Over the next several weeks, I am going to break down the traits of an excellent woman that we find in Proverbs 31. If you are like me, you have read this and heard many sermons of this portion of Scripture. Let’s face it—no one can be this good (perfect).
I urge you to open your mind and heart to a fresh look at this. I have recently had a new understanding of these verses, and I want to share this with you. The truth is God gave us this picture of an excellent woman, so we can know who we are to be. We can know what our calling is as a wife, and we can know if we are failing or succeeding. Sometimes, it’s hard to know if we are successful. However, we can break these verses down and assess how we are doing. This section of Proverbs can be a tool of encouragement, not a constant reminder of what we will never become.
As we explore this together, I am going to use the NASB wording, and I will be using Matthew Henry’s commentary. I have read a lot of thoughts, commentary, and books on these verses. I believe Henry does an excellent job making these verses doable, not intimidating.
My recent understanding of these verses stems from a comment that was made by a lady at church. Her comment was not negative in any way. Rather, it was a statement of how she and her husband break down the daily tasks at home. This couple is high energy, and God has grabbed hold of them, and He is using them for great things. I have a lot of respect for this couple.
A group of women was talking about things that needed to be taken care of at home. It was a very casual, light-hearted conversation. This lady commented on how she does not ask her husband to help out with anything at home because she does not want to be a drain on him. She handles all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping. She does all of it.
All I heard was her say that asking my husband to help with things at home is a drain on him and stands in the way of what God has called him to do. How could I do such a thing? This is exactly the opposite of how I want to treat my husband.
Ben and I work well together. We enjoy working together. We have found working together to be very bonding. He and I are life partners, and that means we do all of life together. We are closely connected and do well that way. Not all couples can be together this much, but it works for us.
I let her comment fester. I began trying to do everything on my own. I was determined to not need Ben’s help with ANYTHING. I could do it all!
I did do it all. For a little while. In the process, I created such a wall between Ben and I that he was pleading with me to tell him what was going on. I pulled away from him because I convinced myself I was not good enough for him. He could not love this person that just drained him. At this point, I was not bringing good to him. He had a difficult time trusting me because he did not understand the drastic change in behavior.
Eventually, I told him what occurred. He laughed at me (in the most loving way possible). He rolled his eyes at me and grinned. He wrapped his long arms around me and held on tight while I cried that I was never going to be a good wife.
He listened patiently, and then reminded me that we work together. We work as a team. He and I are partners. We have built beds together for our children. We share household tasks. We like to work outside together. We built a rock garden together. We lead two ministries at church together. Our lives are very connected, so to start doing everything on my own, was not helpful.
Our homes will all run differently, but our attitudes should be what Proverbs 31 describes. To serve our family well means we have done our job. That is being an excellent wife!
10 An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13 She looks for wool and flax
And works with her hands in delight.
14 She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.
15 She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.
18 She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hands grasp the spindle.
20 She extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies belts to the tradesmen.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
26 She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
29 “Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.