A Closer Look at the Proverbs 31 Wife
“Many daughters have done virtuously, nobly, and well [with the strength of character that is steadfast in goodness], but you excel them all.” Proverbs 31:29 (AMPC)
Many of us have felt intimidated by the Proverbs 31 wife. We have viewed her as the model that we should follow but her life example seems quite unrealistic and impossible. Possibly we have been focusing on her long list of tasks and her endless serving, rather than her inward character and determination. After all, most of us are already over committed, overloaded, and overwhelmed. Most likely we will not respond positively to anything that suggests that we aren’t doing enough…
As I shared the title of my new book with a friend, The Path to Becoming a Proverbs 31 Wife, her response was, “Oh, I’ve always hated that Proverbs 31 woman!” What is it about this Proverbs 31 wife that makes us so uncomfortable? Have you ever gone through a study on the Proverbs 31 wife and thought that you just couldn’t measure up? I have. Knowing that I am a good wife, certain studies on this topic caused me to feel a bit irritated and even insulted. I mean, what is this talk of “merchant ships” and “bringing her food from afar?” Personally, I just shop at the nearest grocery store (exactly 1.7 miles away) and even then I can’t remember to bring my coupons with me. Sometimes, I fail at being frugal. And what is this “planting a vineyard” and “making garments” stuff? I mean, I have enough pressure on me already. I am down to just one child still living at home now but honestly, it was always all I could do to just get all the kids where they were supposed to be, keep the house somewhat clean and figure out what we were having for dinner every night. Initially, I didn’t find much inspiration within the Proverbs 31 scriptures. Instead, they left me feeling defeated from the very start. So, why then, am I writing about this topic now, you might ask… Because I am convinced that we have been reading Proverbs 31 through the eyes of our own pressures, frustrations and insecurities, and therefore missed some of the most life transforming truths found within these very scriptures! We have been missing something that we can’t afford to miss, ladies.
In Proverbs 31:29 we see that the Proverbs 31 wife excelled. In fact, this particular scripture says, “You excel them all.” What was she excelling at? At first glance of Proverbs chapter 31, it appears that she just did everything perfectly. And that is what bothers us about her. After all, most of us feel like we fail, every day, at something. And no matter how hard we try, we just can’t do everything perfectly…like her.
The word “excel” in Proverbs 31:29 comes from the word “excellent.” By definition it means “to be exceptionally good at or proficient in an area, outstanding, to surpass in some respect; achievements or accomplishments, to be highly skilled, to go beyond, to be distinguishable, and to shine.” What is it about the Proverbs 31 wife that distinguished her from the larger group? Could it be that she had gone beyond what the culture of her age had set as an acceptable standard when it came to the role of a wife, marriage, and the making of a home? Is this what these scriptures are really all about?
Excel in this particular text is the Hebrew word âlâh and it translates “to perfect, to work, to get up, rise up, to ascend, to begin to spring forth, shoot forth, increase, stir up, and leap.” We see then that the scripture is not saying that the Proverbs wife was perfect. Instead, she was a wife who was in a process of perfecting the skills that God had given her. If she was excellent at anything, it was because she worked at it. It was just that important to her. Still, there was something about this Proverbs 31 wife that was distinguishable from the group majority. Could it be that, at some point in her life, she made a decision to get up from her past defeats? Could it be that she just kept rising up no matter what came her way to discourage her and put her down? Was it her willingness to submit to God’s plan and process that caused her to spring up, and even shoot forth, as a woman ever-increasing in every area of her life? Was it her sincere desire to truly be the wife that God had called her to be that put her on the path of becoming the one we refer to today as our biblical role model? These are good questions.
I think it is safe to assume that this woman didn’t just come into the world as the sought after role model that we read about today. Neither did she enter into her marriage from day one as a wife that had it all together. Even if she was a God-seeking, God-fearing, virtuous woman before she became a wife, how many of you know that marriage is brand new territory? She may have been experienced and skilled in many areas, but this was a brand new venture where new skills needed to be learned and mastered. Most likely she did not enter into the role of a wife as the praiseworthy and sought-after model we read about today. No. There was a process involved.
Proverbs 31 describes the many characteristics of this model wife, but it does not describe her journey of becoming the great, distinguishable woman who we read about now. For each of us, the journey may look very different. This woman wasn’t perfect. She was in a process of being perfected. She was in a process of growing and developing into a wife whose value was beyond measure. She developed into the kind of wife who was a treasure and a rare find, the kind of wife that shined. It was a process. As she yielded herself to the Lord and His plan for her as a wife, she grew and developed. She was willing. She grabbed hold of how vital, how significant, and how valuable her role as a wife really was. She embraced it. She did not take for granted that God had chosen her for this role. Instead, she was thankful. She was honored, and therefore, she was passionate about every task. She grew and she excelled.
Today, more than ever, we need role models in our culture and time. I want to challenge you to take your focus off of the things that presently cause you to feel over committed, overloaded, and overwhelmed. Take your focus off of your long list of tasks and endless serving. Place your focus on growing and developing into the wife that the Lord has purposed you to be. Keep getting up from you past defeats and keep rising up no matter what comes your way to discourage you and put you down. Be willing to submit to God’s plan and process in a way that causes you to spring up, and even shoot forth, as a woman ever-increasing in every area of your life. Dare to go beyond what the culture of your age has set as an acceptable standard when it comes to the role of a wife, marriage, and the making of a home. Be that role model to a generation of wives who may otherwise lose their way.
For a more in depth study of Proverbs 31, pick up your copy of The Path to Becoming a Proverbs 31 Wife. Share this post if it spoke to you and be sure to join our mailing list for blog updates and special announcements!