It’s easy to imagine the Proverbs 31 woman laughing at the days to come isn’t it? She is so perfectly perfect, of course she’s laughing. Maybe she’s even laughing at the rest of us. Surely a woman with that much going for her can pull off looking strong and dignified without even batting a perfectly made-up eyelash! Why wouldn’t she be laughing? Her husband has full confidence in her; she brings him nothing but good. She works with eager hands, and gets up in the night to bring her family food. She buys a field; plants a vineyard with her strong arms, and still has the energy to reach out to the needy and help the poor. And as if that wasn’t enough, she works vigorously making bedding and linen garments to sell.
She not only is clothed with strength, she is clothed with beautiful linen and in purple just like the queen she is. She is wise, she gives faithful instruction and oh so perfectly watches over the affairs of her household. She has probably never burned a dinner, or needed to frantically clean up before company arrives either. No not the Proverbs 31 woman! She surpasses even the noble women. Her husband praises her, and I don’t know if she had teenagers, but if she did even they, I’m sure would call her blessed. We are to honor her and let her works bring her praise, but I can’t help but let a little comparison between her and I taint the praise I would give to this seemingly perfect woman. While she’s strong and laughing at the days to come, I’m weak, worn out, and just trying to survive today!
If this chapter of Proverbs were a picture of my life, it would paint a totally different picture and although it might be one of folly, it most definitely also is one of grace. It might go a little something like this:
11 Her husband had no confidence in her
and even though she tried to bring him good
12 her marriage did not survive.
all the days of her life…
14 She is like the merchant ships,
driving here and there,
bringing her family food from the drive-thru
while trying desperately not to be late once again!
She gets up while it is still night; and never goes to bed
before day’s end, trying to provide for her family
and yet her dishes are still in the sink
And her work always seems undone.
her children know that she is blessed,
because she is a daughter of the King;
A woman who fears the Lord and is praised,
not for anything she has done,
but for who she is in Christ.
And at the end of the day,
she may not laugh at the days to come,
but she has had peace and joy enough for today,
And she lifts her exhausted voice in praise.
Not exactly a picture of perfection is it? The Proverbs 31 woman was never meant to be a picture of flawlessness either. We ladies have a way of setting unrealistic expectations for ourselves, and because of this we are also the first ones to turn up our pretty little noses at anything or anyone who appears to be attaining the perfection our hurting, tired hearts are longing for. The reality is, the Proverbs 31 woman is a very misunderstood woman, snarled at by some, avoided by most, and although I have poked some fun at her here, she would do us girls some good too, if we were to open our hearts to her testimony.
This chapter on the wife of noble character comes at the end of the book of Proverbs, whose theme is living with wisdom and righteousness. The Proverbs 31 woman is not someone to live up to, but a beautiful portrait of the life that is possible through the wisdom and righteousness of God. It is not because there is something special about this woman in and of herself; it is her fear of God that brings this lasting beauty to her life. That same fear of God can bring lasting beauty to your life and mine as well. If I could get over myself for just a moment, I would see that I am a woman of strength and wisdom, even if I am standing in the middle of piles of laundry instead of my own personally planted vineyard. I am praised for the work of God in me, not at the city gates, but in the gates of heaven; and I can laugh at the days to come because I have a hope in Christ that overcomes all my weaknesses and ultimately overcomes this world as we live together in perfection in glory!