Posted By Nan

I have been putting off writing this, the last section of Proverbs. The epilogue on the Wife of Noble Character. The perfect woman. One of the things that has troubled me has been the memory of my own mother, who was abusive, neglectful and delighted in putting down her children, being described as a Proverbs 31 woman by my brother. He described her as some wonderful woman who cared for her children and was always productive and perfect. I know that he was desperate to present his mother as someone worthy. But it was unfortunate that he portrayed her as such a perfect woman that she wasn’t.
Another negative association I have with the Proverbs 31 woman is the way she is portrayed in courses I have completed at various churches. You know the ones where you are taught to be the 1950s wife who is a slave to her husband. As one who works with women in abusive situations, it is hard to agree with something that promotes the idea of men being in a position of power over women. Particularly when I know that is not what God intends for women.
The truth of Proverbs 31 is quite different. God did not create women to be subservient to men. The fact the Bible puts women in an inferior position is more a matter of the culture of the time and modern Christians taking the Bible out of context. In truth, if you look through the Bible, there are many women who had important purposes to fulfil in service to God.
Looking at these verses at the end of Proverbs we see a description of a wife of noble character. Someone who is like Ruth. A wife that works alongside her husband rather than against him. Such a woman has a husband who is confident in his wife’s love and support and can go about his life in confidence that his wife supports him. That man’s wife can also know that her husband loves and supports her. When a man and woman have a healthy relationship like that, they bring each other mutual good.
This noble wife is a willing participant in her marriage. In the nature of the times, women were assigned roles in the home and she pursued those roles with diligence. She ensured household tasks were completed. She balanced the household budget effectively so that there was also food and good quality clothing available for the family. She would work as hard as her husband, getting up early and working all day. She would not laze around and leave tasks undone.
It is also seen that she was an astute woman and contributed to the household income.
This woman possessed humility and a willingness to observe and learn. This meant she grew wise. It also meant she was willing to support those in need.
The greatest thing this woman possessed. The thing that motivated her diligence. This woman loved God. Her desire was to follow Him. In God she had great faith. She was not frightened of the future. Instead she trusted God to watch over her family in the future. It was her love of God that led to her being a woman of such noble character.
Proverbs ends with the instruction to acknowledge such women. Not just privately, but publicly. Acknowledge and reward the hard work of women.
So this woman is not superwoman. She is an ordinary woman of faith in God. She allows her faith in God to give her humility, wisdom, courage and a willingness to serve God. That is the Proverbs 31 woman.

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