Thanks for joining our study of the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) book of Proverbs chapter 31 verses 10-31. (I hear gasps and see eye rolls from ladies of faith who dread hearing the phrase “Proverbs 31 woman.” )
The verses are traditionally associated with unrealistic womanly/wifely perfection —making anyone blessed with XX chromosomes feel deficient. The passages describe a superwoman/mother who is a jack of all trades. (Correction: “Jackie” who excels at every imaginable task and possesses every exemplary human skill.)
The Proverbs 31 woman is God-fearing and never breaks a fingernail installing wheels on her wagon. (After she manufactures the wheels from the trees grown on the land she bought.) I am exaggerating but read verse 16. Therefore ladies, if you feel inadequate and about to click away — please don’t, because Mrs. 31 was only a fantasy — which explains everything!
Let’s review the biblical evidence and note that although I make light of these verses, they are STILL the Word of God from which much wisdom can be gleaned. But women and men must realize that together, all the talents and traits represented by Mrs. 31 are unattainable, sinless perfection that do not exist in any one human of any gender. And that is why we need Jesus to forgive our sins and love us despite our inadequacies.
The first verse of Proverbs 31 reads:
“The sayings of King Lemuel—an inspired utterance his mother taught him” (Proverbs 31-1).
Did you read that right? “An “inspired utterance” from Mom? Yes, King Lemuel recanted Mom’s list of boxes she wanted checked for the perfect daughter-in-law. How nice of mother to assist her royal off-spring with queen shopping. Moreover, King Lemuel is of questionable personage since his name appears only once in Proverbs 31-1. Scholarly speculation about his identity and lineage is here. Some believe King Lemuel was a pen name for King Solomon — already credited in parts of Proverbs. (For more about King Solomon’s parents, David and Bathsheba, read Vol. 99.)
Now, are you ready for an alternative explanation of Mrs. 31, who has challenged women’s self-worth for millennia? The Bible reveals a key data point about that wise and lusty King Solomon: “He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray” (1 Kings 11:3).
Meaning it took combining skills and personality traits of 700 royal wives and 300 concubines to create King Lemuel/Solomon’s fantasy of that perfect Proverbs 31 woman. The king is eternally apologizing to God for all the guilt he perpetrated upon women.
Furthermore, we never learn if King Lemuel/Solomon ever found his trophy wife or if his mother was pleased with her 700 daughters-in-law (and those 300 whiny concubines scheming to get their hands on her royal jewelry.)
Now, without further adieu, let’s turn to the Word of God, Proverbs 31:10-31, officially titled “Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character.” (With some added commentary):
“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.” (Yes, a good wife is priceless. “Good wife, happy life,” says the Chinese proverb in the fortune cookie.)
“She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.” (She eagerly buys fine wool suits at designer consignment stores and frequents Trader Joe’s.)
“She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants.” (She’s a whiz with the delivery apps, and Uber Eats drivers love her generous tips.)
“She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.” (She’s a savvy real estate broker and grows fields of award-winning pinot noir.)
“She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.” (She competes and wins catfights among the 699 other wives.)
“She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.” (A day trader who is so stressed about the market that she can’t sleep.)
“In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.” (Time for a manicure and spa day with her besties.)
“She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.” (A role model for us all.)
“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.” (Note to download that Macy’s discount coupon.)
“Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.” (She is the woman behind the man.)
“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 would have made millions selling on Shopify, Esty, and eBay.)
“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” (She writes a web-based Bible study. Some unnamed husband is laughing who might have inspired today’s study — married to a Proverbs 31 wife with a minus factor of 25.)
“She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” (She is a control freak, refuses to delegate, and keeps her figure by not eating carbs.)
“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” (If this Godly fantasy woman ever existed, she would have ruled the world.)
“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” (Wins No.1 of 700 wives contest and fires the 300 concubines.)
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (A clue that King Lemuel was King Solomon who was credited with writing: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” Proverbs 1:7). Amen to that!
“Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” (Proverbs 31 woman for president!)
Myra Kahn Adams is a conservative political and religious writer with numerous national credits. Her book, “Bible Study For Those Who Don’t Read The Bible,” reprints the first 56 volumes of this popular study. Myra is also Executive Director of SignFromGod.org, a ministry dedicated to Shroud of Turin education. SignFromGod was a proud sponsor of the Museum of the Bible’s opening events for its high-tech exhibition about the Shroud of Turin, open through July 31. Contact: [email protected] or Twitter @MyraKAdams.
Cross-posted at Townhall and Substack.