Who is the epic woman of Proverbs 31? It has been said that she possibly could be Ruth, King David’s grandmother. More likely, though, she is an ideal woman—a picture of a perfect type of woman—not an actual person. She is one of four fictional women in the book of Proverbs that are upheld as models (or lack thereof), for young men, in fact! One woman he is instructed to run from (the adulterous woman), one he is to avoid (the foolish woman), and one he is to pursue (lady wisdom). Finally, he is to court and marry the kind of virtuous woman described in Proverbs 31.*
As wisdom is imparted to young men throughout Proverbs in dealing with various types of women, we women can listen in. We find in Proverbs 31 what it means to be an excellent wife and we have the privilege of meditating and pondering how we can emulate this woman. Even so, it seems daunting at first. Can anyone live up to the standards described here? Really! When does she ever sleep (since “she rises while it is still night” [v. 15] and “her lamp does not go out at night” [v. 18])? When we realize that this description may actually be a conglomerate of all the godly characteristics of this woman over a span of time, we begin to get a realistic picture of how to follow her example.
Proverbs 31 is an acrostic poem about an incredibly valuable (“more precious than rubies”) and scarce woman (“A virtuous woman, who can find?”) who is right at the outset reported to be of great worth to her husband (vv. 10–12). Each verse begins with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet and extols the many qualities of this woman. The poem climaxes (in the middle of a chiasm at v. 23**) at the point where the woman’s husband is said to be “respected at the gates,” pointing to the fact that the woman’s noble character and commitments likely undergird his success.
Read the account in Proverbs 31 for yourself in order to know more about this excellent wife and mother and God-fearing woman. We thank the Lord for giving us this great picture of such an industrious and resourceful woman who is vitally connected to her husband’s life, so much so that the respect he gains in the community is related to her.
* See God’s Design for Man and Woman (online course) for further description of these Proverbs women. (http://biblemesh.com/gods-design-for-man-and-woman)
** See God, Marriage, and Family pp. 39-41 to learn more on the chiasm mentioned here. (http://www.christianbook.com/…/and…/9781433522857/pd/7595EB…)