First, let’s remember that Proverbs 31 is something of a conversation between a mother and her son; King Lemuel’s mother was speaking to him about the qualities of a virtuous wife. 

But while this may look like it’s just a search list of ideal traits a man should have in their quest to find a wife, or a guide for already-wedded women, it can also apply to us singles! 

This passage ultimately shows the kind of character a God-fearing, Christ-following woman should have and the qualities we should emulate, such as…

13-15: Her work ethic and humility

“She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands. She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar. She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants.” (Proverbs 31:13-15)

In those times, women had to spin wool and create clothes for their household. While the jobs mentioned in these verses are vastly different from the jobs most of us do today, there are still lessons we can glean.

Though the chores mentioned are tough and burdensome, the woman did them “willingly” and diligently. Despite facing laborious duties, she was faithful.

Moreover, she even provides for her maidservants by preparing a “portion” for them, treating them as if they were her family and extending her compassion towards them.

She didn’t consider herself above the maidservants, or above “working with her hands”. Instead she humbles herself to serve others in a practical, simple way.

We’ve all had to do menial things in life, and I’ve definitely been one to complain and do tasks begrudgingly.

I strive to be like the woman described in this proverb who is filled with a cheerful spirit, and funnels kindness and dedication into the works of her hands. 

Even if our duties look starkly different than hers, we too can aim towards a similar standard of excellence and humility.

17-20: Her strength and compassion

She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. (Proverbs 31:17-20)

A distaff is a spindle that wool and flax can be wound around for spinning. The Proverbs 31 woman uses both this instrument and her hands to ensure her merchandise is of good quality, putting her heart into her work. 

While she uses these gifts and skills to manage a business, she also uses them to help the poor and needy. Rather than ignoring them, or simply giving them the money, she extends her hand towards them and applies her skills charitably.

The cost of living has been drastically on the rise, and, honestly, many of us may end up becoming “stingy” and ungenerous with our money. We work hard, but it’s usually just for ourselves, our families – maybe our circle of close friends. 

Contrast that with the Proverbs 31 woman, who extends her generosity through her business, serving others in practical ways.

Compassion isn’t about radical deeds, and we don’t have to be wealthy in order to help those who need it. Whether it’s in volunteering over the school holidays, or offering to pick up our younger siblings – even small acts of kindness go a long way.

24-25: Her clothes and confidence in Christ

“She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” (Proverbs 31:24-25)

We already know this is a woman who is entrepreneurial and resourceful. But even though she sells linen clothes and well-made garments, her priorities do not lie in the sort of apparel that’s in her wardrobe.

Instead of focusing on what she wears on the outside, she is clothed with strength and dignity. She is filled with the joy and peace of the Lord, such that she can “laugh at the days to come”.

This is a woman who fully trusts in God to guide her and provide for her!

I definitely look to the coming days and years with anxiety at times. Which school will I go to? What will I study? Who will I be with? 

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to laugh without fear of the future? I want to completely trust and surrender my life to God, living in the assurance that He will provide – that’s a faith worth aspiring towards!

26-27: Her inner character

She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.(Proverbs 31:26-27)

The Proverbs 31 woman speaks wisely and kindly, even in her instructions to others. 

I’ll be the first to cast a stone at myself – I’m not always the most careful and thoughtful with my words. It’s something I’ve been trying to work on, and I don’t inherently mean harm, but I can definitely afford to exercise more care and sensitivity in the words I say and how I come across.

The Bible tells us that kind words are like honey (Proverbs 16:24) – sweet to our souls and healthy for our bodies.

Wouldn’t we want to be able to edify and speak life into others with our words? After all, our every word should ultimately glorify God (Colossians 3:17).

The woman’s careful watch over her household also shows the intentional attention she devotes to her loved ones, choosing not to be idle or lazy. 

It’s easy to treat our relationships and connections with the people around us lightly. But by being intentional in “watching everything” and being observant to the needs of those around us, we’re able to know and care for our loved ones in the ways they need.

Proverbs 31 gives us a beautiful picture of a God-fearing woman.

As we live up to God’s design for our lives, let us remember that we are fearfully and wonderfully made in His image (Psalm 139:14) and that there is grace for each day.

So, to all the ladies reading this, happy International Women’s Day! May we all emulate the virtues of a “Proverbs 31 woman” in our own special ways.

  1. Read Proverbs 31.
  2. What stood out to you from this reading? Why?
  3. Think of an important lady in your life. How can you celebrate and honour her today?