In this passage, we find out what it means to be the ideal woman. As with men, too often, this world has a warped view of what a woman should be. Much of it is focused on her appearance. Being slim, beautiful, and sexy. But Lemuel’s mother makes a key point in this passage.
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. (30)
Women, to be a woman means simply this above all things: fear the Lord. Spending time developing your charm and your beauty is worth nothing compared to cultivating your relationship with your Lord.
Men, if you are pursuing a wife, don’t be deceived by her charms or her looks. Look instead for a real woman. Someone who loves her Lord above all else.
If you want to wrap up the whole of this passage, that’s it. But there’s also a lot more Lemuel’s mother said of the kind of woman her son should pursue.
She should be someone of noble character (10). Physical beauty fades. A noble character only grows more beautiful. What is a woman of noble character? It goes back to the first point. It’s a woman who pursues her Lord above all things. A woman who does this will grow more and more like her Lord as each day passes.
She is trustworthy (11). She’s a person you can trust to be faithful to you. A person you can trust to be faithful in your finances. A person you can trust to be honest with you at all times.
She looks to bless her husband (12). Put another way, she honors her husband above herself.
She is not lazy, but hardworking to support her family’s needs (13-15, 21-22, 27).
She is wise with her finances, making good choices (16).
Though not neglecting her family (13-15), she works to support her family financially (17-19, 24). This is a tough balance to achieve for both men and women. I, of course, think it’s fine for wives to work, and in this day and age, it’s often necessary. But for husbands and wives, we need to be careful that in trying to achieve financial security, we don’t neglect our marriages nor our children.
She is generous (20).
Because of the type of wife she is, she brings dignity to her husband in front of others (23). In contrast with other women who tear down their husbands in front of others, constantly complaining about them.
She has strength and a dignity about her (25a). So not only can people respect her husband, they can respect her.
She is confident about her future because she fears the Lord (25b). She has utterly put her trust in Him.
She is wise, and her from her mouth pours out wisdom (26). To her husband, to her children, and to those around her.
She has the respect of her husband and children (28-29).
That is a woman, and more namely a wife, by God’s definition.
Two more points before I close this chapter, and the book of Proverbs for that matter.
First, it’s not only women who are supposed to be this way. The men are too. Sure, Lemuel’s mother is speaking of the ideal woman, but an ideal man should be this way too.
Second, remember God’s grace. Women (and men) can get so pounded down by looking at these ideals, and thinking of how much they fail to measure up. We compare ourselves to others, and we get discouraged because we aren’t this way. We think we can never be this way, and so we end up beating ourselves up.
But God sent his Son for us because we are imperfect. He doesn’t love us because we meet his standards for the perfect man or woman. He loves us despite the fact we fail so badly. And because Jesus paid the price for our failures, we can now say, “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
So women, ask yourself, “What kind of woman am I? And what kind of woman can I be because Jesus loved me and saved me? ”
Men, what kind of man are you? What kind of man can you become because Jesus loved and saved you? And can you extend the same grace to the women in your life that Jesus extended you?