The Proverbs 31 Woman Doesn't Exist Today
Proverbs 31 in the Bible is the name of many Christian women's ministries. It is the topic of numerous Bible studies and sermons especially for Women's Day programs in the church. It is not unusual for a woman to claim to be a "Proverb 31" woman.
Unfortunately, not much thought and biblical knowledge have gone into someone claiming to be the woman Solomon described in Proverbs 31: 10-31. The woman Solomon describe doesn't exist in the 21st century. He was the wisest man who lived during his day, but he died long before the #MeToo movement and other women's empowerment groups were started.
The description of the ideal woman given in Proverbs 31 was quite appropriate for that time period and in that culture when Solomon wrote the poem.
Besides, Solomon never said that woman existed. He was merely giving a description as if she did exist.
It is unrealistic and an unattainable standard for women to measure up today to the woman Solomon described.
Not a Sermon for Women's Day
Having been a Bible teacher for over fifty years, this writer's aim is to share biblical reasons why it is impossible to be a Proverbs 31 woman today.
This writer has been preaching for over thirty years. She has never preached a sermon on Women's Day about the Proverbs 31 woman because she.contends that it is a Men's Day sermon for men and not a Women's Day sermon for women.
The instructions in Proverbs 31 are not given to a woman but to King Lemuel by his mother. She was teaching her son "how to find a virtuous woman" (Proverbs 31:10). She explained to him what to look for in a woman. There is nothing wrong with women knowing about their qualities, but they were originally given to a man.
The very first step in understanding any scripture is to understand what it meant THEN when it was first written before you can understand it NOW thousands of years later.
A modern woman can never be a Proverbs 31 woman.
Proverbs 31 should be read in the context of the previous verses in the chapter. It is also wise to read it in the context of the entire book. Chapter 31 cannot be fully understood without knowing what's in Chapters 1-30.
The theme of the entire book is "wisdom." When Solomon gets to the last chapter in the book, he summarized his personification of "wisdom." In other words, the Proverbs 31 wife is a metaphor for "wisdom" and not a real woman.
In order to get a better understanding of the Proverbs 31 woman, one should know something about the author. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines according to 1 Kings 11:3. Therefore, he knew something about the women of his day who were not all virtuous women.
The Modern Woman
When a modern woman says she is a Proverbs 31 woman, she is actually proving that she is not one. She is admitting that she really doesn't know what Solomon meant when he wrote about that type of woman. She is admitting that she is self-proclaiming what she doesn't understand and is only saying what sounds good or what she has heard someone else declare.
Let's explore the reasons a modern woman cannot be a Proverbs 31 woman because the list in Proverbs 31:10-31 could never be carried out by today's women; not one, no, not one.
The introductory question to this periscope is "Who can find a virtuous woman?" The subject is not "virtuous woman." It is the direct object of "who." The "who" sets the stage for what will follow. The man is to find the woman with those qualities instead of the woman trying to find a man because she has those qualities.
After the introduction, Solomon jumps right into describing the ideal woman a man is to find.
- First, the woman is compared to a ruby, a precious jewel Solomon knew about.
- She finds wool and flax and makes clothing. This doesn't happen in the modern world.
- The virtuous woman rises up early in the morning. She gives her servant girls instructions before she leaves the house. Some women have servants but not all women.
- It is a wise woman who considers buying a field by herself and plants a vineyard with money she's earned. Usually, these are the actions of men today.
- She grows physically strong, sells profitable merchandise, and is constantly industrious. It is remarkable that some women are entrepreneurs, but those claiming to be a virtuous woman know nothing about running a business.
- The capable wife gives to the poor and she makes sure everyone is safe and warm during the winter.
- Her husband is admired by the elders, and she teaches her children and others as well.
- The virtuous woman is never idle because she is always busy taking care of her household.
- Her husband and children praise her for all that she does.
- A woman who fears God puts Him above her charm and beauty.
- The ideal woman shares whatever she has with others whether they are related to her or not.
If the modern woman does all of the above things, then she has the right to call herself a Proverbs 31 woman. Until then, she should rethink what she is calling herself. The Bible is loaded with other descriptions she could use that would be more appropriate.
The information in this article is not to criticize women who profess to be Proverbs 31 women. It is to shed light on the biblical meaning of what Solomon wrote in the context of his day.