Dr. Barbara Smitherman is an Ordained Minister and Senior Pastor of the Tabernacle of Praise Worship Center. And Author of several books.
Why can't I mange to be a Proverbs 31 woman?
After reading and re-reading Proverbs chapter 31 and having it drilled into us from puberty that this is how we, as ideal women, should conduct ourselves and anything less would instantly disqualify us a Godly woman. So, why can’t I manage to be a Proverbs 31 Woman?
Even in this day and time with the many advances in Biblical Studies and the updated tools available to research and interpret the scriptures, one can still find the phrase being thrown around on the internet, in sermons, Christian conference lectures and social media by those who for some reason, be it self-gratification or mis-information or otherwise unlearned individuals mainly focused toward young mostly single Christian ladies instructing them on how to be virtuous.
It is not hard to find the phrase “I am striving to be a Proverbs 31 woman.” Or looking for a “Proverbs 31 woman,” posted on many different websites and social sites. These statements would be great if it were possible to find such a creature.
Due to my love for and study of God’s Word, as well as being a teacher of the Bible, I intensely study and actively try to do what it says. But in order to effectively teach the Bible, I must first KNOW what the Bible says, and I must be able to correctly interpret the word of God. (2 Timothy 2:15),
Now for those who may not be familiar with this scripture the hypothetical woman portrayed in Proverbs 31 is a Super Woman she is skilled in a large gamut of areas, no in actuality, she is skilled in everything. To summarize; she raises early, she possesses great strength, she goes out and purchases property and plants fields, wears eloquent clothing, takes care of her children, tends to the needs of the poor, maintains the perfect household making sure it is well lighted, heated and cooled, plus takes care of all her husband’s needs and desires. In other words, she is an example of womanhood described in the old Song "I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan… cause I’m a woman.”
It sounds like this woman really has everything all together.
So, is every woman supposed to try and adhere to this mold or model of womanhood? But how could that be possible considering every woman is different? What if she doesn’t know or even have a desire to learn how to sew, cook, plant gardens and can or preserve her own produce? What if she must work and leave her children at daycare? What if she gets home from work after her husband and doesn’t have dinner on the table by six in the evening? What if she never even gets married? Does that mean she’s living below her God-given potential as a female? Does that mean she’s not virtuous?
If reading that Chapter and listening to others tell you how you should be, has you confused and maybe even a little discouraged because you cannot seem to live up to the standard, here are some things that may help you out:
Guess What? The Proverbs 31 woman is "NOT a REAL WOMAN"
Biblical scholars have surmised that the Proverbs 31 woman is not one woman, but rather a conglomeration of admirable attributes of several different women. Or, that in actuality she’s not a woman at all, but rather the epitome of wisdom. Throughout the book of Proverbs, wisdom is the focal point and is consistently referred to as “she.” So, it is only reasonable that in the final chapter, the parallel of a woman is used to depict a perceptible example of wisdom in action.
This Chapter of Proverbs is “TARGETING MEN”, not women.
Now let’s notice, there is only one instruction in the chapter and that instruction is given to men in the last verse, “Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” In Jewish culture, men memorize this chapter as a song of praise to the women in their lives. But in Western culture, it is instead often prescribed to women as a task list to fulfill. A list for women to follow in order to better serve a man.
"JESUS" is the ONLY one we should be patterning our lives after”.
Before we get too caught up in the idea of how a woman should act let’s think about Ruth remember her she was a pagan worshipper or Rahab who was a prostitute (and a grandmother of the author of Proverbs). Then there also was Deborah the judge over the nation of Israel and Esther the queen who saved the nation of Israel. In Scripture we find all different kinds of women being portrayed, women in which all of us in some areas can identify with. But regardless how different they may have been they do have several things in common first, they all operated in wisdom, and second, they did as God instructed them to do, all without changing their statuses or who they were. Whether you’re male or female, you can use Proverbs 31 as a plum line to not be the exact person, but the type of person you should strive to be—someone who takes wisdom and uses it. Both men as well as women can learn from this chapter., After all Proverbs 31 is directed towards Solomon’s son. So, if in the past Proverbs 31 has been held up to you a standard of womanhood and you felt it was no way you would ever be able to live up to such a standard, you can now relax. And instead of trying to be a perfect woman you can now embrace and pray for wisdom to live the life God has given you. Remember, Jesus loves you. God made you just the way you are—and no matter what that looks like, it’s enough. And the good news of all of this is that, wisdom works for everyone.