So what is the profile of a good woman? The Bible makes some very clear comments about the feminine ideal in the context of a family and a community. ♦
It’s my wife.
She’s profiled right there in Chapter 31 of the Book of Proverbs.
The Book of Proverbs is very readable if not necessarily orderly structured. These “words of the wise” (Proverbs 22:17) provide practical guidance and cover a variety of subjects such as knowledge, morality, chastity, associations with others, laziness, and justice.
There are also stern warnings against sin and an overarching call to wisdom, the source of which is “the fear of the Lord.”
But the final, 31st chapter outlines a detailed profile of a virtuous woman, the kind of woman one’s mother would want her son to marry. Literally, that’s what happening here:
The words of Lemuel, king of Massa, which his mother taught him. (Proverbs 31:1)
After some strong suggestions against strong drink for kings and rulers and a call for righteous judgment and good care for the poor and needy (v 2-9), the rest of the chapter (v. 10-31) is devoted to describing the ideal women in the context of a family and a community.
It’s a fascinating profile in and of itself.
And a wonderful thing to realize you’re married to one who achieves such a noble Biblical standard.
The Virtuous Woman
Here are some summary characteristics of the Bible’s view of the ideal woman:
- She’s a Good Wife – she’s more valuable than riches. She is trustworthy, supportive, and treats her husband well. (She is far more precious than jewels…She does him good, and not harm – Proverbs 31:11-12)
- She Works Hard – she gets things done, not unwilling to used her skilled hands – in Solomon’s time she made fabric and sewed clothes. She’s not idle or lazy. (She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. – Proverbs 31:27)
- She Cares for Others – she has the grace and kindness to help others beyond the loving care she provides in serving her family. (She rises while it is yet night [well, sometimes]…she opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy. – Proverbs 31:15, 20)
- She’s Savvy – she’s not ignorant in the ways of the world and knows how to interact as both a buyer and seller. She understands value and doesn’t hide from negotiations. (She considers a field and buys it…she perceives her merchandise is profitable. – Proverbs 31:16, 18)
- She Takes Care of Herself – she respects her worth and does not neglect her own needs, both physically and spiritually. (She girds her loins with strength and makes her arms strong… her clothing is fine linen and purple. – Proverbs 31:17, 22)
- She Speaks with Wisdom – her strength is in her wisdom and discernment. She kindly shares her thoughts as she encourages others. (She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. – Proverbs 31:26)
- She Supports Her Husband – she lets her husband work and minister and confidently integrates her own life and ministry. (Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land. – Proverbs 31:23)
- Her Family Cherishes Her – she is loved and supported by her husband and children. (Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. – Proverbs 31:26)
- She Loves God – she understands the Truth of the Lord and is blessed and fruitful. (Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. – Proverbs 31:30)
My humble wife will not easily accept this lavish praise. The Biblical Wonder Woman is not boastful nor seeking of heralded recognition. That’s what makes the Proverbs 31 woman so special.
She simply is, and operates, and produces, and engages, and knows, and loves, and is loved. And she does it with steady hands and driven purpose, fueled by God and natural inclinations. It’s a marvelous thing to behold.
And, as stated, lest any woman feel discouraged at meeting such a standard, my wife has grown and developed into this ideal after a lifetime of God-infused shaping, directing, and surrendering.
Do you know any women like this?
“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” …Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. – Proverbs 31: 29, 31