Taken from the famous Proverbs 31 – we can see the characteristics of a wife all men should desire. Interestingly enough, there is no mention of beauty except in verse 30 where is states “beauty is fleeting”. While godly women of noble character certainly are beautiful, I think these verses are about how a young man can go about looking for a wife. Instead of focusing on the external, which all young men do (we are made that way), we need to look for the characteristics listed in Proverbs 31, enabling us to make a wise choice for a spouse.
I love how the author starts out, “a wife of noble character who can find?” Now, I think this has two meanings – the first and more obvious is that a noble wife is rare. Take a look around the world, this is not hard to detect. Yes, noble women are rare indeed. However, I think there is another meaning as well. After all, as young men do we not all ask the question, how do I find the “right” mate? Who can find a wife of great character? I did find one (yes, it can be done) as a young man, but I do not think it had much to do with any great talent I possessed. I believe God placed the woman I love in my path. Meaning, only God can find a noble wife. Most young men are enamored with the shiny and glamorous good looks of women, but may not have a clue how to find a good mate. And I think this proverb can help with this problem. What you find here is basic character traits to look for – most young ladies who will possess these traits as mature women will also have them (in general principle) as young women – you just have to know what to look for.
Let’s see what the Word says:
vs. 11 – Her husband has full confidence in her
A woman that instills confidence by her actions and words -this would be linked to trust. You have confidence in one in whom you trust. If you are not entirely sure that you can trust someone with your 3-year old, then there is a question of trust and confidence.
vs. 12 – She brings him good, not harm
There is very straightforward, however I think it may require deeper thinking. Have you ever met a couple where one of the two seems to not bring the other good. I think it is an issue of character, one person can’t seem to get over themselves and/or they are very selfish. Selfishness does not go well in marriage – it proves even more disastrous when it shows its ugly head in a mother (or father). Show me a selfless person, one who puts others before themselves, and you will see one who will bring goodness to their mate all their days.
vs. 13 – works with eager hands
Now we are getting to the meat, the working principle is repeated several times in these verses. Proverbs and the Bible in general are very clear about working. Do not ever let yourself be aligned with individuals who are not hard workers. That does not mean that the wife must have a career – some do and some don’t. A wife who works at home, in the garden, with her kids, or at a job will be profitable. However, people who do not work or do not work hard, tend to think life owes them something and are usually very selfish and possibly even needy. You are looking for a wife that works with eager hands. Do not let the substitute of the flesh – money, good looks, etc. – ever blind you to the simple principles of hard work. Work breeds great character.
vs. 15 – She gets up while it is still dark
This is also related to the working principle, but goes a step further. This is the trait of a disciplined woman. Now, I want to be very careful here because the characteristics are principles – do not ever “demand” this kind of behavior. Meaning, some activities work better for people at different times. So don’t get carried away with the exact words “getting up early”. Look at the principle, which is discipline. The question is – are you looking at a person who is disciplined or will do whatever it takes to get it. As an example, my wife gets up very early in the morning, however she has not always done this. So, looking back a few years if I was again thinking about getting married to her, I would look at other characteristics she possessed to see if she was a woman of discipline, not specifically if she got up every morning at 4am!
vs. 16 – She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard
This is another big one – how does she handle money. A partner who does not handle money well causes more problems than anything else. But notice the words of the verse, not only does the woman wisely spend her money, she spends it on something that will produce. In other words, you are looking for a woman who will not spend, but one who will invest. And this really is about much more than money. My wife invests in my kids, so really she is planting seeds of greatness (planting a vineyard) into their lives. A partner who is good with money will likely be good at all other types of investments. Remember, it is the principle behind the character trait you are looking for.
vs. 17 – She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong
Here we are again with working hard. You are not looking for someone you will have to take care of all the time, but one who is strong and resourceful. It gives a man great freedom when his wife can work and take care of things at home – now, I know not all women can do this, but remember it is the principle. Most of the time it is just a matter of being willing to work and the sheer determination to accomplish a goal. Have you ever seen a determined woman? It is the most awesome and beautiful sight.
vs. 18 – She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night
Again, she is good with money/investments and she is working late. Now you may be thinking, she gets up early and stays up late – is she really human??? We all need rest, but I think we are seeing the same principle in a different way. Getting up early or staying up late implies these activities are outside the normal day. So this means we are talking about someone outside the norm, someone who is willing to do what others will not do. I remember right after my son was born, my mother-in-law came to help with our baby boy. She kept telling me that my wife was not sleeping. Now, no one gets a lot of sleep when you have a baby, but this seemed to be outside the norm. It was much more important to my wife to care for our son than to sleep, even though she had help. Her lamp was not going out at night, and honestly nothing was going to stop her. You see, noble character shines really bright, and it makes the norm look really dull.
We are only about half way through all the character traits of a noble wife. But I want to stop here and look at what we have thus far. To summarize, the characteristics of a noble wife through verse 19 are these: instills trust and confidence, brings good, selfless, works hard, disciplined, very good with money, and determined and strong. This is what you are looking for; and if you are thinking “how can you find someone like this?”, you are in good company- that is what the author of Proverbs 31 asked. Only God can bring this rare person into our path, but we as men need to be prepared to look for the right things – not being sidetracked by the temporal – but knowing what makes a great mate. If you do not know what you are looking for, then you certainly will not find it.