Remember that list of military images we’ve been keeping as we’ve studied the verses of Proverbs 31? Today we are going to look at that list one more time, while we consider the closing verse of the chapter.
Assignment: Pray for the Holy Spirit’s gracious work in your heart as we draw our study of this chapter to a close. Pray that knowledge will become wisdom, and that what you have learned will change how you think about your role as a woman, and that your renewed thinking will in turn change the way you live.
Then turn back in your notes to the page labeled “Military Images”. What have you recorded on this page as you’ve studied? Let’s compare notes. (Take a minute, too, to record these military references in the margin of your Bible for future reference.)
- Vs. 10. The virtuous wife is a woman of valor. The same Hebrew word is used for brave, mighty warriors. It speaks of force and armies.
- Vs. 11. Husband will have no need of spoil or plunder, like that taken after a military conquest.
- Vs. 15. The Hebrew word for riseth up is used for rising up to fight an enemy.
- Vs. 15. The word for food is also translated as prey, and can refer to the victims of war.
- Vs. 16. She considers a field. She strategizes.
- Vs. 16. The valiant woman buys a field. The Hebrew word also means to seize or capture.
- Vs. 17. The valiant woman girds herself with strength. Soldiers gird up their loins for action. They gird on their swords as they prepare for battle.
- Vs. 17. She girds herself with strength, the same word that is used for being strong and courageous going into battle.
- Vs. 25. She laughs at the future, like a conqueror mocking or deriding his defeated enemies.
- Vs. 27. She looks well to the ways of her household. The term speaks of a watchman or spying.
- Vs. 29. Her husband speaks of many daughters doing valiantly. This term is used of victorious heroes of war.
- Vs. 29. Her husband says she surpasses or ascends above them all, a term used for going out to battle.
- Vs. 31. Her works praise her in the gates. The gates were a place where a king would often review the troops as they went out to war.
Look at all the imagery of warfare in this typical Mother’s Day sermon text! Valiant womanhood isn’t for wimps!
Bruce Waltke, in his commentary on Proverbs, cites Al Wolters’ assertion that Proverbs 31 belongs to “Israel’s heroic poetry, characterized by recounting the hero’s mighty deeds, usually his military exploits”. He notes similarities between Deborah’s Song in Judges 5, the women’s songs for Saul and David in 1 Samuel 18 and 21, and David’s tribute to Saul and Jonathan in 2 Samuel 1.
We’ve been studying (and hopefully memorizing) a heroic hymn for the mighty woman of valor who, like Scripture’s mighty men of valor, has displayed courage and confidence in God in the face of challenges and enemies! She has been a true champion for all those around her with her wisdom and eager, tireless work.
- Open Blueletterbible and let’s do our last word study in Proverbs 31 together.
- Search on Proverbs 31:31. This verse opens with a call to give the valiant woman the fruit of her hands. Bestow on her the fruit, the produce, of her hands — those strong, willing, working, giving hands. (There is so much more we could study about those hands!)
- Use the “Interlinear” tool to look at the phrase and let her own works. Skim the definitions and English translations, but let’s focus on seeing how the word works is used in Scripture.
- Skim the verses under “Concordance Results Using KJV”. The word speaks of occupations, artistry for the tabernacle and temple, idols, God’s works, man’s daily labor. This is the work we are commanded to refrain from on the Sabbath, and the work we are to commit to the Lord so our thoughts will be established (Proverbs 16:3).
- Summarize any new insights you gain by looking over these verses.
These are the kind of works that will praise the valiant woman in the gates – everyday labor, creative work that reflects God’s creativity, work that glorifies God, work that has been committed to Him.
Let’s put aside our temptation to view the chapter as a checklist to ambitiously accomplish, thus proving our worth. And let’s also set aside the view of this beautiful chapter as a burdensome duty to wave off as impossible-to-accomplish-so-why-even-try.
Instead, let’s look at Proverbs 31 as the call to rise up and follow our victorious King into battle, seizing the mission He assigns us, armed with His strength, empowered by His might, trained by His loving hand, and rejoicing over our already-conquered enemies!
Read Proverbs 31 one more time, viewing it as a heroic hymn that pays tribute to the valiant woman who fears God – the woman who, as a result of that fear, serves Him and all those around her with wisdom, courage, and a deep trust in His faithfulness. This is a woman who will someday stand before her God and hear the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
“Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.”
This is a woman we can all become, by God’s grace.
For your children:
Review what you have learned together about the mighty woman of valor that is described and honored in this chapter of Proverbs. She is strong and courageous, and she trusts God. She loves Him and delights in pleasing and serving Him. She is wise.
Then read (or recite) the passage together, stopping to talk about the evidences of her strength, courage, and faith. How is she like the mighty men of valor who fought victoriously on the battlefield?
Help your daughters understand that they will spend their entire lives learning God’s wisdom. They will not be “finished” women of valor when they leave your home, when they marry, or when they bear children. They can start now in their commitment to a lifetime of learning and growing in wisdom and valor.
Help your sons understand that they will not find a “finished” woman of valor when they look for a wife. God will use them, along with many other people and circumstances, to help their wives grow in wisdom and valor. They need to be teachable and humble and growing in wisdom now and all through their lifetimes so that they are ready to fight their own battles in God’s strength, and prepared to lead their families in humble, courageous obedience to God.
Remind yourself that you are not a “finished” woman of valor either. God will continue to test you, teach you, change you, and mature you as you fear and obey Him.