. Not so fast! Gentlemen, this one’s for you.
Have you ever noticed who the target audience of Proverbs 31 is? The chapter begins, “The sayings of King Lemuel – an inspired utterance his mother taught him.” This is written to a guy!
And take a quick survey of the man’s responsibility in all this talk about a woman’s virtuousness. Is the man told to judge her based on the standard set by the Proverbs 31 Woman? On the contrary, whether you’re a husband, boyfriend, son, brother in Christ to a woman, here’s what Proverbs 31 says to its target male audience: have full confidence in her; praise her; honor her; let her works bring her praise.
We do a disservice to women if we see Proverbs 31 as a checklist of things a woman must do to be considered excellent. (Uh-oh! Honey, you didn’t make and sell any tapestry, fine linen or sashes today. Step it up, girl!)
Boaz said of Ruth, “all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.” In Hebrew, he said she was an eshet chayil. (Don’t ask me how to pronounce that – I am pretty sure it involves some epic throat clearing.), That’s the exact same Hebrew phrase translated “wife of noble character” in Proverbs 31. And when Boaz said that of Ruth, she was not a wife, she was not a super-mom, she was not a successful small-businesswoman. But she did have a noble and virtuous character, just the same as the Proverbs 31 Woman.
No, the Proverbs 31 run-down is not a checklist for the woman to be judged against. Rather it is a mother instructing her son: When you see a woman demonstrating this kind of strength of character – in big ways or small – that’s the time you need to stop what you’re doing and praise her, celebrate her, help her, because women like this will make a man like you look successful, tolerable, and honorable even!
Thank you, God, for who our women are, who you are creating them to be, and the blessings of our relationships with them. When they feel inadequate, insignificant, insecure, unsure, or overwhelmed, help them be able to identify those as lies from Satan. Help them to rest in their identity as holy daughters of the Creator of the universe. Thank you for their desire to serve you and your people. They truly are “worth far more than rubies.”