A Virtuous Woman

Title: A Virtuous Woman

Bible Book: Proverbs 31 : 10-31

Author: Paul E. Brown

Subject: Mother's Day; Mother; Woman, Godly


Proverbs 31:10 says, “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.”

There follows, then, in the remainder of that chapter, a word picture of womanhood at its absolute best. The ideals set forth in Proverbs 31 are a challenge to any woman, but - as the late Dr. Adrian Rogers once said - ”It is better to reach for an ideal and miss it, than to aim for mediocrity and hit it squarely.” Or, as someone else has said, “If you reach for the stars you may not grasp them, but at least you won’t wind up with a handful of mud.”

Notice that verse 10 begins with the question, “Who can find a virtuous woman?” The implication is that a woman like the one described in these verses is not necessarily easy to find - but they are out there. I found one, and others of you have found one - but you have to look in the right places. Moreover, I believe that any woman, by God’s help and grace, can become the kind of woman described here, if she isn’t already - that is, she can become such a woman if she is willing to meet God’s conditions.

Surely every woman wants to be the kind of person described in this chapter. Look again at what verse 10 says about...


The inspired writer said, in that 10th verse, that “her price is far above rubies.”

In the time when Proverbs was written, rubies were an extremely valuable commodity that might be compared to diamonds, or even gold, in our day. So, this verse is telling us that the right kind of woman - and today we’re focusing on mothers - is priceless.

Her influence is immeasurable. Napoleon once said, “Let France have great mothers, and France will have great sons.” Theodore Roosevelt said, “The mother is the one supreme asset of the national life. She is more important, by far, than the successful statesman, or businessman, or artist, or scientist.” Abraham Lincoln said, “All that I am and hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” As I understand it, Lincoln was speaking of his step-mother, who had been so very precious to him.

Dr. Newman Hall, in his early life, had bordered on atheism. However, he was eventually saved and became an outstanding preacher and Christian leader - and here’s how he explained it. He testified that over against all the solicitations and seductions of infidelity there stood the beautiful, holy life of his mother - and that was “one argument that infidelity could never answer.” I give a hearty “amen!” to the fellow who said, “An ounce of mother is worth a pound of preacher.” W. R. Wallace was not overstating the case when he coined that famous line: “...the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.”

What a tragedy, therefore, when a mother fails to measure up. Have you noticed that in the Old Testament, in case after case, when the inspired writer speaks of a new Israelite king he tells who his mother was - and in several sad instances the king’s mother had a negative, rather than a positive, influence.

It is so sad when a person doesn’t have the encouragement of a Godly mother or wife. Years ago a friend and I went one Sunday afternoon to talk with a man about his soul. He was not moved. Finally, after we had done all we knew to do, he told us why he wasn’t interested. He told us of the careless, hypocritical lifestyle of his wife, and he said, “If what she has is Christianity, I can do very well without it.”

But how wonderful when the opposite is true. How great it is for a man to be able to say what a new convert once said to me: “The sweet Christian life of my wife is what influenced me to become a Christian.”

So, what does it take to be that kind of woman? In this chapter that question is answered. Let’s look at what this chapter says about...


A. Faithful

For one thing, she is faithful. Verse 11 says, “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her....” Notice that word “safely.” Not only does her husband trust her, but he is safe in so doing - in other words, he is justified in trusting her, because what she appears to be, she is. There is no “double dealing,” there is no pretense, there is no slipping around on the side.

I shall never forget a prayer that I heard a woman pray years ago. I was preaching in a revival meeting, and one day after the morning service a lady asked to speak with the pastor and me. She was a leader among the women of that church, but confessed that she had been living a double life. We shared with her from the Scriptures as to how she needed to repent, come clean with God and ask his forgiveness. The three of us knelt to pray, and with sobs she prayed, “Oh, God, please help me to be the wife and mother that my husband and children think I am!”

Jesus said, in Matthew 5:28, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” The same thing, of course, also applies to the ladies - that is, a woman who looks on a man to lust after him has committed adultery with him already in her heart. But the woman described here in Proverbs 31 is not that kind of a person - she doesn’t sit around fantasizing about other men. She thanks God for the husband she has, focusing on his positive traits instead of majoring on his faults. Back in the days of the old phonograph records, one lady said, “You know, getting a husband is like buying a record - you get what you want on one side, and you just take whatever you get on the other side.” So, ladies - look on the positive side!

Verse 11 continues, “so that he shall have no need of spoil.” Neither does he, if he’s the right kind of man, allow his eyes and desires to wander. He doesn’t feel the need for looking elsewhere. Of course, if he did he would be dead wrong in so doing, whatever the situation at home - but if he has a wife like the one described here, he isn’t likely to stray.

Verse 12 says, “She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.” Her devotion and love don’t “play out” with the passing of time. A few years back, when I was preaching in a revival meeting in Mississippi, the pastor took me to visit an elderly couple. They were too infirm to attend the services, but they had been very active in the church as long as they had been physically able. It was such a pleasure to meet them, and visit with them. They were a delightful couple. In spite of their physical problems, some of which I’m sure caused them considerable pain, they were outgoing and positive. I said to the husband, “Your preacher tells me that you folks have been married for 60 years.” They both beamed, and she said, “Yes, and we’re still on our honeymoon!”

B. Industrious

The virtuous woman described in this chapter is industrious. It is believed by many Bible scholars that this 31st chapter of Proverbs was written somewhere around 300 B.C. - and that explains the particular types of activities that are described as befitting a hard working woman.

Let’s look at verses 13-19:

She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the

merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night,

and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a

field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her

loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise

is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her

hands hold the distaff.

A careful look at that passage indicates that this ideal woman is thrifty - she knows how to stretch a dollar. In contrast to that, someone wrote these lines: “Theirs was a perfect marriage, Except for just one flaw: He was fast on the deposit, But she was quicker on the draw.”

My precious Connie is thrifty, bless her heart. It doesn’t matter how busy she is, or how tired she is, she gets really “revved up” when it’s triple coupon day at our local grocery store. And if you’re in a hurry, you don’t want to get behind her in the checkout line - because she generally has more coupons that Quaker has oats.

Some other verses also speak of the ideal woman’s diligence. Verse 21 says, She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.” She has seen to it that the members of her family are properly clothed for even the coldest weather.

Verse 24: “She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.”

We need to appreciate the hard work that our wives and mothers do, and we ought not be demanding. Jerry Vines told of a working mom coming wearily into the kitchen one morning, trying to get everybody ready for the day, and her husband said, “I want a hot breakfast this morning.” She handed him a match and said, “Here. Set fire to your cornflakes.”

Verse 27 pretty wells sums it up, so far as the quality of diligence is concerned: “She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.”

C. Compassionate and Generous

Another quality that characterizes the virtuous woman is compassion and generosity toward others.

Verse 20 says, “She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.” What an inspiration it is to see a woman who, while concerned about the comfort and well-being of her own family, nevertheless is not so wrapped up in her own home that she can’t see the needs of those around her. As Dr. John Phillips has said, “She is kind, compassionate, and considerate of others, but she is not ‘a soft touch.’ She does not reward idle behavior in others any more than she tolerates it in herself.”

D. She Makes Herself Presentable

Still another quality of the ideal woman is seen in verse 22: “She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.” The inspired writer is saying that that she takes care of herself - she keeps herself presentable. That doesn’t mean that she goes around from morning to night like June Cleaver, in the old TV series, “Leave It To Beaver” - wearing a nice dress, ear-rings, a lace-trimmed apron (which, amazingly, never got soiled) and high heels. But neither should she be like the late Erma Bombeck described herself. My guess is that Mrs. Bombeck was really a very fine lady, who did a good job at home, but she poked a lot of fun at herself. In contrast with these women who have such hobbies as painting, tennis, etc., she said that her hobby was dirt!

A woman ought to keep herself looking nice. Ernest Easley told of a young fellow who said that he thought the girl he was dating wore too much makeup - until he saw her without any!

Of course, we men also have a responsibility at this point. Not that we have to be like June Cleaver’s husband, Ward, who usually wore a suit and tie even when he was just “hanging out” at home with his family - but at the same time we ought not be total slobs. We don’t want to be like the old boy whose wife was complaining about him to one of her lady friends. Her friend said, “Well, remember that you took him for better or worse.” She said, “Yes, but he’s even worse than I took him for!”

E. Wise

Another tremendously important quality of the truly virtuous woman is set forth in verse 26:

“She openeth her mouth with wisdom....” She realizes the powerful impact that words can have, and she endeavors to be wise in choosing her words. She doesn’t engage in gossip, and she doesn’t go around saying things that would best be left unsaid. The late Grady Nutt gave good advice to all of us, men and women alike, when he said, “Before you speak, be sure that what you have to say is more important than silence.”

That verse continues as follows: “...in her tongue is the law of kindness.” She is committed to keeping herself under control, and not saying hurtful things, either to her family or to others. But if she does slip and say something unkind, she has the humility and grace to acknowledge her error and sincerely apologize to whomever she has hurt. That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t “call a spade a spade” - but it does mean that she follows the admonition of Ephesians 4:15 to “speak... the truth in love.”

No mother can ever teach her children a more important lesson than to be kind - and kindness is something that it is difficult to overdo. I believe it was James Merritt who quoted these lines:

I have wept in the night, for the shortness of sight

That to somebody’s need made me blind;

But I never have yet Felt a tinge of regret,

For being a little too kind.


Verse 25 says, “Strength and honor are her clothing....” Look at that word “honor.” The point is that she will be highly regarded; she will be respected - and certainly every person, male or female, should strive live so as to merit the respect of others - starting at home.

Verse 25 continues, “...and she shall rejoice in time to come.” Whatever a woman’s lot in life, and however difficult, stressful, or heartbreaking her circumstances may be at present - if she, by God’s grace, follows the pattern set forth in Proverbs 31 she will one day be able to rejoice - hopefully, in this life, but for certain in the life to come.

Verse 28 says, “Her children rise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.” There is no way to describe the tremendous blessing that my precious wife, Connie, has been and still is to our children. Nor can I adequately put into words what she means to me. She is not only the love of my life and my best friend; she is also my best spiritual helper and advisor. God has endowed her not only with a sweet, unselfish spirit, and also with wisdom and insight.

Verse 31: “Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.” In other words, a person who lives the kind of noble life pictured here will not have to promote herself - her life, her character, her example will speak for itself.


On what does a woman build the kind of life described in Proverbs 31? In other words, what kind of foundation must be laid to enable a person to live such a life? Verse 30 answers that question in no uncertain terms: “Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.” Outer beauty is great, and that’s a nice bonus - but it’s not nearly as important, in the long haul, as inner beauty.

When I was a freshman in college I waited tables at a little restaurant across the street from the campus. Our business was mostly from students. There was a particular young woman, an upperclassman, who came into the restaurant on a regular basis. When she first started coming in, I thought to myself, “Bless your heart, girl, you sure are homely.” But guess what? The more she came in, and the more I came to see her kind, gracious, thoughtful spirit, the less homely I thought she was - until finally I actually found her attractive! Unfortunately, her life took a sad turn later on - but I’ll never forget how my impression of her during those college days was transformed. She was so beautiful inwardly, that it changed her outward appearance.

“The fear of the Lord” - that’s the foundation for real inner beauty - that’s the foundation for a virtuous life, such as is described here in Proverbs 31. God’s ultimate revelation of himself is in the person of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to take the punishment for our sins, that we - through repentance and faith in him - might receive newness of life in the here and now, and then go to heaven instead of hell when we die. In 1 Corinthians 3:11 the apostle Paul said, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

Brad Whitt told about a little boy who was in a Sunday School presentation in his church. At one point this little fellow was supposed to quote a particular Bible verse that had been assigned to him, but when his time came and he looked out at all those people he just went blank. His mother was sitting on the front row, and when she got his attention she mouthed the words, but he couldn’t understand her. Finally she leaned over and whispered, “I am the light of the world.” His face brightened and in a strong, confident voice, he said, “My mother is the light of the world!”

Well, Mom, I’ll tell you what: if you know Christ, who is the light of the world, as your Lord and Savior, and you are genuinely living for him, then his light will shine through you - and the same is true, whether or not you are a mother. The way to heaven when you die, and the way to the highest and best in the here and now is the same, whether you are a man, woman, young person, or boy or girl.

Do you know him today? Have you repented of your sins, and committed yourself, in faith, to him? If not, this would be a great time to settle that all-important issue, and I encourage you to do so.

This is a day when we show our love and appreciation for our mothers. But realize that the greatest way you can honor your mother is by committing your life, or in some cases

recommitting your life, to the great God who has created mothers, and who has revealed himself in Christ. All of the cards, flowers, food, etc., are nice - and I would not demean those thoughtful expressions - but if you’re not honoring your mother by living a clean, Christ-honoring life of integrity, and if you’re not showing concern for her on a continuing basis, then all of those material gestures are just a shallow, meaningless exercise in sentimentality.

But of course there’s a much higher, more important reason, for making that commitment to Christ - and that is because he created you, he sustains you, and he loves so much that he died for you. So, the question is: Are you loving him back? Are you trusting him as your personal Lord and Savior and living for him?

His power can make you what you ought to be;

His blood can cleanse your heart and make you free;

His love can fill your soul, and you will see

‘Twas best for Him to have His way with thee.

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