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The Proverbial Wife, Then and Now

Updated on November 7, 2010

Proverbs has always been my favorite book of the Bible.. Filled with nuggets of wisdom for rearing children, fair business practices, common sense guidelines and living peacefully with your neighbor. It could stand alone, on library shelves across the world. It also tells us about being a good wife......that is where my problem began. How could any woman in the modern world possibly measure up to the Proverbial Wife and Virtuous Woman? Just what is a good wife anyway? The answer was found right where the question started, in Proverbs, chapter 31. (KJV) All I had to do, was to study His Word, and ask His guidance in understanding.

10Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

she has a good moral character which makes her valuable

11The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.

he trusts that she will not cause him or the family harm

12She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

she acts with his best interests at heart and lives her loyalty to him

13She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.

she is really working here, she is preparing to do some "spinning", she will be making

threads and weaving cloth

14She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.

remember, she probably had to walk, still she sought the best goods for her family

15She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.

her day started early, and she knew the importance of breakfast for her family

16She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

she gave great thought to how spend the income, and she used her resources well

17She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.

she prepared herself to the tasks she must do

18She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.

she invests in quality and in quanity, making sure the home has enough supplies

19She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.

the spindle and the distaff are tools in the weaving of cloth, she goes to work

20She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

she shares her bounty and sees to the needs of the less fortunate

21She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.

she has laid up enough supplies to last through the winter or other catastrophe

22She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.

she has made an attractive coat for herself , or perhaps this is bed covering

23Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.

often in Biblical times, cities were built behind walls for defense, other times, "gates"

can mean, the marketplace, the courthouse, or town hall......either way, we can be

sure that her husband was an honorable man

24She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.

she makes clothing out of the cloth that she has woven and sells if for trade or

profit, the girdle is probably a military sash, or other adornment

25Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.

she is dignified, respected and respectable, she puts duty ahead of pleasure, knowing that a pleasant time will follow

26She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

she is knowledgeable, speaks with confidence and authority, yet she is kind ,and compassionate in her manner and in her speech

27She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

again, she is a good worker, diligent in looking after the needs of her household,

she is not lazy or disinterested

28Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

when her children grow up, they understand her value and contributions, they hold her in

a very high regard

29Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.

her husband knows the value she had brought to his life and how she has provided

for the family and guided the children, he trusted no other woman to do this.........

30Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.

do not fall for thrills and amusements or be vain, set your heart on the Lord's path

31Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

She has earned a valuable reputation, and deserves a fair reward.

The one thing that stands out to me in the description of this virtuous woman is what is missing. There is no mention of her physical appearance.

Let that sink in .........we do not know anything about what she looked like.

We know that she was diligent, steadfast, morally upright, respectable, kind, compassionate, thoughtful of others. She had many skills, and worked to perfect them, she bought quality merchandise, made and sold her goods of an equal value.

We know that she was loyal to her husband, behaved in a way that was beyond reproach, causing him no harm or embarrassment.

We can surmise that while in her care, her children were in good hands, being taught manners, respect, fair play, self discipline, and the value of work. Like children throughout time, they did not thank her until they were mature to understand her value.

Our lives today, have some minor differences.  Most of us have never spun wool or flax. We may or may not have bought our own property.   We probably do not meet the merchant vessels and trade directly with them.  Most of us do not have house servants.  Our environments change, but people remain basically the same.

We have the same needs for food, clothing, shelter as the Proverbial Wife had.  We should shop for the needs of our households, getting the best quality we can afford.  We should not waste our resources.  We should make the very most of our skills and talents that we have been given.  We should share with those around us, whether they are destitute or simply deserving of our kindness.  We should take pride in our work, our efforts and do everything we do, giving the Glory to God.

We should still honor our husbands, holding his best interests at heart, showing him our loyalty.   Do not behave in a way that would be embarrassing to him or our family.  We should never laugh at or expose our husband's fears and weaknesses.  Be wise and be prudent, let honor, strength, and dignity clothe us.

Trust in the Lord, He is the source of our virtue.






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    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town


      thanks so very much for your graciousness!

    • profile image 5 years ago from upstate, NY

      What an excellent picture of a woman of God and a wonderfully written Hub! There is no doubt that for women to have a life defined by Proverbs 31, she would have to live in the power of the Spirit of God! A women like this would bring blessing and the presence of God wherever she went! What a testimony of the grace and love of God, she would bring in today's dark world!

    • profile image

      CJ Sledgehammer 5 years ago

      Then, so shall it be.

      From this day forth, I will be known as your friend and ally, and let us never exchange another angry word between us.

      God's blessings to you and yours - C.J. Sledgehammer

      P.S. Your moniker "onegoodwoman" is on safe ground with me and I will never again question its worth. :0)

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town

      As I, also do............

      Yes, let us meet again, under better circumstances............" sledehammer", is a name, that for, personal reasons, will stand out to me.

      I , do hope, that " onegoodwoman", will someday will mean something to you..............there is a desperate story behind the moniker!

      Again, I wish you no single harm.

      Yes, let us meet again with fresh mind, absent of past angers and disappointments. I, will welcome the meeting.

    • profile image

      CJ Sledgehammer 5 years ago

      Bella, how do good Christian people get themselves in positions like this?

      I blame myself for staying up too late, and when I do, I get extremely bold and lose all sense of diplomacy. I wrote my sarcastic response to that Question and Answer section (by SimeyC) in the wee morning hours, WAY after my bedtime.

      By the way, I do hate feminism with every cell in my body, yet I am known to be a champion of women. I realize this may sound contradictory, but it isn't.

      I love women in their element and doing as God intended. I love and appreciate their finer qualities and I pray that they never find "equality" with men, because that will mean they will have lost all those lovely qualities that God gave them.

      What is "equality" any way, and who's going to know when it has been achieved? It's like victory in the Middle-East - no one knows exactly what it looks like, nor can it be measured, put on a graph or understood. The fighting is likely to go on forever, just like feminists pushing for "equality".

      No, the absurd and sarcastic point I was trying to make in that rediculous post, (and then clarified in Princess Prisca's follow-up Hub), was that I don't want those things to happen to women. Social engineers have messed with traditional marriage, the nuclear family, and now have been messing with traditional sex-roles, and its destroying our society, not making it better.

      I apologize for responding to you the way I did. I read your e-mail while I was quite tired and I allowed it to get under my skin. After I confronted you with my response, I stayed awake well into the night wishing I hadn't. I hate contention, Bella, but I do believe in conducting a "meeting of the minds", seeking forgiveness, gaining helpful insights, offering peace, asking for forgiveness, and then pressing upward and onward.

      I can promise you that we may have some strong disagreements in the days to come. But know this: I am a defender of the Faith and I am a child of the Most High, like you are. I try not to get too involved with wordly politics and I know, without a shadow of doubt, that Christ is ashamed of the filth produced in this country (these days) and He would never endorse ANY of our political parties - so I don't either.

      I pray that this little misunderstanding will make us better people, more trustworthy ambassadors of Christ's kingdom, and perhaps we can even become allies. Who knows, stanger things have happened. :0)

      Best wishes and be well - C.J. Sledgehammer

      P.S. Will you please forgive me for my sarcastic remarks?

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town

      C.J. Sledgehammer........

      You are very correct, it does read as quite nasty, and bitter.

      The post of yours, that brought out the worst in me, well, quite frankly, it is not memorable. I do note, that you did not bother to remind me or our readers, of what you said to garner such a hateful response.

      Likewise, I wish you no harm.

    • profile image

      CJ Sledgehammer 5 years ago

      I received your caustic e-mail just a moment ago. Seems you should have followed the thread a bit longer before opening up your yapper to insult me. In case you forgot what you said, here it is:

      "REALLY..............YOU NEED TO READ UP!

      1) there is NO draft

      2) women ARE dying on the battlefield.................

      personally, I think this is a result of your pompus MAN ass, that you would allow a mother to fight the battles of mankind

      3) millions of single parent homes are headed by women..........many sons being reared without their cowardice fathers

      4) you made me want to vomit

      Now, I'm sure you mean well, and there must be a good reason why you refer to yourself as "onegoodwoman", although, based on our only meeting and your vitriolic, sexist, and judgmental remarks, I would not have been as gracious in defining your character as you have been. So much for first impressions.

      I cannot remember if you claimed to be a Christian woman on your profile page, but if you did, you definitely have left room for drastic improvements in your walk with Christ and in your Christian witness, unless you are one of those self-righteous, flag-waving individuals who is infatuated with her own opinion.

      Now, if you did claim to be a "Christian", it should be more important for you to leave a good impression, as an ambassador for Christ, than to purge your sexist rant. Perhaps you may want to think about what message you are really conveying before you speak next time and please keep in mind that love and self control are just two of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Did you show me either one?

      I know you think you have things figured out and you think you know how the world works, but I think it would serve you better in the future to look twice before leaping, for one's error in judgment is directly proportionate to one's assumptive leap.

      You mentioned in an above post that, "Society has placed such a needless and heavy burden on women. We should work together to free ourselves and each other."


      Now, instead of jumping to conclusions and getting myself all worked up to the point of wanting to vomit, and fighting the temptation to insult you, I would rather give you the opportunity to explain what the above statement means. What needless and heavy burden has society placed on women?

      I look forward to your reply and better things from you in the future.

      Be well - C.J. Sledgehammer

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town


      Thanks for reading my hub and I

      do hope it has the effect that you

      wish for.........

      For many modern women, trying to live

      up to the "proverbial wife", is a difficult

      task. This was true for me as well,

      until I was finally given the more

      realistic perspective.

    • cleaner3 profile image

      cleaner3 6 years ago from Pueblo, Colorado

      I had to show this to my wife

      It will help us when we have strife

      It is so relevant to all life

      thank you.

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town


      Welcome to my hubs...

      It is nice to have you here,

      along with your young reader...

      Proverbs is one of my favorites of

      the Biblical books.

    • Avamum profile image

      Sarita Harbour 7 years ago from Yellowknife, Canada

      I'm reading this with my 6 month old daughter on my lap....A beautifully written analysis of my favourite proverb. Thank you from Burlington, Ontario!

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town


      You and I are in agreement on those points.

      But that is not the message that is being taught

      to our daughters, by many forms of media. They

      continually hear, see and read, that they are

      expected to 'look' like an altered image.

      It is good to see you here.

      Take care, my friend.......hope to meet again.

    • jrsearam profile image

      jrsearam 7 years ago from San Juan, PR

      I'm sure she's beautiful beyond description. How could a woman so virtuous not look beautiful. It's not the underlying bone structure of a face that defines the beauty of a woman but rather the virtues that Proverbs describe which shape her countenance. Of course, it might take a virtuous man to recognize it. Blessings OGW, JR

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town

      Hello Rochelle Frank,

      You can indeed talk to them.....but keep yourself in check, lest you find yourself with " drips", " wobbles" and "broken belts" :)

      Thanks for coming by and reading.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

      I always think about giving directions to my household servants when I turn on the dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer, vacuum cleaner and other appliances.

      We have different servants and we have to treat them well, too.

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town

      Thank you so much IvoryMelodies,

      That was a very generous thing to say, and to hear.

    • IvoryMelodies profile image

      IvoryMelodies 7 years ago

      Wonderful hub! I love sound scriptural teachings, and this was so good. You have a very soothing way of writing, and I enjoy reading you!


    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town


      Thank you for reading my article, and your gracious comment.

      I thank you also for your editorial advice. Although, I "proofed" it, fresh eyes saw what mine did not.

    • jonhbeam profile image

      jonhbeam 7 years ago from Southern California

      Great hub! The only thing I would watch out for is run-on sentences, but your perspective was still clear and supported by scripture.

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town

      Jason R Manning,

      Thanks for reading, I do apprciate it.

      An unpopluar voice is still a voice.......

    • Jason R. Manning profile image

      Jason R. Manning 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      What a morally uplifting synopsis of a “proverbial woman.” This is a perfect example of setting up a household of reciprocated kindness, love, affection, diligence, spirituality and hard work. One act for the betterment of the family would (hopefully) be followed up by another member, in this case, the husband diligently providing a solid foundation for his family.

      These things you speak of are not popular in America; the Christian wife in many cases is trying to keep up with secular soccer moms.

      God Bless you for this lesson.

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town


      I hope you are not speaking with the voice of disappointment...

      We are called to be " equally yoked" , a virtuous woman deserves an honorable man. Notice, that her husband was highly regarded in the city gates.

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town

      You are too kind, Amberisme.....and I thank you for it :)

    • amberrisme profile image

      amberrisme 7 years ago


    • profile image

      Nikko 7 years ago

      All women and men should read proverbs chapter 31 an apply it.Women should learn from that and other bible examples on how to be a good wife and apply it.And as far as a man,he should read and learn from it,to know what to look for in a women and not just because of the way she look.Alot of man dont even know how a women suppose to be and dont look for inner beauty,but outer beauty and always pick bad women.I go more things to say later

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town

      I do agree Troy C.

      Thanks for stopping by.

    • Troy C. profile image

      Troy Wilkerson 7 years ago from Norfolk, VA

      Rare and precious is the jewel that is forged in the heart.

      Troy C.

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town

      James A Watkins....

      What a generous and gracious thing to say. ( and to hear)

      Thank you..

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      This Hub is wonderfully made. Thank you very much for this needful piece of work. It is very good!

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town

      You are so right Panguerita,

      My daughters are all beautiful for different reasons.

      one for her spirit and fearlessness

      one for her intelligence and demeanor

      and one for her compassion

      Society has placed such a needless and heavy burden on women. We should work together to free ourselves and each other.

    • panguerita profile image

      Rita Hanks 7 years ago from Little Elm, Texas

      Very good article to cause us to look deeper into our family responsibilities! I took notice of the mention that her appearance was not described; just yesterday the Lord sent a word about that.

      Prov 11:22 “Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful face on an empty head.”

      Today there is so much focus on physical beauty; it's good to be reminded of what really matters.


    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town

      Thank you, Captain Jummy, for reading and commenting.

      You seem to be a rather intense writer as well.

    • Captain Jimmy profile image

      Captain Jimmy 7 years ago from WV