During my study I kept being drawn to one particular part of the commentary.
"The last part of Proverbs 31, beginning with verse 10, consists of 22 verses. Each verse begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet (in proper order). The same alphabetical pattern is found in some of the Psalms and may have been used as an aid in memorizing Scripture. The most well-known alphabetical Psalm is Psalm 119 where there are 22 alphabetical sections of eight verses each. In the Hebrew text of Proverbs 31, each verse is also clearly divided into two parts (for example, in verse 10---Part 1: Who can find a virtuous woman? Part 2: For her price is far above rubies). This same two-part format is found in all of these verses. The only exception might be verse 15 which seems to be divided into three parts."
The eyes of my understanding were opened and I understood this passage of scripture as it was written. This is the advice given to king Lemuel by his mother. She in essence said to him, go and be a good leader. Find yourself a good and godly wife to help you rule. I would suppose that the son had asked "how will I know when I have found a good and virtuous woman, or how can I recognize her?" I can see a loving mother saying; Go and observe, see how they act, how they treat those around them, (in essence by their fruits you shall know them). Then she gave him the ABC's (if you will) of finding a good a faithful wife to stand by his side and rule with him. She gave him a list of characteristics to look for in finding a wife and helpmeet.
In todays society it would look something like this..........
I am looking for a person who is:
Agreeable and kind
Beautiful inside and out, full of
Charity and love
Doing good always
an Example of righteousness
Full of Grace and truth
Hope to those around her......... and so on to the letter Z
To often as we study this passage of scripture we take it to mean that for us to be a true Godly woman must possess each and every one of these traits. That we must master all these areas of life to perfection. We begin to create this character in our mind, this Super woman. We take it and put it into our worldly perspective and have an attitude of "keeping up with the Jones. We begin to think that the proverbs 31 woman is the one who can cook, clean, sew, and budget with perfection while teaching her kids to recite scripture and behave perfectly and so on.
We start to compare ourselves to other believers. We begin to think that we are not good enough. We begin to lose hope that we can ever become this superwoman as described in the scriptures. But is this really so? I would suggest that it is not about who can sew the best, who can cook, care for and keep the best house while reciting scripture. Yet this is what we believe this is a trap that has been set by the father of all lies, Satan. He would have us believe that this is an impossible task. There may be out there good Christian women out there who have fallen into this trap of belief. There are many good women who have given up hope and who have come to resent this passage of scripture because it has been put upon them that they have to be all of those things described within and do it with a willing heart and so on until perfection.
I would say to everyone who has become overwhelmed with the responsibility of becoming a proverbs 31 woman and especially to those who have come to resent this scripture passage and have a huge ball of negative energy towards it and are tired of trying to keep up with others. My message today is to LET THAT NEGATIVE ENERGY GO. LET GO OF THAT INNER VOICE ALL THE THOUGHTS OF I AM NOT GOOD OR SMART ENOUGH. BREAK FREE FROM THE COMPARISON TRAP WE HAVE GOTTEN INTO. BLOW OUT THE NEUROPATHWAYS THAT TELL YOUR BRAIN I CAN'T BE THAT WOMAN WHY BOTHER TRYING . I WOULD SAY TO YOU, CREATE SOME NEW THOUGHTS ON WHAT IT IS TO BE A GODLY WOMAN.
Notice I did not say do not study this passage of scripture anymore. Throw it out because it is bad. I said beware of the emotions that arise because of the message that many take from it. Let go of the negative emotions associated with something that is to be used for our good. Now, to create some new connections in the brain, some new ways to engage with this scripture. May I suggest a better way to approach the proverbs 31 woman.
The very first advice the mother gave to her son was to find a Virtuous woman, a God-loving disciple. A virtuous woman is one who loves the lord and puts him first in her life. She is a true disciple of Christ. There is a saying "You get what you think about most often" If we put virtue and honor right at the top of our thoughts and the tip of our tongues, we are thinking about God and how to be like God and doing it often. I would suggest that we would be wise to take and "let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly" (see Doctrine and Covenants 121:45-46) In other words if we let goodness, good values, morals, and standards be our guide, if we put God right on the top of our list at the forefront of our minds we are becoming that virtuous woman.
The proverbs 31 woman can be summed up in these simple words.
A PROVERBS 31 WOMAN IS ONE WHO LOVES AND SERVES THE LORD. SHE USES THE UNIQUE TALENTS AND GIFTS THAT HE HAS GIVEN HER TO BLESS THE LIVES OF THOSE AROUND HER.
May this be the thought and direction that you might take in bettering your life. Do the best with the gifts that God has given you. Each of us has been given unique gifts and talents to be used to the benefit of those around us. Use those things he has blessed you with to bless the lives of others. May we all work together in creating a better world for those around us. This is my prayer for each of you today.
I have been a long time studying and praying as how to approach this subject. Some of my inspiration came from a book that I read recently. It is great little historical novel inspired by real life events. It profiles the life of Elisabeth Bunyan, second wife of John Bunyan who was a writer and preacher in 1650's England during the restoration of the Monarchy. It is a tale of courage and strength of this woman through the trials she faced. I was intrigued by the way the author went into the mind of this woman as her values and virtue were being compromised. It is a great example of what it means to be a virtuous woman and what the thought process should look like and what it feels like to be a woman of virtue.
You can obtain a copy of this great book The preachers bride by Jody Hedland simply by clicking the links below.