Proverb 31 is the last proverb in the Holy Bible. The Book of Proverbs has 31 chapters, and the 31st chapter of Proverbs has 31 verses. Many people read the corresponding chapter of Proverbs each successive day of the month. 1
The primary message of Proverbs is the reward for finding wisdom to be life and the consequence of choosing folly is death. God calls us to choose wisdom.
The entire chapter of Proverbs 31 emphasizes the role and significance of wise women. It contains a mother’s council to a king. King Lemuel seems to be another name for King Solomon. If so, then Bathsheba was the mother who taught him this poem. 2
Proverb 31 is one of the most precious proverbs. The God of wisdom gives glorious and comprehensive warning and instruction for one of life’s largest decisions. From this proverb, wise men can know that God wrote the Bible. There is more wisdom here than all the marriage manuals combined.
Proverbs begins with a strong connection between wisdom and the fear of the LORD (Proverbs 1:7). The collection ends by describing the virtuous wife as filled with the wisdom, beauty, and charm that marks a woman who fears the Lord.
The last half of this last chapter of Proverbs (Proverbs 31:10-31) consists of an acrostic poem (the verses of which begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet) in praise of the industrious housewife. 3
This poem is also an epilogue of the entire Book of Proverbs. The epilogue corresponds to Proverbs 1:1-7 (the prologue) as it describes a “woman who fears the Lord.” 4
Proverbs 31:30, 31 is a concluding reflection on the main body of the poem. 5
The picture of women given in the Scripture is not one of insignificance or abject subservience. In Proverbs 31, the virtuous woman is extolled. She is ever eager to promote the welfare of her family, but does not remain constantly within the confines of her home. She is engaged in trading and business affairs (verses 18, 24). 6
Proverbs 31 also tells us of a woman who is “of noble character.” Not only is she up before sunrise ensuring her family has plenty of food, but she also makes time to help the less fortunate. She recognizes that she has been blessed and wants to share her blessings with others in any way she can.
The attitudes of Jesus toward women are also instructive to us. 6 Women played a significant role from the very beginning of Jesus’ life and ministry. 7
Jesus did not treat women as women but as persons. Jesus took them seriously, asked them questions, encouraged their potential, and lifted them to the dignity that they deserved. 8 Although in a minority, at all times of biblical history, there have been women who occupy positions of leadership and influence. 7
Taken as a whole, Proverbs 31 teaches that the noblewoman’s wisdom-infused business activities and business orientations all lead to the same outcome — blessings. Her husband, children, and employees are all blessed with material abundance. Her “oikos” (the Greek word meaning house, home, and family) has a reputation for excellence and expanding influence.
Vs. 30: Beauty Versus The Fear of the Lord
Attraction and marriage usually occur for the wrong two reasons. Men usually love women for their friendliness and pleasing actions and/or for their beauty. Most men pick their wives by favor or beauty. They appreciate a woman doing things for them, and they lust for a beautiful body and/or face.
Verse 30 is speaking of a common type of charm that hides deceptive motives. The world values charm, but a charming woman is not to be trusted, as there is always a motive behind the charm. The world values beauty, as does God (Song of Solomon 4:7) and men. But the external beauty of a woman must be kept in its proper place of priority. At the very least, the outward beauty will fade into old age. It is truly sad to see an elderly woman desperate to cling to her most prized possessions – her youth and beauty. This is not a woman to be praised.
Because of Adam and Eve’s fall, humans get old and die of decay. “All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall” (Isaiah 40:6). God made us fearfully and wonderfully, and He even decided how we would look as we age. It is not wrong to want to look pleasing to your husband (1 Corinthians 7:34), but there is a cost when beauty becomes an idol. The world’s way is for women to dress to entice. God’s way is the cultivation of inner beauty (1 Peter 3:5).
- vain and worthless,
- without value or profit.
- It will not make a great marriage,
- it often creates more problems than pleasure.
- It does not indicate character.
A perfect body often houses a deformed soul. Men will only know too late. Beautiful women can be haughty, flirty, selfish, lazy, and shoppers. Husbands are often jealous, forced to support extravagance, forced to beg for favors and may be limited to sexual looking and wishing.
Beauty also corrupts with time, distorts with sickness, and disappears with age, as the decaying effect of sin takes it away. The man who sets sail for marital heaven on the ship Beauty is in a vessel taking on water. The flower garden he chose for his life’s enjoyment is soon nothing but weeds. What will hold the marriage together when the beauty queen weighs 225 lbs., has sparse gray hair two inches long, and moles the size of grapes?
A beautiful woman without character is like a gold jewel in a pig’s nose (Proverb 11:22). The beauty of the small jewel cannot make the pig attractive or take away the horrible odor (Proverb 27:15-16). The man selecting a woman because of beauty is doomed to twenty-five years of wishing he could make love to his wife and twenty-five years of wishing he did not have to.
Fearing the Lord
The message from verse 30 requires the man to seek a woman who fears the Lord. (Fear in the biblical sense has more to do with awe than fright.) In New Testament terms, he will check her love of God, her devotion to Christ, her esteem of Scripture, and her willingness to be taught. He will measure how she takes correction, responds to hard preaching, and makes personal changes to please her Creator.
The fear of the Lord is a fervent and reverent desire to please God and hate anything that displeases Him (Proverb 8:13; Ecclesiastes 12:13). It is much more than attending church. Most churchgoers do not fear God. The perfect woman believes the Bible absolutely and fully, and she wants to obey it in every area of her life (Psalm 119:128). Since it describes the perfect wife, she has the highest motive to keep the highest standard for wives ever written. This criterion for picking a wife puts all others to utter confusion. Heed it!
The Godly woman described in Proverbs 31 has one main defining trait from which all the others spring forth. “She fears the Lord.” She is a Christian and has surrendered her life to Christ.
The fear of the Lord means, in part, living according to the wisdom revealed in this book. This woman’s itemized, self-sacrificing activities for others exemplify the fear of the Lord. 9
The fact that she truly fears the Lord shows that she had a real relationship with Him. She was not only a Martha, busy with service; she was also Mary, walking in fear and reverence toward the LORD.
She traded the world’s way of defining womanhood for God’s way. The Godly woman trusts Him over the culture, worldly men and women, and perhaps even her own feelings. She is a blessed woman because God has blessed her. God has blessed her because she belongs to Him, who she lovingly fears as her Father.
She has the character of a virtuous wife. The character expressed will differ according to time and culture, but the character itself is universal. God honors the virtuous wife, the woman of wisdom and diligence, and makes her one of the greatest blessings given to humanity.
Her husband’s life is full of joy, for his heart can safely trust in her (Proverb 31:11). She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life (Proverb 31:12). Her husband knows:
- she would never betray him.
- He never has to beg or coerce her for anything;
- he knows he and his children always get the best;
- he is thrilled and proud to be seen with her in public;
- he has the most affectionate and erotic woman ever;
- she works harder than he does;
- he rejoices at her creativity and frugality;
- he is handsomely rewarded by her entrepreneurial ability and industry
- her kindness is known by all;
- the beauty and warmth of their home provides the best in hospitality;
- and he is the envy of all other good men.
Vs. 31: Woman Worthy of Praise
Each woman must measure herself by the virtuous woman before she is worthy of reward or praise. And the man blessed with the great woman, in context, should reward and honor her in her own name before others. He should praise and exalt this great earthly blessing.
The Kingdom of life runs on the love and the fear of the Lord. In this way, we can trust God with everything, even what we look like. The woman who fears the Lord will have external beauty in its proper place. She will love her neighbor, be a blessing to others, and show hospitality without employing deceptive charm to get her way. If you see a woman like this, especially if she is your wife, mother, or daughter, praise her and the God who made her.
A woman who fears the Lord shall be praised! Her husband and children will praise her for the great happiness, comfort, peace, help, and pleasure she brought them (Proverb 31:28). They will honor her. She fulfilled their lives with the wonderful blessings of tireless service, tender affection, selfless attention, devoted companionship, and diligent labor. Her conduct makes her a very rare wife (Proverb 31:10-31).
This virtuous woman will be rewarded by the God she fears and rewarded by what she has accomplished for her family and herself, as they publicly speak of her godliness and wisdom. For the woman (and man) of wisdom, this reward is not their primary motivation, but the fitting result of their life lived in fear of the LORD.
The wisdom of Proverb 31 works both ways. Fathers must help daughters marry men who fear God. Such a man has the highest motivation–pleasing His eternal Creator; and he has the perfect manual for husbands–the Word of God. Women do not even consider a man who does not have a passionate and consistent fear of God, love for Jesus Christ, and holy zeal for every word of the Bible. A God-fearing man will take care of you and your children like no other. Measure wisely, for churches have many hypocrites.
Christian brother, if you have a God-fearing wife, praise her and reward her, privately and publicly (Proverb 31:28-31). Thank the merciful God of heaven for her (Proverb 18:22; 19:14; 31:10). God has greatly blessed you. Your Creator has brought you a woman far better than Eve, who killed her husband for a lie! He saved you from hell in this life by keeping you from marrying a woman with mere favor or beauty. To keep her fearing the Lord, take her to a church where His truth is plainly taught and lead her to Him at home.
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In conclusion, consider what the Daily Bread email message sent on 4/26/2023 says,
Proverb 31:30, 31 – Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. (NASB)
The fruit from the hands of the God-fearing woman is brought home by the hard work of the good wife. It is just and fit that she should enjoy benefits and praises. If men are silent, the lasting effects of her prudence and diligence will loudly trumpet forth her praises.
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- Morris, Henry, The New Defender’s Study Bible (Nashville, TN: World Publishing Inc, 1995 and 2006) pg. 984.
- 2. Henry H. Halley, Bible Handbook (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992), pg. 273.
- Isaac Asimov, Asimov’s Guide To The Bible – Two volumes in One (New York, NY: Avenel Books, 1981), Pg. 511.
- “NIV,” International Bible Society, The Holy Bible, New International Version, Study Bible (Zonderman Publishing House copyright 1973, 1978, and 1984). pg. 1003
- Ibid, pg. 1004.
- Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company), pg. 547.
- Ibid, pg. 548.
- Donald W. Shaner, “Women in the Church,” Foundations 23 (July-September 1980), pg. 22.
- Bruce K. Waltke, A Shorter Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2021) pg. 541.