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Proverbs 31 Woman

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Proverbs 31: The Assumptions and What We Should Learn From Her

A normal assumption of the Proverbs 31 woman is a woman who is perfect. A woman who has her whole life put together, is simply astonishing in every way, and is surprisingly a woman that many Christian women dread to read about. What makes this woman so significant is not that she knows how to cook, clean, care for her children, and work hard, it is her wisdom that shines through and her fear of the Lord that makes her a woman of virtue. Other people have speculations of the Proverbs 31 woman; being too feministic, figuratively speaking on what a woman should and should not be, and trying to create a cookie cutter woman that is seen as perfect. Proverbs 31 is a great chapter, yet why do so many hate on it?
Most people know about the Proverbs 31 woman, but most people actually don’t know the real story of the man behind this. The content of this chapter was written by a mother to her son, King Lamuel, who most people believe to be King Samuel. So if it was King Samuel than that means that the mother was Bathsheba, also the wife of King David. Proverbs 31 was actually meant for men, not necessarily women. It’s the man’s responsibility to find this woman who is rare to find because she is a jewel among many stones that symbolize the worldly women. Proverbs 31 was meant to be memorized for Jewish men.
Yet many Christian women seem to cringe when reading Proverbs 31 because of the feeling of inadequacy. Some even speculate and wonder if this woman actually exists, or if it’s some kind of fairytale like Cinderella. The Proverbs 31 woman shouldn’t be a woman who is looked down upon, but a woman of such wisdom we need to dig deep to find. Many people who read Proverbs 31 will say that the passage is a feminist approach. One woman on a blog I read said, “I am a Christian, and I strive to be everything that God wants me to be. But when I read this chapter, I feel like a failure.” It is so easy for women to look at this woman who seems so perfect and loving in every way, it’s hard to not compare the pros and cons of a Proverbs 31 woman. Sadly, so many women only see the negative parts of this woman, and don’t pay attention to the whole of the wisdom that the author wanted us to take from.
A lot of people wonder how the Proverbs 31 woman is different from the other women and how she is different than what they believe she is, many get confused by her main focal point in life. There is actually a couple reasons; first of all, her focus is primarily on God, not her husband or her children. She fills her duties and works with what she believes God wants her to do not what others want her to do (12-19). Secondly, she is compassionate and kind to everyone (20,26), because the Proverbs 31 woman fears the Lord, she gives what she has to the needy and is fair to everyone who works for her. Thirdly, she delights in God’s commandments. Proverbs 31:21-22 says, “When it snows, she has no fear for her household, for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.” Whether this woman literally sews her own clothes or goes to a local department store to clothe her children and her husband is part of her agreed duties as a wife and doing this with a joyful spirit out of service for God is what makes her a woman of Proverbs 31. There could be feministic views on this certain passage though because of the way it is worded. Saying she makes clothes and works late at night (18,19) yet it doesn’t say anything about the husband strikes some people as a shaky approach to what the bible says a wife should be. This is where people get confused though because it is certainly not saying anything on what a wife has to do, it is reciting what it says in 1 Peter 4:10 “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” It isn’t saying that we need to be servants to our families, only servants of God, and being a servant of God is being there for your family and doing whatever you can to serve them too. Lastly, the Proverbs 31 woman is a peacemaker. Psalm 34 teaches that the fear of the Lord involves peace, the Proverbs 31 woman is both peaceful and truthful. The woman who fears the Lord is to “She keeps her tongue from evil and her lips from speaking lies” and is to “turn from evil and do good, and to seek and pursue it” (Ps. 34:11-14). Carmen J. Bryant says, “A wife who truly fears the Lord, then, is the epitome of the Proverbs 31 woman. She is the woman who will continue to grow in wisdom, carrying out all of her duties in the manner that God desires.” Some people believe that there is a connection between the Proverbs 31 woman and a woman in the bible named Ruth. Bryant writes again that, “In the Hebrew Bible . . . [Ruth] is considered an addendum to the book of Proverbs. The character of Ruth is thus portrayed as a historical example of the “virtuous woman” of Pr 31:10-31. . . . Boaz calls Ruth “a woman of noble character.” In that same passage, Boaz says of Ruth, “All my fellow townsmen [lit., those at the city gate] know that you are a woman of noble character” (3:11). Boaz thus says of Ruth, the ancestress of David, precisely what the poem in Pr 31 says of the virtuous woman.” There are actually a handful of differences between Ruth and the Proverbs 31 woman though. While the Proverbs 31 woman had a husband and children who called her “blessed”, Ruth had no children and was a widow. Also the Proverbs 31 woman was seen as pretty wealthy and stable while Ruth was poverty-stricken and poor. These two women were both very different from each other, yet they were both notable in the bible. Then why were they so notable? Because they both feared the Lord. Bryant points something out near the end that says, “seeing the relationship between the notable wife and the widow Ruth should remove many of the stumbling blocks that women encounter when reading Proverbs 31. It is possible to be a noble woman, whether married or single. Unfortunately, many popular treatments of the subject intensify discouragement rather than alleviating it, either by skewing the interpretation of the text or by trivializing the nobility ascribed to the Proverbs 31 woman.” The Proverbs 31 woman is indeed fictional since she was never really named in the chapter. The poem gives good examples on what a Godly woman should be like though. This is where most women shouldn’t be worried or fret that they aren’t good or perfect enough to be like this woman, but that is also the point. The Proverbs 31 woman lives exactly like Jesus if he were to be a woman. Therefore, she isn’t who a Christian woman’s main target should be when wanting to be conformed to something, Jesus is. Because of her fear of the Lord she is able to be all that she is. The Proverbs 31 woman is an ideal example of a Godly woman, not because she is perfect, but because all she does is in result of who she does it for, which is God. The only reason why she can be perceived as perfect is because she is indeed an example of the God who dwells inside of her. The only thing that is truly perfect about her, is Him.

Bryant, Carmen J. "Consumer Perceptions - Fact or Fiction?" Aviation Food Safety (2005): 16-31. Living Well. Web.
Edvans, Rachel. "3 Things You Might Not Know about Proverbs 31." N.p., n.d. Web
Kelley, Erin. "The Commonly Misunderstood "Proverbs 31" Woman and Why I Don't like Her." FilledWithGrace. N.p., n.d. Web.

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