Okay, so the reason that I stepped out a limb yesterday and claimed that Proverbs 31 is for every woman is because of the very first verse.
A wife of noble character who can find?
I like what Webster's dictionary has to say about the word "noble." It can mean, of high rank, birth or title, and also means choice, excellent, of good character. If you're a believer in Jesus Christ- you already are "noble" in one sense of the word and you're given the opportunity to become more "noble" in the other sense day by day. Here's what I mean- you are of high rank, title and birth. But before you get an online pedigree, your noble title doesn't have anything to do with your physical heritage. In fact, those are the sort of things that can cause people to become more arrogant and less noble in the other sense. But you are given a noble title as a Daughter of the Might High.
I met this night manager at Waffle House one cold evening who shared with me the most profound spiritual truth. I was studying my Bible and he came over and started chatting with me. He was so excited to get to talk about the Lord during his Waffle House shift! (He was also going to school to become a pastor) Anyway, at one point in the conversation, he said, "See, I'm a royal child...a child of the King!" I've never forgotten that expression. Sometimes, when I'm feeling particularly low, beat up, rejected by the world and the people in it, I'll think to myself,"Well, no matter. I'm a royal child, a child of the King."
So each of God's daughters are therefore, noblewomen, in the sense that we belong to a royal family- God's family.
But we are also noble in the other sense of the word- choice, excellent, of good character. Look at what Hebrews 10 has to say about us.
By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
How about that? Our royal Big Brother- King Jesus- has already made us perfect through the sacrifice of His own body. And now, we are being made holy. Meaning that, we are becoming more set apart, more choice, more outstanding because we are becoming more like Him! With Him as our example, and His Holy Spirit bearing fruit in us, we have the power and ability to develop the character of Christ.
So what's the problem, then? Why is King Lemuel (writer of Proverbs 31 and probably a Nom de plume for King Solomon) saying these ladies are hard to find? I know a few myself who some fella could stumble upon and find some sweet treasure there! But I suppose that's the problem, these noble ladies don't get stumbled over. Lemuel says that such a woman is like a ruby- a gem you have to go digging for. A noble woman like this has to be looked for.
I say this with all respect to my single sisters, because singleness is a trial of great magnitude- but, ladies, your role is at least defined for you. You know who you are- noble women, daughter's of the King- and who you can continue to become- more and more Christ-like in your character, because God has already set you apart. He has "hidden" you, as His own treasured possession, so that when you are found, you will be treasured as He intended you to be.
And for those of you who are already wives, be encouraged, as well! Maybe it's been a while since you saw yourself as treasure, but you most certainly are. You may have been married for thirty years, but you're still a treasure to the Lord, and you're still called to develop more and more Christlike "nobility."
Proverbs 31, I believe, can be misconstrued to a "do and do" list. And, I'm saying, if I've got to do the exact same stuff this woman does, then I'm not ever going to be considered a "noble" wife. But I don't think that it's meant to be a check-list. I don't have to do all the things she does so that I can be a good wife. I am a good wife, so I can do the things she does. Do you see the difference? It's my high calling, my position in Christ Jesus that enables me to believe that.
I think another verse that supports this position is Proverbs 18:22.
He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.
See, when this man (who is also of noble character, hopefully) finds this noble woman, he is finding something that is already good. It's not that she was no good, worthless and then he found her and now she's worth something. And it's not that he found her and now she can spend the rest of her life trying to check off the proverbial list so that she can become good. No, she is good. She is a considered a part of the Lord's favor.
No matter where you are in life- married, single, divorced, a mom, a career woman or a combination of those things- if you are a daughter of the King, then you are already noble, already perfect, because He has made you that way. So the rest of Proverbs 31 is for you! It's a way to become more and more like Him, more and more holy. More excellent, of great character- His character. But good news, you don't have to do it in your own power. Don't start getting anxious or arrogant (sometimes Proverbs 31 can make some women feel like they've got it all together!) but we'll get to that later...
I'll end with a word of encouragement. If you are a married woman, remember that being a good wife begins with your position as God's noble daughter and if you are a woman waiting to be married, then you're in the exact same position! You are a royal child, a noble woman, a child of the King!