If you’re a Christian and married or hoping to be married, then you should have come across Proverbs 31 either by reading or by hearing someone talk about the qualities of the Proverbs 31 woman. If it’s not ladies studying to imbibe the qualities of the Proverbs 31 woman then it’s guys poring over the verses to isolate the must-have qualities of the potential wife. Speaking of the Proverbs 31 woman, so much has been said about her but if you’d like to know what she looks like, read Moyo’s wonderful piece here.
Despite decades and perhaps centuries of studying and teaching Proverbs 31, few people, if any, have attempted to answer the only question posed by that chapter, specifically verse 10 – Who can find a virtuous woman? (Amplified version states – Who is he who can find her?)
You see, the entire Proverbs 31 was addressed to a man – King Lemuel. It was a mother’s advice to her son who probably was just ascending the throne. The Proverbs 31 woman discussion was part of a wider discussion and it began with the question – Who can find her? Thinking about it, many men ought to conclude their reading of this chapter at this verse. The remaining 21 verses simply go ahead to describe in detail who this woman is.
Here is how I interpret Proverbs 31 in the light of that question: Given the superb qualities of this woman, does he deserve to woo and marry this highly capable and extraordinary woman? Can he meet up to and even surpass her standards? Or will he be a drag in her calendar of success? Will she even consider going on a date with him? In other words, the essence of that section of Proverbs 31 was to give the man a Quality Control check – not only for the potential wife but for himself. The question assumes that though scarce, such a woman already exists. But does such a man exist? That’s the question that ought to be answered.
Now, there is nothing wrong with women working towards being a Proverbs 31 woman. In fact, given the present circumstances, it has become essential. But won’t it all be a waste of time and energy if the ‘Proverbs 31’ woman ended up marrying a ‘1Samuel 25’ kind of guy? The problem with the Proverbs 31 (woman) teaching is that it places so much focus on women and takes attention off the men for whom the chapter was originally intended. As a result, there is no shortage of irresponsible, Christian men, with no sense of character, dressed in three-piece suits and looking for a ‘virtuous’ wife to clean up their mess after them.
So here is my message to women: While it is good to aspire to be the kind of woman described in Proverbs 31, make sure you know what a Proverbs 31 man looks like. Unfortunately, Proverbs 31 tells us nothing of that sort of guy except that it is he who is deserving of such a woman. To know what a Proverbs 31 man is like, you will have to read the preceding 30 chapters of Proverbs, which contain the blueprint for this kind of man. And I think the investment in time is worth it, for what shall it profit a woman if she becomes a Proverbs 31 lady and ends up in a 1Samuel 25 marriage?
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I am a Medical Doctor, Brand Strategist and the Author of Musings of an Analytical Mind. I love to challenge conventional thinking and am a firm believer in the coexistence of aesthetics and quality. Follow me on Twitter – @ifeodedere