Disclaimer: This is my personal interpretation of Proverb 31. I am in no way condemning others perspectives in fact I encourage you to comment below for conversation.
I have often heard about the Proverb 31 wife but never really dug into the subject much because I felt I already had the gist of it. Lately I have been working on feeding my spirituality and I landed on Proverbs 31. I read the chapter and it sparked much interest and concern as I am worried the main idea of this chapter is being overlooked. I have heard many wives literally attempting to fulfill every item on the list. I don’t think that is humanly possible even if you are a stay at home wife because it would never leave time for self-care. I do not think God is about all work and no play and I don’t think he expects us to be perfect. I believe he just wants us to try to be best version of ourselves.
Breakdown of Proverbs 31
I am reading from the New King James Version.
The first two verses of this chapter lets us know this entire chapter is advice given to King from his mother. One can assume this advice is something the King lived by and he was now passing this wisdom on to his son. Although this passage is written by a man the advice stems from an older woman. A mother that have lived and learned and had an idea of the type of woman her son should date. The things I’ve read about this chapter never includes this verse and it is sometimes interpreted as being written by a woman or they are words straight from God. I think the fact that this is motherly advice lessens the pressure for those being hard on themselves when they miss something on the checklist. God does not expect us to be perfect and that is a very important fact that needs to be stressed.
King Lemuel tells his son not do foolish things that are against the law, however, on the other hand he instructs him to get the less fortunate drunk to help them forget their misfortune. This is the first time I have seen drunkenness be used in a positive fashion in the bible. But I think it could also mean distract people from their misfortune. These verses are not related to wifedom at all, but could very well be advice to us all (well maybe not the literal drunk part). If you are stuck on the drunken part this also lets you know this is advice is not to be taken literally, ok let’s keep going.
This verse instructs the prince to speak up for what’s right and be an advocate for those that cannot stand up for themselves. This sounds like a good unisex advice as helping one another is what ministry is about. It is helping those that are lost not sticking around those that are already found. So much emphasis is put on the second half of this chapter but where is the accountability of men not jumping from one woman to the next and men standing up for their fellow brother. I am not making this a feminist post just wondering why there is no such thing as a Proverb 31 husband. These are Godly traits that should be exhibited in a husband.
This verse gets its own paragraph because this is the main objective of the Proverbs 31 wife. Wives want to be viewed as virtuous. Wives aim to be women of valor. In my heart I believe all women no matter marital status want to be a woman of valor.
What is it to have virtue?
According to Google dictionary it “is behavior showing high moral standards”. In this case it is a woman that in confident and stands for her beliefs. She does not fall for anything or everyone. She knows who she is and whose she is. I find it funny that women aim to have virtue after marriage as it may be more beneficial to have virtue prior to marriage.
If you are rooted in your identity through Christ before marriage you wouldn’t have to juggle with that while being married. This is a mistake I admit I made when I first got married. My wifedom became my identity and I lost who I was. Being a mother or a wife are a part of what you are but they do not equate to ALL you are. Virtuous is not a wife trait it’s a people trait. I love this verse so much I could go on and on but the next set of verses will demonstrate why becoming virtuous prior to marriage is more beneficial.
Piggybacking off the previous paragraph, if you don’t have your back no way can you fully have your spouse’s back. The King’s mother is instructing him to find a woman he can trust. The King is letting his son know he needs a woman that he can trust with his mind, insecurities, strengths, heart and secrets. But women, our husbands cannot trust us if we bring baggage from previous relationships into our marriage or if we are constantly nagging or looking for our husbands to constantly contribute to our insecurity baskets. I am not saying you have to be perfect but you have to have balance. If you are always weak and your husband always have to hold you up who will be there to hold him up when he needs it. Marriage is a give and take. I always like to believe women have an ounce more strength than men do. Our prayers are to lift him up so high that the world cannot break him. If that is not powerful I don’t know what is.
Now women, the men do tend to irk the nerves he is not perfect and I know personalities clash from time to time. However the second half of this verse is not about having a perfect marriage. I think it gears towards your heart’s intent for your spouse. Encouraging him when he needs it. Praising him for what he does for the family. Uplifting him when he is down. It is our responsibility to be our husband’s backbone.
These verses are heavy loaded…just remember this is a bucket list provided by a mother for wives during that period of time. The main idea of the Proverbs 31 wife is to take care of the home with good intent. It does not mean you will literally need to knead bread in the morning with a kid on your hip while milking a goat. You are to take care of the house that pertains to the modern world. If you are a working mom it’s getting meals on the table even if you have to order take-out from time to time. It is talking to the children and husband about splitting up the chores. It is sometimes just turning on a Netflix movie the household can enjoy. Taking care of the house is subjective to your household and you are in no way arrested to the old traditionalist wife bylaws. Also, self-care should be a part of this because if you neglect yourself you will begin to resent your family. Make sure you are taking out the time to include your favorite activities.
Don’t get discouraged as the husband is also taxed to show appreciation. He also should show gratitude and acknowledge all you do for the family. The children should also show gratitude and be so proud of their mother they are impressed to help out around the house. We cannot control how the family react to your constant giving…but when you are working with virtue and gratitude that is bound to be reciprocated. If it is not, you have the right to voice this opinion. But be mindful on how you voice your opinion.
The King is advising his son to choose someone he can trust and a nurturer but is also reminding him to acknowledge her for it. This is wisdom that is sometimes overlooked as spouses sometimes get in the mode of thinking they are supposed to be doing what they are doing. We are not in chains here and all have free will. It is very important for both spouses to make sure they show appreciation. Appreciation is the oil that keeps the family engine running, without the oil the engine will die.
In my opinion, this is the main idea of the Proverbs 31 wife. It’s not how many meals you cook or how many children you bear, it’s fearing the Lord and acknowledging him in all that you do. It’s making God the forefront of your life and standing in that virtue. Its acknowledging your mistakes and asking God for help. It’s spending time with God on a daily basis and getting grounded in the Word. It’s not about making sure you’re this perfect wife but making sure you are a faithful wife. If you are able to complete the checklist that’s awesome. But for those of us that are praying our way through, be encouraged and continue to seek God on being the wife he needs you to be for the husband he blessed you with.