“She considers a field and buys it; from her earnings she plants a vineyard” (Proverbs 31:16 NASB). Having already taken care of her household (Proverbs 31:12-15), the virtuous wife now turns her attention to business opportunities. She is confident because her husband trusts her (Proverbs 31:11). She has her own earnings and uses those earnings to make more. She is capable of examining, purchasing, and putting real estate to a good purpose. This verse as well verses 17-19, show it is not wrong for a wife to earn a little extra income for the family. It must be remembered, however, the husband has the primary responsibility to provide financially for his family (1 Timothy 5:8) while the wife must be a manager of her home (Titus 2:4-5). The desire for more income should not take precedence over God’s design for the family.
“She is like merchant ships; She brings her food from afar. She rises also while it is still night and gives food to her household and portions to her maidens” (Proverbs 31:14-15 NASB). The virtuous wife is now described as one who does what is needed to provide her household with food. She is self-motivated and stays busy. She does not sleep in when she needs to work. She buys and she sells trying to keep things in balance for the family. It takes organizational skills, time, and effort to achieve a well managed household.
“She looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight” (Proverbs 31:13 NASB). The virtuous wife provides her household with clothes willingly and joyfully. She likes to work and enjoys what she does. She has developed a good, positive work ethic. Sadly, many today have the attitude that such work is dull and demeaning, not worthy of a person with talents (as if it did not take talent and intelligence to run a household). Such attitudes have been damaging to the home and family. This woman, however, has seen her duty and developed an attitude of joy and contentment. God wants us to enjoy what we do and any job as long as it is noble and honorable work can be and should be that which a person enjoys doing. Taking care of a family is most certainly noble and honorable work and anyone engaged in it should take delight in what they are accomplishing.
“She does him good and not evil all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:12 NASB). The virtuous wife constantly has her husband’s good in view. She is not one to mock him or ridicule him among others. She doesn’t undercut his authority, but instead helps him. She repays his kindness (hint, hint husbands) by her good deeds.
“The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain” (Proverbs 31:11 NASB). The worthy woman’s relationship with her family is based upon a foundation of trust. A relationship without trust is weak. A husband must be able to trust his wife and a wife must be able to trust her husband. You cannot be together all the time. When a husband and wife trust each other, it is a gain for the family in many ways. It allows more work to be done and it removes the worry that one spouse or another is going to misuse money. If your relationship with your spouse lacks trust, something needs to change. Talk it over with your spouse, strive to be trustworthy, and begin trusting them and your relationship with be stronger than ever.
“An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels” (Proverbs 31:10 NASB). The final section of Proverbs is a beautiful poem describing an excellent wife or a worthy woman. This is an acrostic section—each verse begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet (there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet). Such arrangements were not only for organization, they also expressed the concept of thoroughness and completeness.
These verses show an ideal that women should strive to meet and men should look for in a mate. Excellent carries the idea of capable and strong and therefore valuable. Her worth is far above jewels implies that such a woman is rare. It is doubtful, however, all of these attributes are intended to be found in one woman at the same time. If a woman tried to live all of these at once all the time, she would have little to no sleep (cf. Proverbs 31:15 and 31:18b). Instead, this section is laying forth a number of qualities that would be considered excellent to find in any wife.
“Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9 NASB). We should strive to treat others fairly and take a stand for the mistreated. This was especially important for Lemuel who would serve as a king (cf. Proverbs 31:1). He needed to make sure what he did was fair and right. This isn’t just important for kings, however, it is important in whatever form of leadership we may find ourselves. As elders, as fathers, as husbands, as parents, as employers, we all need to do what we can to avoid mistreating others and help them instead. Leadership and authority are not given to us to lift ourselves up, they are given to us so that we can lift others up.
“Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to him whose life is bitter. Let him drink and forget his poverty and remember his trouble no more” (Proverbs 31:6-7). This proverb shows the wisdom in using medicine and its approval by God. Here, alcohol is considered to have its use, not as an intoxicating beverage but for medicinal purposes. Here is one who is perishing and in great pain and the alcohol can be a diversion like a pain killer to help him forget his pain and agony. Today, we have better and more effective pain killers so this use of alcohol really isn’t needed.
“It is not for kings, O Lemuel, It is not for kings to drink wine, Or for rulers to desire strong drink, For they will drink and forget what is decreed, and pervert the rights of all the afflicted” (Proverbs 31:4-5 NASB). Alcohol will not help us make wise decisions. Lemuel, as one in authority, especially needed to understand this. A ruler influenced by alcohol cause great damage and corrupt the law. Although, we are not in a position of authority, it is still important for us to think clearly. After all, if it is important for a king to remain sober so that his decisions are sound, why wouldn’t this be true for all of society? Can fathers and mothers abandon sobriety and guide their families wisely? Can employers give themselves over to alcohol and consistently manage their businesses and employees well? Whatever our lot in life, we need to have all our resources of thinking in order to make sound decisions.
“Do not give your strength to women, or your ways to that which destroys kings” (Proverbs 31:3 NASB). The very first thing the woman of Proverbs 31 warns her son about the attention he gives women. Strength both physical and financial will waste away if given to adultery and many women. The practice of many kings during this time was to have a large harem, but it did not make their lives easy to say the least–it led to strife, divisions, and internal wars. Solomon himself had 700 wives and 300 concubines and they destroyed his life spiritually (cf. 1 Kings 11:1-4). Such situations aren’t likely to occur today, but many have created a harem in their mind through lust (cf. Matthew 5:27-30). This damages marriages and families as well as lives spiritually. As we will see in Proverbs 31:10-31, women of quality are rare and precious. One is worth more than an entire harem. It is worth taking the time to find such a woman and such a woman deserves a husband who will faithfully love her.