Proverbs 31 stands as the bastion of Christian womanhood. We usually start reading to our daughters at verse 10 imploring them to be virtuous women. But look again. Those first 9 verses tell us something about the whole chapter that perhaps we often miss. To whom was this chapter written? King Lemuel. Some say that’s a pseudonym for Solomon, but it can’t really be proven, and in any event, that is not the point. So, I’ll ask again: To whom was Proverbs 31 written? A man!
Process that! Proverbs 31 is written to a man. Who did the Holy Spirit use to write it? A woman! That’s worth thinking about. In fact, this woman was a mother who loved her son. Her son had a great future ahead of him. As a king, he had power to do much good while that same power carried malicious opportunity to use others for his own thrills. A kingship may not be on our horizon, but to live a life worth living clearly stands before us. In Christian terms, we all have an opportunity to live a life that counts for Jesus Christ. At the same time, men, we have an ugly chance to abuse those around us, to be caught up in ourselves, and to then have our lives collapse around us under the weight of our selfish existence.
She outlined several things that could sway his life away from fulfilling its purpose. Watch out for liquor or other obviously self-indulgent things. Don’t forget who you are and stand up for the disadvantaged when it’s in your power to intervene. Be a man of justice and be abusive to no one. But what was the first piece of advice? Don’t give your strength to women. That clearly is going to preclude a promiscuous life. Beyond that, there’s your marriage. Married life is in no way immoral, but the effect it has is beyond calculation.
That brings up the question of our wives—lots of questions. Who do I need for a wife? What type of lady do I need for a wife? And on a more fundamental level, why do I need a wife? As this mother describes her virtuous woman, we get all the hints we need. In the beginning of addressing the subject of why I need a wife is the physical side. While that’s a big part of it, you wouldn’t have to have the woman described here to take care of that. Maybe that’s exactly what this mother is saying. You might be tempted to pick a wife solely on that criteria and miss the full impact of what the Lord designed.
The point is that a virtuous woman can propel me to be everything I ought to be. Her love, her work, her diligence, her dedication might be the perfect antidote to everything that is wrong with me. I’ll have honor at the gates of public opinion as an added bonus because of her. As a Christian man, I need a godly lady. Not because men are so worthy of this gift, but because they are so needy of it. We need her or the rough edges of manhood might never be sanded away. For all a man can be, there is much we must work away from being.
This mother said “beauty is vain.” She didn’t say it was bad. In fact, it’s not. I think it’s nice to have a wife I enjoy looking at every day! But there is more to her than that, and those other things happen to be the things I also desperately need.
So let the young ladies keep studying Proverbs 31. That’s certainly a legitimate use of it. Do it in spite of a culture that’s lost its way thinking it Neanderthal! It’s time, though, we fellas follow it too. The day we admire the Proverbs 31 woman more may be the day more ladies decide that it’s an ideal approach for them. Regardless the day we grasp the less famous part of Proverbs 31 will be the day we will be so much closer to being the man we should be. Then we will understand why the things this mother told her son are the things every man needs to know.