A man might list the qualities important to him in defining an ideal mate; however, the qualities important to him might not be the same as defined by his mother according to this bit of history. The mother of the future groom was totally objective and candid when listing the qualities of her future daughter-in-law which she perceived would be best for her son and produce a lasting and fulfilling marriage. Such was the case when King Lemuel’s mother shared with him her thoughts relative to the important qualities for his future bride. Lemuel was a symbolic name for Solomon.
The final 22 verses of the Book of Proverbs summarize the lesson of the virtuous wife. The scenario presented considers the husband to have great influence among the people. He is part of the governing body.
“Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.” Proverbs 31:23
Thus, the wife must complement her husband and not detract from him. Following that the husband has great influence, their marital relationship is described.
“The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:11-12
The husband trusts his wife, i.e. he feels safe to rely on her to seek and share his wellbeing. She does him no evil during their permanent relationship. She exhibits no moral deficiency.
The virtuous wife does what is most expedient to provide for her household. Caring for her family is a top priority.
“She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. She…willingly works with her hands. She is like the merchant ships. She brings her food from afar.” Proverbs 31:27, 13-14
She willingly, or finds delight in, working with her hands for the good of her household. She diligently seeks the best for her family by looking far and wide for the best goods considering the economic factors. She does not sit idly by waiting for things to happen; she is assertive, proactive and not given to slothfulness.
She is also a very innovative entrepreneur.
“She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard…She perceives that her merchandise is good…She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants.” Proverbs 31:16, 18a, 24
After meeting her family’s needs, she addresses the needs of others with the profits generated from her endeavors.
“She extends her hand to the poor, yes; she reaches out her hands to the needy.” Proverbs 31:20
What does her family think of her resourcefulness? Is she appreciated by her husband and children?
“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.’” Proverbs 31:28-29
This virtuous woman is certainly a loved and appreciated mother and wife. Her secret for success is then revealed. She chose that which is lasting and incorruptible versus that which is insignificant and transitory.
“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” Proverbs 31:30
To ‘fear’ the LORD means to have reverence towards Him and realize that He is God. It is a positive feeling of awe and is the motivation for godly living. Her reverence towards God provides wisdom and the ways of God become natural to her.
“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.” Proverbs 31:26
This great proverb was penned 3,000 years ago but its great truths are timeless. The wisdom given to her resulting from her ‘fear’ of God gave her proper priorities. She earned profits by buying and selling, and making and selling. She directed those profits according to the wisdom given her.
Contemporary thinking from the “NOW” gang would find great fault in her subservient endeavors as would many others who would criticize her for encroaching on government’s responsibility. Still others might examine her priorities and activities and conclude that the virtuous wife never had a ‘real job’ in her life.