Proverbs has a lot to say about women. It is often said that the Bible portrays women, the ideal woman, as a servant. It just isn’t so. The book ends with a picture of a woman with strong character, great wisdom, many skills and great compassion. Proverb 31:10-31 shows that the ideal woman is an excellent wife and mother and so much more. As you read the verse, you will realize that her appearance is never mentioned. She is not described as thin, fat, tall, short, beautiful or average. Because her physical appearance doesn’t matter, regardless of what society says, which is why the section is often titled “The Wife of Noble Character.” So, I looked through the Bible to find examples of women who, in part, fit these characteristics.
The ideal woman is valuable (verse 10) and trustworthy (verse 11). She brings her family good, not harm, for all her days (verse 12). She’s industrious and she works with eager hands (verse 13). She’s a business woman who imports products for her family’s meals (verse 14). She’s diligent as she gets up early and provides food for her family and others (verse 15). She’s entrepreneurial as she “considers a field and buys it” and “out of her earnings she plants a vineyard” (verse 16). She is wise with money and only purchases quality goods. As I read these verses, I was reminded of Lydia in Acts 16:14-15. She was a businesswoman opened her home to Paul as he began his ministry. Another woman is Priscilla (Acts 18), along with her husband, Aquila, worked as a successful tentmaker and helped Paul’s ministry. Priscilla is an example of a wife who works as a partner with her husband and not as a servant for him.
The ideal woman works hard and strong at her tasks (verse 17). She is attentive to her business (verse 18) and she is a hard worker (verse 19). She is compassionate as she “opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy” (verse 20). She is confident (verse 21) and elegant (verse 22). She is admirable and her husband is admired in part because of her (verse 23). Ruth wasn’t afraid of hard work. She married one of Naomi’s sons and when he died, she decided to remain with Naomi and return with her to her home in Bethlehem (Ruth 1:4-19). As a widow, she would have been poverty striven, taken advantaged of or ignored. She gave up the possibility of security of another husband in her home of Moab, to take care of Naomi. She went to the fields during harvest and gathered grain left behind by the harvesters (Ruth 2:7). It was there she caught the eye of Boaz, who owned the field where she was gathering grain (Ruth 2:3). She later married Boaz (Ruth 4:13) and is know her for love of her mother-in-law, Naomi and her kindness to others.
The ideal woman is a capitalist as she “makes linen garments and sells them,” supplying “merchants with sashes” (verse 24). She is dignified (verse 25). She is wise and gives faithful instruction (verse 26). She is watchful (verse 27). She is honored by her family (verse 28) as she surpasses many of the other noble women (verse 29). She fears the Lord (verse 30) and acclaimed (verse 31). One woman I see in these verses is Hannah in 1 Samuel 1-11. She was fervent in worship and effective in prayer as she turned to the Lord with her troubles. 1 Samuel 1:10 says that “in bitterness of soul, Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord.” She brought her problem to God with honesty and devotion. Another woman I see in these verses is Abigail in 1 Samuel 25:14-28 when she was wise enough to know that her husband, Nabal, had greatly insulted the new king and set out to correct the situation. She gathered food and wine for King David and his men and sought forgiveness for her husband’s rudeness. Because of her wisdom, Abigail saved many men’s lives and promoted peace.
In conclusion, the Wife of Noble Character isn’t a model to imitate but an inspiration to be all you can be, to learn from her perseverance, integrity, and resourcefulness. The Book of Proverbs begins with the command to fear the Lord. Proverbs 1:7 says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” It ends with the picture of a woman who fills this command. Proverbs 31:30 says “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” When you read this verse, remember it is not about being perfect. While many of the women I mentioned did not fit every verse, they were examples of women who did their best. It is about living life with purpose, diligence, and caring for your loved ones the best way you know how with the Lord’s guidance and direction.