I used to kind of get irritated with Proverbs 31. (Most Christian women I know do!) But as I read it recently I was struck with the fact that I’d been reading it all wrong! I see it so differently now! And I must give major props to King Lemuel’s mother.
Proverbs 31 is not an instruction to a woman about how to be a “good wife.” In fact, it’s not an instruction written directly to a woman at all! (Though women can indeed gain edification and insight from it.)
It’s a strong mother telling her son how God is doing good to and for him (his household financial standing, his life, his reputation, his ability to accomplish his own callings and passions, etc.) as he is good to and trusts his wife. She is really saying,
“Son, this is what your wife will be for you if you will do all you can to let her shine. When you believe with all your heart that this person is a gift from God sent to bless you and you treat her as such, you will trust her strength, character, wisdom, diligence, courage, sense of justice, and compassion… and she will bloom like a fruitful tree, by whose produce you will be abundantly blessed. Listen to my words and heed them and just see if God doesn’t bless you like you could never have imagined, from your reputation to your financial situation!”
Proverbs 31 is not a “how to manual” for a woman seeking to be a good wife, as it is often used. While we can gain understanding about how a healthy and vibrant marriage can be modeled off it, it is important to read it as it was actually written: as a word of wisdom to a young man! In this case, from a wise mother:
“Son, trust me… this is the best thing that could ever happen to you! Don’t waste all of the potential wrapped up in that lady, because she was made to shine, and when she does, you will be blown away. You think she makes you smile now? Just you wait!”
The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.
I’m thankful for a husband who gets this. (He didn’t always get it quite so well and neither did I!) Thankful that I can say, Thank you, husband, for more and more being a Proverbs 31 man!