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.