“The Proverbs 31 woman.” Every Christian guy wants to find one; every Christian girl wants to be one. This chapter defines God’s standard for a woman’s character, and so it is known as a chapter for women — but it was originally written by a man and to men.
The Holy Spirit-inspired author is King Solomon (my personal opinion; explanation below), who quotes his mother, Bathsheba. Her advice is enduringly truthful and helpful to both men and women. It begins with a challenge for the “Proverbs 31 man” to be careful about the kind of woman he falls for (v.3). He should look for a woman who fits the description in verses 10-31, the opposite of the immoral woman described in Proverbs chapter 7.
The Proverbs 31 man guards against intoxication (v.4-7). He must be sober and clearheaded at all times so that he is always ready to make sound decisions that will bless others. He does not open his mouth to drink and escape the harsh realities of life (v.7), but he faces reality and opens his mouth to speak the truth, to speak up for the poor, and to speak out on issues regarding justice (v.8-9).
The Proverbs 31 man lives his life according to God’s wisdom, and he is serious about finding a wife who does the same. Solomon recites the poem his mother taught him about what to look for (v.10-31 is a beautiful acrostic poem — the verses begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet).
The Proverbs 31 woman is a rare find. She is not a weak or lazy woman. She is diligent in the way she expresses her love for her family. She is creative and energetic in the way she handles the household business (v.16-19), the way she prepares meals (v.14-15), and the way she dresses and decorates (v.22). She is a compassionate person, reaching out to the poor with open-handed generosity (v.20). She is strong and dignified, and with the heart of a teacher, she confidently shares the godly wisdom by which she lives (v.26). Her greatest quality is neither her outward beauty nor her charming personality, but her deep love and respect for the Lord. This kind of woman deserves the praise of her family (v.28).
Many women see Proverbs 31 as an unattainable goal and a frustrating reminder of how they don’t measure up. Take heart, sisters — concentrate on pleasing the Lord, loving your family like crazy, and developing the inner beauty of a Christ-like spirit, and you will be the Proverbs 31 woman your family needs.
[Note: It is my personal conviction that Lemuel was one of King Solomon’s nicknames. A search of Israelite history reveals that there was never a king named Lemuel. It appears only here in Scripture. We know that Solomon had a God-given nickname, Jedidiah, which means “loved by the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:25). I believe Lemuel, which means “devoted to the Lord”, was the nickname Bathsheba called her son Solomon. When he wrote down what she taught him as a boy, it was appropriate for him to use that special nickname given by his mother. At least that’s the way I see it. By the way, later in Solomon’s life he was no longer “Lemuel”, but he was still “Jedidiah”. Get it?]