As we take our last look at the virtuous woman, it’s interesting to note that her description consists of 22 verses, each beginning with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. We could call it the ABC of a virtuous woman’s character. Some scholars seem to think it was often repeated among the pious Jews. A task made easier due to its alphabetical order. Perhaps in our western nations, we need just such a version.
Having it in alphabetical order would make it easier to remember. But perhaps the alphabetical aspect would also help us see it for the story of progression that it indeed is.
Most of us women have probably always found this woman a bit daunting.
We tend to take these 22 verses in one lump. When I see it as her progressive story. Recounting her days, and thereby the history of her life. And the years she in spent learning to serve. For more than likely, just like us, she did not learn this in a single day.
And so our story continues and we find her, even in retirement years, still caring for her family.
A grandmother now, she is always ready to watch the grandchildren or lend a helping hand. Though she moves with slower pace, she still works with a will. She needs no mirror to know she is aging. The pleasure of seeing what fine adults her children have become, is hers only because of the passing years. She knows without looking that the wrinkles are increasing day-by-day, even as her hair grows whiter, and her wispy figure alters.
Each wrinkle a care or burden, swept away by prayer. Every white hair a bit of wisdom gleaned from life’s many experiences, both good and bad.
Wisdom which enables her to accept growing older with grace, and even pleasure. Wisdom to realize that these are the best years of her life. Still young and healthy enough to enjoy all the blessings life has to offer, yet able to take things a little easier. Able to enjoy frequent visits with friends and time with grandchildren. Time for puttering in the garden, or trying something new.
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates, (Proverbs 31:28-31).
There are many women in this world with truly incredible beauty. But how sad when such beauty goes only skin deep. Often and quickly marred by a disagreeable personality or temperament. But even extraordinary beauty will fade, and in fact, already is.
But some beauty never fades.
Far better than even the greatest physical beauty is the deep and unfading loveliness of a loving, caring, and pleasant spirit. A beauty which shines even through wrinkles, gray hair and pudgy hips. True and lasting beauty of this kind are what cause a woman’s children to praise her, and her husband to proclaim her the best! A woman such as this deserves respect.
So, after examining this Proverb, can you say you are such a woman?
Perhaps, like me, your answer is a resounding No! But hopefully we’ve gained a greater understanding of her, and in particular her motivation. She knew that how and why she did things was much more important than just doing them.
And that helped her develop true beauty that goes far beyond vanity or mere charm. And it can help us develop into that sweet and gentle, yet strong woman, that God desires, and that we’d like to become.
But it’s done one step at a time. Beginning each day anew, and leaving the past in the past, where it belongs. Like a virtuous neighbor advised me years ago:
If you’d like to become a sweet old woman, work at becoming a sweet young one. And by the time you’re old it will just be a natural part of you.
Do others, especially our family, rise up and call us blessed?
They will, you know. If we serve with our whole hearts!
[Images are our own.]