Proverbs 31:10-31 describes in detail this amazing woman that has kept many a Christian ladies in tears as they strive to keep up with her. We are going to explore each and every part of her, but first, I want to suggest something to you that may blow your mind as much as it did mine. I had always heard it suggested that this woman was not necessarily a single woman, but rather a composite of many qualities of womanhood in one. Tonight, I pulled out the Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary and got a completely different picture of who this woman is. This commentary suggests that there are four important things to note about these verses. First, it comes at the conclusion of Proverbs, a book that talks over and over about wisdom and how to obtain the godly wisdom we are to have. Second, it is an acrostic. You know those poems where a word is written down the side and the beginning of each letter is a sentence? Yeah, you know...the ones you wrote for Mom that had the words "HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY" on the side. Anyway....second, it is written in a very hymn-like manner. And finally, it is written with a lot of words that resemble what is known as "heroic literature." Words like valor, strength, vigorously, and noble all suggest this "ode to a champion." (Zondervan, 1006). Separately, those things might not matter. But, when you put it all together though, listen to what this commentary suggests:
"Putting these observations together, one would conclude that Proverbs 31:10-31 is a hymn to Lady Wisdom, written in the heroic mode. Wisdom is personified as a woman because the word "wisdom" is a feminine noun and suggests it, and because the woman is an excellent example of wisdom by virtue of the variety of applications it receives- at home, in the market, with charity, in business." (Zondervan, p. 1006)
HALLELUJAH! Do you hear that ladies??? This woman that we have been beating ourselves up over not being, is not necessarily a single portrait of womanhood at all... Now, before you get too excited and throw out all attempts at trying to live up to the standards set by Mrs. 31, listen to this part of the commentary:
"This poem certainly presents a pattern for women who want to develop a life of wisdom, but since it is essentially about wisdom, its lessons are for both men and women to develop. The fear of the Lord will inspire people to be faithful stewards of the time and talents that God has given, wisdom is productive and beneficial for others, requiring great industry in life's endeavors, wisdom is best taught and lived in the home-indeed, the success of the home demands wisdom; and wisdom is balanced living, giving attention to domestic responsibilities as well as business enterprises and charitable service."
Do you hear that? We can ALL, men and women alike, gain something on how to live in our roles and responsibilities from this woman we see in Proverbs 31. Perhaps these verses are not the mirror in which all us women should look in and see ourselves, but rather a goal to have in all our endeavors.
Part of why I really wanted to explore who she is, is because I see so many fellow ladies struggling with her and how they don't measure up. I have dear friends who work outside the home and have small children and feel tremendous amount of guilt for not being a stay at home mom. I have dear stay-at-home mom friends who don't work outside the home and yet feel as though what they do is meaningless or unimportant. I have friends who are married without children and who stay at home and who don't think that is enough. And I have friends who are single, who work, and wonder if that is all this life is about. We are all looking around at each other, thinking the person next to us knows the answer. How is it that virtually every woman I know, no matter what her lot in life at this given moment, wonders if she is the "right" kind of woman? How can we all be asking the questions, "Am I in the right place? Am I doing this right?" I'd venture to say it is because we don't really understand the truth about what God says about us as women and hopefully, we can debunk some of the mysteries that seem to fog our vision of womanhood.
Next post, we will start looking at her and all her qualities and what that means us as women, but also as Christians. Will you take this journey with me as we explore this woman who has given many of us guilt, so that we can once and for all realize that we are the exact woman God meant us to be?
Here's to learning something new...
Until next time,