How did this gal get to be the Proverbs 31 woman?

She’s adorable – no doubt about it. Come on – just look at that skirt! But how did she become our prototype for the Proverbs 31 woman?

I was always pretty freaked out by her, because I thought I was miles away from ever being her. I used the Scripture passage as a sort of report card on how I was doing in the woman department. I was better at some things on the list than others. Totally flunked the part about “rising while its still night to prepare food for her household”, for example. Used to quilt, which would get me a passing grade on the “working with my hands in delight” part. But honestly, every time I’ve read this passage, I dress this ancient woman in June Cleaver’s clothes. Maybe June Cleaver with a community college business degree, which she got before she married Ward and birthed Wally and the Beav.

I think more than a few of us do. Maybe it’s the many women’s Bible studies that use Proverbs 31 as a prescription instead of a description. Or maybe it’s that peer pressure that happens when some Christian women gather.

I find myself wanting to befriend this Proverbs 31 woman these days. This is new for me. I don’t want to compare myself with her or try to behave like I think she’d behave. (Plus, I will never be able to clean the toilet wearing three-inch heels. I’m coming to terms with my limitations, and this is one of them.)

Someone at work suggested that Proverbs 31 is a portrait of wisdom applied. Where the first few chapters of Proverbs use some graphic language to portray foolishness as the fine art of getting tied up with the wrong woman – the wrong, ungodly people, it has been suggested to me that the conclusion of Proverbs is meant to help us see what a godly companion looks like. This is an interesting interpretation, and certainly has some value.

But…

…I believe this good woman is more than a metaphor. This is a portrait crafted by a man with a very difficult day job (see Proverbs 31:1-9) who’d found a loving, nurturing partner who was a vessel of God’s care and provision in his life. She was a flesh-and-blood woman. I like to call her Mrs. King Lemuel. And Mr. King Lemuel celebrated her efforts and accomplishments with the same kind of inspired passion found in the Song of Songs.

When she stopped being a checklist and became a real person, I started to like her a lot better. If you like people, you want to hang around with them. If you want to hang around with them…weird…they may eventually become your peers.

This gal is the kind of peer I want and need in my life.

About Michelle Van Loon

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