It's been laid on my heart these last 2 weeks to be in the Word and studying Proverbs 31. I've been flustered of late with some recurring marital issues, and there is no better place to find help and encouragement than your Bible. So here's my thoughts on this passage.
First of all, this is a dialog from a mother to her son, King Lemuel, as is made evident in Proverbs 31:1. So it's a mom laying out for her son what would be desirable characteristics in her future daughter-in-law. What woman doesn't want the perfect wife for her little boy? For all the times I've read this passage, I never bothered to read the background, and I found that very interesting.
Verse 10 starts the actual description of the "Wife of Noble Character". Hmmm, noble character. What exactly does that mean? I think that it's Lemuel's mom's way of telling him to look beyond the superficial. Our culture today is so shallow, deifying appearances. It makes me wonder if this particular cultural flaw isn't something that has been a concern for many generations.
Verses 11 & 12 talk about how her husband has full confidence in her, that she will never bring him harm. How often do we see women today lift themselves up by pushng their husbands down? Have you watched a sitcom lately? We'll bent on portraying the men we married as buffoons, and we of course are far smarter than them and willingly use our superior intellect to degrade them.
Verses 13 to 19 expound on her industrious nature. She is wise in her business dealings, hard working, and ever on-the-move for her family. I think this is the place where the Word really tugs at me. I'm always pushing to live a cheaper life, and I always seem to fail.
Verse 20 highlights her compassion and charity. She sees the needs of others, empathizes, and assists.
Verses 21 to 24 discuss her clothing her family. I take "clothing" as a metaphor for caring. It's her job to care for her family, in the highest regard (scarlet and purple). And she does an amazing job with that.
The chapter goes on to talk about her speaking with wisdom (ladies, note that doesn't say anything about "nagging"). She isn't lazy. She's paying attention to everything that goes on in her home.
And I'd like to quote verses 28 and 29, because they really need no footnote. They need no clarification, and they're amazing just as they're written:
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all."
In my opinion, this is the best possible outcome any woman can experience. Your children appreciate you, and your husband is proud of you. Isn't that what we all truly crave? Positive attention? Well, God tells us right here how to get the feedback we all desire.
Not saying this is easy, the Wife of Noble Character certainly has some very large shoes, and it'll be a challenge to fill them, but I feel blessed to have received the Divine direction and answers to my prayers. I could very easily point my finger at my husband and say "you need to change this and that and this!", but in the words of Michael Jackson, "I'm starting with the man in the mirror." Woman, anyway.