I Want to Be an Excellent Wife When I Grow Up (A Closer Look at the Proverbs 31 Woman)

I Want to Be an Excellent Wife When I Grow Up

“She is a woman in control of her thoughts, feelings and emotions. I can almost see her, stately, svelte, smart, winsome…the kind of woman people clamor to be around.”

Proverbs 31 is a must-study for any woman serious about her God and her Christianity. Period. I have committed to refresh my vision every morning by reading through the passage of the virtuous woman.

Here’s my snap shot of the virtuous wife for today’s woman:

1.  The descriptions of the Proverbs 31 woman, I believe, are somewhat seasonal. That is, the passage encapsulates all that a virtuous woman strives to be in a lifetime, not necessarily all at once. We need not read the condensed version and feel overwhelmed; this is the course of a life, activities and responsibilities waxing and waning with the seasons. But, there are some traits that run constant in her character.

2. “The heart of her husband trusts in her…She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.”

I don’t know about you, but this verse gets to my heart. This woman’s husband trusts her with everything–his reputation, knowing she speaks well of him, his money, knowing she respects his hard work, his feelings, knowing he is safe in her presence. She “does him good.” Pause here and reflect on that. If I only read one verse each morning, it will be this one. I want to do him good, to be a “crown” and not “rottenness” to him.

3.  “She considers a field and buys it;…She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant.”

She is an income-earning Diva. Or, for modern-day application, she was resourceful, and maybe being thrifty and saving her husband’s income is equivalent to earning one. I love this about her. But, she prioritized this part of her life too. She earned income by several different means, all allowing her to be flexible and tend to her priorities first. Her business wasn’t one dictated by someone who ignored the needs of her family. She was able to pick it up or lay it down as her time demanded. And her business savvy served only one purpose–to provide for her household.

We know from the passage that whatever business ventures she pursued, her home was well cared for, they had no needs she hadn’t met, she had prepared for winter (probably through storing food and securing necessary clothing), and she was busy serving her family as well as those around her with physical needs. This is such an important thing to understand as we allow Scripture to shape our understanding about our roles as women. We are so NEEDED…sometimes to the degree it feels we’re pulled in every direction. But the virtuous woman guarded her priorities. She was able to be an asset to her family by earning an income AND take care of her household and those around her. That takes careful strategy.

4.  “Strength and dignity are her clothing and she laughs at the time to come”

Twice the passage refers to her being dressed in strength. This image is particularly important because it flies in the face of what feminists claim an “unliberated” woman is. The Proverbs 31 woman is NOT timid or inferior or incapable. All those years ago, despite what the culture steeped in paganism thought of women, God exalted them, giving them the highest rank of dignity. A virtuous woman is strong and free from anxiety about tomorrow. I love that! She is a woman in control of her thoughts, feelings and emotions. I can almost see her, stately, svelte, smart, winsome…the kind of woman people clamor to be around.

5. She “does not eat the bread of idleness…works with willing hands….She rises while it is yet night…Her lamp does not go out at night….”

She is PRODUCTIVE. She is not idle. She spends her time on things that will benefit her household. She is industrious and busy. But in all of that, she is “a woman who fears the Lord.” And you can be sure she did not neglect, amid the busyness of life, the training and instruction of her children in the things of the Lord.

The virtuous woman is not some picture of perfection so unattainable we skip over her; she is a standard for us to reach for, as we pray for the Lord to chisel us into this woman of rare worth.

(For a great, encouraging resource, check out The Excellent Wife.)

(Revised and reposted from 2011, but I’d love to hear your new comments!)

20 Responses to “I Want to Be an Excellent Wife When I Grow Up (A Closer Look at the Proverbs 31 Woman)”

  1. Lauren says:

    Thank you for this! I too love ‘The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her.’ If I aim to live up to only one thing as a wife- it’s this!

    Have you heard Victoria Botkin speak about this passage? I love what she says about the strength of a submissive wife also. She shared the revelation with me that to die to your own will is one of the greatest strengths of character a person can have.

  2. karen says:

    I never hear this in church but sure would like to am I the only woman who needs encouragement and direction to be a good wife and mother.? Sunday a TV preacher actually was teaching on it and only got as far as being a wife and mother is a 24 hour job AND the wife needs to be bringing in an income and all the rest. Then I turned him off because right away I felt overwhelmed and judged and found wanting. It made me feel so sad and once again I went to my husband asking if he wants me to work outside the home. Maybe this preacher was going a different way with this but I couldn’t hang on long enough .Between my home,family and elderly friend I care for and doing hay in summer I see no extra time for a job.I used to work a great paying job before marriage and I was there at least 48 hour a week sometimes 7 days a week and my home was a mess and I was exhausted and that was 16 years ago.I have serious doubts that I would be any kind of asset to my family if I worked and brought in an income. I see other doing it all the time but some do seem stressed.My dear sister is about out of her mind right now with the stress of it all.I am looking into selling some produce and canned things next season as the laws in this state have lightened up(what a shock!)I could do that.

  3. Renee says:

    I love that book, now your post makes me want to read it all over again 🙂 thanks

  4. Paula says:

    Interesting post.

    I don’t see where it says that her businesses were flexible, or that it could be layed down and picked up when she wanted.

    I also don’t see where it says that all the money she earned was for the use of her family.

    The fact that she had several business doesn’t mean that they were all flexible and that she could make her own terms regarding when she worked and when she didn’t. Actually, since she worked in several fields, she may have been quite busy indeed, and subject to other’s needs to make her work successful.

    I think we need to be careful about seeing what we want to see in Scripture. You are seeing a stay at home mom who dabbles in business when time permits. While that would be nice, it is not what Scripture is saying. It is saying she worked.

    Thanks and have a great day!

  5. Lori says:

    I love this post especially point #2 – it’s up to us to encourage and inspire our husbands. I can’t tell you how many times over the years (even daily) that my husband thanks me for being encouraging and for being a good example. It’s such a blessing knowing that I am helping him. I don’t think you are “required” to have a job, but I do think it is up to us to be frugal and thrifty. Not to buy stuff just to have it, but to use our talents in the best way possible and save money. For instance, one of our biggest expenses was laundry soap – have you seen the price of tide and downy. In order to save money, I decided to do some research (after all, years ago tide and downy didn’t exist) and found a few homemade laundry soap recipes. I used it and tweaked it until I made one that works best for our needs (it’s on my blog for those interested). Now during the time that it takes a frozen pizza to cook, I can make a whole month of laundry soap and it costs less than $10/month. I apologize for the length of my comment, but I wanted to let Karen know that we don’t have to “work” to make money. Thank you for the book recommendation – I’m going to purchase it as soon as I can.

  6. Sarah Winn says:

    Hi everyone!
    I just wanted to spread the word to please please go watch this video and tell everyone you can about it! It is very important that we get these messages out to everyone! Go to http://www.180movie.com

    God bless you all!

  7. I read and studied this book years ago. My husband and I just today started again-he is studying The Exemplary Husband, and I am studying this again.
    I am excited about doing this together since the books complement each other.

  8. karen says:

    Thank you !

  9. Kelly L says:

    Wonderful post! I have been making nice salads for my husband to have for lunch everyday and it is saving us lots of $.
    But #2 just kicked my booty. I just admonished him this morning for leaving his napkin in the container, saying “I don’t need to be throwing away your garbage.” Nice heart….
    I could have said it with a nice heart and he would happily oblige me, but I had to go and be a mom to him.
    Keep writing, if even to help just me change my bratty heart….

  10. 6 arrows says:

    Thanks for the idea to read the Proverbs 31 virtuous woman section every morning. What a nice way to start the day. (Still having trouble with that “rises while it is yet night” part, though!)

    • Amy says:

      While Proverbs 31 is an awesome passage — simply becuase it is the inspired Word of God, I would highly encourage ALL Christ-followers to read ALL of Scripture and not limit yourself to just those passages that deal with women’s issues. Elizabeth Elliot aptly said, “Being a woman doesn’t make me a different kind of Christian, but being a Christian should make me a different kind of woman.” In that sense, being a Christian — a Christ-follower — requires the digestion of ALL of Scripture for a woman — not just those that deal with women’s roles and gender issues. I think that we have made an idol out of this — going so far as to assume that other Scriptures (outside of those that speak of women’s issues) may not be relevent for our spiritual growth. God wants us to grow as Disciples of Christ — not as women Christians. When we pursue God — and only God — we will become better women, wives, and mothers. We don’t need to pursue “womanhood.” We need to pursue Jesus.

      • 6 arrows says:

        Amy,

        I agree with some of what you said here…yes, Proverbs 31 is an awesome passage. Yes, it is the inspired Word of God. And most definitely, we as women should want to read and digest ALL of scripture and follow Jesus.

        How do you know I’m not already doing that? Why do you think it necessary to make a statement like this: “I would highly encourage ALL Christ-followers to read ALL of Scripture and not limit yourself to just those passages that deal with women’s issues.”

        Do you think, based on my original comment on this post, that I’m limiting my reading of Scripture to “women’s issues” passages? If anyone makes any comment about enjoying a certain part of Scripture, do you think that person needs an admonishment to read all of Scripture, as if he or she is not already doing so?

        You also said: “I think that we have made an idol out of this – going so far as to assume that other Scriptures (outside of those that speak of women’s issues) may not be relevant for our spiritual growth.”

        Whoever said some Scriptures are not relevant to women’s spiritual growth? Certainly not I! And making an “idol out of this”? Idolatry is a serious charge, and pretty presumptuous, IMO. With all respect, Amy, it seems you are the one assuming things here. Neither I nor anyone else here has indicated that this beloved passage of scripture is read to the exclusion of any other part of the Bible, or the Word in its entirety.

        Maybe you were speaking to women in general, but since your reply was directly under my comment, I feel it’s necessary for me to respond to your assertions. I think most people here do desire to follow Jesus, as you do, also, I’m sure.

        • Amy says:

          6 Arrows: My reply was not to you personally, although, I can understand why you would think that (it being under your post). I placed it under your post becuase my thoughts most closely related to your comment. Forgive the offence. None was intended. I was not making any assumptions about you personally — or anyone else who reads here. It was just my 2 cents. If I had spent a few more minutes praying about my comment, I realize now that I would not have posted it. Not becuase I think that it is “wrong”, but because this is simply not the forum in which to voice such an opinion. My earnest apology.

          • 6 arrows says:

            Thank you for your earnest apology, Amy…very kindly worded. And I apologize for my strong words to you. I reread my comment the next morning and “heard” my tone like I hadn’t the night before. Please forgive me for my assumptions and unleashing on you like I did. And thank you so much for your soft answer.

            God taught me a very important lesson through your sweet response. God bless you, Amy.

  11. Dainelle says:

    I love this book, it helped me so much during a time the Lord was dealing with me to be a better wife. I highly recommend it to all the wives I know.

  12. Beth says:

    A funny story to chime in here. We attended Martha’s church for a year (here in GA) and know her pretty well (atleast I do). She told me this funny story of this family that was new to the church (which is reformed but NOT in any way an FIC). She taught an Excellent Wife class there (which she does once a year or so)…….and the wife begrudgingly looked at her husband and scoffed and says “Humpf….she acts like she wrote the book or something the way that she talks.” It wasn’t long into the class that Martha (who was teaching the class) DID infact write that book. The family is still there and they get a laugh periodically about it.

  13. 6 arrows says:

    She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.

    It’s the word “all” that jumps out at me. “ALL the days…” — the good days and the bad…my bad days and his bad days.

    Tall order, and one I am still learning, some days with great difficulty, even after almost 29 years of marriage.

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