Who is she? Where can we meet her?
Well, here’s the thing. This Proverbs 31 woman, she doesn’t actually exist. In Proverbs 31 they describe the ideal woman. The PERFECT woman, right? But that’s just the point. None of us are that perfect on this earth. God knows that. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. Hold up, let’s take a few steps back so you can see where I am coming from with this.
Imagine this woman:
Proverbs 31 :15-20
‘….She is worth far more than rubies…’
‘…She gets up while it is still night…’
‘…Her children arise and call her blessed…’
‘…She makes linen garments and sells them…’
‘…She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy…’
Wow! This Proverb woman is incredible!
So Proverbs 31 is quite a short chapter; only about 300 words long. Even so, it’s very well-known and highly influential. It’s been analysed and studied by dozens of faith based scholars. If you go to online book stores like Amazon.com, you’ll see that there are literally HUNDREDS of books written about this one, short piece of scripture!
But you don’t need to read hundreds of books to understand Proverbs 31. It’s pretty simple, actually. Here’s what you need to know. Proverbs 31 is in fact, part of a speech spoken by – you guessed it – a woman.
In Proverbs 31, a mother is talking to her son, trying to teach him what is valuable in women. The son is, in fact, a king. His name is Lemuel, and his mother isn’t just educating him in what sort of woman he should admire; she’s trying to tell him how to be a good king. So that’s important to also note.
Proverbs 31 has lessons, both to men and women. Presenting these words as a LESSON is important. See, when you give someone a lesson, it means you understand that they are a student. A student doesn’t know everything. A student isn’t perfect. A student is just someone who is willing to learn. And that’s fine.
We are students
In light of that, let’s approach Proverbs 31 as students, aware that we aren’t perfect, accepting that we aren’t perfect, and willing to learn from the wisdom of this Proverb. What should we learn from Proverbs 31? Are the values of the Proverbs 31 woman even compatible with most modern lives?
Let’s first acknowledge that modern life is complicated, and being a modern woman is even more complicated. We all have very different families, homes, jobs, habits and obligations. That means we all have different priorities. For example, some may say I don’t have a lot of money. Does that mean we can’t be a Proverbs 31 woman? After all, Proverbs 31 says:
She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard .
When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet
A field? A vineyard? I can’t afford a vineyard! How much does a vineyard even cost today?! What snow? It doesn’t snow in most parts of African countries.
The words of Proverbs 31 don’t need to be interpreted as rigid, straight forward instructions. Remember; we’re students. We’re here to learn. Let’s think of Proverbs 31 as a textbook.
Proverbs 31 isn’t telling you that you need to buy an actual field to be a good woman. No; that’s just an example of how a good woman might behave. Proverbs 31 is telling you that you should be careful with your money and invest wisely. Work hard, save up, and buy things that are useful and that will allow you to grow. This proverb advocates for an independent woman and independent thinker, a resourceful woman with inside and outside beauty.
Proverbs 31 isn’t telling you that you need to literally clothe your whole family in scarlet. No; Proverbs 31 is telling you to care for your family, to make sure their needs are met and that they are safe.
Maybe we can’t follow all the guidelines in Proverbs 31 all the time. Sometimes, we will make mistakes. We may find that we spend money carelessly sometimes or may give our children more candy than we should. But we must continue to try to build our character.
A Proverbs 31 woman comes in many different shapes because there is no single Proverbs 31 woman. She is what we all can try to be, in our own way with the help of the Lord. And she exists in all of us.