At least since the advent of the modern feminist movement, the Bible has been accused of holding a view of women that is shot through with misogyny and a view of patriarchy that is oppressive to females. Much of this criticism stems from certain assumptions regarding the roles of men and women that are not grounded in divine revelation. However, to be fair, professing believers have sometimes set forth appeals to the Bible as justification for their mistreatment of women.
Yet, we can by no means blame the Word of God for sinners' misuse of it, and that is exactly what we see when Scripture is quoted to justify a derogatory view of women. For, as we see in today's passage, the Bible exalts women and their God-ordained position in the home, the church, and the world. The book of Proverbs concludes with this description of the "excellent wife," closing off a book full of practical instruction with sound guidance for finding the kind of woman who embodies all that the authors of the various proverbs have said about the nature of godly wisdom. As one commentator has said, men want to marry such a woman, and women want to be her. She is the paradigmatic example of the godly wife who brings blessing to her home and the covenant community.
The first thing we see about this excellent wife is that she is not easy to find. That her value is beyond that of precious jewels implies that she is rare, a "diamond in the rough," as it were (v. 10). It is not that it is impossible to find such a lady; rather, the text is calling godly men not to settle for just any woman, and it is exhorting women to follow the model presented and become such a wonderful treasure.
Proverbs 31:11 indicates that the godly woman brings great blessing to her household. Her husband has "no lack of gain"—she brings growth in every area of his life. Happy is the man who finds her, for he prospers spiritually, financially, emotionally, and publicly. He does not have to worry about her besmirching his reputation, for "she does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life" (v. 12). Wise men recognize the gift that she is, but foolish men despise her (see 1 Sam. 25).
The question remains: How do women become like this excellent wife, and how do men become worthy of such a spouse? It is only through taking to heart the teachings on godly wisdom found in the book of Proverbs and living them out in our everyday lives.
The wisdom of Proverbs is not meant to remain "out there" in theory but is to take root in the everyday lives of God's people. The excellent wife embodies the Lord's wisdom in fulfilling her divinely appointed role and in bringing great blessing to her family and community. By God's grace, the women among us should strive to become Proverbs 31 women, and the men among us should do what is in their power to assist the women they know to become this embodiment of wisdom.