The Proverbs 31 Model for Wives and Mothers

We read Proverbs 31 and can get discouraged. How can I ever be all of those things? The good news is that God knows we are not perfect and will never be perfect. A healthy perspective of Proverbs 31 is to look at it as a role model. This is especially helpful for women who did not have good role models growing up. Join us as we take apart the last 20 verses of the book of Proverbs and reveal God’s vision for wives and mothers!

Proverbs 31: 10-31

Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character

10 

A wife of noble character who can find?

    She is worth far more than rubies.

11 

Her husband has full confidence in her

    and lacks nothing of value.

12 

She brings him good, not harm,

    all the days of her life.

13 

She selects wool and flax

    and works with eager hands.

14 

She is like the merchant ships,

    bringing her food from afar.

15 

She gets up while it is still night;

    she provides food for her family

    and portions for her female servants.

16 

She considers a field and buys it;

    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

17 

She sets about her work vigorously;

    her arms are strong for her tasks.

18 

She sees that her trading is profitable,

    and her lamp does not go out at night.

19 

In her hand she holds the distaff

    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

20 

She opens her arms to the poor

    and extends her hands to the needy.

21 

When it snows, she has no fear for her household;

    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

22 

She makes coverings for her bed;

    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

23 

Her husband is respected at the city gate,

    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

24 

She makes linen garments and sells them,

    and supplies the merchants with sashes.

25 

She is clothed with strength and dignity;

    she can laugh at the days to come.

26 

She speaks with wisdom,

    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

27 

She watches over the affairs of her household

    and does not eat the bread of idleness.

28 

Her children arise and call her blessed;

    her husband also, and he praises her:

29 

“Many women do noble things,

    but you surpass them all.”

30 

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;

    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

31 

Honor her for all that her hands have done,

    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Proverbs 31 is an Acrostic Poem

In verses 10-31, the conclusion of Proverbs is an acrostic poem.  “The ancient Hebrews knew her as the alphabet wife and mother of excellence.” (Daniel L. Akin & Jonathan Akin; Christ Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Proverbs).  Here’s why:

In English, the first verses would look something like this:

 “An awesome wife, who can find her?

 A blessed Lady, her husband trusts her, 

A caring woman, she does him good all her life, 

a diligent worker, she is skillful with her hands.

This poem artfully describes a women who is everything from A to Z.” (Daniel L. Akin & Jonathan Akin; Christ Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Proverbs)

Examination of the Verses

  1. She is trusted by her husband verses 10-12

The opening words, “who can find” do not mean that she does not exist!  Rather that she can be found and is of inestimable worth and a treasure to her husband.  Like Ruth, she is noble; noble is translated as strong, wealthy, able, and valiant (courageous/determined). He has confidence in her because of her competence and character.  Verse 12 says she will be a blessing to him all the days of HER life – so even if he dies before her, he can trust that she will not say bad things about him after he dies. In life and death, she will do him good. (Daniel L. Akin & Jonathan Akin; Christ Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Proverbs)

2. She is a hard worker verses 13-19

She is a fountain of energy.  Her husband as the spiritual leader, is the coach, but she is clearly the quarterback.  She calls the plays, sets the players in their proper place, and executes the game plan to perfection.  She uses her hands and her head.  She takes care of the family’s food, clothes, and schedule; she is the opposite of the sluggard.  She is business savvy; no foolish purchasing or indebtedness.  She is vigorous; not anemic.  She does what she can with what she has without complaint or self pity. (Daniel L. Akin & Jonathan Akin; Christ Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Proverbs)

3. She is compassionate verse 20 

She is tenderhearted, and conscious of those less fortunate than she.  She is generous and gracious; She uses her industry in charitable ways.  She helps the poor and the needy.  She is not so busy that she cannot see the hurt of others.  She treats her advantages not as an occasion for self-indulgence, but as an opportunity to be a blessing to others. (Daniel L. Akin & Jonathan Akin; Christ Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Proverbs)

4. She is ready for tough times verses 21-22

She is prepared for the good and bad times.  When difficult days come, she takes action.  She takes care of others first and does her best.  When cold weather comes, she clothes them with the finest quality garments she can provide (scarlet according to the Masoretic Text). Then she takes care of herself.  The text indicates she is a women of means.  Because of her character and commitments, God would entrust her with material blessings, knowing she will not hoard them but share them.  She is strong and elegant, gracious and attractive.  Her outward appearance only enhances the radiant beauty within. (Daniel L. Akin & Jonathan Akin; Christ Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Proverbs)

5. She is a blessing to her husband verse 23

The husband who finds such a woman is a fortunate man.  A man needs this kind of wife to make it and make it well, in the world.  She will not tear him down, but lift him up.  This takes place inside and outside the home.  She enhances his reputation, and extends his responsibilities.  His wife is his greatest asset and greatest advertisement.  That this man could win this lady speaks well of him and all take notice.  She can take a mediocre man and lift him to greatness. Largely because of the blessings she brings to him, he can take a seat amongst the elders, the leaders of the city. (Daniel L. Akin & Jonathan Akin; Christ Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Proverbs)  

6. She is endowed with Godly wisdom verses 24-27

She is active with her hands.  She is adorned by her character.  What she wears is always in style – her strength, honor, sense of humor, and positive outlook.  She is appropriate in her speech.  Words of wisdom and cascades of kindness flow from her mouth and fall from her tongue.  She knows the nuclear power of words and uses them well.  She is attentive to her home.  She watches each member of the family, sensitive to their personalities, conscious of their needs, and quick to spot danger.  She is free of anxiety and worry. (Daniel L. Akin & Jonathan Akin; Christ Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Proverbs)

7. She is admired by her family verses 28-29

Husband and children alike sing her praises.  Her children bless her.  They testify to her impact on their lives and her influence and still shapes and guides them.  Susannah Wesley is given as example here – she had 17 children, including Charles and John Wesley.  She prayed 1 hour each day for her children, and one hour each week per child teaching them spiritual matters.  She was very intentional.  Joining the chorus of the kids is the father.  And the children likely learn to praise their moms from watching their dads. (Daniel L. Akin & Jonathan Akin; Christ Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Proverbs)  

8. She is honored by the Lord verses 30-31

She has a godly perspective; the virtuous woman knows what matters, what lasts, and what is eternal.  Charm and beauty are not bad; they just don’t last and don’t make a woman great. Inner spiritual beauty does not deceive.  She receives Godly praise.  The life she lives day in and out will be fruitful and worthy of praise.  At the end of her life, looking back over the many years of service to God and to others, she will be able to say 2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (Daniel L. Akin & Jonathan Akin; Christ Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Proverbs)

Conclusion

Proverbs begins with a dad telling his son to make woman wisdom his wife, and it ends with a husband praising a wise wife.

Woman wisdom points to Jesus, and one can only be that kind of wife if she is in a relationship with Jesus.  The woman of Proverbs 31 is a saved woman; a born again woman of God.  The applause and praise of the world mean nothing; the applause and praise of God means everything!  She walks in wisdom because she knows that the ultimate incarnation of wisdom, is the Wisdom of God, Jesus Christ!  The gospel of Jesus empowers us to live faithfully in the roles God has called us.

If you do not know Jesus, it is not too late! Jesus can become a part of your life by simply inviting Him in and acknowledging that you are a sinner and need His forgiveness. All wisdom starts with a fear of the Lord. (Proverbs 9:10) Invite Jesus and His wisdom into your life today!

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