Proverbs 31…It’s Not Just For Women
Proverbs 31 is one of those chapters that I think a lot of women sometimes read and then feel deficient. It’s almost like we can never measure up to her. I mean, really, who can do and be proficient at ALL of the things that she does? Talk about a Renaissance Woman!
However, recently I had some different insights while reading Proverbs 31 in The Message translation. As I read through the verses about the Proverbs 31 woman, I jotted down her characteristics in my journal. It dawned on me that it’s not necessarily the activities that she does that matter, but the character and traits she possesses are what are truly important. That should be our primary takeaway from the reading. Thank goodness because I don’t think I’ll EVER be proficient at sewing!
In Proverbs 31, verses 10-31 form an alphabetic acrostic, used here as a type of Hebrew poem about a woman who exemplifies godly character and wisdom from A to Z. J.A. Motyer says, “In the common form of acrostic found in Old Testament Poetry, each line or stanza begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet in order. This literary form may have been intended as an aid to memory, but more likely it was a poetic way of saying that a total coverage of the subject was being offered — as we would say, ‘from A to Z.‘” So in this case, the Proverbs 31 woman exemplifies godly traits and wisdom throughout and completely. She’s the full package.
Proverbs 31 is not just for women
In part of my recent study of the Proverbs 31 passages, I came across a really good article by Rachel Held Evans. In her post, she mentions that the “target audience” of Proverbs 31 is actually men. I did not know this! Rachel mentioned that she learned from a Jewish friend of hers that in the Jewish culture, it’s the men who memorize the passage, not the women.
In fact, the men actually sing or recite it to the women as a way of praising and blessing them! This special “Eshet Chayil” song is typically done each Friday night before the Sabbath or Shabbat meal.
Here is a video of a traditional Eschet Chayil song with the Hebrew lyrics and English translation shown:
I LOVE this English rendition by Ari Lesser as he sings to his wife:
I also realized these are NOT just characteristics that a woman should possess. Men should possess the Proverbs 31 characteristics too. These same character traits this passage praises the Proverbs 31 woman for having are also desirable for men. They are not gender-specific. ALL people, men and women alike, should strive to have this type of character.
Proverbs 31:10-31 in The Message Translation
Below is a look at my takeaways about character from the passages. I use the feminine pronouns “she” and “her” when describing her characteristics, but read through them keeping in mind that we should all endeavor to display this type of character in our lives. Continue reading