Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
Only a few favored men find a virtuous wife, for they are very rare. They are even rarer today, thanks to the curse of the modern woman. Here are the inspired and time-honored words of a mother to her son the king (Pr 31:1). Wise men will search for such a wife. Wise women will change to match this great woman’s description of the perfect wife.
The question, “Who can find a virtuous woman?” is rhetorical; you know the answer – not very many can find one. Odious women are everywhere, and average women fail the standard. A virtuous woman, defined by the next verses, is the exceptional woman this mother desired for her son (Pr 31:10-31). There are few on earth, and they are precious.
It is good to give a virtuous wife a diamond, for it shows her value far above rubies. But the universal tradition means that most men are defrauded of their money, for their wives truly only deserve a ruby (Eccl 7:26-28). What is marriage to an average woman? A 50-year lesson in disappointment! And the poor man fooled into marrying an odious woman should have bought a hangman’s noose instead – for himself (Pr 11:22; 12:4; 30:21-23)!
Who can find a virtuous woman? The man who dates around? The man who sleeps around? The man who marries and divorces in his search? The man who pursues beauty? The man who pursues kind and flattering favors? The man who worships education? The man who marries within his church? The man who marries by the vote of his peers? The man who marries the valedictorian? No, no, no! The answer to all these questions is, No!
Who can find a virtuous woman? Do you find her by the same major in college? By compatibility in temperament? By liking the same pizza toppings? Working in the same profession? Wanting the same size family? Ease of conversation? Fun on dates? Money in the bank? Sexual aggressiveness? A sense of humor? Childbearing hips? Flattering lips? Best apple pie in the county? A winning sow at the local 4-H show? No, no, no!
Virtuous women are extremely rare, but the rules for avoiding odious and average women are not difficult. Finding a diamond is not impossible. God and Solomon teamed up to save you from 50 years of trouble. Humble yourself, and read. The criteria are simple; they are ranked; any man can apply them. She must fear the LORD (Pr 31:30). She must be gracious (Pr 11:16; 30:21-23). She must be very hardworking (Pr 14:1; 31:13-29).
First, the Bible exalts the fear of God over favor and beauty (Pr 31:30). See the commentary for Proverbs 31:30. Favor, kind or flattering service, is often used to deceive men (Pr 2:16; 5:3; 6:24; 7:5,13-21), and beauty is a horrible measure of character (Pr 11:22) and does not last long (Ec 12:1: I Cor 7:36). A beautiful woman will be more tempted to adultery (Ezek 16:15) and be a greater source of jealousy to her husband (Num 5:14). She will also be tempted to pride (Is 3:16). Demand the fear of the LORD!
Fearing God is a humble reverence for Him and His judgments and an awestruck appreciation for His favor and mercy. It is also hatred of evil (Pr 8:13), departure from evil (Pr 3:7), sacrificial desire to please God (Gen 22:12), supreme obedience (Ex 1:7), an upright walk (Pr 14:2), delight in God’s commandments (Ps 112:1), singleness of heart (Col 3:22), and general submission (Eph 5:21). A virtuous woman will have overall behavior that becomes holiness (Titus 2:3). She will worship God as her highest goal in life, and she will be totally committed to living by God’s word, no matter how unpopular.
A wife that fears God will bring the marital dowry of supplied needs (Ps 34:9), advantage over wealth (Pr 15:16), riches, honor, life (Pr 22:4), preservation, happiness, blessing (Ps 128:1-4), confidence (Pr 14:26), longer life (Pr 10:27), fulfilled desires (Ps 145:19), God’s pleasure (Ps 147:11), God’s pity (Ps 103:13), God’s providence (Ps 33:18), God’s memory (Mal 3:16), wisdom (Ps 111:10), and the angel of the Lord (Ps 34:7). Glory!
Since the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Pr 1:7; 9:10) and includes delight in His commandments (Ps 112:1), a woman that fears God will love and treat her husband exactly as God teaches in the Bible. A woman that fears God will also reject ideas about women that are contrary to God’s word. A woman that fears the Lord will not be moved by marital difficulties, for her trust is in the Lord, not her husband. Because God made the woman for the man, a man would be a fool to neglect this simple but perfect criterion.
A woman’s fear of God may be proved or improved by using the definition above and by testing her by the Bible. Wise tests could include facing her with God’s requirements in her finances, her friends, her appearance, her relationship to her parents, her hair, her personal habits, her temperament, her submission, her training of children, God’s different standards for men and women, the holy days of Rome, etc., etc. A woman who fears the Lord puts Him first in every area of her life, both inward and outward.
Second, the Bible exalts graciousness (Pr 11:16). Graciousness is pleasing and attractive character; possessing charming and winning grace, especially in manner; being merciful and compassionate; characterized by kindness and courtesy, especially condescending kindness, indulgence, and mercy to inferiors. This woman is never offensive or haughty, always agreeable, discreet, and modest, and is delightfully charming in every way.
A gracious woman is always adored (Pr 11:16). She does not spoil her fragrance with a little folly (Eccl 10:1). Graciousness is based in the attractive qualities of moral purity and discreet speech (Pr 22:11). Kind and gracious speech is part of graciousness (Pr 16:13; 17:27; 31:26; Eccl 10:12; I Pet 3:3-4). A beautiful woman without graciousness is a stinking contradiction (Pr 11:22). An ugly or average woman without graciousness is less than that. This requirement will eliminate all odious women (Pr 21:9,19; 30:21-23).
You find this woman by counting friends and listening for praise. A gracious woman has many virtuous friends, and everyone admires her, especially those of noble character. She is highly esteemed by young and old alike; her reputation is flawless. In her presence, you feel comfortable and relaxed. You are honored by her agreeableness, gentleness, politeness, selflessness, sincerity, and warmth. You feel very secure, and your noble instincts of affection, chivalry, honor, and protection rise quickly in your heart.
Third, the Bible exalts diligence (Pr 14:1; 31:13-29). A virtuous woman works very hard. She does not seek leisure. Naps are only for necessity. She does not pace herself during a day. She despises shortcuts that sacrifice quality. She rises early and stays up late. She is prudent, confident, and foresightful. She is creative, ambitious, and persistent. She finishes every job; she delights in a job well done; and she always looks for more to do. She feels guilty on the phone or Internet. She tries to outwork her husband. She avoids tea, window-shopping, watching television, or chatting with the neighbor.
A hardworking woman before marriage helps her mother, eagerly cares for children, has excellent grades, an early job with success, a savings account, no debts, an immaculate room and car, attention to detail in appearance, is nonchalant toward recreation, punctual, appreciates quality, has a balanced checkbook, volunteers to help others, is cheerful during work, never complains, is an early riser, has no absences anywhere, etc.
Who can find a virtuous woman? The man who trusts God and requires fear of the Lord, graciousness, and diligence (Pr 18:22; 19:14)! Abraham’s servant sought a wife for Isaac. He found a woman willing to water his ten camels without being asked. After hearing the proposal, she was ready to leave her family immediately to honor God and her husband. Rebekah clearly feared the Lord and was both gracious and diligent (Gen 24:1-67).
If you try any other method for choosing a wife, you better be shopping for a ruby or a hangman’s noose. Solomon tried 1,000 women by other criteria, and he said they were more bitter than death (Eccl 7:26-28). If you reject the wisdom of this proverb, you must love the slow death of 50 years with a disappointing or hurtful woman (Pr 8:36; 12:4).
But if you humble yourself before the inspired wisdom of this proverb, you will enjoy 50 years of joy on earth. The God that ordained marriage knows how marriage can be perfected. He will bless you in your search, if you seek Him in the matter and follow His written instructions (Pr 18:22; 19:14; 31:30). May God bless you to find a diamond!