“Praise God for Excellent Wives”Categories: Christian life, good work, marriage, wife
The woman depicted at the end of Proverbs 31 is fictitious. That is not to say she cannot be found or does not exist in many hard-working women across the centuries, but the wisdom writer wrote of the ideal woman.
Solomon wrote most of Proverbs, and his stated intent was to help his reader know wisdom and instruction and to understand words of insight (Prov. 1.2). He wrote as a father to a son, and much of the wisdom found in the book guides a young man away from the pitfalls and traps of the adulterous woman of folly and towards lady wisdom. The first nine chapters instruct with a unified voice, “Listen to Wisdom; she desires your good! Flee the adulterous woman; the path to her house is the path to hell.”
The book begins with Lady Wisdom (Prov. 1.20–23; 3.13–18; 4.5–9; 8.1–9.12) who wants to care for young men and provide them healthy living, and it closes with a marvelous description of a woman who would make an excellent wife. The Proverbs 31 woman is Lady Wisdom incarnate.
Her husband trusts her with everything. He knows she will not squander their money. Instead of wasting wealth, she contributes to the household income streams.
She skillfully makes things for her household: plenteous food, fine garments, lovely bed coverings. Not only does she make them for her household, she also sells them and gives to the poor. She manages a house which provides—largely because she works hard to make sure these things happen. She purchases land and cultivates a vineyard. In a word, she is fruitful.
What can we say of her character? She diligently rises before the sun to accomplish her daily work and works into the night by lamplight. She “dresses herself with strength…strength and dignity are her clothing.” She “laughs at the time to come,” which expresses not only her sense of well-being but also her joyfulness in the face of uncertainty. Because she is prepared, she can laugh.
In the center of the poem we find, “Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.” Taking nothing away from his character and work-ethic, we understand this note is not about him—it’s about how his excellent wife has been a great force behind his respected status. As husband and wife are one flesh, we observe in this couple a mutual, harmonious, synergetic relationship where each blesses the other, and God works powerfully between them.
The poem begins with the heart of the husband trusting in her and ends with the husband praising her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”
But the key to everything lies in one of the last statements: “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” The secret to all is in the fear of the LORD! Indeed, what an excellent way to end the book of Proverbs…much as it was begun, for we read in Proverbs 1.7, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.”
May my sons each find a woman who they can trust their hearts to. May my daughter become one of these excellent women. God has blessed me to be married to an excellent wife who is worth more to me than any amount of wealth.
These women aren’t found under every rock; they are uncommon. You will not find an excellent woman among people who do not fear the LORD, so only look there! Realize, also, that women grow into this kind of strength and dignity. Proverbs 31 shows a woman who has been diligently working, building, and growing for many years, a picture of long-term walking with God. Again, this is an ideal woman—no one will look exactly like this—but find you a woman (or be a woman) who wants to look like this.
Praise God for excellent wives!