“A capable wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:10-12)
The book of Proverbs ends with a description and dedication to good wives and mothers. It describes what a good wife would be like, and how she is a helpmate to her husband. And while it does not list out the characteristics of a good mother, the list of this woman’s assets and abilities would make her a good mother I am sure.
“She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant, she brings her food from far away.
She rises while it is still night and provides food for her household and tasks for her servant-girls.” (Verses 13-15)
But do not think that her skills and abilities are confined just to the walls of her household. This is a woman who not only tends to matters within her home, but looks outside her home to ways to improve life for her family.
“She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.” (Verse 16)
Consider that verse, beloved reader. A woman, from a time where women had little control over their own lives, having financial assets and standing in the community to buy property.
“She girds herself with strength, and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.” (Verses 17 – 19)
She also excels at the “womanly” arts. But there is even more to her than that!
“She opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy.” (Verse 20)
With all the she does, and all that she oversees, she does not forget those who are less fortunate and living on the margins of society.
“She is not afraid for her household when it snows, for all her household are clothed in crimson.
She makes herself coverings; her clothing is fine linen and purple.” (Verses 21-22)
Her efforts do not go unnoticed, and her labors bring not only reward to her but to her family as well.
“Her husband is known in the city gates, taking his seat among the elders of the land.” (Verse 23)
In order for a man to have a prosperous household, he needs to have a wife who knows how to make the household proper.
“She makes linen garments and sells them; she supplies the merchant with sashes.” (Verse 24)
By now you must think this is some wonder woman; some female champion who is endowed with skills and abilities that few women have.
“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her happy; her husband too, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” (Verses 25 – 29)
But I tell you truly, beloved reader, most women are capable of these things, and more. True, some women are more skilled in some areas than others – not all of them can sew and knit etc. Not all can plant a vineyard. Some of us do not find fulfillment in cleaning. But we watch out for our families, getting them what they need. We care about others who are struggling. We work hard and diligently. We may not reach the standard of this mythical woman, but we do pretty well.
The writer of this section of Proverbs ends with a good summary of this unknown woman of great renown.
“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her a share in the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the city gates.” (Verses 30 – 31)
How, you may ask, do I know such women exist? I come from a long line of such women. But the woman who this passage makes me think of the most is my paternal grandmother, who herself was of Jewish descent. She is one of my highest role models.
May you, beloved female reader, find and have strong women in your lives. And to my male readers, may you honor and encourage all the women in your life. Selah!