Proverbs 31 gives a tribute to a performing working mother, entrepreneur, blessing and inspiration for the whole city. While the leaders of the church debate whether a woman should be confined to home, or work outside the home; this chapter describes a wife of noble character who is worth far more than rubies (Prov. 31:10). She is a dynamic, energetic and inspiring personality. It gives such laudable tribute that it could be listed in a dozen different headings.
A wife who is of noble character is worth far more than rubies (31:10). She is a woman of high moral standing, spiritual understanding, discerning good and evil, thinks about family, future and welfare of all. She is worth more than precious stones. In the contemporary world, where women are shown as commodities, the worth of woman is under estimated.
The wife has self-confidence and her husband has full confidence in her. She is woman of self worth, not a victim of circumstances. In most cultures, women are considered not of worth or trustworthy. Even Christians have this kind of attitude, they generally quote that Eve was the first person to sin so they could not be trusted. But, in this verse, it clearly states that she is trusted by her husband – one hundred percent. In modern world, even among Christian husbands, how many trust their wives one hundred percent? Suspicion and jealousy are characteristics of modern man, not confidence.
They are no burden to the family as some men consider their wives to be. Some husbands tease or mock their wives stating that they are worthless, useless and are like dead weight. A husband who values her wife lacks nothing of value (31:11). The more a man considers his wife an asset, the more value he adds unto himself.
Some men think wives bring misfortune to their families. Many times they are cursed, harassed and verbally abused. But, a wife brings good not harm to the family. It is not just one time event but a lifelong process until the day of her death. She brings him wellness or goodness, not harm, all the days of her life (31:12). Goodness follows her wherever she goes. In modern India, contribution of good is equated with dowry. What a shame when Government of India bans it, Christians cherish it?
The author describes that she has common sense to provide for the family. She is resourceful and is compared with merchant ships, bringing food from afar of (31:14). Considering the best for her family, she knows where to go to get resources to take care of her family. Children are not malnourished or undernourished but nurtured with care and sensitivity.
She not only has common sense, she has commercial or economic sense as well. As a working professional she earns money and invests wisely in a vineyard (31:16). May be a modern woman may invest in banks or insurance or share markets (31:16). She also considers a field and buys it (31:16). Her skill takes her to do garment business also (31:24). That means she is well versed with even real estate business and knows when to buy or when to sell. She self-evaluates her finances, budget, surplus, earnings, investments and makes sure she is doing good business of making profit (31:18). It is amazing to see her making agricultural investments, real estate purchases and doing industrial business of garment marketing. She is not just saving for the sake of saving, but saving and investing to increase the wealth. That means her assets are performing assets, and not nonperforming assets.
Consume Not the Bread of Idleness
She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls (31:15). She is not lazy or loves luxury or retreats to comfort zones. Her energy and enthusiasm is amazing. Her hands are skillful, arms are strong and she works from morning till late night (31: 13, 17, 18). She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness (31:27). Not wasting her time, she is hardworking, industrious and perseveres. She has no time for gossip, entertainment and petty issues.
Her competence in multi-tasking is high. She can hold the equipment to spin (31:19). She has been trained in certain skills that are useful and has commercial value. With wisdom she speaks and gives faithful instructions to her household and servants (31:26). She has skills of communication and people management. Administration or managing household is another competency she has, and she excels in it (31:17). Technical skills, communication skills, people skills and management skills are her soft competency skills. Yes, she deserves wages, rewards, recognition and retribution (31:31). He is clothed with strength and dignity (31:25).
Even in winter people in her household are protected and are warm. With future as focus she prepares to face harsh winters by doing things in summer itself. So, she is not taken by surprise. She clothes them appropriately (31:21). All her family members are clothed in purple. She makes bedcovers, quilts, in fine clothes and prepares the family for winter (31:22).
Not only that, she is clothed with strength and dignity (31:25); so is her household. Children and the husband have also the sense of self worth, identity and dignity because of her inspiration (31:25). None of her family members has inferiority complex, or victim mentality or is foolish. They grow in wisdom and love of God.
Call Her Blessed
This noble woman’s children rise up to call her blessed and her husband joins the chorus (31:28). In a culture where children and husband could humiliate their mothers or wives with impunity, we see children and husband joining hands to bless her (31:28). Children are amazed by her wisdom, prudence, hard work, enthusiasm, energy, motivation and inspiration. There are husbands instead of calling her blessed, abuse her. Many women are victims of domestic violence. When husbands are envious, jealous and have inferiority complex, they cannot tolerate, or cherish or bless their wives but pay evil for good.
“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all” (31:29). Yes, her uniqueness, specialty or greatness is that she fears the Lord. Her greatest secret of success is her intimate relationship with God, which is based on fear of the Lord. Privileged is the husband who has a godly wife.
City Gate Honour
In ancient times, city gates were the place where people met. It was like a public hall where city elders and prominent citizens met. When a woman is so resourceful, certainly her man would be successful also. Her husband is respected in the city gate; he is one of the leaders of the city and takes decision for the welfare of the city (31:23). She is also praised in the city gate for her contribution, resourcefulness and performance
(31:31). Yes, they become role model couple or family for the whole city.
She is a woman of compassion. Poor people do not escape her notice or generosity. She is not stiff fisted but extends her hands to the needy people (31:20). In her busyness, she does not forget the poor and needy. She is not task-oriented robot but tender human being with divine wisdom and compassion.
This woman challenges both men and women of modern times. For her core value is not her charm or beauty but the “fear of the Lord” (31:30). What a confidence, readiness and preparedness; she could laugh at the future (31:25). She is not afraid of future but challenges the future. Living under the sovereign rule of the creator and being always prepared for future is the challenge for us to emulate.
World Would Be a Different Place
If every woman is empowered, encouraged, enlightened, educated and equipped, the world would be a different place to live. There would be a dynamic transformation. But, the society and even the church have shackled the women with strange traditions and ideas instead of releasing them for fulfilling God’s great purposes in their lives. What a loss for humanity?