Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.
Proverbs 31 is the name of many Christian women's ministries based on that particular chapter in the Bible. It is the topic of numerous Bible studies and sermons especially for Women's Day programs in the church. It is not unusual for a woman to claim to be a "Proverb 31" woman.
Unfortunately, not much thought and biblical knowledge have gone into someone claiming to be the woman Solomon described in Proverbs 31:10-31. The woman Solomon described doesn't exist in the 21st century. He was the wisest man who lived during his day, but he died long before the #MeToo movement and other women's empowerment groups were started.
The ideal woman described in Proverbs 31 was quite appropriate during Solomon's time and in Solomon's culture. Besides, Solomon never said that woman existed. He was merely giving a description as if she did exist.
It is unrealistic and an unattainable standard for women to measure up today to the woman Solomon described. Many people, especially women, have misinterpreted and misused Proverbs 31 as a checklist for themselves.
Not a Sermon for Women's Day
This writer has been a Bible teacher for over sixty years, and her aim is to share biblical reasons why it is impossible for anyone to be a Proverbs 31 woman today.
This writer has never preached a sermon on Women's Day about the Proverbs 31 woman because she.contends that it is a Men's Day sermon for men and not a Women's Day sermon for women.
The instructions in Proverbs 31 are not given to a woman but to King Lemuel by his mother. She was teaching her son "how to find a virtuous woman" (Proverbs 31:10). She explained to him what to look for in a woman. There is nothing wrong with women knowing about their qualities, but they were originally given to a man.
The very first step in understanding any scripture is to understand what it meant THEN when it was first written before it can be understood it NOW thousands of years later.
Proverbs 31 should be read in the context of the previous verses in the chapter. It is also wise to read it in the context of the entire book. Chapter 31 cannot be fully understood without knowing what's in Chapters 1-30.
The theme of the entire book is "wisdom." When Solomon gets to the last chapter in the book, he summarizes his personification of "wisdom." In other words, the Proverbs 31 woman is a metaphor for "wisdom" and not a real woman.
In order to get a better understanding of the Proverbs 31 woman, one should know something about the author. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, according to 1 Kings 11:3. Therefore, he knew something about the women of his day who were not all virtuous women.
The Modern Woman
When a modern woman says she is a Proverbs 31 woman, she is actually proving that she is not one. She is admitting that she really doesn't know what Solomon meant when he wrote about that type of woman. She is admitting that she is self-proclaiming what she doesn't understand and is only saying what sounds good or what she has heard someone else declare.
Let's explore the reasons a modern woman cannot be a Proverbs 31 woman because the list in Proverbs 31:10-31 can never be carried out by today's women; not one, no, not one.
The introductory question to this periscope is "Who can find a virtuous woman?" The subject is not "a virtuous woman." It is the direct object of "who." The "who" sets the stage for what will follow. The man is to find the woman with those qualities instead of the woman trying to find a man because she has those qualities.
After the introduction, Solomon jumps right into describing the ideal woman a man is to find. Look through the checklist and see how many of the descriptions you can check.
- First, the woman is compared to a ruby, a precious jewel Solomon knew about.
- She finds wool and flax and makes clothing. This doesn't happen in our modern world.
- The virtuous woman rises up early in the morning. She gives her servant girls instructions before she leaves the house.
- It is a wise woman who considers buying a field by herself and plants a vineyard with money she has earned. Usually, those are the actions left up to today's men.
- She grows physically strong, sells profitable merchandise, and is constantly industrious. It is remarkable that some women are entrepreneurs, but many who claim to be virtuous women know nothing about running a business.
- The capable wife gives to the poor, and she makes sure everyone is safe and warm during the winter.
- Her husband is admired by the elders, and she teaches her children and others as well.
- The virtuous woman is never idle because she is always busy taking care of her household.
- Her husband and children praise her for all that she does.
- A woman who fears God puts Him above her charm and beauty.
- The ideal woman shares whatever she has with others, whether they are related to her or not.
If the modern woman does all of the above things, then she has the right to call herself a Proverbs 31 woman. Until then, she should rethink what she is calling herself.
The information in this article is not to criticize women who profess to be Proverbs 31 women. It is to shed light on the biblical meaning of what Solomon wrote in the context of his day. Remember, the biggest clue to understanding this chapter is to know that Solomon's advice was given to a man about the woman he should find and not about a self-proclaiming woman.
PoetikalyAnointed on February 18, 2019:
You are welcome.
We women have to do better for each other and ourselves. We gotta stop with the back-stabbing and competition for men who don't even deserve the fuss or time. We need to reclaim our feminity and stop trying to one-up men.
We were not created to do all that men do. No, we were created to "compliment" our male counterparts...to fill-in where he lacks.
This doesn't mean that we are lesser. We most definitely deserve the same respect and be treated fairly as human beings. But we are different are each other's fill in the blanks.
Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on February 18, 2019:
PoetikalyAnointed, thanks so much for reading my article and giving your viewpoints. It is always good to write an article and get a conversation started such as this one.
I have been bothered by this for a long time when I see "some" women merely attaching the title to themselves even though they display none to the characteristic of Proverbs 31:10-31.
PoetikalyAnointed on February 18, 2019:
Hmm, words of wisdom to chew on. I believe that you are right about this description being more about wisdom than the actual woman.
I'd say some women fit a more modernized version of this today. I would've said "most women" but sadly, we women are becoming more like men and that's not a good look. Ahem, let me get off my soapbox on that lol! Most of those women are probably also mothers. I have to assume that most mothers out there are good ones who are doing the best that the can with what they have. They might not have flax and wool but she will "make do" with an old shirt and pins to keep her babies warm!
I totally agree with what you're saying. It would be erroneous to live up to these standards today. We are living in different times and we will always fall short in the end. Take the meaning of what's being said and apply it to YOUR life today. No one's circumstances are the same so we can't hate on Sister Rose with what she has-no matter how she got it. All that matters is what you are doing and how you got it. If you don't have it, ask God for it. He might not always give us what we want but gives us what we need-on time. Just like us mothers. We don't always give our kids what they ask for but give them what the need.
Thanks for this.
Martha Rogers on February 18, 2019:
Love this and so true.