The Character of a Woman of Strength
Text: Proverb 31:10-31
Message: An Excellent Woman
The book of Proverb is a very difficult book to draw expository sermon from, because of the didactic or instructive nature and arrangement of the texts. It is also full of parallelism and numerical annotations. Most of the book of Proverb is written by King Solomon. It is basically divided into three sections, chapter 1-10, 11-24, and 25-31.
In the Hebrew language, the word proverb is “Mashal” which means to be like or a comparison. That is a verse state a proposition and highlights it in the next line of the same verse with either a comparison or contrast.
The book of Proverb is the wisdom book of the Old Testament. Its main focus is the instruction needed to help us cope with the day-to-day life
Interpretation of the book: The book can be interpreted in two ways mainly:
Some of the reasons we should study the book of Proverbs
- It is a book that focuses mainly on the development of Godly character: Character is more important than charismatic gifts and creeds.
- It teaches us how to discern the characters in our circle.
- That breaks down the walls of separation between theory and practice, the sacred and the secular, the church and the home, and the church and the workplace.
- How to be wise with Godly wisdom
- How to walk with divine guidance.
- How to look at life realistically and rightly.
Proverb 31 is a very popular chapter of the bible and the message is very timeless and relevant to every age. In fact, from the tenth verse to the end of the chapter is the closing words written as an acrostic poem in the Hebrew language. This means that each verse is systemically arranged successively in the alphabet of the Hebrew letters from Aleph to Tau.
However, our text starts with an “Erotesis” or a sublime question. Who can find a virtuous woman? And it went to say such a woman is priced above rubies. That very word “Virtuous “ is the Hebrew word “Eshet chayil”. It was first used in the Old Testament, Exodus 18:21 when Moses needed co-workers to help in administering the work of God. Also in 1 Kings 1: 42 and 52 as valiant, which is militaristic (strength of a warrior). It is translated as an able man, with three characteristics.
- That fears God
- Men of truth
- Hating covetousness
That has the ability to do three things
- Rule and lead,
- Judge, and discern
- Bear burdens and industrious
It is often translated as valor, excellence, strength, energy, ability, capability, that embraces the physical, mental and spiritual areas of a person.
The same word is used to describe a woman and a man. When used for a man it signifies bravery, valiant. For a woman, it denotes a noble character and virtues. Here we are looking at the character of a wife, mother and a sister. She could be a widow, divorced and unmarried it makes no difference. Some may object to a woman divorced on the ground of the biblical injunctions without paying attention to the circumstances. Ruth was a widow when she was described as a virtuous woman. Let us judge righteous judgment based on the mercy and grace of God.
In the eyes of God and from the Bible, men and women have equality namely in:
- In creation as male and female. Genesis 1:27
- In salvation as the children of God Galatians 3:26-29
- In the grace and charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:7-12
- In the mission field of proclaiming the gospel. Mark 16: 15, Romans 16:1-6
- In administration and services in the churches Romans 12:4-8
A Metaphorical interpretation of Proverb 31
In the Bible, wisdom is always personalized or anthropomorphized. Always the feminine sense is used as in Proverbs chapter 7:4. We have such expression as wisdom is a sister. Don’t forsake her, embrace her and she is a tree of life are some of the words used of Wisdom. It is a call to be married or joined to wisdom.
Therefore, all the characteristics in chapter 31:10-31 refers to wisdom in action and what it does in the life of those that have it in the heart. When wisdom is resting in our heart it is known by the fruit it produces. In the book of James chapter 3: 15-18 the Apostle captures the wisdom of God compared with the worldly wisdom. The Lord Jesus is our Wisdom 1 Corinthians 1:30. So receiving the Lord Jesus Christ in our heart can produce the fruits of the Spirit listed in Proverb 31. In the New Testament, a similar word is used for the deacons of Acts 6:3.
The Literal interpretation
We can understand more about our message when we connect the usage with Proverbs chapter 12:4, 18:22 and 19:14. A virtuous woman, as a woman of strength, is a crown to the husband and the reverse is the case of a non-virtuous woman who is a rottenness in the bone of her husband. It means that a woman can either be a crown or a stinking rottenness to her husband. What a word.
Whoso finds a wife, receives grace and favor. And a good and prudent wife is from the Lord. In the Old Testament, the word virtuous is only used once to describe a woman called Ruth, a non-Jew, and a widow in the book of Ruth 3:11. By using such expression to describe her character the Bible is comforting all women of whatsoever status. The reason is she was called virtuous before she was even re-married.
Through the woman Ruth, we can understand what God desires from us. He is not seeking for perfection, but a simple obedience and faithfulness as exhibited by Ruth. You may be unmarried, a widow and divorced, but that does not rule out of reckoning. What counts is your fruitfulness at home, workplace, and the church. Are you investing in the things of the Lord?
God wants us to follow in the footsteps of Christ as our example.1 Peter 2:21. We are not called to imitate Christ Jesus, but simply to allow Him conform us to His image as sons and daughters. He wants to renew and restore our broken lives if yield ourselves to Him in a loving relationship. As He is, so are we in this world says the word of God. 1 John 4:17.
Characteristics of the noble, strong and excellent woman:
According to Proverbs 31:10-31
- Virtue and incomparable (strength and rare)
- Faithful and trustworthy
- Reverence and innocent of evil
- Hard worker
- Innovative /Industrious.
- A financial asset and not a liability.
- A real estate developer
- Alert and sober/ Wise with light
- Philanthropist and charitable.
- Modest and well dressed
- Invest and provide in the home.
- A true Help meet to her husband
- A good teacher/judge/ ambassador that uses the wisdom of God mixed with mercy and kindness in correcting and instructing others.
- Gracious and kind
- Not idle and lazy/
- Fears God/ Fruitful
Let us learn to judge a woman by her theology instead of her charm and beauty. God says beauty is vain and should not be the basis of assessing the character of a woman. A woman that fears God is beautiful inwardly and is of great value. Virtues is a characteristic that cuts across morals, ethics and the spiritual foundation of a person. The husband has a great role to play in the life of the woman of valor. The Bible says that he praises her and gives her to eat of the fruit of her work. The children call her blessed as they celebrate her hard work and creativity.
The world is looking for Hollywood types, but God is seeking for a woman who honors Him. Who can find such a woman? Because they are rare, only God can reveal them and we have them in abundance in our churches.