The general assumption about the Proverbs 31 Woman is that she’s perfect. I used to think that her perfection was the reason that God decided to mention her in the Bible, but I couldn’t have been more wrong…
Like so many women, I had a “Proverbs 31 Phobia”. I dreaded studying the chapter of the Virtuous Wife out of fear. Fear that I would never be able to measure up to her. Fear that my faults would start showing through the cracks, and that God would never see me as a virtuous woman. I thought that I had to be “perfect” – something I knew I could never be. It was one evening during my Bible study time that God spoke to me and said, “Just read it. For real this time”. I had been avoiding that portion of scripture, and God wanted me to study it. Clearly, He had an awesome truth to share with me. Then, for the first time, I started seeing the Proverbs 31 Woman in a different light.
What makes this nameless, yet famous woman so significant, is not the fact that she knows how to cook, clean, have babies and stay at home while taking care of her family. It’s not the fact that she has great wisdom and business sense. It’s not because she’s an all-rounder. Of course, that’s great and valuable for any godly woman, but it’s her fear of the Lord that makes her a woman of virtue – that’s it. Her perfection doesn’t stem from her impeccable homemaking skills, but from her heart. Her perfection is not her own, it belongs to the One who owns her soul. The only reason why the Proverbs 31 Woman can be perceived as “perfect” is because she is a product of the God who lives within her. The only thing that’s perfect about her, is Him.
She doesn’t place her hope in her husband, her family or her looks, but in God.
Because of her fear of the Lord, she is able to be all that she is. You see, the Proverbs 31 Woman is the ideal example of a godly woman, not because she’s perfect, but because all that she does is a result of her relationship with her Saviour. She’s an example to every woman who wishes to please the Lord because she fears Him first and foremost, and every other area of her life flourishes because of it. That is something that doesn’t just apply to married women, but to every woman. Just like us, the Proverbs 31 Woman goes through many seasons in her life that needs His grace and guidance.
The Proverbs 31 Woman is no different from the type of woman that is described in 1 Peter 3. In fact, she is just a complete personification of the kind of godly woman described throughout the Bible. Much like a summary. If we read Proverbs 31 v 1-9, we will see that the words mentioned are by king Lemuel; a reiteration of what his mother told him when he was a child. Indeed, his mother understood what God expected from women. She understood what it means to be a woman after God’s own heart. If anything, the Proverbs 31 Woman should be an encouragement to women to pursue a closer, more intimate relationship with Jesus – not pressure us to be “perfect”.
In ancient times, Proverbs 31 v 10-31 was a popular rhyme taught to young boys by their mothers to help them find “ideal” wives. In short, their mothers taught them to look for wives who aim to please the Lord, and who don’t live for beauty, charm and vanity which all fade with time. They understood that a woman who “fears the Lord” will live in a way that is more beneficial and that will satisfy God. Much like that which Paul describes as being “pleasing in God’s sight” in 1 Peter 3 v 3-5. He calls it cultivating “inner beauty” – something that we can only receive from the God who IS beauty.
So, I have learned that all I need to do in order to be a Proverbs 31 Woman, is put God first and focus on my relationship with Him. He desires to have our complete devotion, He wants to be our first love – and that, dear virtuous young woman, is what He deserves. It’s His blood that was shed for our sins and the high price of His sinless life (1 Cor. 6 v 20) that makes us “worth far more than rubies” (Pro. 31 v 10). It has nothing to do with our deeds or what we do for Him (Eph. 2 v 8).
Rest assured, we don’t need to be perfect to please God, we just have to desire to please Him and act on that desire.