How to be a proverbs 31 wife

A woman that yearns to please God strives to be like this ideal example, but with the understanding that every Christian is a work in progress, brought “to completion in the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

How to be a proverbs 31 wife

Proverbs 31 paints the picture of an ideal woman, the best example of a virtuous wife and mother. This final Proverb echoes Proverbs 1:7 — “fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”

What sort of woman is the wisdom literature talking about, what are her qualities, and do they exclusively apply to wives and mothers?

What Is the Meaning of a Proverbs 31 Woman?

Commentary from the ESV Study Bible regarding Proverbs 31 tells us that the ideal woman is virtuous, strong, and selfless. She does not wait to be served but rises early, even before sunrise, to delegate tasks and engage in business.

She possesses “a range of manual, commercial, administrative, and interpersonal skills.” This woman “opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy” (v.20). She is loving, dignified, and her virtues increase her husband’s reputation: “Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land” (v.23).

She is sharp but honest, engaged in business for the benefit of her household. Above all, she fears the Lord for “a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

Characteristics of a Proverbs 31 Woman

What woman can live up to the example given in this Proverb? Every wife and mother looks back at certain events in her life and cringes with painful regret. “But what if I told you that the heart behind Proverbs 31:10-31 is one of celebration, not condemnation?” asks Lysa Terkeurst.

She argues that these words of wisdom, which were read aloud at the Sabbath, are not “meant to tell a woman she is supposed to be more. They are a celebration of who she is.” The Proverb does not describe “a woman with a spotless house” or “with perfectly behaved children wearing matching, designer outfits. Honestly, it’s not even the woman who’s married and has children.”

These words describe “a woman who honors God by seeking Him in everything she does and trusting Him wholeheartedly with her life. She has a heart of reverence that overflows into a life of spiritual maturity and wisdom.”

She is not born this way; she gets there by a process of refinement, which is a work of the Holy Spirit. A woman that yearns to please God strives to be like this ideal example, but with the understanding that every Christian is a work in progress, brought “to completion in the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

Just a Wife, or All Women?

One reason a woman might skip past Proverbs 31 is that not all women marry, and not all who marry become parents. Should an unmarried woman, or a wife with no children, still aspire to the qualities of a Proverbs 31 woman?

Marriage is an especially intimate relationship, yet aspects of an intimate relationship are not mentioned by the writer in this piece of wisdom literature. His greatest concern has to do with the woman’s character and how she interacts with people.

The writer is hopeful that the young men of his community will seek out this sort of wife, and that the young girls will aspire to her ideal. But even if they never marry, every female who sincerely loves the Lord is developing the characteristics of a Proverbs 31 woman.

At many times and in many locations around the world (even now), professing faith in Christ has been risky for women. They have had to truly love the Lord in order to endure the ridicule and isolation they sometimes face(d).

One historian wrote that, in his opinion, the church was attended by the “silly and mean and stupid,” and “disproportionately populated by women.” Certainly, the church attracted individuals who needed to be cared for — sheltering vulnerable people has always been a function of the church.

But it took great courage to be a Christian woman. For one thing, many of them attended Christian fellowship without their husbands; they “often converted to Christianity while their male relatives remained pagans, lest they lose their senatorial status.”

One might argue that any woman with a sincere Christian faith is well on her way to becoming the ideal example of Proverbs 31.

Women as Leaders

Another reason there were more females than males among the first fellowship was that the church “repudiated” the “practice of exposing unwanted female infants — abandoning them to certain death.”

Statistics alone ensure that women had to be leaders, perhaps responsible for “organizing and hosting” the Lord’s supper and other meetings, which provided “natural opportunities for women to serve and even lead.”

Men and women prayed and sang together, and women sometimes led the hymns. As seen in Acts 18:26 where Priscilla was involved in discipleship, educated female participants in Christian fellowship “read and interpreted Scripture.”

A woman boasting the aforementioned characteristics was one who lived out the values of service, humility, and charity taught by Christ. In fact, women were central to the charitable work and organization of the church from the very start.

The Christ and the Church as the Proverbs 31 Wife

Proverbs 31 describes an ideal woman, but also the ideal bride: The church. “God created marriage to be a metaphor of Christ’s relationship to the church,” wrote John Piper.

As such, the selfless, hard-working, considerate, pleasing woman of this Old Testament passage represents everyone who makes up the body of the Christian church. “The union of man and woman in marriage” contains “a truth about Christ and the church,” which is that “God ordained a permanent union between His Son and the church.”

Marriage between a man and a woman should reflect this: The man is the head, giving his life for the woman; the woman submits to the man who lays his life down for her. “Human marriage is the copy, not the original” (Piper).

Taken as a metaphor, Proverbs 31 is not simply describing wives and mothers, but also husbands and fathers; unmarried men and women; couples without children; and those who have survived their spouses.

Anyone who calls himself or herself a Christian is a bride of Christ through the Spirit, which unites the global church. Each person and each fellowship have responsibilities such as spreading the good reputation of the bridegroom (v.23) and caring for the poor (v.20).

Chad Ashby comments: “The church ought to be characterized by [. ] single-hearted devotion to her Bridegroom,” which is embodied by the Proverbs 31 woman. “After all, John Gill reiterates, she is ‘a woman actually married to Christ.’”

Final Words from the New Testament

“Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves” (1 Peter 3:4-5).

God wants his bride to love him, to submit to him, and then he will give his bride discernment. He will increase her courage and soften her heart, so she is disposed to give generously; to act charitably.

He will ensure that when “she opens her mouth with wisdom, [. ] the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (v.26). His bride is his treasure. We, the church, are his bride.

For further reading:

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Anastasiia Stiahailo

How to be a proverbs 31 wife

Candice Lucey is a freelance writer from British Columbia, Canada, where she lives with her family. Find out more about her here.

Remember when you were in school and had to compare and contrast books or other assigned reading? Maybe you were asked to compare Shakespeare’s Hamlet to Romeo & Juliet? You talked about what they had in common and how they were different. Well, consider this a Christian wife’s edition of compare and contrast: the Proverbs 31 Wife vs the Proverbs 21 Wife.

There are a bazillion articles on the web about the Proverbs 31 woman and how to live like one. You’ve probably heard some of the list of her many notable qualities, but if you’re unfamiliar with her attributes, read Proverbs 31:10-31. She’s no doubt hardworking, trustworthy, and a respectable wife and community member.

On the other hand, you may not be as familiar with the Proverbs 21 wife. There are not as many verses about her, but to be honest, the few given are enough to see that something is wrong. Her attributes are a little (okay a lot) less respectable. Check these out:

“It’s better to live alone in the desert than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife.” – Proverbs 21:19

Ouch!! It’s pretty dry and miserably hot in the desert. But, I bet the thirst in the desert is not as bad as the thirst for affection this woman withholds. The desert sun probably doesn’t burn as bad as her insults either. Proverbs 27:15 elaborates on this verse by saying “A quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping on a rainy day.” Images of Chinese water torture come to mind when I read this.

Here another one:

“It’s better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home.” – Proverbs 21:9

This verse is repeated verbatim in Proverbs 25:24 in case we missed the warning. I think of the attic as a place to store away old items. A place that collects spider webs and dust and where things are rarely messed with. This imagery is not one of love and growth or warmth and fulfillment.

So in what ways do the Proverbs 31 and 31 women differ? And if you were being honest, which wife would your husband say you are more like?

How the Proverbs 31 Wife Differs from the Proverbs 21 Wife

Her Focus

The Proverbs 31 wife has her priorities in order. Her focus is on completing the day’s tasks and tending to her business both inside and outside of the home. However, the Proverbs 21 wife has lost sight of what’s truly important. Her focus has shifted and is set on being “right” rather than being happy. She argues and nags in an effort to get her way because she’s certain her way must be the right way. Lady 21 can learn from Lady 31 to keep her eyes on the eternal prize. With that in sight, earthly tasks will take on a new meaning.

How to be a proverbs 31 wife


Her Motivation

Everything the Proverbs 31 wife does stems from what we know about her in verse 30 – she is a woman who fears the Lord. As a woman with faith in the Lord and a willingness to submit to Him, she is motivated to respect and submit to her husband as well. She desires to follow biblical commands and is obedient to them. The Proverbs 21 wife is motivated by pride and insecurity. Her need to be “right” or to rule over her husband is a symptom of her misguided heart.

Her Words

Plain and simple, one wife’s tongue brings life and the other brings decay. The 31 wife “speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue” (verse 26). Her words build up her husband and set him up for success. She chooses her words carefully and speaks them from a faithful and loving heart. The 21 wife does something quite different. Her choice of words is foolish and drives a wedge in her marriage. Her words push her husband away and tear him down. They are harsh and critical. No wonder verses 9 and 19 say that being in an attic or desert are more appealing than being a room with her.

Her Husband

A wife’s actions and words toward her husband have a greater impact than she knows. The husband of our 31 wife is proud of his wife. He is respected by the community because his own wife respects him. He looks forward to going home to her each day, and counts his union with her as a blessing. The same cannot be said for the husband of the 21 wife. The bible says he is better off alone. Ouch!

God said it was not good for Adam to be alone. So, he made Eve and said it was good. But in the case of the Proverbs 21 wife…it is NOT good…for anyone.

Her husband does not look forward to coming home. And why would he if she is there waiting for him – guns hot?

Her Productivity

One of these ladies accomplishes a great deal for her family, and one does not. Not just monetarily, but in familial bond and growth. The Proverbs 31 wife – through her kind and caring nature – betters the lives of her family and others. She produces good fruit (literally and figuratively). Much to the opposite, what does the Proverbs 21 wife really accomplish? Even if her nagging and complaining bring about completed tasks, what does anyone gain? Nothing. She produces a sour relationship and a home of discord.

So, which wife are you? Do you build up your mate or tear him down? Are you motivated by love or by being right?

A woman that yearns to please God strives to be like this ideal example, but with the understanding that every Christian is a work in progress, brought “to completion in the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

How to be a proverbs 31 wife

Proverbs 31 paints the picture of an ideal woman, the best example of a virtuous wife and mother. This final Proverb echoes Proverbs 1:7 — “fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”

What sort of woman is the wisdom literature talking about, what are her qualities, and do they exclusively apply to wives and mothers?

What Is the Meaning of a Proverbs 31 Woman?

Commentary from the ESV Study Bible regarding Proverbs 31 tells us that the ideal woman is virtuous, strong, and selfless. She does not wait to be served but rises early, even before sunrise, to delegate tasks and engage in business.

She possesses “a range of manual, commercial, administrative, and interpersonal skills.” This woman “opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy” (v.20). She is loving, dignified, and her virtues increase her husband’s reputation: “Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land” (v.23).

She is sharp but honest, engaged in business for the benefit of her household. Above all, she fears the Lord for “a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

Characteristics of a Proverbs 31 Woman

What woman can live up to the example given in this Proverb? Every wife and mother looks back at certain events in her life and cringes with painful regret. “But what if I told you that the heart behind Proverbs 31:10-31 is one of celebration, not condemnation?” asks Lysa Terkeurst.

She argues that these words of wisdom, which were read aloud at the Sabbath, are not “meant to tell a woman she is supposed to be more. They are a celebration of who she is.” The Proverb does not describe “a woman with a spotless house” or “with perfectly behaved children wearing matching, designer outfits. Honestly, it’s not even the woman who’s married and has children.”

These words describe “a woman who honors God by seeking Him in everything she does and trusting Him wholeheartedly with her life. She has a heart of reverence that overflows into a life of spiritual maturity and wisdom.”

She is not born this way; she gets there by a process of refinement, which is a work of the Holy Spirit. A woman that yearns to please God strives to be like this ideal example, but with the understanding that every Christian is a work in progress, brought “to completion in the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

Just a Wife, or All Women?

One reason a woman might skip past Proverbs 31 is that not all women marry, and not all who marry become parents. Should an unmarried woman, or a wife with no children, still aspire to the qualities of a Proverbs 31 woman?

Marriage is an especially intimate relationship, yet aspects of an intimate relationship are not mentioned by the writer in this piece of wisdom literature. His greatest concern has to do with the woman’s character and how she interacts with people.

The writer is hopeful that the young men of his community will seek out this sort of wife, and that the young girls will aspire to her ideal. But even if they never marry, every female who sincerely loves the Lord is developing the characteristics of a Proverbs 31 woman.

At many times and in many locations around the world (even now), professing faith in Christ has been risky for women. They have had to truly love the Lord in order to endure the ridicule and isolation they sometimes face(d).

One historian wrote that, in his opinion, the church was attended by the “silly and mean and stupid,” and “disproportionately populated by women.” Certainly, the church attracted individuals who needed to be cared for — sheltering vulnerable people has always been a function of the church.

But it took great courage to be a Christian woman. For one thing, many of them attended Christian fellowship without their husbands; they “often converted to Christianity while their male relatives remained pagans, lest they lose their senatorial status.”

One might argue that any woman with a sincere Christian faith is well on her way to becoming the ideal example of Proverbs 31.

Women as Leaders

Another reason there were more females than males among the first fellowship was that the church “repudiated” the “practice of exposing unwanted female infants — abandoning them to certain death.”

Statistics alone ensure that women had to be leaders, perhaps responsible for “organizing and hosting” the Lord’s supper and other meetings, which provided “natural opportunities for women to serve and even lead.”

Men and women prayed and sang together, and women sometimes led the hymns. As seen in Acts 18:26 where Priscilla was involved in discipleship, educated female participants in Christian fellowship “read and interpreted Scripture.”

A woman boasting the aforementioned characteristics was one who lived out the values of service, humility, and charity taught by Christ. In fact, women were central to the charitable work and organization of the church from the very start.

The Christ and the Church as the Proverbs 31 Wife

Proverbs 31 describes an ideal woman, but also the ideal bride: The church. “God created marriage to be a metaphor of Christ’s relationship to the church,” wrote John Piper.

As such, the selfless, hard-working, considerate, pleasing woman of this Old Testament passage represents everyone who makes up the body of the Christian church. “The union of man and woman in marriage” contains “a truth about Christ and the church,” which is that “God ordained a permanent union between His Son and the church.”

Marriage between a man and a woman should reflect this: The man is the head, giving his life for the woman; the woman submits to the man who lays his life down for her. “Human marriage is the copy, not the original” (Piper).

Taken as a metaphor, Proverbs 31 is not simply describing wives and mothers, but also husbands and fathers; unmarried men and women; couples without children; and those who have survived their spouses.

Anyone who calls himself or herself a Christian is a bride of Christ through the Spirit, which unites the global church. Each person and each fellowship have responsibilities such as spreading the good reputation of the bridegroom (v.23) and caring for the poor (v.20).

Chad Ashby comments: “The church ought to be characterized by [. ] single-hearted devotion to her Bridegroom,” which is embodied by the Proverbs 31 woman. “After all, John Gill reiterates, she is ‘a woman actually married to Christ.’”

Final Words from the New Testament

“Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves” (1 Peter 3:4-5).

God wants his bride to love him, to submit to him, and then he will give his bride discernment. He will increase her courage and soften her heart, so she is disposed to give generously; to act charitably.

He will ensure that when “she opens her mouth with wisdom, [. ] the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (v.26). His bride is his treasure. We, the church, are his bride.

For further reading:

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Anastasiia Stiahailo

How to be a proverbs 31 wife

Candice Lucey is a freelance writer from British Columbia, Canada, where she lives with her family. Find out more about her here.

How to be a proverbs 31 wife

Stephen Altrogge

Ahhh, yes. The Proverbs 31 woman. The Holy Grail of biblical femininity. She is the Wonder Woman of Scripture, the unstoppable female juggernaut who conquers life with little or no difficulty. No woman has inspired more books, ministries, blogs, conferences, devotionals, mugs, feelings of guilt, and self-loathing than her.

In the early years of our marriage, Jen felt burdened by Proverbs 31. She felt unable to live up to the pristine example of womanhood on display in that chapter. The shadow of Proverbs 31 hung over all that she did. So we sat down and talked through what it really looked like to be a Proverbs 31 woman.

What did we come up with? Do I want Jen to be a Proverbs 31 woman? Does Jen want to be a Proverbs 31 woman? Yes. Sort of. Kind of. Perhaps I should explain.

Proverbs 31:10–31, as with every other passage in Scripture, needs to be interpreted in light of its context and authorial intent. In other words, we need to read these verses as the author originally intended them to be read. To quote me in junior high school: “No doi.”

So, what is the original intent of Proverbs 31?

First, it’s a poem of praise to an excellent wife. Verses 29–31 say, “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”

Proverbs 31 is not a moral checklist for us husbands to use as a grading sheet for our wives. Rather, it is a checklist of ways we can encourage and praise our wives. When Jen does good to me (verse 12), which she constantly does, I can encourage her that God is at work in her life and praise her for how she is responding to God’s work. When she does the hard work of finding good deals on clothes for our kids (verse 21), I can shower encouragement upon her. When she makes a killer meal, I respond with gratefulness.

Husbands, listen up: if you are using Proverbs 31 as a diagnostic godliness checklist for your wife, you are misusing the passage and hurting your wife. These verses are not a cattle prod for a husband to use to goad his wife toward godliness. These verses are a springboard for a husband to shower encouragement on his wife. If you’re using these verses as a checklist, read them again and let them serve as a swift punch to the throat.

So, does that mean the moral qualities espoused in Proverbs 31 don’t matter at all? Of course not. But we need to think carefully about what it means to really apply these verses.

How to be a proverbs 31 wife

Proverbs 31 are principles to be pursued, NOT practices to be prescribed.

Take a closer look. Verse 15 says, “She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.” What is being described here? A woman who is diligent in caring for her entire family. It is not prescribing a time to wake up, a system of recipe planning, a particular diet, or anything else. The takeaway? A godly woman seeks to be diligent in caring for her family. How that plays itself out will look a thousand different ways in a thousand different families. If a family has special needs, the wife may need to be diligently care for the special needs child while the husband cooks dinner. You get the point. If you want to wake up at 6 AM to bake fresh bread, wonderful. Just don’t do it out of a sense of guilt.

Consider verse 16: “She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.” The principle at work here? Prudence. A godly woman uses prudence as she works within the confines of her family income. This verse has nothing to say about who does the budget, who sets spending limits, or anything like that. Those practices, which flow out of the prudence principle, will look different in every family. In some families, the wife will have a better head for numbers and therefore watch the budget. In other families, the husband will be the one on budget duty. But the principle remains the same: a godly woman uses prudence.

One more. “She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy” (verse 20). A godly woman is generous toward those in need. That’s the principle. This verse doesn’t mean that a woman needs to knit sweaters for the homeless or serve in soup kitchens, good as those things may be. It just means that a godly woman looks for ways to bless the needy. That’s it.

When we turn Proverbs 31 into a checklist to be rigidly followed, we crush the women in our churches. After all, the woman described in Proverbs 31 never sleeps! She rises early and her light doesn’t go out at night. If a woman tries to literally follow all that is listed in Proverbs 31, she will crash and burn.

I want Jen to be a Proverbs 31 woman in the sense that she is seeking to obey the principles laid out in those verses (and she is—heroically!). But I don’t want Jen to be constantly haunted by the sense that she isn’t measuring up to God’s commands. That isn’t how God wants Proverbs 31 to function in Jen’s life.

And what if you find yourself not even close to the principles described in Proverbs 31? Remember: you’re a great sinner and Jesus is a great Savior. God doesn’t love you because you’re superwoman; he loves you because you seek to obey every principle and practice Jesus taught. You can rest in that.

Stephen Altrogge is a writer, pastor, and knows a lot about Star Wars. Find out more at The Blazing Center.

31 King Lemuel’s [a] royal words of wisdom:
These are the inspired words my mother taught me. [b]
2 Listen, my dear son, son of my womb.
You are the answer to my prayers, my son.
3 So keep yourself sexually pure
from the promiscuous, wayward woman.
Don’t waste the strength of your anointing
on those who ruin kings—
you’ll live to regret it! [c]
4 For you are a king, Lemuel,
and it’s never fitting for a king to be drunk on wine
or for rulers to crave alcohol.
5 For when they drink they forget justice
and ignore the rights of those in need,
those who depend on them for leadership.
6–7 Strong drink is given to the terminally ill,
who are suffering at the brink of death.
Wine is for those in depression
in order to drown their sorrows.
Let them drink and forget their poverty and misery.
8 But you are to be a king who speaks up on behalf
of the disenfranchised
and pleads for the legal rights of the defenseless
and those who are dying.
9 Be a righteous king, judging on behalf of the poor
and interceding for those most in need. [d]

The Radiant Bride

10 Who could ever find a wife like this one [e] —
she is a woman of strength and mighty valor! [f]
She’s full of wealth and wisdom.
The price paid for her was greater [g] than many jewels.
11 Her husband has entrusted his heart to her, [h]
for she brings him the rich spoils of victory.
12 All throughout her life she brings him what is good and not evil. [i]
13 She searches out continually to possess
that which is pure and righteous. [j]
She delights in the work of her hands. [k]
14 She gives out revelation-truth [l] to feed others.
She is like a trading ship bringing divine supplies [m]
from the merchant. [n]
15 Even in the night season [o] she arises [p] and sets food on the table
for hungry ones in her house and for others. [q]
16 She sets her heart upon a field [r] and takes it as her own.
She labors there to plant the living vines. [s]
17 She wraps herself in strength, [t] might, and power in all her works.
18 She tastes and experiences a better substance, [u]
and her shining light will not be extinguished,
no matter how dark the night. [v]
19 She stretches out her hands to help the needy [w]
and she lays hold of the wheels of government. [x]
20 She is known by her extravagant generosity to the poor,
for she always reaches out her hands [y] to those in need.
21 She is not afraid of tribulation, [z]
for all her household is covered in the dual garments [aa]
of righteousness and grace.
22 Her clothing is beautifully knit together [ab] —
a purple gown of exquisite linen.
23 Her husband is famous and admired by all,
sitting as the venerable judge of his people. [ac]
24 Even her works of righteousness [ad]
she does [ae] for the benefit of her enemies. [af]
25 Bold power and glorious majesty [ag] are wrapped around her
as she laughs with joy over the latter days. [ah]
26 Her teachings are filled with wisdom and kindness
as loving instruction pours from her lips. [ai]
27 She watches over the ways of her household [aj]
and meets every need they have.
28 Her sons and daughters arise [ak] in one accord to extol her virtues, [al]
and her husband arises to speak of her in glowing terms. [am]
29 “There are many valiant and noble ones, [an]
but you have ascended above them all!” [ao]
30 Charm can be misleading,
and beauty is vain and so quickly fades,
but this virtuous woman lives in the wonder, awe,
and fear of the Lord.
She will be praised throughout eternity.
31 So go ahead and give her the credit that is due,
for she has become a radiant woman,
and all her loving works of righteousness deserve to be admired
at the gateways of every city! [ap]

How to be a proverbs 31 wife

Stephen Altrogge

Ahhh, yes. The Proverbs 31 woman. The Holy Grail of biblical femininity. She is the Wonder Woman of Scripture, the unstoppable female juggernaut who conquers life with little or no difficulty. No woman has inspired more books, ministries, blogs, conferences, devotionals, mugs, feelings of guilt, and self-loathing than her.

In the early years of our marriage, Jen felt burdened by Proverbs 31. She felt unable to live up to the pristine example of womanhood on display in that chapter. The shadow of Proverbs 31 hung over all that she did. So we sat down and talked through what it really looked like to be a Proverbs 31 woman.

What did we come up with? Do I want Jen to be a Proverbs 31 woman? Does Jen want to be a Proverbs 31 woman? Yes. Sort of. Kind of. Perhaps I should explain.

Proverbs 31:10–31, as with every other passage in Scripture, needs to be interpreted in light of its context and authorial intent. In other words, we need to read these verses as the author originally intended them to be read. To quote me in junior high school: “No doi.”

So, what is the original intent of Proverbs 31?

First, it’s a poem of praise to an excellent wife. Verses 29–31 say, “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”

Proverbs 31 is not a moral checklist for us husbands to use as a grading sheet for our wives. Rather, it is a checklist of ways we can encourage and praise our wives. When Jen does good to me (verse 12), which she constantly does, I can encourage her that God is at work in her life and praise her for how she is responding to God’s work. When she does the hard work of finding good deals on clothes for our kids (verse 21), I can shower encouragement upon her. When she makes a killer meal, I respond with gratefulness.

Husbands, listen up: if you are using Proverbs 31 as a diagnostic godliness checklist for your wife, you are misusing the passage and hurting your wife. These verses are not a cattle prod for a husband to use to goad his wife toward godliness. These verses are a springboard for a husband to shower encouragement on his wife. If you’re using these verses as a checklist, read them again and let them serve as a swift punch to the throat.

So, does that mean the moral qualities espoused in Proverbs 31 don’t matter at all? Of course not. But we need to think carefully about what it means to really apply these verses.

How to be a proverbs 31 wife

Proverbs 31 are principles to be pursued, NOT practices to be prescribed.

Take a closer look. Verse 15 says, “She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.” What is being described here? A woman who is diligent in caring for her entire family. It is not prescribing a time to wake up, a system of recipe planning, a particular diet, or anything else. The takeaway? A godly woman seeks to be diligent in caring for her family. How that plays itself out will look a thousand different ways in a thousand different families. If a family has special needs, the wife may need to be diligently care for the special needs child while the husband cooks dinner. You get the point. If you want to wake up at 6 AM to bake fresh bread, wonderful. Just don’t do it out of a sense of guilt.

Consider verse 16: “She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.” The principle at work here? Prudence. A godly woman uses prudence as she works within the confines of her family income. This verse has nothing to say about who does the budget, who sets spending limits, or anything like that. Those practices, which flow out of the prudence principle, will look different in every family. In some families, the wife will have a better head for numbers and therefore watch the budget. In other families, the husband will be the one on budget duty. But the principle remains the same: a godly woman uses prudence.

One more. “She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy” (verse 20). A godly woman is generous toward those in need. That’s the principle. This verse doesn’t mean that a woman needs to knit sweaters for the homeless or serve in soup kitchens, good as those things may be. It just means that a godly woman looks for ways to bless the needy. That’s it.

When we turn Proverbs 31 into a checklist to be rigidly followed, we crush the women in our churches. After all, the woman described in Proverbs 31 never sleeps! She rises early and her light doesn’t go out at night. If a woman tries to literally follow all that is listed in Proverbs 31, she will crash and burn.

I want Jen to be a Proverbs 31 woman in the sense that she is seeking to obey the principles laid out in those verses (and she is—heroically!). But I don’t want Jen to be constantly haunted by the sense that she isn’t measuring up to God’s commands. That isn’t how God wants Proverbs 31 to function in Jen’s life.

And what if you find yourself not even close to the principles described in Proverbs 31? Remember: you’re a great sinner and Jesus is a great Savior. God doesn’t love you because you’re superwoman; he loves you because you seek to obey every principle and practice Jesus taught. You can rest in that.

Stephen Altrogge is a writer, pastor, and knows a lot about Star Wars. Find out more at The Blazing Center.

How to be a proverbs 31 wife

How to be a proverbs 31 wife

Truthfully, I never really liked the idea of the Proverbs 31 Woman. I rarely read the passage and when I did, I glossed over it haphazardly. It’s not that I had a problem with the biblical passage, per se. I just had a problem with everything people made it out to be.

I felt like it was often used to hold Christian women accountable to an imaginary standard they couldn’t live up to.

However, I’ve since grown to appreciate the words of Proverbs 31. They provide so much valuable insight on what the heart of a Godly woman should look like.

How to be a proverbs 31 wife

Where did we get the idea of the Proverbs 31 Woman from?

The iconic Proverbs 31 Woman comes from Proverbs 31, a poem written by King Lemuel based on words of advice given to him by his mother on how to conduct himself as a king. She speaks about everything from drinking wine and strong drink to standing up for the weak and poor.

Obviously, as a mother looking out for the best interests of her son, she advises him on how to choose a wife. She describes characteristics of a virtuous woman, so that Lemuel would recognize her when he saw her.

Women’s ministries everywhere took the idea of Proverbs 31 and ran with it, putting it on coffee mugs and t-shirts, writing devotionals and books about it, and encouraging young women to desire to become like this “virtuous woman.”

Unfortunately, this comes with the potential of putting an unnecessary burden on women.

While Proverbs 31 outlines many beautiful actions of the virtuous woman, it is not a checklist or commandment to live up to. It’s a poem.

The Proverbs 31 Woman Explained

Christian culture says that you have to be the perfect wife with five children, who attends all of their kids’ parent-teacher meetings, volunteer at every local organization, cook the most amazing meals for your family, and serve on your church’s outreach team.

While all of those things are amazing, none of them are necessary for being a Proverbs 31 woman. Truthfully, not all of us can relate to that. Some of us never will. And that’s okay.

There’s one crucial thing about the virtuous woman that we have been missing. This is what gives her the energy and the drive to do all of the things listed in the chapter.

The most important characteristic of a Proverbs 31 Woman

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

I know we like to quote it a lot but do we really understand what that verse means? While the Proverbs 31 Woman can be commended for all the wonderful things she does, what is most important about her is that she fears the Lord. She lives her entire life out of a desire to honor and serve the Lord. This is what makes her a virtuous woman.

What else makes someone a virtuous woman?

Virtuous women are in constant communion with God

The good things we do don’t make us virtuous. Virtue comes from constant communion with God.

Are you in his presence regularly?

Do you love his truth more than you love the world?

Do you seek his will before seeking your own?

I don’t believe that the Proverbs 31 Woman desired to praise or fame. I believe that she simply wanted to serve the Lord. She wasn’t trying to be perfect, she just knew it was her duty to honor the Lord.

It was natural for her to be a virtuous woman because virtue was already in her heart.

It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.

Jesus tells us that it’s not what goes into the mouth that defiles someone, it’s what comes out. The things that come out of our mouth express what’s in our heart. Virtue can only come out of you if virtue is within you.

The Proverbs 31 Woman pursues the wisdom of God instead of the wisdom of the world

The P31 Woman is not concerned with what seems right according to the world. Instead, she focuses on God’s truth. Her biggest desire is to honor God. She works for God and not for man because she knows that her reward comes from God and him alone.

A woman who is genuinely pursuing God will naturally be virtuous. The problem is, we tend to flip it the other way and use it as a checklist for women who want to be found by the perfect man. But, it’s not a checklist at all.

Lemuel’s mother isn’t saying, “Go find a woman who does all of these things perfectly.” Instead, she’s saying, “Hey, heads up. If she does these things, chances are she’s a virtuous woman.” Her outward actions are an indication of the virtue inside of her heart.

Many women use their works as a measuring stick of their worth. They say, “If I do all of these things, It’ll make me a virtuous woman.” But, sadly, that’s a lie. That’s not the truth God promised us. Doing all the things isn’t going to make you virtuous. You naturally do good things as a result of the virtue in your heart.

She’s a woman after God’s heart

Like David was a man after God’s heart, the P31 woman is a woman after God’s heart. Interestingly enough, in Judges, we hear about a man referred to as a “mighty man of valor.” I read a commentary that said that the “virtuous woman” title is its female version. She is strong, wise, conscientious, loving, caring, hardworking, and faithful. But all of these wonderful qualities are byproducts of the most important thing about her. She seeks God and finds him.

The truth is, no matter what you do or how well you do it, you can never be a virtuous woman without the right heart posture.

Do you truly fear the Lord? Or is it more about appearance?

Are you walking according to God’s word? Or are you simply doing what society says is good?

If you want to be a true Proverbs 31 Woman, you have to lay down all of the unnecessary standards and live as a woman who fears the Lord.

How to be a proverbs 31 wife

Shanté Grossett

Hi there! I’m Shanté, the founder of Her Style of Tea. I am passionate about helping women live free and fulfilled lives by embracing God’s word and his truth about who they are. I love drinking tea, journaling, art museums, and listening to good podcasts.

How to be a proverbs 31 wife

How to be a proverbs 31 wife

Truthfully, I never really liked the idea of the Proverbs 31 Woman. I rarely read the passage and when I did, I glossed over it haphazardly. It’s not that I had a problem with the biblical passage, per se. I just had a problem with everything people made it out to be.

I felt like it was often used to hold Christian women accountable to an imaginary standard they couldn’t live up to.

However, I’ve since grown to appreciate the words of Proverbs 31. They provide so much valuable insight on what the heart of a Godly woman should look like.

How to be a proverbs 31 wife

Where did we get the idea of the Proverbs 31 Woman from?

The iconic Proverbs 31 Woman comes from Proverbs 31, a poem written by King Lemuel based on words of advice given to him by his mother on how to conduct himself as a king. She speaks about everything from drinking wine and strong drink to standing up for the weak and poor.

Obviously, as a mother looking out for the best interests of her son, she advises him on how to choose a wife. She describes characteristics of a virtuous woman, so that Lemuel would recognize her when he saw her.

Women’s ministries everywhere took the idea of Proverbs 31 and ran with it, putting it on coffee mugs and t-shirts, writing devotionals and books about it, and encouraging young women to desire to become like this “virtuous woman.”

Unfortunately, this comes with the potential of putting an unnecessary burden on women.

While Proverbs 31 outlines many beautiful actions of the virtuous woman, it is not a checklist or commandment to live up to. It’s a poem.

The Proverbs 31 Woman Explained

Christian culture says that you have to be the perfect wife with five children, who attends all of their kids’ parent-teacher meetings, volunteer at every local organization, cook the most amazing meals for your family, and serve on your church’s outreach team.

While all of those things are amazing, none of them are necessary for being a Proverbs 31 woman. Truthfully, not all of us can relate to that. Some of us never will. And that’s okay.

There’s one crucial thing about the virtuous woman that we have been missing. This is what gives her the energy and the drive to do all of the things listed in the chapter.

The most important characteristic of a Proverbs 31 Woman

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

I know we like to quote it a lot but do we really understand what that verse means? While the Proverbs 31 Woman can be commended for all the wonderful things she does, what is most important about her is that she fears the Lord. She lives her entire life out of a desire to honor and serve the Lord. This is what makes her a virtuous woman.

What else makes someone a virtuous woman?

Virtuous women are in constant communion with God

The good things we do don’t make us virtuous. Virtue comes from constant communion with God.

Are you in his presence regularly?

Do you love his truth more than you love the world?

Do you seek his will before seeking your own?

I don’t believe that the Proverbs 31 Woman desired to praise or fame. I believe that she simply wanted to serve the Lord. She wasn’t trying to be perfect, she just knew it was her duty to honor the Lord.

It was natural for her to be a virtuous woman because virtue was already in her heart.

It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.

Jesus tells us that it’s not what goes into the mouth that defiles someone, it’s what comes out. The things that come out of our mouth express what’s in our heart. Virtue can only come out of you if virtue is within you.

The Proverbs 31 Woman pursues the wisdom of God instead of the wisdom of the world

The P31 Woman is not concerned with what seems right according to the world. Instead, she focuses on God’s truth. Her biggest desire is to honor God. She works for God and not for man because she knows that her reward comes from God and him alone.

A woman who is genuinely pursuing God will naturally be virtuous. The problem is, we tend to flip it the other way and use it as a checklist for women who want to be found by the perfect man. But, it’s not a checklist at all.

Lemuel’s mother isn’t saying, “Go find a woman who does all of these things perfectly.” Instead, she’s saying, “Hey, heads up. If she does these things, chances are she’s a virtuous woman.” Her outward actions are an indication of the virtue inside of her heart.

Many women use their works as a measuring stick of their worth. They say, “If I do all of these things, It’ll make me a virtuous woman.” But, sadly, that’s a lie. That’s not the truth God promised us. Doing all the things isn’t going to make you virtuous. You naturally do good things as a result of the virtue in your heart.

She’s a woman after God’s heart

Like David was a man after God’s heart, the P31 woman is a woman after God’s heart. Interestingly enough, in Judges, we hear about a man referred to as a “mighty man of valor.” I read a commentary that said that the “virtuous woman” title is its female version. She is strong, wise, conscientious, loving, caring, hardworking, and faithful. But all of these wonderful qualities are byproducts of the most important thing about her. She seeks God and finds him.

The truth is, no matter what you do or how well you do it, you can never be a virtuous woman without the right heart posture.

Do you truly fear the Lord? Or is it more about appearance?

Are you walking according to God’s word? Or are you simply doing what society says is good?

If you want to be a true Proverbs 31 Woman, you have to lay down all of the unnecessary standards and live as a woman who fears the Lord.

How to be a proverbs 31 wife

Shanté Grossett

Hi there! I’m Shanté, the founder of Her Style of Tea. I am passionate about helping women live free and fulfilled lives by embracing God’s word and his truth about who they are. I love drinking tea, journaling, art museums, and listening to good podcasts.