Proverbs 31:10-31

The Perfect Wife

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30

Proverbs 31:10-31 is often the text for a Mothers’ Day sermon and used to praise all women who have qualities like these, whether mothers or not. But it was given by a woman to her son so he would know the characteristics to look for in a woman before he married her, and value and praise her for once she became his wife (Proverbs 31:1). The passage probably didn’t describe a real woman, but represented an ideal, a goal to seek. No woman has all these characteristics.

The passage begins, “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. The word translated “noble” may also be translated “virtuous or valiant.” Often used to describe a soldier, it means having strength, ability, efficiency, wealth, and force or power (as an army would have).” [1]

Let’s look at the qualities of this woman:

Strength and efficiency: She gets up early and stays up late, and is not idle (15, 18, 27). “She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks” (v. 17). She cooks, sews, and sells garments. She looks at real estate and buys a field out of her earnings where she plants—not a little vegetable garden—but a vineyard (vv. 13, 16, 19, 24). She is blessed and blesses the poor and needy (v. 20).

Wealth and Influence:She is worth far more than rubies [or other precious gems]. Her husband lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life” (vv. 10-12). Her husband is respected in town (v. 23).

But her most important characteristic is that she fears the Lord (v. 30) The word used here is descriptive–not something she does occasionally, but her way of life. [1]

The details may change, but all Christians should strive to have these virtues: being an industrious worker, keeping strong and healthy, being a good business person, helping those in need, doing good, not harm to others. We should all fear God—have awe: “an emotion of mingled reverence, dread, and wonder inspired by [someone] majestic or sublime; respect tinged with fear for authority.” [2]

Which of these qualities would you like to ask God to help you to develop?

Dig Deeper:

Read Proverbs 31:1-9. What other advice does Lemuel’s mother give her son that echoes themes found in other Proverbs? See Proverbs 5:1-10, Proverbs 20:1, for example.

Compare Proverbs 31:30 and 1 Peter 3:2-4. What traits should be valued in a woman according to Peter? What traits are on your list?

Read Genesis 22:12 and Exodus 18: 21. What can you learn from these men who feared God?


[2] “Awe,” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981), 92.

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