As students of a Christian Theological Seminary, you know how important it is to dive into the word of God. Keeping in the spirit of acquiring knowledge, we wanted to take a closer look at Proverbs 31, our verse of the month!
More precious than rubies…
Probably one of the most quoted and venerated passages in Proverbs, the 31st chapter presents a series of images that are inspiring to behold. The passage that most people find particularly stirring is Proverbs 31:10-31 which details the noble actions of a virtuous woman. It is from this passage that the virtues of the “noble wife” or the “Proverbs 31 woman” are taken. This glorious individual is “more precious than rubies,” and she brings wealth and goodness to her husband “all the days of her life.” This woman is a true wonder to behold, not just handling all of her daily tasks, but handling them in such a way that brings glory to herself and to her husband. She spins wool, arises before the sun and prepares food for her household, plants a vineyard, and oversees the work of her servants—and that is just in the first half of the passage. A woman who is capable of all of these things would be a truly noble and praiseworthy woman indeed.
This passage of Proverbs is one that is pleasant to read, full of descriptive images and language, and it is also an inspiring passage. But the truth is that more often than not, the image of the Proverbs Woman becomes something that it was never intended to be. Women find themselves striving to become like this woman, and men hold each woman they meet up to this extraordinary standard. But is that what this verse was intended to inspire?
The Identify of the Proverbs Woman
A fundamental truth about the Proverbs Woman comes to light with this simple question: “Does she have a name?” If we look back through the book of Proverbs, we discover just who this woman really is. Her name is “Wisdom.” The reality of the Proverbs Woman is that she does not exist, rather she is a metaphor, a personification of wisdom. Proverbs 8:1 reads, “Listen as Wisdom calls out! Hear as understanding raises her voice!” Notice the personification at work here. This is not a real woman calling out. All throughout Proverbs, she continues her work, until, in the end, she becomes the bride of the wise man, a woman more precious than rubies who encourages him and spurs him on to success.
Consequences of Truth
When we realize that the Proverbs Woman is not a woman at all, but rather a personification of wisdom, it allows for a breath of fresh air. Good Christian women no longer have to compare themselves with an impossible standard, and men can allow themselves to see that every woman has worth, no matter whether she knits, sews, cooks, cleans, or works in the vineyard. Finally, men and women alike can enjoy the book of Proverbs, and learn the lessons contained therein, hearing Wisdom as she calls through the Word of God.