I have to be honest. I used to loathe reading Proverbs 31. Every retreat, conference, women’s Bible study, and coffee shop gathering of more than 3 women would reference this passage as the end all to the discussion of godly womanliness.
“Oh you want to be a godly woman? Just read Proverbs 31, it’ll tell you everything you need to know.”
In all truthfulness, this passage terrified me. Throughout my teenage and early college years, every time I read this passage my mind conjured up a mental image of this Swedish milkmaid with huge biceps and a Princess Leah hairstyle churning butter in a log cabin while a herd of abnormally large toddlers ran amok in nothing but homespun cloth diapers. This may be appealing for some, but if this was the expectations of a godly woman, I was a failure from the start. (You see I have flimsy arms, pathetic for churning butter.) So I avoided Proverbs 31 for some time.
I had a pretty distorted idea of the passage. It wasn’t until later, after some maturity and the wisdom of those much smarter than me began to take root in my tiny brain that I realized this Proverbs 31 woman is pretty stinkin’ awesome. To quote the beloved Elizabeth Bennett, “She would certainly be a fearsome thing to behold.”
But is that our only source of godly women? Of course not, don’t be silly.
Here are some tips on being a godly woman, straight out of the OT. (That’s Old Testament, for those of you who carry those New Testament only Bibles.)
1) Cultivate your cooking skills- When the Jewish people were in danger of being wiped off the map, what did Queen Esther do? Cooked a fancy meal and saved her people. When David was about to whip the what-what out of Nabal for refusing to help his shepherds, what did Abigail do? Loaded up her donkeys with goodies and saved Nabal’s stingy butt. (Granted, God struck Nabal down later, but God does what He wants.) Ladies, when a man’s wrath is evoked, he’s probably just hungry. Cooking skills will save your life, and possibly an entire nation of people.
2) Sistas before Mistas- Ladies, you gotta watch out for each other. The best example? Ruth. When she, Orpah, and her mother-in-law, Naomi, were left widows, instead of peacing out to bag another man like Orpah, Ruth stuck with Naomi. Her faithfulness and devotion to Naomi, along with her humble demeanor led her to be called a “virtuous woman” and she caught the eye of a rich farmer named Boaz and ended up in the genealogy of Christ.
3) Help a brother out- Rebekah had compassion on the servant of Abraham and watered him and his camels. Had that been me, I probably would have said “Back off creeper.” Clearly, Rebekah was much kinder than I am. Not only did she have compassion but she also welcomed them into her father’s home and demonstrated her trust when she agreed to be married to a man she never met. One of her sons was named Jacob, and later called Israel.
4) Mi casa es su casa- Rahab was a prostitute. There’s no getting around it. However, despite her less than desirable line of work, she was one of the most courageous and hospitable women in the Bible. Even though she had never encountered Israel’s God, she believed in Him enough to defy her city’s king and hide the Israelite spies. Her story paints the picture of salvation by grace through faith and of a woman who didn’t allow her circumstances to hold her back.
Now, at this point you might be experiencing a little cognitive dissonance. (That’s a teacher word for “confused”.) You might be saying, “Sarah, wasn’t your last post about avoiding marriage? All of these women ended up married! CONFUSION.”
Let me be clear: This is not the magic formula to ending singleness. Looking past the obvious, we find that these women risked a lot to honor God; safety, comfort, pride, to name a few. But after all was said and done, God granted them the desires that are at the heart of every woman: protection and security. In the cultural context of these women, that meant marriage. In the United States in 2011, it might mean something else. That’s for you and God to figure out.
What are some other Biblical examples of godly women?