Infinite Blogging

Tales of love, fertility and nourishing food.

Proverbs 31 Woman. March 5, 2008

Filed under: The Truth — Annette @ 9:20 pm

I’ve recently been doing a fairly in-depth study into the highly proclaimed Proverbs 31 woman.  It’s really a fantastic study; I’d highly recommend it.

I came across this FANTASTIC commentary (or, at the very least, summary of commentaries) from UCG.  Of all COG-related materials, this is one that I would highly recommend that everyone (especially women) read.  (Disclaimer: This does not constitute an endorsement of UCG doctrine.)  (And just for added synchronicity, the commentary is the assigned reading for UCG’s Bible reading program – on my birthdate.)

I knew that the passage was an acrostic poem using successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet, but I had no idea of the depth of the poetic structure.  It’s really quite astounding.  In some ways it reminds me of Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter, although I’m of the opinion that Proverbs 31 is more impressive.

Mr. Smith recently gave a Bible study/sermon on The Plain Truth About Heroes of Faith.  In it he referenced Gideon and the Proverbs 31 woman.  I learned tonight that the angel’s declaration of Gideon as a “mighty man of valor” (Judges 6:12) was the masculine equivalent of what is translated “virtuous wife” or “woman of valor” (Prov. 31:10) (Heb. esheth-hayil for the woman vs. gibbor hehayil for the man).  “Virtuous wife” or “virtuous woman” has always been somewhat of an enigmatic title to me, but “mighty man of valor” seems fairly majestic.  It’s encouraging to know that the two are equivalent.

One thing that struck me, though, was that it seemed that every commentary which was used in the article made some reference to the standards of Proverbs 31 being unattainable.  The UCG writer also comments, referring to a commentary’s suggestion that the passage is truly about wisdom, rather than a woman:

But the commentary gives some good reasons for at least seeing important symbolism here and not treating the poem of Proverbs 31 as some kind of numbered checklist of female righteousness.

I’m not so sure.  I don’t think that men should use the checklist in determining a “suitable” mate, and I don’t think that you can check off characteristics on the list and determine yourself “righteous.”  But I do think that it can serve as a very helpful guide, especially for women, of what we should be shooting for.  Prior to reading the commentary, I actually did make a list entitled “Things you should know about/be involved in” based on the virtuous woman’s characteristics.  It helped me realize that I do have a responsibility for being financially and business literate, among other things, and this is one characteristic that I need to work on.

I also tend to disagree with the idea that the Proverbs 31 woman is some sort of unattainable ideal, with this woman shining in gold upon a pedestal while we underlings gaze on in amazement.  No, no woman is going to achieve it perfectly.  Keep in mind that if the virtuous woman is indeed a physical woman, she has never been and will never be perfect.  But we can all certainly make strides in each of the identified areas and show progress. 

I think Proverbs 31 women are around us every day.  After making my list of “Things you should know about/be involved in,” I later went through it and considered whether or not I thought my mom met the criteria.  In pretty much every case, I think she hit it head on.  Is my mom perfect?  No.  But she has set a high standard for those of us who follow to measure up to.

Anyway, it’s a good study.  Look into it.

Read your Bibles.

P.S. 4.5 miles Friday, 4.5 miles Sunday, 4.5 miles today.

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15 Responses to “Proverbs 31 Woman.”

  1. Mike Says:

    I’m inspired… So I wrote this modern day version (with less technical awesomeness than the original):

    Can you locate a good woman these days?
    If so, her value is high in rank,
    Her husband trusts her with the credit cards,
    So he won’t have go and rob a bank,
    She treats him good; she enjoys grilling him steak,
    She doesn’t nag him daily into a tension headache,
    She buys clothes at Ventures instead of Versace,
    She checks the ads and clips many a coupon,
    She’s willing to travel across town
    To buy her man imported Grey Poupon,
    She gets up early in the morn to cook,
    She plants some veggies in her garden nook,
    She works her abs and jogs during the day,
    Her sellers rating is high on eBay,
    She creates new fashions on her sewing machine,
    She takes casseroles and produce to those who lack,
    She covers her man and children in warm clothes,
    She dresses modestly, looking good is her knack,
    Her hubby’s a real fine fellow, respected and refined,
    Her businesses keep her fat wallet cash-lined,
    Honor, Character and Savvy are part of her clothing line,
    She looks to the future and knows her family’ll be fine,
    She’s one smart cookie; her mouth never spews forth drama,
    She takes care of her household; she’s no lazy mama,
    Her boys say they’re lucky, her hubby says he’s blessed,
    Many ladies have done well, but you, Ma’am, are the best,
    Vanity will get you nowhere, and flattery is but wind,
    But a woman who fears God leads her to a far better end,
    Give her what’s coming to her; pay her what she’s earned,
    Let her example to you be lesson surely learned.

  2. Ryan G. Says:

    that’s awesome Mike! The official REG Prov. 31 study is something that I started before we were married, and I have since enjoyed going back to reflect and add to where I am at in understanding and in action. E and I went through it together–studied it independently and then compared what we gained from it and how we were going to apply that to our daily life together. What an awesome example and standard 🙂

  3. Infinity Says:

    Mike, nicely done. 🙂

    And actually, “smart cookie” is one way I described her in my notes, too. 🙂

  4. TheLioness22 Says:

    Mike, nice work. So funny to see that, though, because just last night I was thinking about Proverbs 31 and what a modern version of it might read like… Guess I have an idea now. 🙂

  5. Howdy, ma’am. Just wanted to say that I really like your comments, and thought that it sounds (reads?) like you’re right on track in my book.

    One of my favorite studies is “the Proverbs 31 husband”, who can also be found in that chapter (and not in just the obvious places).

    And, Mike — wow. Might you be publishing a full-blown paraphrase translation of the whole shebang in the near future? I’d much rather read what you’ve written than, say, “The Word on the Street”.

  6. rakkav Says:

    Mike, I’ll add to the general accolades. Thanks for keeping the temptation to make it a parody rather than a paraphrase reasonably in check. 🙂

    Were you all aware that Proverbs 31 is written in the same poetic form as the Psalms (and the body of Job) are, that it has the same musical notation (in the Hebrew Masoretic Text) that these texts do, that it was meant to be sung in public reading and private study, and that the original melody has been recovered? 😀 It’s in musical score form, not yet in recorded form, but anyone interested in such minutae can look me up after checking out this site first:

    http://www.rakkav.com/biblemusic/

    I can provide the musical score in PDF.

    This text presents an ideal, true enough. But an unattainable ideal? Uh uh, I don’t think so. A description of Wisdom as such? That theory forces one to explain literally everything said away. This is a wise and valiant woman applying herself to the peak of her abilities. But two things made it much easier for her than for many today: 1) she had a husband who (as one “known in the gates”) could provide for her a framework in which to work (even to the ability to have employees, so to speak); 2) that framework was centered on the home, as indeed much labor that men did also was. I’m reminded of what Classical Greek women were held to, although Israelite women seem to have had considerably more freedom than they (or that they’re given credit for).

    One evangelist I heard in Pasadena, CA. years ago remarked that Satan (beginning in industrial times) first took the man out of the home, then the woman out of the home, and finally the children out of the home. There is something worth thinking about there.

  7. rakkav Says:

    > I don’t think that men should use the checklist in determining a “suitable” mate, and I don’t think that you can check off characteristics on the list and determine yourself “righteous.” But I do think that it can serve as a very helpful guide, especially for women, of what we should be shooting for.

    Maybe the commentators and the UCG miss the obvious point you’ve just stated: no one in his right mind should expect that the woman he marries will knock all this out of the park on the first swing. I could pass on some parallel stories, again from Classical Greece, that illustrate that while women (there as in Israel) were given “basic training” as girls, reaching a similar ideal in marriage required “on the job training”. The same went for husbands, no doubt. (It certainly will be so for me, should I ever manage to become one.)

    Again, the ability and willingness of people to refuse to follow the evidence where it leads is astounding. It must be part of human nature’s resistance to God’s law, for if people DID consistently follow the evidence where it leads, it would lead them to God, His Law, and His plan inevitably.

  8. […] happened across a post on Infinite Blogging today regarding a Bible study on the “virtuous woman” of Proverbs 31, available on the […]

  9. rakkav Says:

    One more time, if I may. I just looked at the analysis of the chiasmic structures in Proverbs 31. They are indeed impressive, but such structures are characteristic of biblical Hebrew poetry of all kinds. And I suspect they arise so often because biblical Hebrew texts were written and taught as “art song”. There seems to be something about “through-composing” a sung text that makes songwriters (including me) think in chiasms naturally (each culture doing it differently in terms of form).

    Check out the VERY impressive chiasmic structure of the Song of Songs:

    http://www.rakkav.com/song/pages/song05.htm

    http://www.rakkav.com/song/pages/figure04.htm

  10. rakkav Says:

    Just to top things off, how about a “Woman of Valor” T-shirt? 🙂

    http://www.phdcomics.com/store/mojostore.php?_=view&ProductID=7093

  11. Infinity Says:

    Veeery cool. 🙂

  12. Help Lord Jesus, I am dealing with family members who have some of the same problems and life concerns that I have but seem to feel the need to keep me in check being abalance Lord Jesus please bring a balance,amen!

  13. Help Lord I hate the way my mother and I get along, yet I am blessed to even have a motehr, amen!

  14. Red Says:

    I don’t find the Proverbs lesson to be very helpful. It just sets up one more thing for women to stress over achieving as well as competing over. Who amongst the middle class really has servants? How can I be expected to invest in businesses or real estate if I don’t have a lot of money?

    Perhaps we should just take this in the context it was no doubt written. Perhaps it was meant for a king and it was his mother who wrote this to him.

    Expecting all women to sew is not realistic. It is cheaper to regularly cruise thrift stores for bargains.

  15. Heather B. Says:

    I think there’s more to the Proverbs 31 woman than people initially realize when just reading the passage. I’ve incidentally been reading a new book by Dr. Tony Evans and his daughter, Chrystal Evans Hurst called “Kingdom Woman” that has given me new insights. Right off the bat they talk about the Proverbs 31 woman being the hallmark of kingdom women, “But the Proverbs 31 woman is not the model of a perfect woman. Neither is a kingdom woman called to perfection. Women, you can be a Proverbs 31 woman and more – but that doesn’t mean you do it all at the same time.” They talk about life flowing through seasons and about getting help, not trying to do it all. It’s really eye-opening. Thank you for your perspective in your article. If you’re interested in Dr. Evan’s book, they have information and free devotional downloads at kingdomwomanbook.com. I hope it blesses you as it has blessed me.


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