“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30 (ESV)
Do you ever get that sinking feeling of not quite measuring up at the mention of the Proverbs 31 woman? Me too. I remember when I first read this chapter many years ago as a young wife and mom. I thought the Proverbs 31 woman was overwhelmingly perfect.
And as I’ve walked through a season of extreme hardship in my marriage over the last few years, I’ve found myself not just intimidated by Proverbs 31 but defeated by this wife whose marriage seems full of praises. Even good marriages don’t always have such shiny realities.
That’s why my heart feels especially tender toward those who would rather skip over Proverbs chapter 31. I know what it’s like to have these words sit heavy on your heart with a resounding declaration of “not enough.”
But what if I told you that the heart behind Proverbs 31:10-31 is one of celebration, not condemnation?
The first thing I want us to take note of is that this isn’t just a chapter about a wife of noble character, despite how your Bible titles verses 10-31. It’s a chapter about a woman of valor. A courageous woman. A woman of strength and dignity.
In Jewish culture, these verses are read out loud on the Sabbath as a celebration over the women. This is in no way condemning what they aren’t but celebrating how they are, in their own unique expressions, living out the virtues detailed in this chapter. These aren’t words meant to tell a woman she is supposed to be more. They are a celebration of who she is.
Isn’t that the way it should be?
Courageous women celebrating each other … and those they love celebrating them? All under the banner of honoring God, serving out of love, and smiling at the future. Yes, this is why I love Proverbs 31 and rejoice that our ministry is named after such uplifting Scriptures.
I also love how Proverbs 31:30 reminds us of what’s truly worth celebrating: “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”
Notice it’s not a woman with a spotless house who is to be praised. It’s not the mom with perfectly behaved children wearing matching, designer outfits. Honestly, it’s not even the woman who’s married and has children.
A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. This isn’t an “I’m afraid of God” kind of fear. This type of fear refers to having a heart completely in awe of God. It describes a woman who honors God by seeking Him in everything she does and trusting Him wholeheartedly with her life. She has a heart of reverence that overflows into a life of spiritual maturity and wisdom.
And let’s not forget to look at today’s verses within the context of why God gave us this book of the Bible. The very first chapter of Proverbs tells us it exists so we can gain wisdom, instruction, understanding, insight, knowledge, discretion and guidance (as seen in Proverbs 1:1-7). Proverbs 2:1-5 goes on to remind us that as we receive and apply God’s commands, we’ll be able to understand how to find the knowledge of the Lord.
Wisdom is both a gift from God and a process of learning. And Proverbs 2:10 tells us the benefit of this kind of wisdom: It will be pleasant to your soul as it enters your heart.
I know this is a passage of Scripture that can easily trip us up. But what if we take God at His Word and choose to believe these words hold good and pleasant things for us? What if we challenge ourselves to look at Proverbs 31 closely — to see which part of it is a gift to us and which verses we need to learn from? What if we speak these words over ourselves and the other women in our lives as a form of celebration instead of condemnation?
God tucked these words into His Word for all eternity, sweet friends. And that tells me they are needed and meant for our good. Let’s ask Him to help us learn from them today.
Father God, thank You for this beautiful picture You painted in the pages of Scripture. Help me receive these words from You as a gift. Help me hear them spoken over my own life with Your voice of love. And show me how to live them out, according to the unique way You purposefully designed me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
You’re Going to Make It… And I am too.
Some people say time heals all wounds . . . but I don’t agree. I think it’s what we plant in the soil of that time that determines what we yield. I know it can be hard to figure out this whole healing thing. Healing is not nearly as neat and tidy as I would like it to...
If only I could go to God each night knowing I did and said everything right that day (in His eyes) instead of asking for forgiveness. Thank goodness he doesn’t expect me to be perfect.
Thank you for this encouragement. You’re right in that when I use these verses as comparison, they are discouraging because I’m far from being all these things. But, taken as you suggest, they encourage us to be all God intended us to be. Plus, I love and fear the Lord, so I got that one down at least 🙂 And, that’s good news.
Lysa, your ministry has literally saved my life. I am at the end of the “Hidden Joy” study now, but then I am going to do it’s not supposed to be this way. I have had the book for awhile, but found the study on this page. Faith Gateway. I will be forever grateful that you chose to let the Spirit work through you to create Proverbs 31 for so many women. I am also on First 5. Thank you is all I wanted to say, from someone who may not be alive today if not for you, Wendy Blight and Proverbs 31. May God Continue to Bless You Lysa!!
Thank you for sharing this.
Your articles are really encouraging.
I hope to write as much as I should as well.
I found your website while searching for Christian blogs that could inspire me. I’m thankful I found yours.
I am waiting for the day when, like the Proverbs 31 woman, I can smile at the future.
Beautifully worded, Lisa. This proverb used to overwhelm me, but I’ve been thankful for people like you and other women who have spoken about it in a different light. I love how Linda Dillow points out in one of her books (just like you noted) that the woman isn’t praised for DOING ALL THE THINGS, but for fearing the Lord. AMEN.
As a side note, I’ve also heard many commentators talk about this passage as referring to the whole of a woman’s life and not one day in particular. It may just be their opinion, but I find it a very helpful opinion. 🙂
Am reading your book, “It’s Not Suppose to be This Way” and its encouraging me so much. I’m 63 yrs old and never married, even though, this has been the biggest desire of my heart..long story, but the pain I’ve gone through – the loneliness, being misunderstood, feeling of emptiness (everything you described in your book) has been something I’ve lived with every day and at times seems too overwhelming to describe.. Thank you for being real and allowing others to be strengthened in their faith
I too have long dreaded the months with 31 days in them, just to compare myself with a woman of this stature, we’ll just didn’t even come close. Thank you for the way your eyes understood it to be. I look expectantly forward to loving change.