The Proverbs 31 Woman is definitely one of the most admired and also misunderstood women in the Bible. As Christian women, we often read the passage of the beloved Proverbs 31 Woman, and we are either inspired by her many feats and accomplishments, or completely intimidated by the list of amazing qualities she possesses, thinking, “I could never measure up to her!”
I am here to tell you something that I hope will free you of feeling “less than” the Proverbs 31 Woman–
you already are a Proverbs 31 woman!
Let me explain what I mean. After the Scripture in Proverbs 31 beautifully describes the attributes and activities of this influential woman, verse 30 sums all of the previous verses about her in one succinct sentence.
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.Proverbs 31:30
The most important quality that makes the renowned Proverbs 31 Woman the beautiful woman that she is does not come from all of the things she did (although they were very important, of course!), but from who she was.
The Proverbs 31 Woman feared the Lord. Because of this powerful truth, all the things she did throughout her day flowed from her love and honor for the Lord.
The Hebrew word in the phrase “fears the Lord” means reverent. When we honor, love, and revere the Lord with all our hearts, all that we do will flow from this place of reverence. That doesn’t mean that each day is wonderful, or that we don’t have our share of bumps and blunders, but if we sincerely seek to revere and honor the Lord with our lives, we are already Proverbs 31 women!
Let’s take a look at the many traits we can learn from the example of the Proverb 31 Woman, and how we can powerfully cover our families with our prayers and godly influence.
Before we can understand the passage of the Proverbs 31 Woman, we must understand that there is a Proverbs 31 man in this chapter.
Understanding Proverbs 31 from a Man’s Perspective
In order to fully comprehend the example of the Proverbs 31 woman, we must first understand that the entire chapter was written by King Lemuel. Some biblical scholars believe that King Lemuel was another name for King Solomon (who wrote the rest of the book of Proverbs), but not all agree with that. We do know that Proverbs 31 is part of the inspired Word of God, and we also know that Proverbs 31 was written by a man of royalty and great power–who also remembered the wise words of his mother.
The sayings of King Lemuel—an inspired utterance his mother taught him.Proverbs 31:1
What mama wouldn’t want to hear the words of her adult son, who later in his life wrote such beautiful poetry inspired by the wisdom she taught him?
As King Lemuel took a trip down memory lane to recall the things his mother taught him, we must understand that the chapter of Proverbs 31 is not just a list of character qualities of a godly woman, but the wise teachings from a mother to her son on how to be a godly man.
Take a look at the first nine verses of Proverbs 31–all focused on how King Lemuel ought to conduct himself as a man of wisdom:
Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb!
Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!
Do not spend your strength on women,
your vigor on those who ruin kings.
It is not for kings, Lemuel—
it is not for kings to drink wine,
not for rulers to crave beer,
lest they drink and forget what has been decreed,
and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.
Let beer be for those who are perishing,
wine for those who are in anguish!
Let them drink and forget their poverty
and remember their misery no more.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.
So many people skip over this portion of Proverbs 31 in order to get to the rest of the passage that talks about the Proverbs 31 Woman–but how many sermons have you heard on The Proverbs 31 Man? (hmmm… maybe not that many?)
In verses 1-9, King Lemuel’s wise mother admonishes her son to be a man of honor and integrity. She encourages him as a man of authority and leadership to wisely conduct himself in ways that essentially, are pleasing to God.
She urges him to…
- Not be a womanizer
- Not to get drunk and make poor decisions
- Be a man of justice
- Use his power and authority to speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves
- Judge fairly
- Defend the rights of the poor and needy
When we think of the Proverbs 31 passage, not many of us think of how we can use these Scriptures to pray for our husbands, or to pray for our sons to be the men God called them to be.
After King Lemuel reminisced about these words from his dear mother, he goes on to share her words of wisdom on the type of woman she wanted him to find.
Many scholars believe that this implies that the Proverbs 31 woman was not an actual woman that existed, but a beautiful description of the qualities in a godly woman.
When we read this biblical poem of character qualities, it does not mean that we have to do all the things this woman did (that’s a relief, because I can’t sew a pair of pants to save my life!) but we can be inspired to be a woman who works hard, serves her family, gives to the needy, and ultimately, fears the Lord.
What Can we Learn from the Proverbs 31 Woman?
Now let’s take a look at seven character qualities that describe the Proverbs 31 Woman, and why King Lemuel’s mother wanted him to find such a precious gem!
Here is the rest of the passage of Proverbs 31.
1. The Proverbs 31 Woman was a Virtuous Woman
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.Proverbs 3:10
The NIV translation uses the phrase “wife of noble character”, but in other translations, like the King James Version, it uses the phrase “virtuous woman”. The Hebrew word “virtuous” is chayil, which means strength, might, valor, efficiency, wealth, force, army (source).
This word “virtuous”, or chayil is also used to describe the strong men of Israel as they prepared for battle against their enemies (Deuteronomy 3:15), and it is used to describe David as a strong and valiant man who feared the Lord (1 Samuel 16:18). In the book of Ruth Boaz also praised Ruth by calling her a “virtuous woman” (Ruth 3:11). This is important to note, because when we think of the Proverbs 31 Woman, she is not weak or soft, but a powerful woman of influence, strength, and dignity.
We also are women of virtue, women who are clothed in the strength and valor of our great God! Not only did the Proverbs 31 Woman take care of the matters of her home, but she was a woman of power and might. It reminds me of the people of Israel in the book Nehemiah, as they sought to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. Because there were enemies around them that wanted to destroy them and stop their plans of rebuilding the wall, the Israelites worked on the wall with building materials in one hand, and a weapon in the other–plus each builder had a sword at their side (Nehemiah 4:17-18).
A woman of virtue is a woman who is prepared to fight. This doesn’t necessarily mean fighting as a warrior would fight in battle, but a Proverbs 31 Woman is a courageous woman who fights for her home. She is prepared in season and out of season, takes care of the matters of her home, and is a spiritual example of godliness that can crush any opposing force.
Related: Do you have your Sword ready for battle? Take a look at this post on how we can use the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God to fight our spiritual battles!
2. The Proverbs 31 Woman is a Blessing to her Husband
Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, the days of her life.Proverbs 31:11-12
The Proverbs 31 Woman is also a wife–however, single women are definitely Proverbs 31 Women as well! In fact, the word “virtuous woman” means woman of valor, and the word “woman” in this passage is ‘ishshah, which can mean “woman” or “wife” in the Hebrew language (source).
If you are a single woman, don’t think that the Proverbs 31 Woman doesn’t apply to you. It sure does! Remember that Ruth was described as a virtuous woman in Ruth 3:11? She was a widow and didn’t even have a husband at the time when Boaz (who later did become her husband), described her as a woman of virtue.
If you are a married woman, how do you bring good to your husband, instead of harm? Remember that the Hebrew definition of “woman” also means “wife”. When God brought Eve to Adam, he named her ‘ishshah, since she came from him–bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh (Genesis 2:23). In other words, Eve was the perfect companion for Adam–she came from his flesh, and in marriage husband and wife “become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
Like a glove in a hand, they fit together.
How can we as Proverbs 31 Women honor our husbands? We can be our husband’s best friend and confidant. We can be their biggest supporters, and a sounding board when they need advice. In Genesis 2:18 God created woman as a “help meet” to man. This is not a position of lesser value, because the Hebrew word for “help meet” is `ezer, which means “help, one who helps”. This word is used 21 times in the Old Testament, and most of the time it refers to God as our Helper. Like in the passage in Psalm 121,
I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.Psalm 121:1-2
If we need ideas on how we can help and support our husbands, all we need to do is look to the One who is our ultimate help and strength–and that is the Lord Himself!
3. The Proverbs 31 Woman is a Diligent Worker
She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.Proverbs 31:17
In Proverbs 31:12-19 and also in Proverbs 31:21-24; 27, we have a clear glimpse of what goes on throughout this woman’s day. (Remember, this is King Lemuel’s mother’s ideal of a good woman for her son, so this could have been a compilation of some of the best qualities of a virtuous woman–not a list of things we need to add to our to-do list.)
We are given a portrait of a woman who:
- Is a hard worker (vs 13, 27)
- Is a provider of food (vs 14-15)
- Is business savvy (vs 16, 18)
- Is diligent with her daily tasks (vs 17)
- Is resourceful (vs 19, 24)
- Is a planner (vs 21-22)
We may not all know how to sew winter clothes for our families or buy vineyards in our spare time, but we can definitely learn the importance of a strong work ethic from the Proverbs 31 Woman as we seek to manage our time, talents, and daily tasks. Like Paul wrote in Colossians 3:17, whatever we do, and whatever season of life we are in, we can “do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
4. The Proverbs 31 Woman is Compassionate
She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.Proverbs 31:20
Not only is the Proverbs 31 Woman clothed with strength and dignity, but she is clothed with compassion. She is not afraid to share what she has with those in need. The Proverbs 31 Woman is not solely consumed with the affairs of her household–she also extends her reach and influence into her community. She gives to those who are in need, because she knows that she has been blessed by God.
Like Paul says in Colossians 3:12, we are also to be clothed with compassion.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
How do we have empathy and compassion for others? Just as King Lemuel’s mother wanted her son to be a man of justice, she also wanted her future daughter-in-law to have the same qualities. As Proverbs 31 Women, we ought to be filled with compassion, since Jesus graciously wrapped us in his clothing or grace and mercy!
5. The Proverbs 31 Woman is a Woman of Wisdom
She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.Proverb 31:26
The book of Proverbs is well known as a book of wisdom from the wise words of King Solomon. This powerful book also contains many proverbs about the tongue. It isn’t surprising that the Proverbs 31 Woman is also a woman of wisdom, who uses her words to uplift and encourage those around her.
The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.Proverbs 15:4
We as women love to talk! This means that sometimes we can use our words in ways that are not glorifying to God. As we seek to grow in wisdom in our speech, let’s remember to be like the Proverbs 31 Woman, who speaks words of wisdom and faithful instruction.
6. The Proverbs 31 Woman is a Blessing to her Children
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her…Proverbs 31:28
Although the children of the Proverbs 31 Woman are only mentioned directly a few times in this passage, it is clear that much of what she does is for the benefit of her children. Our children may not always want to “rise and call us blessed” in the midst of the daily grind of life. Especially when you have young children, the only call we may hear from them is “Mom!”
But as our children become adults and have children of their own, they better understand and appreciate the pivotal roles mothers played in their childhood. This was definitely true for me as an adult. When I look back on the ways my mother sacrificed and worked diligently for our family, I am filled with gratitude and thankfulness. If you are waiting for your children “to rise and call you blessed”, remember that as a Proverbs 31 Woman, we are called to do our parts to raise our children with grace through the Lord’s guidance.
The rest is left up to God when we surrender our children to him!
Related: Check out this free prayer calendar that includes 35 Scriptures to pray for your children, no matter how old they are!
7. The Proverbs 31 Woman Fears the Lord
We conclude our study of the Proverbs 31 Woman the way we began–remembering that the most important quality of the Proverbs 31 Woman is that she fears the Lord. It is easy to fall into “Martha syndrome” by spending too much time worrying about all the things that need to be done on any given day. We definitely want to be diligent, resourceful, and hardworking, but we can’t forget that though the Proverbs 31 Woman had hands like Martha, she also had a heart like Mary–and sought to honor God in all that she did!
What is a Proverbs 31 Woman in the 21st Century?
Now that we understand the character qualities of the Proverbs 31 Woman, what do these qualities look like for modern women living in the 21st century? As a teenager, I remember my siblings and I giving a special tribute to my mom when she completed her graduate degree in business administration. At her graduation party, friends and family came to celebrate my mom’s great accomplishment. Only a couple of years earlier, my mom had become a widow when my dad passed away from liver disease.
Despite becoming a single mom raising three teens, she continued to work diligently at our local Christian high school as an administrative assistant. She also started an accelerated business graduate program, and continued to run her household efficiently. Not only did she take care of us, but she was active in our local church and continued to serve the Lord with passion and faithfulness.
To my siblings and me, she was the perfect example of a modern Proverbs 31 Woman. During our tribute to her at the graduation party, we read excerpts of Proverbs 31 and expressed how grateful we were to have her in our lives. We admired that fact that despite the challenges of not having our dad around, she never gave up. We as her children–filled with gratitude for her sacrifice, rose and called her blessed (Proverbs 31:28).
Do you have a modern-day “Proverbs 31 Woman” in your life? Perhaps you know of a mother, aunt, grandmother, friend, colleague, or church member who has been a positive example of a godly woman that you look up to. You may know of a woman of virtue who has weathered difficult seasons in her life, but still continues to serve the Lord with joy and grace.
These modern-day Proverbs 31 women are all around us. If you are in need of a godly woman to learn from, ask the Lord to send a Proverbs 31 Woman to you. She may be in your church, or your Bible study leader. She could be a neighbor, or a co-worker. When we ask the Lord for wisdom and guidance, he will surely direct our paths!
How Can I Become a Modern-Day Proverbs 31 Woman?
Are you a woman who fears and reveres the Lord? Then you are already a Proverbs 31 Woman! As we grow in our faith and in our relationship with God, we will gain greater insight into how to become a powerful Proverbs 31 Woman who blesses the lives of others. As we better understand the character qualities of a Proverbs 31 Woman, we will grow in the areas of becoming…
- A woman of virtue (Proverbs 3:10)
- A woman who blesses her family (Proverbs 31:11-12, Proverbs 31:28)
- A diligent worker (Proverbs 31:17)
- A woman of compassion (Proverbs 31:20)
- A woman of wisdom (Proverb 31:26)
- A woman who honors and fears the Lord (Proverbs 31:30)
A Prayer to Grow as a Proverbs 31 Woman
Lord, thank you that through your grace, I am a Proverbs 31 Woman! You have clothed me with your strength and dignity, and words of wisdom and instruction are on my tongue. Help me to use the gifts, talents, skills, and abilities you have given me to positively contribute to my family and to my community. I don’t have to worry about the future, for you are with me, and will equip me with everything I need to manage my household. In whatever I do, may I glorify you, and may I continue to be a woman after your own heart–a Proverbs 31 Woman who fears the Lord! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
How to Pray Proverbs 31 Prayers for your Family
Can we use the passages in Proverbs 31 to pray for our families?
Take a look at these Proverbs 31 Prayers that we can pray each day to remind us to serve the Lord with power and grace!
Prayers for your Husband
Lord, I pray that my husband has full confidence in me as his wife. I thank you that my husband lacks nothing of value, and is a respected and godly man within our city and community. Help me to bring him good, not harm, all the days of his life. Teach me how to help, love, and support him and all that he does. Bless the work of his hands, that he may honor and glorify you with his life. Help him to be the godly man you have called him to be, and grant him your grace, wisdom, and knowledge to be the husband and father that glorifies and honors you. Amen.
Prayers for your Children
Lord, I pray that my children will heed the words of your teaching and instruction. Help my son to be a man of God, who grows to be a leader in his community. I pray that like King Lemuel, he will speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, and he will be a man of compassion, wisdom and integrity. I pray for his future wife, that she will be a blessing to him, and that he will honor and love her. Amen.
I pray for my precious daughter, that she will always know that she is a young woman of strength, power, and virtue. Help her to grow as a confident young woman who knows who she is in Christ. I pray that she will learn from my example on how to be a godly woman. I pray for her future husband, that he will be a man after your own heart, who loves and serves you and respects and honors her. Amen.
Prayers for your Finances
Lord, I pray that you bless our finances and provide for our needs. I praise you that you are Jehovah Jireh, our Provider! Just as the Proverbs 31 Woman diligently worked and contributed to her family financially, I ask that you will bless the finances that we need to sustain our household. Teach us the godly character of resourcefulness, and teach us to be godly stewards of the finances you have given us. Amen.
Prayers for those in Need
Lord, just as the Proverbs 31 Woman was a woman of mercy and compassion, help me to remember to reach out to those in need around me. Teach me how I can best help those who are in need, and give me an overflowing heart of compassion. You are a God of justice, and you desire for us to also care for the needs of those around us. Amen.
There are many character qualities that we can learn from the Proverbs 31 Women. I hope that King Lemuel took his mother’s wise advice and found a virtuous woman that she so beautifully described in Proverbs 31:10-31. May we, like the Proverbs 31 Woman, seek the Lord with all our hearts, trusting that God will align our daily duties with our heartfelt devotion to him!