Proverbs 31.26 — She speaks with wisdom

“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” It’s a deep and meaningful compliment to be considered wise, and it’s a great virtue in life to be able to speak words that are reliable and helpful to others. It shows maturity, knowledge, compassion, discernment, tact, and being tuned in to God.

The godly mother will train her mind and her tongue. I know it sounds like wishful thinking that every mother can be wise and controlled, but it’s not just wishful thinking. It’s very possible to those who dedicate themselves to it through the power of God. The point is that the godly mother will dig into every resource she has to tune into God, her children, and her own soul.

One more interesting morsel: the words used in the second half of the verse (faithful = hesed; instruction = torah) are both covenant words. Yes, she imparts good advice to those who listen to her, but these are not just kind words. They flow from the covenant between God and his people. She’s not just wise; she’s godly wise.

4 thoughts on “Proverbs 31.26 — She speaks with wisdom”

  1. I will like to know more about the proverb 31 woman’s wisdom and how I can apply it in my own life, marriage and raise my children.

    1. Julie, thanks for writing. Proverbs 31 is an awesome chapter, and there’s a lot to say.

      The section of verses 10-31 is a poem in the form of a heroic hymn. This woman is portrayed as a warrior, the ideal of everything desirable. It’s as if the author is putting at the end of his book an illustration of someone who is all of the things he has written so far. It’s interesting that his example is a woman, given their culture.

      V. 10 calls her “noble,” which is actually a military term speaking of strength and honor. It’s warrior imagery. We are to read here that she is a person of integrity, reliability, diligence, and wisdom.

      v. 11: Her husband has full confidence in her. She has acted in such a way that he trusts his heart—his core personality—to her. He would trust her with anything because she has proven herself over and over to be reliable and competent. “Lacks nothing of value” is another military word speaking of the spoils of warfare. She is a warrior in the battle of life. She goes out and fights on behalf of the family and comes back with the victor’s spoils, which allow her family to thrive in the midst of the “conflict.”

      It almost sounds like role reversal, doesn’t it? It makes me think of Eph. 5.21: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Oddly enough, the word “submit” in this Ephesians verse has a military air in it, just like the passage in Proverbs 31. Christ’s view of the kingdom is that of a community of members serving one another—mutual servanthood. Paul uses the exact thought to introduce his profound teachings about marriage (and the church). In here is contained the teaching that a husband or a wife must be ready to renounce his or her own will for the sake of the other, and give precedence to the other.

      Here the husband treasures the wife, as I said, and entrusts himself to her (the idea of submission, putting himself under her). And she does not fail the husband. She is a warrior in the battle of life.

      V. 12. She brings good, not harm. She builds up, doesn’t tear down. When a person is self-centered, the relationship is not one that builds up. What you want most is a relationship where you bring the best out in each other, and motivate each other towards better things. To accomplish this takes humility and the heart of a servant. Whether husband to wife or wife to husband, you choose each day to make the other person more important than yourself, and you live for them, not for you. You determine to meet his or her needs. And if both spouses are living this way, both get served and both get their needs met. There doesn’t need to be any fear of emptying yourself, because the other one is filling you up. There is no chance of feeling used, as if you’re doing all the giving and your spouse isn’t reciprocating. When each one serves the other, no one feels used. No one feels they’re the only one giving, because both are active in bringing the other good and not harm. It’s a conscious choice, an act of humility and love, and a life of service, which is true godliness. As long as both man and woman live this way, the rewards of a healthy, loving relationship are great.

      But it only works that way if BOTH are living that way. Where it breaks down is where one is doing all the giving, and the other just takes.

      V. 13. She learns from life, from the successes and mistakes, and grows in wisdom. She isn’t just a homebody, in the kitchen, the slave of the family. She isn’t stuck at home, but rather goes out into the public square, and there makes good decisions to obtain what the family needs.

      She has discernment and discretion, and is a good critical thinking. She knows how to shop for deals and for quality. It takes skill and intelligence. The point? She’s not some lesser human being who has to sit at home because she’s too stupid to function in society. She’s out there using her intellect, intuitions, and skills to get done what needs to get done.

      That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with staying at home. Being a stay at home mom is different now than it was back in those times. Being a stay-at-home mom is a full time job. At home, you have to make good decisions and be a critical thinker. With the technology and resources we have today, we’re much more able to be ‘in the virtual marketplace’ than back then. Being a stay-at-home mom requires so much in this day and age, and the points he’s trying to make is that a good woman uses these skills God gave her.

      V. 14. Wherever she is, she’s takin’ care of business, every day. This lady is competent wherever she is.

      V. 15. We have a saying for this, it’s so common: “A man works from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done.” We all know that mothers live lives of extreme personal sacrifice to provide for their children. They work, shop, compare, decide, return, prepare, give, and clean up. They create, help, run errands, fix, and counsel. And they do it all instead of doing what they want to do. They rarely get a moment’s break, and despite some days when it feels like drudgery, they do it out of a heart of love.

      Providing for others is the essence of godliness, because when God created this world, He took upon Himself the never-ending task of providing for others, and sacrificing himself to do it. After all, that’s what it is—sacrifice of love—and when mothers provide for their children, they take on the very character of God.

      V. 16. She is a business woman when that skill is called for. This woman does everything. She is not only domestic, she is entrepreneurial, much like many women today. They work at home and in the marketplace. Here we see a few basic business principles: She weighs relative values, makes a capital investment from her earnings, and with that investment produces assets and profit in a business endeavor of continuing returns.

      v. 17. Throughout the book of Proverbs, the author despises the lazy man, who is a burden to himself and his society. Here we find that the contrast to him is the woman who works vigorously, with physical energy and power. Far from being the “weaker sex,” and it doesn’t seem to matter that she doesn’t have the “guns” a man has, this lady surprises the reader with a gun show of a different sort: her arms are strong for her tasks. The difference here? His are for show, hers are actually accomplishing something. She’s not just sitting around watching Oprah.

      V. 18. She is intelligent and shrewd at her negotiations. She’s no pushover.

      V. 19. She’s a hard worker.

      V. 20. She’s generous and considerate. According to the Bible, all godly people open their arms to the poor. It is the mark of true religion (James 1.27), and shows us to be living with a God-like demeanor and behavior.

      V. 21. She is a woman with foresight, and has made preparations for upcoming change, just as the bee stores honey for the winter, the bear overeats in preparation for hibernation, and the ant supplies the nest with nutrition to last through the cold weather. She has foreseen the coming snow, and has worked to prepare for the day of cold and need. She is not reckless, like the Prodigal Son, squandering her assets and resources in reckless abandon, but has made sacrifices in the present surplus for a future need. She has invested whatever time and resources necessary to carry her through the difficult period.
      So the personal qualities we see here are foresight, willingness to make a present sacrifice for a future goal, preparation, diligence, thrift, and investment for the future.

      v. 22. These are images of prosperity to manifest that her wisdom in trade, her industry and strength, her resourcefulness and preparation have achieved for herself and her family a level of comfort and well-being. It reinforces the truth of the adage that hard work pays off, and you will reap what you sow. She has sown diligence, responsibility, and industry, and has reaped contentment and ease. In all fairness, she has gotten what she deserved.

      v. 23. Previous proverbs have taught that a woman can be her husband’s undoing (Prov. 14.1). Here it is implied that she has been an element in her husband’s success. For him to be the success that he is translates that she has treated him with respect and honor, and not tearing him down by berating him, telling negative stories about him in public, or making him feel worthless and stupid. It is implied that her behavior and her treatment of him have worked to enhance the respect of him in the community. In keeping with the teachings in Proverbs, to do such, she must be living with a reverent spirit, a grateful heart, a servant’s attitude, and a clear conscience.

      V. 25. She has no fear of what lies ahead. With confidence and strength she faces her days, knowing that her preparation will serve her well. She has learned to be content in whatever situation she finds herself, and will face whatever comes at her with dignity, grace, strength, and confidence.

      V. 26. It’s a deep and meaningful compliment to be considered wise, and it’s a great virtue in life to be able to speak words that are reliable and helpful to others. It shows maturity, knowledge, compassion, discernment, tact, and being tuned in to God.

      The godly mother will train her mind and her tongue. I know it sounds like wishful thinking that every mother can be wise and controlled, but it’s not just wishful thinking. It’s very possible to those who dedicate themselves to it through the power of God. The point is that the godly mother will dig into every resource she has to tune into God, her children, and her own soul. She’s not just wise; she’s godly wise.

      V. 27. This seems to repeat the same thought as vv. 15, 17, and 21. She is the contrast to the lazy person throughout the book of Proverbs. She is not just sitting around watching Oprah. She is diligent, watchful, and an able provider.

      V. 28. This is certainly not implying that children always respect and cherish their moms, because all kids, especially adolescents, go through phases of anger, frustration, and disdain for their parents. No matter how good a parent you are, some days your kids try to make you wear “The Worst Parent in the World” button.

      The point here, though, is that she is acting honorably and in a way that deserves and receives respect and praise. When Ex. 20 commands us to honor our parents, it assumes that the parents are acting honorably. Here the woman is proven to be honorable and godly because those who see her day in and day out and know all of her moods and foibles give evidence that she is good, godly, full of integrity, and worthy of honor.

      The same is true for her husband. Despite personal differences and days of disagreements, and despite variable moods and difficult situations, he recognizes that his wife is a treasure to be admired, protected, cared for, and verbally and publicly praised.

      Too often husbands and wives make a sport of denigrating their spouse in conversation with others, letting other know the stupid things their spouse did, his/her lapses of compassion, poor decisions, or hurtful behavior. We do it to garner sympathy and to feel good about ourselves and our theoretical superiority. But it’s a relational and spiritual mistake to behave like this. We should take care to speak well of our spouses in public conversation (see also v. 23) and to build them up in the eyes of others.

      V. 29. The husband chose his wife among all available other women, so we should hope that he considers her the cream of the crop. Too tragically often, as he lives with her and romance becomes routine, his eyes and heart start to wander and he finds in someone else a “better” choice. But since he chose her for life—for better or worse—he needs to resist natural tendencies to let his passion turn to habit. Someone once said, “There are a hundred reasons every day to get divorced. We need to look for and create reasons to stay together.” This man has found reasons to stay together. We can see that his romance and infatuation have grown into respect, honor, and love.

      V. 30. The book is sandwiched with commendation for those who fear the Lord (1.7; 31.30). The values of this world, here symbolized by charm and beauty, are all but a vapor. Our Warrior Woman of Prov. 31 can be praised for dozens of different virtues, but the fear of the Lord is the capstone of them all.

      V. 31. By their fruit a person is known. It’s not what you say, but what you do because of who you are that defines you.

      I know this was a long post, but I hope it’s helpful to you. We can talk about this more, if you wish. And if somehow I didn’t address your question, just let me know and I’ll try again. 🙂

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