Proverbs 31 is one of the best known passages in the Bible to convey not only the heights a Christian woman can do in character and behavior, but also speaks clearly about how God sees women and why He created them. We are usually so focused on comparing ourselves to this “perfect woman” that we miss the specifics the writer penned. We often look for our “job description” here and most times find ourselves wanting. But God has much to say in this famous chapter and with a few surprises!
When God created Eve, His design was not for one who’d sit on the sidelines, but for a strong helper, companion who is actively engaged in Heaven’s purpose next to Adam. Carolyn Custis James writes In Where Life & Beliefs Collide, “[In describing this woman, the writer of Proverbs 31] uses military language extensively, the same language used elsewhere in the Bible to describe the military exploits of Israel’s heroes. English translations of the bible downplay the military flavor, but Hebrew scholars have demonstrated that heroic military imagery sets the tone for our understanding of this woman.”
“In verse 17, “her arms are strong for her tasks”. In verse 29 she is “going out to battle”. Again verse 17 has her “girding her loins with strength”, indicating she is ready for difficult situations she may face in her pivotal role with her husband, family, or community.” She’s not one to sit back and hope for permission or suggestions. Stay with me here.
She is described as bold, valiant, and courageous as she is ready to fight for her marriage, family, and friends. She cares about her community and contributes to it. She is industrious in business affairs for her family. She is a property owner and “redeems” the earth for the Glory of God. She is a strong helper, companion, friend, and equal for all the Lord calls her to carry out. She is the real life picture of the Hebrew word ezer used in Genesis 2:18, usually translated helper or companion.
The concept behind the word ezer is also used to describe the way God’s Spirit comes alongside the Children of Israel and how the Holy Spirit is a helper, companion, and comfort to believers. That’s some assignment! Carolyn Custis James goes on to write, “She is a valiant warrior conscripted by God, not to fight against the man but to fight at his side as his greatest ally in the war to end all wars. Even before creation the battle lines were drawn between God and the powers of darkness.”
Let’s understand the backdrop where time began. As the creation curtains parted, the same earth over which the Spirit hovered, where plants, animals, and people were placed was the same earth Satan had been cast down to inhabit after his rebellion against God in Revelation 12:9. The same planet where God planted a Garden was under the domain of darkness. His light and life invaded the place then, and our calling and purpose is still to expand the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and multiply the likeness of God, restoring Godly order to the earth.
“In the beginning” wasn’t just a romantic story of the first man and first woman, although love was certainly the foundation. They together were the first recruits in God’s earthly mission that was more than they could handle alone. They together with God would fulfill the purpose given in Genesis 1. Shoulder to shoulder, men and women display the image of God to the earth. Many times today the genders are in competition with each other, when in point of fact, God’s original design is that men and women compliment each other in their lives, families, and mission. Women don’t have to try to be like men. We weren’t meant to be! We display God’s beautiful, tender, discerning, and complimentary characteristics to Creation.
In Proverbs 31, we’re reading about the spiritual maturity and discernment a Godly woman has no matter her status in life – she is “clothed in strength and dignity”, is aware of the spiritual condition of her home and knows who she is in Christ. No matter the circumstance, men and women need each other and not just in relationship, but together as close-knit allies in union and equality, in a common calling and joint mission to carry out God’s Kingdom plan and purpose.
God’s commission to be fruitful and multiply, as well as having children, was also about making disciples and filling the earth with those who display His image. Every time someone crosses our path can be a God-connection that allows us the opportunity to multiply and fill the earth with the world view of a Kingdom that is ever-increasing. And women, as God’s daughters, play a vital role.
The Proverbs 31 woman seeks after the heart of God, longs to fulfill her purpose in life, and is an example for others in maturity, love, and servant hood. Men and women together are to be a “blessed alliance”. We’re only feeble if we are not growing in the strength of God. We don’t have to have it all together, but we need to be looking to God for the reflection of who we are becoming. God’s design for women and men is anything but feeble. Shoulder to shoulder, Holy Spirit led, the blessed alliance is an original design by God to bring the life and beauty of Heaven to Earth.
Ain’t it grand?
Ref: When Life & Beliefs Collide, Carolyn Custis James (c) 2001 Zondervan Publishing
(c) 2011 Robin Lawrimore