The book of Proverbs concludes with this beautifully constructed acrostic poem, in which each verse begins with the succeeding letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
This poem (Proverbs 31:10-31) praises the wife of noble character. It stresses her inestimable value, noting that she must be searched for (″who can find?″, v. 10). To discover a woman such as this is a cause for thanksgiving.
The wife of noble character is a diligent homemaker, getting up before dawn to provide for her whole household (v. 15), making high-quality clothing for them (vv. 13, 21), and efficiently managing their affairs (v. 27). But she is not just a stay-at-home mum. She also has considerable business acumen, developing land (v. 16), trading profitably (v. 18), and making and selling clothing (v. 24). There is no idleness about her (v. 27); she thinks of every provision for the future, so that she never has to worry about what might happen (v. 25).
As a result, her husband has great confidence in her, for she is completely reliable and frees him up for his own duties (v. 11). He lacks nothing he needs and is respected among the elders (v. 23). He praises her, realising how fortunate he is (v. 28).
Typical of the wise, the wife of noble character does not hoard her wealth, but shares it generously (v. 20), using her prosperity to help the poor and needy.
All this activity is an outflow of what the wife of noble character is within. She is strong and dignified (v. 25), and wise and faithful in her teaching (v. 26). The wife of noble character displays all the characteristics of wisdom which are taught throughout Proverbs-and which are therefore also applicable to men.
Mothers, especially, will find great encouragement in this chapter. In investing so much of their time and effort-and themselves-in their children, they make great sacrifices; their long days never seem to end, and much of their effort often goes unacknowledged. Proverbs 31:10-31, however, gives the assurance that all their efforts will ultimately be rewarded. They will be recognised and praised, just as the wife of noble character is praised by her children and husband, who recognise how blessed they have been to have been nurtured by such a mother and wife (v. 28-29): ″Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.″
Finally, the wife of noble character is praised for her fear of the Lord (v. 30), for putting her trust in the God who placed her in her family.
A prayer for families in The Minister’s Service Handbook says: ″Grant unto us a revival of the simplicity and purity of home life; parents raising children in the love and nurture of the Lord and children loving and respecting parents; stir up in the young a zeal for that which is honourable and good; strengthen the middle aged to be persistently diligent in the living and teaching values of integrity; and keep the hearts of the aged in quiet trust that their eventide may be light.″15
15James L. Christensen, The Minister’s Service Handbook (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1960), 128.
How can you apply the traits of the wife of noble character to your own life and family?
Commit yourself to praying for your family today, and ask God to help you and your family honour Him in your family life.