09 Aug The Proverbs 31 Woman: An Introduction
Do you cringe at the mention of the Proverbs 31 woman? (Did you cringe just reading the title of this post?) If so, you’re not alone—I would dare to say that most Christian women are right there with you. At one time or another we’ve all buckled under the guilt and shame of trying to live up to this passage’s list of “you should” messages. Nobody likes to be “should” on:
- “You should be the perfect companion to your spouse, advancing his status in the community.”
- “You should work in the garden, the kitchen, or the sewing room to add income to the annual budget.”
- “You should raise well-mannered and well-dressed children, feeding them three square meals a day.”
No doubt the virtuous Proverbs 31 woman rose before dawn and worked late into the evening to complete the lofty inventory of tiresome tasks contained in just twenty-one verses. Studying her example can leave us feeling equal parts admiration and agitation.
But here’s the thing: we don’t often think about the overall context of this passage when we read it. Here are just a few comforting points to consider:
- First, this list was compiled by a woman, specifically King Lemuel’s mother (see Proverbs 31:1). She hoped to instruct her son on how to make one of the most important decisions of his life—choosing a wife.
- Secondly, the virtuous woman was more than a stay-at-home mother. She thrived in multiple business endeavors, from marketing to real estate to trading. To all my businesswomen friends, know that the Bible does not shun working outside the home.
- Finally, Proverbs 31 was not intended to be a list of daily chores. Instead, it should be read as an epitaph, extolling the achievements of a lifetime.
In other words, relax—you’ve got plenty of time. If you’re not married yet, don’t stress. If your plans to have children have been delayed by finances or infertility, be patient. Simply bloom where you are planted and enjoy the season of life you currently inhabit. God’s timing is perfect.
An important thing to remember is that the Holy Spirit inspired this aspirational text to be included in the Bible and serve as a template for the ideal woman. God created you on purpose and for a purpose. He loves you and has an amazing plan for your life, no matter what season you’re currently in. I pray that you’d keep that in mind as we unpack the details of the Proverbs 31 woman together.