This is an acrostic poem where the 22 verses start with each of the letters of the Hebrew Alphabet which may signify an attempt at a complete A-Z description of the ideal wife.
A few things to consider (to read Proverbs 31, click here).
What stands out the most in this proverb is her diligence. She is busy providing for her family and breaks down cultural walls as she engages in many of the activities reserved for the males (buying fields and engaging in commerce). This is what we typically hear about in Mother’s Day sermons.
What is slightly more subtle but even more significant is her wisdom. You cannot conclude the ultimate book of wisdom in the Old Testament without mentioning wisdom in a significant way. This is primarily seen in two verses. The first is 31:26 – “She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” This verse has two of the most significant words in the Hebrew Old Testament. The first is “hesed” which is at the heart and soul of covenant loyalty. Hesed has overtones of covenant loyalty, faithfulness, and loving kindness. The second word is paired with hesed and it is Torah (law) which we tend to think goes totally against kindness as it imposses restrictions on people. For the Hebrews, these two were inextricably linked. The NIV translates this phrase “faithful instruction” but it could be translated many ways – “the law of loving kindness” or “instruction of loving kindness” are two possibilities.
The second place wisdom appears is in 31:30 – “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman/wife who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” What makes her most beautiful and noble is her respect for God. Out of that loyalty flows the rest of her noble character that makes her as beautiful as she is. That is the ultimate form of wisdom in a wife. The ultimate manifestation of wisdom for the husband is the selection of a wise wife who brings the family honor, is diligent, but most importantly has wisdom rooted in God.
Often we use this chapter to praise women for their diligence but miss the greater point. Women who love and respect God and speak the law of God’s loving kindness to others are worthy of even greater praise.