Summary: The Proverb 31 is not only about the character of a Godly woman, but wisdom in action. Ruth was called a woman of virtue before she got married as an encouragement to all women. God is looking for the fruit bearing and not charisma.
The Character of a Woman of Strength
Text: Proverb 31:10-31
Message: An Excellent Woman
The book of Proverb is a very difficult book to draw expository sermon from, because of the didactic or instructive nature and arrangement of the texts. It is also full of parallelism and numerical annotations. Most of the book of Proverb is written by King Solomon. It is basically divided into three sections, chapter 1-10, 11-24, and 25-31.
In the Hebrew language, the word proverb is “Mashal” means to be like or a comparison. That is a verse state a proposition and highlights it in the next line of the same verse with either a comparison or contrast.
The book of Proverb is the wisdom book of the Old Testament. Its main focus is the instruction needed to help us cope with the day to day life
Interpretation of the book: The book can be interpreted in two ways mainly:
Some of the reasons we should study the book of Proverbs
• It is a book that focuses mainly on the development of Godly character: Character is more important than charismatic gifts and creeds.
• It teaches us how to discern the characters of others.
• That breaks down the walls of separation between theory and practice, the sacred and the secular, the church and the home, and the church and the workplace.
• How to be wise with Godly wisdom
• How to walk with divine guidance.
• How to look at life realistically and rightly.
Proverb 31 is a very popular chapter of the bible and the message is very timeless and relevant to every age. In fact, from the tenth verse to the end of the chapter is the closing words written as an acrostic poem in the Hebrew language. This means that each verse is systemically arranged successively in the alphabet of the Hebrew letters from Aleph to Tau.
However, our text starts with an “Erotesis” or a sublime question. Who can find a virtuous woman? And it went to say such a woman is priced above rubies. That very word “Virtuous is “is the Hebrew word “Eshet chayil”. It was first used in the Old Testament, Exodus 18:21 when Moses needs co-workers. Also in 1 Kings 1: 42 and 52 as valiant, which is militaristic (strength of a warrior). It is translated as able men with three characteristics.
• That fears God
• Men of truth
• Hating covetousness
That has the ability to do three things:
• Rule and lead,
• Judge and discern
• Bear burdens and industrious
It is often translated as valor, excellence, strength, energy, ability, capability, that embraces the physical, mental and spiritual areas of a person.
The same word is used to describe a woman and a man. When used for a man it signifies bravery, valiant. For a woman, it denotes a noble character and virtues.
In the eyes of God and from the Bible, men and women have equality namely in:
• In creation as male and female. Genesis 1:27
• In salvation as the children of God Galatians 3:26-29
• In the grace and charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:7-12
• In administration and services in the churches Romans 12:4-8
A Metaphorical interpretation of Proverb 31
In the Bible, wisdom is always personalized or anthropomorphized. Always the feminine sense is used as in chapter7:4. We have such expression as wisdom is a sister. Don’t forsake her, embrace her and she is a tree of life are some of the words used of Wisdom. It is a call to be married or joined to wisdom.
Therefore, all the characteristics in chapter 31:10-31 refers to wisdom in action and what it does in the life of those that have it in the heart. When wisdom is resting in our heart it is known by the fruit it produces. In the book of James chapter3: 15-18 the Apostle captures the wisdom of God compared with the worldly wisdom. The Lord Jesus is our Wisdom 1 Corinthians 1:30. So receiving the Lord Jesus Christ in our heart can produce the fruits of the Spirit listed in Proverb 31. In the New Testament, a similar word is used for the deacons of Acts 6:3.
The Literal interpretation
We can understand more about our message when we connect the usage with Proverb chapter 12:4, 18:22 and 19:14. A virtuous woman, as a woman of strength, is a crown to the husband and the reverse is the case of a non-virtuous woman who is a rottenness in the bone of her husband. It means that a woman is either a crown or a stinking rottenness to her husband. What a word.