by Gina L.
from Virtuous Daughters, April 2016~Volume 16, Number 1
"Panning for Gold" Proverbs 31 Study Series Part 1
Society has hammered away at the role of a woman and the definition of fulfillment, success, and strength as they pertain to women for decades. The picture is painted with the brushes of independence, autonomy, freedom, aggressive determination, goal achievement, liberation, and recognition among other strokes and colors which dazzle the viewer—much like dime store glitter—and draw one into the philosophy they expound. Many well-meaning and not so well-meaning religious groups have their own brushes as well and they paint away, defining women in yet another way—with brushes of fear, rules, inferiority, and other various trappings.
With all this information and misinformation confronting us on every side, where does a woman turn to find a true model of a strong woman of virtue? As with all of life’s great questions and quests, there is only one secure, trustworthy place where we can turn and be certain to find truth—God’s Word. God Himself indeed gave us a wonderful place to look to find insight into this very question.
In Proverbs 31, we meet the famous Virtuous Woman. Her story comes after the words of King Lemuel recounting the prophecy that his mother taught him, where she admonishes him not to give his strength to women, nor to drink strong drink which could cause him to pervert judgment, but rather to open his mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy. After these instructions to Lemuel, we find the next 22 verses loaded with 22 characteristics of this woman of virtue. These 22 verses in fact form an acrostic poem where each verse begins with a consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It is in theses 22 verses that we come to know this Virtuous Woman—this woman of valor. We find here glimpses into what God deems important in a woman’s behavior, attitude, character, and heart. We will be challenged as we lay down our ideas and feelings and pick up instead God’s ways for a woman. Come with me as we seek to discover our Master’s great plan for us as women.
But first, the impostors…
We begin in Proverbs 31, verse 10 with a question, “Who can find a virtuous woman?” With virtually 50% of the worldwide population female, we see there is indeed no shortage of women, so why is it such a difficult task (as verse 10 implies) to find a woman of virtue? From the pages of Scripture, we see there are many different kinds of women—women we don’t want to emulate—who are impostors to the Virtuous Woman, and they use a smile, sweet words, and their attire and actions to deceive many. As we briefly meet these many types of women, we will begin to see the rare jewel that a virtuous woman is and why she is not easy to find.
First, meet the Silly Woman from 2 Timothy 3:6-7. She is laden with sins and led away with many different lusts, ever learning, but never able to find the truth. In fact, she is easily taken captive to false doctrines that offer a mere form of godliness. She may be devout and religious appearing, but it is only an outward show for she has no truth, though she is always learning. (It reminds me of the Greeks on Mars Hill who love to hear and tell new things. Remember Paul declared the “unknown god” who they ignorantly worship to be the true God. Acts 17.) The virtuous woman fears God; this woman doesn’t know Him.
Next we meet the Odious Woman in Proverbs 30:23 who actually disquiets the earth when she is married. Odious is from the Hebrew word “Sane” and means hateful. (Webster’s 1828 defines odious as “hateful, offensive to the senses; disgusting….causing hate, etc.”) This woman seems much easier to spot for who she is, but she must deceive some as it does say she marries, and I don’t believe many men would try to marry an odious woman, but would be rather sadly disappointed when they find their error. Perhaps they only looked at her attractive outward appearance. The Virtuous Woman has the law of kindness in her tongue; the Odious Woman spews hate.
We also meet another woman in Proverbs—the Strange Woman. Much is said about her and her sweet, smooth speech which is tricky indeed. We find that she flatters with her words, forsakes the guide of her youth, forgets the covenant of her God, and while her house inclines (sinks) unto death, her paths go to the dead. (Prov. 2:16-19) It is true also that none that go to her return again, nor do they ever take (regain) hold of the paths of life; therefore this woman is very dangerous. The Strange Woman appears again in Proverbs 5:3 with more sweet talk as her lips drop (ooze) as a honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil. Her speech sounds so alluring and makes one feel so admired, but her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet and steps are in death and hell and her ways are movable so that you can’t know them, which can make her hard to detect. All are warned to remove their way far from her and there is a list of bad consequences if you don’t (Proverbs 5:9-13).
I must also include the reminder and warning from Proverbs 5:20-21 to males, asking why would you be ravished with a strange woman, knowing that the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord and He ponders all his doings? This Strange Woman is a narrow pit (Prov. 23:27), easy to fall into if you are not expecting it, but hard to get out of I should think. However, wisdom and understanding can actually keep one away from the Strange Woman (Prov. 7:4-5). Hence you see that wise men usually marry wise, virtuous women, and the foolish men are the ones deceived by all these foolish, impostors of women of virtue. The Virtuous Woman opens her mouth with wisdom; the Strange Woman oozes flattering words…dripping honey to catch her prey just like a morsel of cheese spells the end of the mouse in a swift snapping trap.
The Evil Woman is introduced in Proverbs 6:24 and we learn how to keep away from her and also her friend the Strange Woman who flatters. (“It is through reproofs of instruction which are the way of life and by the lamp of thy father’s commandment and the light of thy mother’s law.” Proverbs 6:23) ... The Virtuous Woman does her husband good and not evil all the days of his life; the Evil woman, despite her outward beauty, is ready to spring evil.
There are the Younger Widows too we meet, who are warned to remarry lest they learn to be idle, wandering from house to house, tattlers, busybodies, speaking things they ought not. We must watch for this type of behavior whether a widow or not, as it is another trap women fall into and another type of woman one may encounter in their search for a woman of virtue. The Virtuous Woman is busy working with her hands and doesn’t eat the bread of idleness; an idle woman gossips, tells tales, and wanders about.
There are still more impostors parading about ready to deceive those without wisdom. Meet the Foolish Woman. She is clamorous (makes loud sounds, cries aloud, rages, roars). She is simple (silliness) and knoweth nothing (Prov. 9:13). She may or may not have a good deal of the world’s schooling, but she doesn’t really know anything. ... The foolish woman is also found plucking down (pulling, breaking, beating down, or overthrowing) her own house with her hands. (This is contrasted with the wise woman who builds her house. Prov. 14:1.) The Virtuous Woman looks well to the ways of her household; the Foolish Woman plucks her house down. ...
Everyone has met the next woman—the Brawling Woman or Contentious Woman. There is a warning twice in Proverbs that it is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling (Hebrew Midyan: “contentious”) woman in a wide house (Proverbs 21:9 & Proverbs 25:24). Why? Because the house will never be wide enough if one has married this Brawling Woman, for like the incessant dripping of the rain on a very rainy day, so is the manner of this Contentious Woman—one drop after another (Prov. 27:15). It reminds me of what I have observed hiking in strong rock formations, where I have seen a wide pool of water form in a large curved indention in an otherwise flat rock surface, and when I looked up, I saw a single drop of water which over time had worn away the rock it falls upon. Warn your brothers, dear sisters, to beware of this impostor. Her continual droppings of contention leave him no room in the house and can wear away the strongest exterior. The Virtuous Woman holds her husband’s heart in safe trust and earns his praise; the Contentious Woman drives her husband out to the roof with her dripping complaints.
Lastly, we meet the Angry Woman and find that the corner of the housetop is no longer a sufficient refuge when we have both the Angry and Contentious Woman together, for we are told it is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman (Proverbs 21:19). And so we see that there are not only many different types of women to avoid, but there can be combinations of all these types of women also, which just multiplies their number, kind, and deception, making a woman of virtue all the more rare and precious and hard to find as the sweet words and outward appearance of many women prove to deceive.
We come again then to the question, who can find a virtuous woman? She is a rare treasure indeed and like any treasure, not found without great effort. We see that there are so many impostors and fool’s gold abounds, but this virtuous woman is there too, and with great effort and God’s wisdom and blessing, she can be found. “Houses and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the Lord.” Proverbs 19:14 Like all precious treasure, she has great worth and value, for her price is far above rubies. Notice she is far above other treasures like rubies. Yes, this Virtuous Woman is a woman we must meet—meet and become—as we look seriously into her characteristics in the months to come, learning to cling to God’s high standard and reject the frivolous vanity of our day and man’s philosophies, and find our answers in the pages of the God-Breathed Book. We must avoid becoming one of the impostors but learn the ways of virtue, valor, strength, and honor as we uncover God’s plan for a woman.
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