Study 10 PORTRAIT OF A VIRTUOUS WOMAN
TEN STUDIES IN PROVERBS
by Francis Dixon
(Key-verses: Proverbs 31:10-31)
When we read these verses we discover a full-length picture of a woman who is morally upright and of noble character, possessing many fine qualities. Perhaps we shall experience two contrasting reactions: we shall be inspired and full of admiration for her; but then in a short time we may be discouraged and cry out in the words of verse 10, “Who can find such a woman…?” Many fine Christian women possess some, if not all, the virtues and graces mentioned here. Possibly this is a kind of composite picture. The important thing is for us to measure up to the full stature of God’s purpose for us as individuals, and to use all the gifts which He has given to us for His glory and for the blessing of others. Incidentally, these 22 verses really constitute a poem which is presented to us in an acrostic form, with each verse beginning with one of the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. There is a wealth of detail from which we must select the important points.
1. She was treasured by her husband
We see the happiness of an ideal marriage which not only started well but went on well! – compare verses 10,11,12,23,28. This marriage did not break down, because their affection deepened and matured and there was complete trust between husband and wife. The wife had three outstanding qualities:
- 1. Her Trustworthiness (verse 11). Her husband could trust her completely; she was honest, truthful and loyal, and he could rely totally upon her discretion.
- 2. Her Affection (verses 12 and 28). She greatly loved the man who greatly loved her, and this was the basis of this wonderful marriage.
- 3. Her Influence (verse 23). When her husband sat in council with the elders of the land they always immediately associated him with his wife, because she was known to be such a beautiful and gracious lady.
2. She was capable in her home
By ‘home’ we mean ‘household’, because it would appear she was a lady of standing having a fine home with husband, children and servants; and how well she managed the affairs of her household! – verses 13-19, 21-22, 24-25 and 27 tell us this. Her capability is seen in three ways:
- 1. Her industry (verses 13,17,19,22,24,27). What a busy woman she was! There was no chance of her getting bored. Many marriages suffer and the home life becomes disrupted because the wife is bored.
- 2. Her prudence (verses 14,16,21,25). She was wise, discreet and acted with forethought. She was a hard worker with creative gifts, a manufacturer who bought and sold, and she did all this with amazing business acumen.
- 3. Her energy (verse 18). She rose early and went to bed late; she knew how to manage her servants, invest money, handle property and do business in the market – too busy to think about herself!
3. She was loved by her children
What a beautiful thing this is! Why did her children love her so much? – verse 28 tells us that they did, and verses 15,17 and 27 tell us why. It was because she had three outstanding qualities:
- 1. Her thoughtfulness. She was self-effacing, always thinking of others. How different from many of today’s mothers who are self-centred and have no room or time for their children!
- 2. Her discipline (verse 17). We see here a woman who gathers her loose flowing garments tightly around her, drawing them up to leave her feet free so that she can go about her work unrestricted. This is a symbol of the disciplined life. She disciplined herself and knew how to discipline her children; that is one great reason why her children loved her. Children are not only better for it but they like the right kind of discipline!
- 3. Her wisdom (verse 26). In the Amplified Bible verse 26 reads, “She opens her mouth with skilful and godly wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness – giving counsel and instruction” – look up and compare Ephesians 4:32. What a heritage to have a mother like this!
4. She was generous to her neighbours
There were those living nearby who were not so well placed as she was; they were poor (look at verse 20), and notice that she showed her practical Christian grace towards them in three ways:
- 1. Her charity (verse 20), “the poor”. Although she was so efficient and concerned about looking after her own family, she was not selfish; her sympathies went out to those near to her home.
- 2. Her generosity (verse 20), “opens her arms”. She gave generously according to what she had; she was not mean or stingy, but lavish.
- 3. Her involvement (verse 20), “extends her hands”. She did not simply send money but went herself, becoming involved in practical ways. What a neighbour and benefactor!
5. She was pleasing to her Lord
The secret of this virtuous, noble woman is in verse 30, which in the Amplified Bible reads: “Charm and grace are deceptive, and beauty is vain (because it is not lasting), but a woman who reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord, she shall be praised!” What is it to fear the Lord? One writer has said that ‘godly fear is not a shrinking apprehension; it is love upon its knees’. She loved the Lord (Psalm 116:1); she desired in all things to please Him (Hebrews 11:5); she endeavoured to obey Him (Acts 5:29); she served Him faithfully (Mark 14:8); she gave herself and her all to Him (Romans 12:1-2); and she knew the meaning of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.