Probably the most well-known long section of Proverbs is the very last part in Proverbs 31:10-31. It goes by various titles: “Virtuous Woman”, “Excellent Wife”, etc. The first verse sets the tone for the poem:
Who can find a wife of noble character? For her value is far more than rubies.
In this ode to the woman every godly man desires, I find several key character traits that help her be that “wife of noble character.”
1. She is trustworthy (vs. 11-12)
The heart of her husband has confidence in her, and he has no lack of gain. She brings him good and not evil all the days of her life.
2. She works hard for her family (vs. 13-15)
She obtains wool and flax, and she is pleased to work with her hands. She is like the merchant ships; she brings her food from afar. She also gets up while it is still night, and provides food for her household and a portion to her female servants.
3. She understands business (vs. 16-19)
She considers a field and buys it; from her own income she plants a vineyard. She begins her work vigorously, and she strengthens her arms. She knows that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out in the night. Her hands take hold of the distaff, and her hands grasp the spindle.
4. She is kind (vs. 20)
She extends her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hand to the needy.
5. She plans ahead (vs. 21)
She is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all of her household are clothed with scarlet.
6. She looks good in public and can mingle with the upper class (vs. 22-23)
She makes for herself coverlets; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is well-known in the city gate when he sits with the elders of the land.
7. She is strong, wise, and can handle authority (vs. 24-27)
She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and honor, and she can laugh at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and loving instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.
8. Her family admires and supports her… (vs. 28-29)
Her children rise up and call her blessed, her husband also praises her: “Many daughters have done valiantly, but you surpass them all!”
9. …and so does everyone else. (vs. 30-31)
Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised. Give her credit for what she has accomplished, and let her works praise her in the city gates.
Who can find this kind of wife? I did!