“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies…Her children arise up, and call her blessed.” Proverbs 31:10, 28
There are some lovely, old-fashioned words that I am sorry to see go out of vogue. One of those delightful words is virtuous. For many Christian women the term virtuous woman is synonymous with Proverbs 31. This seems appropriate, since the last twenty-two verses of that familiar chapter of Scripture give us a beautiful description of a virtuous, or honorable woman. The Hebrew word translated virtuous in the King James Version of the Bible is translated able in Exodus 18:21. It is used to describe good judges, and it carries the idea of strength and valor. We are told that the Israelites were to choose able, or strong judges to rule over them. They were to be men of formidable character who walked in the reverence of God and in obedience to His Word. This word is also used to describe men of war (see Joshua 8:3). But if you change it to the feminine case, perhaps you will begin to grasp the influence and strength of this kind of woman.
A virtuous woman is a woman of strong spirit – one who has control of her own spirit. And nowhere are the qualities of honorable character and virtuous fortitude more needed or more consistently observed than in a godly woman’s relationship with her children. Children watch every action and hear every word spoken in their presence. A mother is her child’s first example and earliest teacher. The impressionable minds of young children have been likened to highly absorbent sponges. I am constantly amazed at how rapidly and almost effortlessly my small grandchildren learn all types of things. It is fascinating to witness not only their discovery of everything around them but also their desire to imitate the adults in their lives. When they try to walk in Mommy’s shoes, converse on the phone, or change a baby doll’s diaper, their cute imitations incite hearty laughs. But when we see our impatience, anger, or selfishness in their impersonations, it can be alarming and disheartening.
We are instructed in II Peter 1:5 to “add to [our] faith virtue.” As I study the last chapter of Proverbs, I catch glimpses of a number of virtues the devout woman described in this chapter possesses. She is honest and loyal toward her husband, whose heart can “safely trust in her” (Prov. 31:11). In addition to trustworthiness, the discipline and industriousness of this lady shine as bright examples for us to emulate. Why, she makes me tired just reading about her! Furthermore, her kindness, compassion, discretion, honor, faith, and wisdom are all beautifully described. The most important thing about this woman, however, is the foundation of all her virtue: she fears God! This is the theme of the whole book of Proverbs, and because this lady fears the Lord, she is a model of the character and wisdom taught in the first thirty chapters of the book. Her relationship with the Lord is more important than her beauty, charm, talents, or abilities, because this relationship is what enables the virtuous woman to use those gifts in ways that honor her husband, bless her children, and most importantly, glorify God.
A longtime friend of ours recently went home to be with the Lord, and I was moved to tears while reading many loving tributes written by his three children, twenty-one grandchildren, and their spouses. Our friend was a godly man who loved Christ and loved people, especially his family, with all his heart. He was truly a man of godly virtue. As I have prayed for his loved ones, I’ve contemplated the legacy he left behind. I, like him, will never be famous or accomplish any great deeds as the world measures greatness. But if my walk with God impacts the lives of my children and grandchildren for the glory of God, as my friend’s did his, then my life will not have been in vain. I will not leave my children great riches, lands, or material possessions. But Abraham Lincoln spoke the truth when he wisely said, “No man is poor who has had a godly mother.”
Soli Deo Gloria