An Unattainable Benchmark
I’m not sure there’s any verse in the bible that’s more daunting to write about than Proverbs 31:10-31. The first time I read it, I remember thinking, “Yeah, I don’t think I’m going to read that one again.”
As a twenty-something-year-old woman, that verse was intimidating. How could any woman live up to those standards? But now, as a mumble-mumble-something-year-old woman, I have a very different understanding and appreciation of the verse.
My husband frequently talks about the fight for manhood on his site for men Brick Breakers, and understanding what it means to be a Godly man, a spiritual leader, and head of household.
A Wrong Turn in The Road
Somewhere along the way, in the last several decades, we’ve veered off course, and the meaning of what a “man” is has become muddied. You can check out his site to get a better understanding. It’s good stuff.
But it’s not only men who have been lost somewhere along the way. Between feminism and the social status quo, the woman described in Proverbs 31 isn’t always easy to find.
If you’re not familiar with it, or if you’re intimidated by it as I once was, give it a read. And then we’re going to talk about why it shouldn’t be intimidating, and how we’ve Americanized it to be something it was never intended for.
A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”
It’s truly a beautiful verse, and it was intended to be. It’s a poem. Not only is it a poem, but it’s an acrostic poem, which means the first word of each verse is written in order of the Hebrew alphabet. The nerd in me loves information like this. The bible is so cool.
This verse has been on my mind a lot lately. In the past couple of weeks, Scott and I have been witness to women acting with less than “noble character,” in both business and our personal life. As usual, whenever something keeps circling in my mind, I go to my husband about it so I can try to gain a different perspective and understanding.
I’m not naive. I have a realistic scope of behavior in people. It’s part of my job as a writer, and it’s one of the gifts God has given me. I can see pretty quickly to the heart of a person within moments. That gift has served me incredibly well in business, and it’s allowed me to protect myself, my family, and my business in certain situations.
But when I see a person’s true character, it doesn’t always mean I understand it. Scott is more realistic (it’s the cop in him), and he tells me, “Leah, there are people in the world who are just evil, and satan rules them.”
A Woman of Valor
Some translations show the verse above as “A virtuous woman, who can find? But this line is best translated from the Hebrew as “A woman of valor, who can find?”
When I think of the word valor, an image of a warrior immediately comes to mind. And I’ll be honest, I’ve felt anything but that recently. 2017 has been the most difficult year of my life.
Scott and I were praying about a situation the other morning that’s caused us some stress and anger. It’s caused me to have a lot of stress and anger. Nothing we can’t handle, and nothing where we won’t have victory, but it’s going to take time, energy, money, and battling satan’s pawns.
We’re truly dealing with demonic and evil forces on earth, and as Christians, we’re going to be constantly under attack. And we have been. But what Scott told me had such an impact I wanted to share it with you.
He said, “Your best weapon is the word of God as your sword. Leah, the woman, cannot defeat satan, and this person is truly satan possessed. But you can ride into battle as His daughter, wearing His armor. Satan cannot defeat Christ.”
Scott went on to describe how he saw me, as a daughter of Christ, decked out in full battle gear, wielding the Sword of Truth. After that prayer, it’s how I started to see myself, and I knew he was right.
I felt the stress and anger over this evil begin to evaporate, realizing I’d had the weapon all along, but it had been stuck in my scabbard.
I’ll also add in that during that prayer, I praised God for my husband and his wisdom, encouragement, and leadership. How loved am I that God gave me this man?
A Woman Of Worth
When you read Proverbs 31 as it was intended, you realize it’s not a checklist for an impossible standard. Whether you’re a stay-at-home-mom or have a demanding career, do what you do with valor. Do it for Christ! Put on your battle gear and celebrate His victory. Because who is more victorious than Jesus Christ?
“Eshet chayil”in Hebrew means, “Woman of Valor,” and it’s only used one other time in the bible. In Ruth 3:11. It’s a testament to Ruth’s character that she was worthy of this phrase.
She wasn’t a woman of valor because she fulfilled the checklist of Proverbs 31. She was a woman who lived for God. She wore the full armor of God, and her bravery, strength, and wisdom gained the attention of Boaz.
Don’t be discouraged by Proverbs 31. It’s meant as a blessing. Instead of the impossible checklist we’ve made it into, it reads with excitement, as heroic, for this woman has gone into battle with valor and won.
We are Proverbs 31 women not because of what we do, but how we do it.
Women of God are worthy to be praised. God used women throughout the bible, and He uses them today. They, and we, are worthy of praise. You are the daughter of the one true King.
Man and The Proverbs 31 Woman
This topic has brought on a lot of prayer and conversation the last couple of weeks between myself and Scott. It’s been great conversation, with a depth that has made me want to dig deeper and understand the word of God on a whole new level.
Proverbs 31:10-31 was written for Jewish men to sing as a song of praise and worship to their wives. It’s a blessing, and they still sing it today on the Friday night before Shabbat.
Look at the very last line of the poem. It’s not a command to only praise or honor women if they fulfill the duties listed previously. It’s a song of praise from a man to his wife, because she is worthy to be praised.
Proverbs 31:31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
I’ve mentioned Scott several times in this article for good reason. His strength and wisdom have helped me see myself as a Proverbs 31 woman, where as before, I kept wondering how far off I was missing the mark.
The two of us recently took the Strength Finders Assessmentso we could have a better understanding on how we compliment each other and fill in the gaps of our weaknesses. I truly recommend it for married couples.
My number one strength is knowledge. That means I have a desire to know as much information as I can gather about any situation.
Whether it’s gathering data for my business, or knowing everything I can about cities, hotels, and restaurants as we travel, I have a thirst to understand and gather information. Whether going into a meeting or a trial, you can bet I’ll have gathered every piece of information possible for me to collect before getting there.
This applies to people as well.
And this is where I recently hit a wall. I couldn’t comprehend the evil spirit we’re currently dealing with disguised in human form. I couldn’t understand this person. I couldn’t try to delve into the psychology or reasoning behind certain actions.
Forces of Evil
This didn’t stop me from trying to understand this person. I finally asked Scott, “What kind of woman is this? I don’t understand. I’ve never known a woman like this.”
Scott looked back at me and said, “You see, that’s the only kind of woman I’ve ever known.”
That statement bowled me over and broke my heart at the same time.
In our book, Life After Divorce: The Survival Guide to Remarriage and Blending Families God’s Way,he’s not shy about talking about his past.
Now, we’re not saying Scott hasn’t known good women along the way. He definitely has. But there was a point in his life where he was in such darkness, his spirit wasn’t capable of knowing a Proverbs 31 woman. I won’t spoil anything that’s in the book, so be looking for the upcoming release.
He’ll be the first to tell you he was looking for as opposite of the Proverbs 31 woman as he could find. In trying to self-destruct, he sought out those who would destroy. He confessed it was like a moth to a flame.
During that conversation, it gave me perfect clarity about why Scott’s been called to men’s ministry and to teach men how to be men.
You can imagine how his knowledge or expectation of women would be colored, if this was the only kind of woman he had exposure to.
But both of us can stand here today and testify that God moves mountains and still does miracles, because we’ve witnessed unbelievable change in each of us through the course of our relationship as we move closer to Christ. And we’ve witnessed unbelievable change in our marriage.
I can stand here today and say that I’m a woman of valor, who wears the full armor of God, and I can go into battle beside my husband. A man who has become light where there was darkness, a man who shows honor and valor, not because of the uniform he once wore, but because of the armor he wears now.
Scott told me something very wise about this person I was trying to understand, and something he’d come to understand years earlier.
He said, “Leah, light doesn’t understand the darkness. You are light. But what light does is make the darkness disappear.”
A Woman Who Fears the Lord…
Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Be encouraged. You are daughters of the King. You’re brave, you’re worthy, and you’ll be victorious, because God is victorious.
This doesn’t mean the enemy won’t keep trying to break through your armor. The closer you walk with Christ, the more arrows of fear satan will shoot in your direction. Fortunately, God’s armor is more powerful than any of satan’s arrows.
If you have a husband who lifts you up and encourages you, who gives wisdom and prays over you, who honors you because you’re worthy, then remember to praise the Lord for the gift He’s given you. It’s so special.
Do all things with valor,