Proverbs 31:1 reads, “The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.” From these opening words we learn that King Lemuel, which is most likely King Solomon, was instructed by his godly mother. She warns him in verse 3 of lusting after women who could destroy his life and in verses 4-7 of the danger of abusing alcohol, which would destroy his ability to rule righteously. She ends her instruction in verses 10-31 by describing the “virtuous woman,” for she knew that if her son could find a woman with the qualities listed here he would be blessed beyond measure and he would avoid the pitfalls mentioned in earlier verses. These verses illustrate the “ideal wife and mother” which every married woman with children should desire to be. Let’s take a brief look at her.

Verse 10 begins with a question, “Who can find a virtuous woman?” This question suggests that such a woman is a “rare find” indeed, but by God’s grace “any woman” can have the qualities found in this wonderful passage. The word “virtuous” has the thought of “faithful and dependable.” The verse goes on to say, “her price is far above rubies,” for she truly is more valuable than earthly gems.

She is VALUABLE TO HER HUSBAND! Verses 11-12 tell us, “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life” (NASB). What a true and faithful helpmate she is! Verse 23 adds, “Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.” Her life causes others to respect him. And in verse 28 we see that “Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.” She has gained his respect!

She is VALUABLE TO HER HOUSEHOLD AND COMMUNITY! Verses 13-15 read, “She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she brings her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.” She is not lazy; she’s a good shopper; and she diligently manages her household. This is also seen in verses 21-22, “She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.” And verse 27 summarizes this truth by saying, “She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eatheth not the bread of idleness.” Her benefit to the community is manifested in verses 16-18 and 24, “She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengthen her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is goodShe maketh fine linen and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.”

She is VALUABLE TO THE POOR! This is confirmed in verses 19-20, “She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.”

What is the secret to her devotedness, diligence and love for family, community and the poor? Verse 30 reveals that secret, “Charm is deceitful and beauty vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” All of her precious qualities are the results of “fearing the Lord!” It is NOT “outward beauty” that produces a virtuous woman, but a love and reverence for the Lord! This “inner beauty” will be manifested outwardly in all of the lovely traits we’ve been musing on. When such a woman is found, “she shall be praised.” And she will not only be praised by her husband and children at home, but by the community at large in public. Verse 31 ends on that high and lofty note, “Give her of the fruit of her hands: and let her own works praise her in the gates.”  (191.3)  (DO)