Monday, April 21, 2008

About the P31 Woman

Working with a ministry called "Proverbs 31 Ministries," I am very aware that women's reactions to this passage of scripture are mixed. For some women, it represents everything they enjoy doing and striving to be. Reading it makes them feel affirmed and motivated. For others it represents an admirable standard, but one they can never seem to live up to. Reading it makes them feel frustrated or like a failure. And for others still, it represents a repressive standard they lack even the desire to aspire to. Reading it makes them feel confused or alienated as a Christian woman.

I've had seasons in my life that it motivated me to seek and create domestic bliss, and other seasons in my life that it motivated me to crawl in bed, pull the covers over my head, and mutter, "I give up."

You see, though my home is sanitary and mostly neat, I'm not the world's best housekeeper. About twice a month I feel motivated to do housework, and actually derive pleasure doing it. The thing is, housework needs to be done more than twice a month! The rest of the time I'm forcing myself to get it done. The only exception to this is the floors - I love to sweep, mop and vacuum. Laundry, however, feels like a thorn in my flesh I can't ever seem to remove. Let me clarify that ... I like sorting it and putting it into the washer. I don't even mind transferring it to the dryer. However, at that point I want to be done with the task and would rather do 100 sit-ups than fold and put it away.

Also, though my family eats 3 square meals a day and I'm quite conscious of good nutrition, I'm not the world's best cook. I enjoy cooking about once a week. I'd love to spend all afternoon in the kitchen once a week cooking up something grand. Problem is cooking is a daily task, not a weekly task and my schedule rarely allots me all afternoon to make one meal. Another problem is I always seem to be cutting myself or burning myself in the kitchen. Just a few weeks ago I burned myself making toast in a pop-up toaster. Who does that?! And for some reason, when I follow recipes, I manage to skip an ingredient half the time.

At age 23 I tried to take up sewing. I made some curtains, a throw pillow, and a duvet cover that were pretty good for a beginner. I later made the curtains that hang in my daughter's room today. They turned out even better. But none of these projects would win honorable mention, much less first prize, at the fair. Still this was a huge step up from my mother who would throw my Dad's shirts away when they lost a button. I can sew a button on. But first it will probably have to sit for a month in the "needs to be mended" pile before I force myself to do it.

So what kind of Proverbs 31 woman am I if I don't enjoy cleaning bathrooms, I don't sew well, some days my kids wear Crocs because they can't find clean socks, and I'd rather order take-out than cook? It would seem I don't measure up to the Proverbs 31 Woman.

For a long time I looked at this passage as if I were peering at the page of an ideal woman's Daytimer ... as if I were viewing her daily schedule and to-do list. And when my day didn't look like hers, I would assume I was not measuring up. However, there are many differences between her world and mine. She didn't have Chinese take-out ... she did have maids to help her with the household duties ... and bless her heart, she didn't have Target to buy clothes at.

The next important realization for me was that she is not an actual, physical woman. She is a teaching device. As a university instructor, I know the value of having a story or using an example to illustrate what you are trying to convey. People remember examples better than they remember points. The verses we read are the words of a mother teaching her son what qualities to look for in a wife. Verse one of Proverbs 31 spells this out - go and read it for yourself. It will tell you that these are the words King Lemuel learned from his mother.

Bible scholars also say the verses in this passage follow the letters of the Hebrew alphabet - another teaching device. It would be similar to when someone uses an acrostic to teach and remember something like "F.E.A.R. = False Evidence Appearing Real". The teaching device helps you remember it, but also limits you a bit in describing it. King Lemuel's mother would have taught it to him when he was young, so following the alphabet would surely have helped him remember it.

So I came to realize my days will not look exactly like the days of a woman living several thousand years ago - and that the Proverbs 31 Woman is a composite picture of a godly woman in action. I finally understood it was less about the specific actions of getting up before dawn and sewing clothes, and more about the character qualities of not being lazy and providing for the needs of your family.

Proverbs 31 Ministries has taken this passage of scripture and distilled it into 7 principals or priorities that this woman illustrates.

The Proverbs 31 Woman...

  • Pursues an ongoing, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

  • Loves, honors, and greatly enriches the life of her husband, encouraging and supporting his leadership within his family and his church.

  • Nurtures the next generation, shaping and molding the children who will one day define who we are as a community and as a nation.

  • Creates a warm and loving environment for family and friends.

  • Is a faithful steward of the time and money God has entrusted to her.

  • Speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction as she encourages others and develops godly friendships.

  • Shares the love of Christ by extending her hands to help the poor and opening her arms to the needy.

Those are the principals that guide my life. That is my definition of a Proverbs 31 Woman. Most of them would apply to single women as well.

I now know I don't have to bake bread from scratch to qualify as a P31 woman. And I can create a "warm and loving environment" in my home even if there are clothes in the dryer waiting to be folded. I believe my kids are more likely to remember the nights I snuggle up to read the Narnia Chronicles with them than the occasional mornings they have to hunt for clean socks. And my husband assures me he will praise me if I serve him Chinese take-out tonight and then put into action what I spent last week reading about from the Shulammite woman. :)

I know that some of you feel that your kids are grown now or your husband is gone now and that its too late for you to become a P31 woman. No so. Its never too late to start putting into practice what God shows You in His Word. And its always too soon to give up. So I hope that those who felt bad about yourself when reading the Proverbs 31 passage will say aloud that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and will ask Him to help you see this passage anew, and empower you to move forward in faith.

So let's hear your thoughts on the Proverbs 31 Woman!

PS - Forgot to update you on my weekend. The retreat went well. It was at a beautiful location in the woods and the retreat committee put together a terrific theme and program. They set the stage to look like a small town beauty shop. And before each of my sessions they did a skit about godly beauty using the main characters from the movie Steal Magnolias. I think my favorite part of the weekend was the lovely prayer room they set up - I wanted to live in there! I enjoyed the women and they seemed to enjoy my four sessions, so to God be any glory and thank you for your prayers. Oh and I was nearly chased home by a tornado - so really appreciated those prayers for my travel!


  1. Hi Rachel,
    Glad to know that your retreat went well. Your input on the proverbs 31 woman was really uplifting. The one most important thing that stood out to me was to do my best. Do what I can and that will glorify our God.
    Blessings to all,

  2. I too use to believe it would be impossible for me to be this woman. Like you there are things about housework I dislike and I use to strive to clean every weekend. No longer I have learned to not let these things bother me so much. I much rather be with Jesus, so today I choose Jesus and I fill in all the housework stuff as I can. Today I know I can develop some of the great qualities she has. she is independent, she loves and cares for her family, she reaches out to her community, taking care of those in her employ. Most importantly she fears the Lord. I love the fact that Strength and Dignity is her covering. She is not an impossibility she is a model as you say and she is not a model out of our reach- she is encouragment and she shows me how God values me as I am worth far more than rubies when I walk according to His word.

  3. Hi Rachel, so glad your back and all went well at the retreat...and...the trip home...PRAISE GOD!!!!
    What sticks in my mind when reading this is "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you"..Halleiujah...
    I have 3 grown children, all married, 15 grandchildren, and an invalid husband I take care of 24hrs. a day, without Jesus Christ I would be nothing, I PRAISE HIM daily for HIS grace and strength, as well as take-out food and store bought clothes, and I love to sew,cooking is another matter, my children joke about when I hear someone is coming over..."Hey KFC sounds great".

    Thank you for your insight Rachel.

    God Bless All of my Sisters-in Christ, Josie

  4. Thanks, Rachel, for your reassuring take on this passage, and glad your weekend work went so well. The words that inspire me about the Proverbs 31 woman are:
    25 She is clothed with strength and dignity,
    and she laughs without fear of the future.
    26 When she speaks, her words are wise,
    and she gives instructions with kindness.
    As I allow my relationship with Jesus to grow, then I find that I’m seen more and more as the Proverbs 31 woman in many ways by others, but in these days throughout the world with all its conflicts, battles, struggles, food and environmental crises, I aspire to be the woman (with God’s grace) described in those verses 25 and 26, and I pray that I’m exactly in the place being that kind of woman where God needs me most. God bless all the others participating here!

  5. Thank you -- I feel better!

  6. Rachel: I so enjoyed reading your insights on the P31 woman! Causing me to laugh and to prayerfully ponder! I am thankful God made me a woman and love my role as wife, mommy, etc....even though most days I don't complete all the housework either. He is faithful. Thanks, Rachel!

    Coffee is on....time to go to my sanctuary (dining room table) and spend time in His Word....

  7. Good Morning! Our kids are grown and gone. It's back to hubby and me and the cat. I look back at how I tried to be a Prov. 31 lady and really did well as a mother. I kept things together at home and worked most of the years with summers and holidays off with the kids. We had hamburger 100 ways but got to youth group and concerts,cleaned the bathroom on Saturday and homework was always completed. However hubby and I usually didn't get along--there was constant strife that the kids saw so I know they didn't see a good example of a godly wife. Hubby didn't go to church much at all--many excuses,though I whined and pleaded every Sun. for him to get up. I took the kids and today they serve in their churches faithfully. Hubby had promises of building a new kitchen. The room stayed unfinished with no doors on cupboards, new dishwasher in middle of the floor but plugged into the wall when needed--we just walked around it. Boards and countertops leaned up against the diningroom wall for future installation when he could get to it. This was for five years or so. So I never entertained, was so embarrassed to have anyone over--made so many excuses for the hubby. I felt bad when the kids had friends over. They never had a nice house but we had the youth group over anyway. Junk cars were (are) in the garage and backyard so we couldn't have anyone over for evenings on a patio and I dreaded mowing all around the junk. I can't tell you how many seminars and womans's conferences I went to, trying to find out how to change a lazy, uncaring husband. I was angry with him most of the years and the kids knew it. Outside of our home I was gracious, loved, involved with church and was close with our kids. Now I continue to do what I can in the house and outside,try to praise hubby when small improvements are made...try to see him as God sees him...try to love him as God loves him. He goes to church more. I regret many of the years of complaining and putting him still angry for what he still puts me through...though I forgive and forgive even when he's not sorry...but I'm closer to the Lord,now and I feel I did my best. Our daughter chose a mate much different from her dad--he's a gem, a hard worker and adores her. Their home is lovely. Our son has chosen to be single so far. I've asked God to forgive me for how my actions have affected their lives. Sorry for the saga! Thanks for insights on the passage.

  8. It's been good to study the P31 woman. I especially enjoyed the way Proverbs 31Ministries "distilled" the verses into principles....Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your time with all of us, Rachel.

    God bless you and yours as we study HIS word together ladies...
    May the Lord hear the cries of our hearts...All we want to do is please HIM....and make HIM smile.....


  9. Like others Thanks Rachel for insight really helped me alot. As I read I thought I want to be exactly like her but I thought in my mind i know i cant. I never have the housework done, I can't sew at all, I'm getting pretty good at cooking for all my picky eaters but dont have the time to spend all evening in the kitchen. I really enjoy this study.
    Cassandra From VIrginia

  10. Rachel,
    Glad it went so well at your retreat, that sounds like such a neat theme. I 1st found out about Proverbs 31 Ministries (and You) because I had gone to a retreat and P31 was their theme. It shed new light on it for me and made me want to know more about this "woman". So I did a search on the computer and found the ministry and devotional and you. I read one of your devotions I think it was titled "The Gift" printed it and carried it with me. We'll I kept reading the devotionals along with my other studies and ran across your Blog again right before you started the study. We don't always know Gods Plans but it was two years of reading your devotions before this study came along, I look at it now and how much I have learned from this study, what if I had stopped reading the devotions after a year. I'm glad I didn't. Sorry didn't mean to carry on so long -

    The P31 Woman, I really like how you outlined her in modern times. I think it is a model for us to strive to be the best at who we are in what situation we are in. I cook from scatch, (I have some recipes on my blog)I sew, I clean, but none of these things as much as I used to. Looking back now I was out of balance and that is not good either. I was so caught up in trying to please everyone and appear to have everything in control that I didn't always take the time to "Read the Story" or be the "Shulamite woman". I did these things too but not in balance. God gives each of us talents and desires, that is our lane. We will only excell in what He has gifted us with. When we try to do other things, it doesn't work well. One of the other ladies here loves to garden and have plants, I'm sorry but I kill them I love them but don't leave them in my care.
    It's nice to have a spotless house, but it's more important to have balance. As for the cooking I still love to do it but we tend to eat out a lot.
    Be the best "you" can be and God will work with the rest.

    Be Blessed
    Lynn - Oregon

  11. Thanks to all of you! There is something in each of your comments that speaks to my heart. After reading Prov 31,as well as your comments, the take away point is basically that WITH God, all things are possible. As a single parent of five children, things are not always done well, but they are done with a willing heart. At the end of the day, we are all fed, we have clean beds to sleep in, we love each other, and we have hope, not necessarily by my efforts, but by God's grace! Have a good week everyone! Deb in Va

  12. I kind of see the PV31 woman as the admirable covergirl on a magazine or someone of an older generation I watch and want to emulate (sp). The one who inspires me to do better; to think about how I spend my time and question what I'm doing with the gifts we've been given. The one that I feel we can never measure up to but want to try.

  13. What I noticed about the proverbs 31 woman was that she was not wondering how she measured up compared to other women- she did what needed to be done-and lived her life to the fullest...

  14. Thanks again Rachel. The comment that I felt the most for me was, "it's never too late". Thanks for that reminder. Yes, God is always on time and His plans are not our plans. Each of us are so individual and His hands are forming us and bringing us into the woman He wants us to be - even us older women. Isn't it great that He is never done with us or ever gives up on us?
    I love to be with people who are different than me - I find them fascinating. God has such a sense of humor and He orchestrates the finest symphony. What a group we are - isn't it fun?
    Jo Beth

  15. Oh to be a Proverbs 31 woman. I have been trying for many years and beating up on myself for never succeeding.

    Now I look back at all the years raising six children and now with eight grandchildren. I did not do too bad. Actually, my children, all grown are good, mature, successful, loving people. I still pray for them daily.

    My grandchildren are loving and can not wait to go to church and sing and talk about Jesus all the time.

    My husband tells me I am a good wife and mother. That is so special.

    So, now I look and see that while I may not be perfect I love the Lord and try my best to walk in His ways.

    Our God is so faithful. He blesses me all the time.

    Latrobe, PA

  16. Rachel, so glad to hear that your retreat was good and I'm glad you're back. I checked the site several times yesterday, it's like going to the refridgerator to see if the jello has gelled and could not wait to read your feelings on this.

    I was very blessed to have a wonderful mother in-law for the past 32 years. She passed away this past year, but she was a role model, mentor, to me not just a great mother in-law but as a christian woman that I admired and loved. I was blessed to have known her several years before I married her son. She taught my Sunday school class for young women and I can remember going to her home and feeling the warmth and love in that home. I remember the laughter coming from her while she cooked and served her guests and making everyone feel welcome in her home.
    After marrying her son and becoming a "daughter" to her, I enjoyed all of the learning experiences from watching her. She was a Proverbs Lady, A Christian role model, for me.

    And today as I'm the mother in law, I want to be like her. My mother inlaw showed God's love daily in her walk in life.

    NO, everything was never perfectly clean and in order in her home, and she would laugh about she loved to stack up her clutter. I don't remember what was out of place and not clean, But I do remember the times all of us would be in her home, laughing, sometimes crying, enjoying meals around the tables with her food, and not worrying about when we would clean up the dishes. She wanted to hear all about our daily lives and all of her grandchildren's daily lives, so we sat and visited, and sat some more and visited.

    Sometimes I get so busy cleaning my house, wanting everything in place, that I miss the big picture. My house will not be perfect but I pray that I take the time to sit and listen, then sit and listen some more. And I pray that I'll have the time to "feed" my daughter in law and daughter the way my mother in law fed me.

    Thanks again Rachel for this bible study. I'm enjoying this so much.

    Sharron in Louisiana

  17. I don't really comment much but I've been reading all along =)

    I thought it was interesting that verse 10 talks about "she is worth more than rubies", and rubies are sometimes used to represent virtue (I'm not sure where I read that, but I've seen it in several different places)

    This was a really great one for me to read, as the amazing man God has put in my life and I are preparing for engagement and marriage.

    Thanks for doing this study.. it has really turned around my Bible time!

    Charlotte, N.C.

  18. Good morning all,
    I have to admit the emotions that were stirred up in me as I read the passage were unsettling. I felt angry and I had to analyze what that was about. I was not angry at not measuring up as I have spent all my energy appearing to have it all together most my life. Doing doing doing so I could be worthy. I wore a tight mask of perfectionism. My house was always clean and organized and I was irritable and unloving.
    What I have learned and am learning to accept in my heart is that God loves me. Jesus loves me and I am learning to love me. There is nothing that I can do to make him love me any more or any less.
    So I accept my anger and understand it is coming from that old wounded place of not feeling good enough and striving to work to be found worthy and please others.
    I am not advocating being a sloth.
    For me I have to strive everyday to seek Christ first and let Him direct my path.
    If I sound like i have it all together I don't, or if it sounds as if I am preaching, that is not my intent. I struggle daily in my walk but am learning to lean and trust God.
    The Proverb women as I see her is motivated and encouraged in all she does by her love of God as Rachel pointed out. Reading this has challenged me to define my ideal of a Godly woman and who God created me to be.
    Thanks Rachel and thanks to all you Godly women who have such good and Godly wisdom and encouragement.

  19. Nice to see you back Rachel...I am like some that wake up and get excited to see if you have written.. Love how you condensed the message into 7 principles.. Those were wonderful and not that hard to strive for.. But what really hit home were the comments: that even if your children are gown or husband is gone,(mine is with the Lord), that it is never to late to become a Proverbs 31 woman.....Hallelujah... that struck home. Blessing to us all kathy.....

    Forgot to add I dislike housework too, except vacuuming is ok.... Found it is much more valiable to spend time with my girls, because they are not going to be with me for long....take care... It sure is nice to have lots of sisters in Christ....

  20. Thank you for this study Rachel.
    I am learning so much from you and all of the women participating. It
    is amazing how God orchestrates it all. I just praise Him and give him all the glory. Thank you Jesus!
    Karen/cent. OR

  21. I have always admired the Proverbs 31 women, and for some reason always looked at it as a lesson. I don't know why, maybe because when I fell in love with the chapter I was barely a teenager and at that everything was a life lesson (still is) and that's how I viewed it! I still pray and ask God to create me into a women who will be praised at the city gate. My future children will arise and call be blessed, and I want to fear the Lord. I want to learn how to serve my husband, encourage him, and encourage other to grow in the Lord. What a magnificent lesson.

    Thank you Rachel for reviewing it with us, and putting into better understanding terms.

    Ashley/Sunny Florida

  22. The hardest part for me in this reading was the verse that says " her husband can trust her" My husband didn't trust me. and always told me what to do, how to do it , " I do it this way" but this was not because I couldn't do it, it just wasn't "his" way. and through the years,(26 years) it has made me afraid to do things without his permission or approval. How can I be this Proverbs 31 woman with this fear.

  23. Hello All,
    The Proverbs 31 Woman, oh to be like her! I'm sure each of us exhibit some of her qualities if not all. The most important part that we should strive for is the better part, "a woman that fears the Lord." I'm sure we all strive to be that woman who seeks the Lord.

    Rachel, glad to see your retreat went well.

    I may be "missing in action" for the next couple of days, as I am going out of town. If I can find computer access somewhere, I'll try to keep up with the next reading. If not, I'll try to catch up on Friday p.m.

    Please pray for traveling mercies for me and my husband. Thanks!

    Plant Lady

  24. Thank you, Rachel! God Bless all you wonderful women!

    Jeri in Holland, MI

  25. Afternoon all,
    Sky4kat, I have to agree with you. I was the same way for so many years. For so long I tried so hard to be the perfect wife, mother, daughter, friend, etc.. that I somehow lost track of being the woman that God created me to be. I wanted everything perfect, clean house, hot home cooked meals, etc. It just about killed me and one day I looked around and thought "who cares if the house isn't spotless, the laundry isn't caught up or I order carry out?" It will all be there when I can get to it. I started spending much more time with my husband, playing with my children, having heart to heart talks with my mother. I'm so thankful that I did. My mother went to be with the Lord a few months later and those times I had with her mean the world to me. That was 9 yrs ago. Now my children are grown with babies of their own and My husband and I are so very close. It took me many years to get to that place. I wished I could say that all those years I sought the Lord for His will for my life, but I didn't. I was a Christian but did not have that one on one with the Lord like I have today. I'm still striving to be all that God wants me to be. That's what I took from this, To keep looking to the Lord for guidance and He will make us the women He desires us to be. Does all that make sense?
    Plant lady, have a great trip, will be praying for you and family.
    Rachel, glad to know your trip went well. I would love to go to a retreat where your speaking.
    This has been such a blessing for me and I've learned so much from you and all the ladies here. I get so excited to read what you say along with everyones insights. God is so good and I thank Him for sending me to this site.
    God Bless you all

  26. Rachel, So glad your retreat went well and that God protected you from the tornado.

    You always put the readings in perspective and ways that are easier to understand. I asked my husband this morning if he thought I was a "virtuous woman". After exchanging a few comments, he finaling said I was. When we were first married and the children came along I did the cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing, some sewing, but since I have had so many surgerys, it seems I have forgotten how to put a meal together or remember to do the laundry so my husband has slowly taken over doing some of those things (praise God for him). In 1999 after a fifth surgery on my neck my oldest daughter who lives in Virginia called me one day and said she would pay to have our apartment cleaned since she was not near to help. I truly have been blessed with a good husband and two beautiful daughters who help as much as they can. This Bible study has been so awesome for me, but I think we all know that God is in the center of this and bringing people from all over together as one body of believers and Rachel God has used you to make this happen. You are definitely an example of a virtuous woman which gives me hope that God is not through with me yet. Thank you for all you have done and thanks to all for their comments (especially those who have visited my blog).
    AliceE., NC

  27. Rachel, So glad your retreat went well and that God protected you from the tornado.

    You always put the readings in perspective and ways that are easier to understand. I asked my husband this morning if he thought I was a "virtuous woman". After exchanging a few comments, he finaling said I was. When we were first married and the children came along I did the cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing, some sewing, but since I have had so many surgerys, it seems I have forgotten how to put a meal together or remember to do the laundry so my husband has slowly taken over doing some of those things (praise God for him). In 1999 after a fifth surgery on my neck my oldest daughter who lives in Virginia called me one day and said she would pay to have our apartment cleaned since she was not near to help. I truly have been blessed with a good husband and two beautiful daughters who help as much as they can. This Bible study has been so awesome for me, but I think we all know that God is in the center of this and bringing people from all over together as one body of believers and Rachel God has used you to make this happen. You are definitely an example of a virtuous woman which gives me hope that God is not through with me yet. Thank you for all you have done and thanks to all for their comments (especially those who have visited my blog).
    AliceE., NC

  28. Your 7 points make so much more sense to me than the Proverbs words. Thank you for spelling it out for me. These are great goals to strive for. Thank you for your thoughts and for taking your time to host our Bible study!

  29. HA! I've never had any illusions that I measured up in every way to the Proverbs 31 woman. But, like you pointed out Rachael, she is really more of an instructive tool than a real living breathing woman.

    That said, I still admire her and strive to conform my actions more and more to the ideal she presents. (But where are those maidservants??)

    To me the best part is in verse 30,

    "Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised."

    God keeps pointing me back to the fear of the LORD over and over again lately. I think that all of the actions of the Prov 31 woman can be summed up by "the fear of the LORD." The reason I see that is b/c elsewhere in Proverbs we are told that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. And that Proverbs 31 woman, she seems awfully wise to me.

  30. Pardon me while I go clean bathrooms and instruct my child on the value of picking up toys!

  31. Glad to see you made it back, Rachel. I,too, was axious to read what you had to say about the Proverbs 31 woman. As a single mother, I am often tired of wearing the 50 million hats and although I don't admit to my married friends or family, I wouldn't mind sharing it with someone, you know? Pride and beauty can be deceitful, and I am learing little by little to appreciate my virtue and not just my size 2 figure---LOL.. But anyway, I am excited about this weekend because I am moving and I know I would not have been able to be as prepared if were not for your prayers everyone. I thank God everyday I am able to be apart of this group. You all inspire me... you encourage me in areas that I could do so much better. In terms of housework, my mom was a bit OCD that you could eat off of her kitchen floor so I guess a bit rubbed off on me. I still dislike doing the laundry though even if it's just me and my son. I can really cook and I think men assume I can't because I'm small. Anywho, thank you all and I look forward to tomorrow :0

  32. Rachel,
    Thank you for your insight into this passage. I feel much better about my position as a wife having read your comments. Many times I have read this passage and thought that I just don't measure up to what a wife should be. I have many of the same struggles as you with the cooking and the cleaning and especially the laundry. I feel that the 7 principles of a P31 woman are something that I will write down, remember, and strive to be.

  33. Thought of something else while I was "willingly working with my hands."

    Even though we tend to apply this chapter to women, it was intended as instruction to a son, in what he should look for in a wife. It encourages me to guide my son in what he should look for in a future (very future) wife.

    I hadn't thought of it that way before today.

  34. i like the fact that seven main points of being a psalm 31 woman are offered. thanks for the study and i'm glad you get home safe rachel!

  35. Hi Everyone,
    Rachel thanks for your comments on the Proverbs 31 woman. It makes me feel better to know other women struggle with the same things I do. I try to do everything I do like I am doing it for the Lord. I know I will never measure up to the Proverbs 31 woman but when I do my housework, I try to remember how much I love my family and what a blessing they are from God and that helps me.

    Deb - Ohio

  36. I was raised by a single Mom, who is not saved, so I was always taught the value of hard work and taking care of yourself because you have to be prepared in case your husband leaves. So when I became born again, I didn't immedeatly have anyone to show me what God says about being a virtous woman. Because of that, I have always viewed this description as the kind of woman I strive to be, and I was kind of glad to have "guidelines".
    But Rachel your words rang true to me, about not having Target to buy clothes, and take out food. I'm glad you shared the seven points as it seems to pertain more to today's woman, and encourages me to attain these goals in today's society. So I will not feel bad about not sewing, but I am still encouraging my husband to work on getting me those servant girls! ;)

  37. Thank you Rachel for these Bible studies - I have learned so much!

    I am glad you are back safe and that your retreat went well.

    I never thought I could ever measure up to the P31 woman, but with your insights and points - it looks like I might be doing ok. I have decided to read this chapter as often as I can to remind me and help me be a better wife and mother.

    Thank you again, Rachele - IN

  38. Praise the Lord!! My heart sank every time I read that scripture, looking at my short comings and how I could never live up to such an amazing woman. Your description, Rachel gives me more hope. I realize that I don't have time to do EVERY THING, but just enough time to do the important stuff. I continue to pray that daily I will grow and be more and more like that woman. Praise God!

  39. wow...a kindred spirit...I too hate doing laundry! and just like you, the folding and putting away part ha...Thanks so much for this study, i'm enjoying it so much and your insights are always right on...glad you outran the tornado! Living in south Mississippi I know how that is!

  40. Reading the comment from Annonymous about her hubby not really loving her was heartbreaking to me. I, like others, am so blessed to have my husband. When I read what you posted Rachel, I identified with you totally. My husband and I have talked about it and decided that while our kids our little (4 and 7) we much rather have them remember time spent together than their mom always cleaning the house. It will always be there waiting, right! Anyway, the comment that struck me the most comes straight from scripture and peirced my heart. Therefore there is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. If anyone feels condemned, then they need to know it is from Satan. If they feel inspired to do something better or more Christ-like then that is from God. It's easy to get confused, but if we truly examine our emotions and differentiate between condemned and inspired we will learn to identify what feelings are worth doing something about and what feelings need to be given back to Satan, the Father of Lies.
    PS. I am really enjoying this study and all the wonderful women. God bless you all!

  41. I loved what tate said. I have found in my own life that when I feel condemnation, it comes from satan. It's a feeling of guilt that overcomes, makes my spirit feel heavy, unloved and scorned. When I feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit, this feeling is different. It makes me realize that I've done wrong or need to change, but there is a freedom or lightness in my spirit...and it doesn't chase me around all day and remind me over and over again about what I did that was sin. Sometimes this is hard for me to explain so I hope it came out okay. This helps me to sort out condemnation vs conviction.
    Jo Beth

  42. I have, in the past,been haunted by P31. I have 5 children and a set of twins were included in the bunch. I would constantly try to live up to this chapter. I just never could. The problem would be is that if I didn't I would get angry with myself, and I was unable to express why? When the twins were 3 I had to go back to work..actually lets back up. When I was married the first time my ex-husband expected baked bread and homemade Italian cooking most of the time. When I married Mike the illusion of being the perfect wife was just that, an illusion. He didn't expect me to be anything except me. I placed the pressure on myself. I mean, I am an artist, I do sew and when I was a full time mom I would keep the perfect home and make the best cooking and baking there ever was! I kept a garden and if we lived in the 1800's I would of probably been "Carolyn Ingels" from Little house on the prarie!

    Its when the twins went to pre-school and I couldn't keep doing what I thought I could do forever. I cried and thought that God was angry with me for not being perfect..I mean I choose to put the kids in pre-school or rather our circumstances did. I look back now and look at our house and it looks likes like a bomb went through it. I sometimes wonder if I ever knew how to cook! I know that my blog is full of sewing and crafts, but I put why too much pressure still on myself and wonder why I get angry if I don't finish something. I am a work in progress and I'm not perfect.

    I want to just point out one very important verse. The virtuous woman is confident in the things that matter most in life. "She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household is clothed with scarlet" v. 21 "She shall rejoice (laugh) in time to come" v 25. These verses refer to the coming judgement of God that every person will ultimately face. Being "clothed with scarlet" is symbolic of being covered in Christs blood, the only acceptable provision of our sin. Because of the virtuous woman's intercession, she has confidence that God has heard her prayers, and she know He is moving in the hearts of her loved ones.

    Ultimately God will give "give her the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates" v. 31

    That is the ultimate ending to a wonderful Chapter! Praise God!

    p.s. please keep checking in on my blog I am having a hard time lately and any encouragement is always the best :)

  43. Thank GOD the retreat was good and you made it back safely. I admire the Proverbs 31 woman and she is a woman I have always looked up to especially because of her virtue and how GOD felt about her. I came across this blog similar to how jnl4God did-by searching for more study and information on the Proverbs 31 woman. The bible study came just in time, about a month after me having this "indescribable" hunger to study GOD's word. I especially love verse 30. I strive to "fear GOD" everyday. I don't always complete all my housework as well and I am learning how to release the guilt I feel when I don't. Can't wait for the next scripture to study.

    Love all my sisters in Christ! God Bless You all!


  44. I agree with what you said Rachel, it is not necessarily the specific tasks that make the PS 31 woman great but the motivation behind what she was doing. And that was to be pleasing to God!!
    Beth Ann/Ohio

  45. Well according to the 7 principles that Rachel outlined, I'm not doing to bad, but housework, I need a great deal of work and not wanting my children to have the same patterns. Man it seems so impossible. I'm a single mom now and have been for 10 years, I come home from work and I'm tired! My room is the worst because now my children 10 & 12 are doing chores. I feel like my house keeping, keeps God from blessing me with a husband. I strive but fall short in this area. My room will be clean for a week and then, little tornados come in and rip the place apart. Mainly its clutter. Not throwing junk mail away bed piled up with clothes and mail and Bibles. Shoes everywhere, too many but wear them all. Blah Blah Blah the list goes on. Thanks Rachel for your insight, it does hurt sometimes when I feel so far off the mark. I also feel like God won't give me more because of how I treat what He has given me. I'm glad your weekend went great Rachel take care.
    Ingyr, Columbus,OH

  46. I agree with you Rachel. Like I said in the last post. I read a book about the Proverbs 31 woman and the more I read the more I thought I could do this. Then one day I tried and I could hardly move the next day because I was so tired and soar. I worked from sun up to sun down. Not sitting down once. I thought this can not possibly be what God intended. So I went back and read it and came up with a new conclusion. This is not an actually woman. She is what we are to strive to be. We don't have to do everything exactly like her. We just basically have to love our family and friends, want what is best for them, and do what we CAN for them. God is not asking us to do something impossible. We all can do this. Just open your heart and love.

  47. aI am thankful for the example this lady sets out for us - each in our own way as the Lord leads.
    Ladies........I would appreciate your prayers on behalf of my sister - after 30 yrs of being verbally abusive he left her for another woman. Even after the court finalized the divorce he has been demeaning her and not abiding by the agreed upon settlement. She is emotionally worn out and afraid of what he might do. Please pray for all to be resolved. She is a believer and trusting that God has a plan for her life. Thank you.

    You are a special group of ladies.
    Blessings! Clare, Minn.

  48. I would just like to request some prayer..

    I am coming up on finals week. I am an extreme perfectionist, it is something I struggle with, I have a 4.0 GPA and I am trying to keep it that way, but I am stressing out majorly about finals week. Everything that could have gone wrong today, did (waking up and getting sick from stressing in my sleep, my boyfriend's car not starting just as I was sitting down to study and having to go give him a battery jump, to dropping a thick glass bowl in the bathroom and having it shatter everywhere and my roommate saying "I would help you but I don't have shoes on" even though her shoes were right next to her, slicing my finger on the broken glas, having an online order of summer clothes for my brother and boyfriend get screwed up and spending an hour on the phone with customer service getting it fixed, the shower clogging up with hair and having to clean out the drain, my roommate taking the trash out of the garbage can and leaving it on the floor.. if you can imagine it, it probably happened)

    As you can see it has been a tough day and I am really in need of prayer. My first final exam is tomorrow morning at 11 am. I really appreciate y'alls prayers. I know I need to give my stress to God but I am struggling with worry and anxiety. Thank you so much

    Charlotte, N.C.

  49. Rachel,

    I love the Proverbs 31 Woman; my husband even tells me that I am a Proverbs 31 Woman. I can't tell you how that blesses my heart!

    Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with the rest of us. This type of forum is wonderful! :)


  50. Awww... the Proverbs 31 woman. I view her as an ultimate role model. Like many others, it is a goal to reach for. I also think it’s a good idea to choose a few qualities and go for it! As you said, Rachel, this isn't a "real" person anyway. I have never thought about teaching my sons to look for these gifts in a future bride... I guess I read over that part without it sinking in.

    Anyway, I am at a season of my life where I try daily to view my "chores" at home as a blessing. You've probably seen the e-mail about how we should be thankful for laundry because it means we have clothes to wear and blessed by our dishes in the sink because it means we have food to eat... etc. This is the outlook I am trying to have. It really helps me to put my attitude in check!

    I agree with Tate, that the time spent with our loved ones is more pressing than the pile of clothes on the floor. The clothes will wait... the kids (or other family members) won't.

    I also like how Lynn said to "do your best and let God take care of the rest." Amen!

    I too, am blessed by this study. Not just Rachel's words of wisdom, but also all the ladies inputs as well. Thank you all for listening to your heart through this study.

  51. This was sooooooo encouraging! Lately I have been lazy! I would just think in my head, yes that would be great if I could be like that prov 31 woman, but I'm a long ways from it. But those few key thoughts were great and made my spirit feel at ease! Thank you so much!

  52. Thank you to Tate and Jo Beth who further stressed Rachel's point regarding feeling condemned. I read that point in Rachel's insightful recap but it didn't really sink in until I read Tate and JoBeth's comments .."If anyone feels condemned, then they need to know it is from Satan. If they feel inspired to do something better or more Christ-like then that is from God." And JoBeth your description of condemnation vs conviction really increased my understanding.

    I have struggled for years with low self-esteme and negative thoughts about myself running around in my head that I didn't know how to shut off. This past fall I went through a deep depresion that kept me from work. Praise God who sent me a to a group of women who prayed over me, my depression lifted and I was able to return to work within two weeks. Thanks to a wonderful christian counselor that God sent my way I am working through those issues, beginning to love myself so that I can love others, and realizing that with God all things are possible...but I have to come to him daily and ask for his help and guidance rather relying on my own strength.

    Your words were so helpful, thank you for posting. And to Rachel, I hope you realize what a blessing you are. Thank you for responding to what is obviously God's calling by providing this bible study.
    Your sister in Christ,

  53. Morgan, I will be praying for you. Know that, when you sit down for your test at 11:00, that there are many prayers being lifted up for you.

  54. I really appreciate the seven principles. There was no way I could compare to the P31 woman... I got stuck on "rising while it is still dark to prepare the food." :) Of course, that was "then" and we live in the "now" - but all of God's Word applies then and now... I just needed a different perspective to fully understand my role as a godly woman.

  55. Hi gals,
    I've been overwhelmed by some changes in my life and have just read about the Shulamite woman and Prov 31 wife. I read Esther yesterday. So I am going to refrain from discussing them in detail.I'll sum them all up with Wow, I want to be the women God has made me to be "for such a time as this", like Esther. I want the character of the Prov 31women, diligent and God-honoring as well as the passion and dedication of the Shulamite Women. I know these are high goals, but I think I will need them as I move ahead. Let me tell you about the changes I am going through.

    I have been hired and will be working full time in a ministry to women at a house called Jackie's House in St. Johnsbury Vermont. Go to to learn more about the house and the vision God has given. Meanwhile, I am preparing to sell my house, sorting my worldly goods and attempting to find homes for my three cats. If I didn't have the assurance of God's call to this ministry, I would go back to bed, pull the covers over my head and stay there.

    If you would like, you can send me an email at

    I would love to hear from you as I make this transition. Please keep me in prayer. I thank God for this e-community of my sisters. Thank you Rachel O for being used to create this study and this fellowship.

  56. This is my favorite portion of scripture. I like what you said here Rachel. I wrote and taught a Bible study on the P31 woman and I tried to convey that she is to be looked at as an encouragement and not to measure yourself against and just see all of your failings. On this side of heaven, we will never be perfect, but we can strive to be the women that God desires for us to be - women after His heart.

    Welcome home.

    Sweet blessings,

  57. Just a quick note to all of you that sent me a posting on my blog..thank you..thank you for your encouraging words..I did leave you all notes but you are all so special!
    Love Donna

  58. I loved Rachels insight on The P31 Women. I'm a little like her, not the "perfect" housekeeper but I do give God all the glory in our home.

    Please Lord, help me be the kind of women, wife and mother you intened for me to be. In your precious name, Amen.

    Blessings ~ Christi

    PS ~ Sweetpea - I tried leaving a post on our blog but it wouldn't let me. I am not a blogger so I always leave my posts under anonymous but I didn't see that option on your comment page. Is there another way to leave a comment? Thanks to anyone who can help.
    ~ C

  59. Hi Rachel,

    Your post on this study is a new perspective for me. I understood that this woman is very God fearing woman and is very faithful toward God and to her husband. This teaches me that I need to spend more times with God and develop the loving relationship with God. That I need to do with all of my heart to respect and obey God and do what He says.

    Because I want to have a strong faith so I feel that faith is to be develop as I develop a relationship with God. As I can see that this woman in Proverb 31 has a strong faith and a intimat relationship with God then to others.

    Thank you for allowing me to see what this really means!

    My prayer request is to have a intimate relationship with God and for me to hear God and develop a prayer life. This is my goal of this year.

    Thank you.


  60. Thanks, Christi, for letting me know that. I'll look into my account and try to reset it so it will allow anonymous.
    Please check back.

  61. It's been fixed. So, I now welcome anyone to visit my blog. I've added the ability for anonymous to post. Thanks again for the heads up.

  62. Who is this Proverbs 31 woman in your eyes/mind? Is it God's idea of a woman or ours? Our mind and thought of the woman is different from God's. We define the terms of this woman with our own concept, through our own limited mindset, thus it is impossible for us to be this woman. I like what P31 Ministries have done in defining the 7 principles, and I love verse 30 of this whole passage because if we truly fear (show reverence and respect) God, we have become this woman-if we fear God we are bound to do things His way-the right way-the way which pleases Him.

    That does not mean we will never go wrong, but we will turn to God when we know we have gone the wrong way, and that is a woman seeking God's heart in total obedience. Love this woman (or the characters of her).

    I am so glad you made it back safely and that you had a great time.

    God bless,

  63. For me, this is less about housework and more about using your God-given talents and gifts to be a willing and loving servant to ALL those around you in EVERYTHING you do. Something I lose sight of from time to time.

  64. Just a note to let you all know I have posted another very touching email that I received. Hope you all will visit. I need help in putting a slideshow on. If anyone can help me I would appreciate it.

  65. I want to thank you all for your prayers!!
    God is certainly a God of Miracles!!!!!
    My daughter-in-law, Amy just called with the very best news ever! She had a call this morning from the Genetic Counselor, who informed her that she didn't even need to keep her appointment tomorrow, that the chances that the baby has DS are 1 in 5000! She could not understand why she was even being referred to them, that everything looked perfectly normal, and she had none of the markers for DS, the baby may just have short legs!! I am so relieved, and filled with Awe! Thank you so very much for your prayers, they were such a comfort to me. I will leave another post about the P31 scriptures

  66. I am so glad to get to this one! This is the reason why I am here enjoying your daily devotionals and bible study now....Before my husband and I got married we had some family over for a cook out. A female cousin of his called me over to the side and told me that she could see me being a wife to her cousin much like the P31 woman. I thanked her for the compliment but sadly I had no clue what she was calling me! I started searching for the scriptures and was led to this site. I started reading and learning more and more about this P31 woman. I signed up for the daily devotionals and started searching for a closer relationship w/the Lord. when I first read it I thought "boy! she knows nothing about me yet" she has no clue that my closet is in a mess and I dont know how to cook very well....That was 3years ago, Ive been growing,learning, cooking and loving my family.I appreciate her compliment more and more. She saw that I was a child of GOD...she didnt need to know anything else about me other than that sins have been forgiven, my past is my past..Im not perfect But I know that HE does not expect me to be. Thanks Rachel for showing me all the imperfect but favoured women in the bible. Now, I know Im worthy and I will continue striving for and praying for things to become clearer and clearer to me every day. GOD BLESS YOU ALL

  67. 26 When she speaks, her words are wise,
    and she gives instructions with kindness.

    This is the verse that I must continue to pray about everyday...especially when the world we work in tries to pull us down with it. My prayer is that everyone of us continue to seek His face so we can grow into the mold He set before us within this passage.

    God is soooooooooo faithful!!!!!!


  68. 26 When she speaks, her words are wise,
    and she gives instructions with kindness.

    This is the verse that I must continue to pray about everyday...especially when the world we work in tries to pull us down with it. My prayer is that everyone of us continue to seek His face so we can grow into the mold He set before us within this passage.

    God is soooooooooo faithful!!!!!!


  69. I have read with interest the comments and what each person sees in this chapter. . and there is much to glean! I have read it over a number of times and the verse that continually stands out to me is vs. 18, "her lamp does not go out at night"
    It is in the night that we need a light.

    I was thinking of my mother. She wasn't an ideal housekeeper, wasn't disciplined in a number of areas, wasn't very organized but the light of Jesus was in her life and made an impact on all that knew her. She is gone now and things that might have seemed important at the time are hardly remembered. But her lamp was always burning.

    We are living in a world that is becoming increasingly dark.. for our light to shine in the darkness is of utmost importance.

  70. Thanks, Rachel! I was feeling depressed after reading the proverb, but you really helped put everything in perspective. I was most touched by the verse that said "WHEN she speaks, her words are wise." This means she's not always speaking!!! I want to be a woman who listens to the concerns and excitements of others, and not toot my own horn all the time!


  71. I'm coming in a little late on this one...I haven't read all the comments yet, but Rachel, thanks so much for your insight on this!

    I read this a few times...the first time I was completely intimidated by it...the second time I tried to "update" it in my mind. After reading Rachel's comments, I read it again. And this 3rd time, I feel like I read it with a new perspective.

    I find it interesting that this is the very last Proverb in the Bible.
    I think it's very powerful that it is last because it focuses on the strength that every household needs. Most of the other Proverbs deal with the individual...wisdom to be taken by the individual. This proverb, to me, says, "OK, you have all the wisdom, now, it will take a strong, virtuous, God fearing woman to make sure the wisdom is implemented throughout the household".

    The line that really jumped out at me was:
    "Strength and honor are her clothing" (31:25)
    Doesn't this just say it all?

    This is such an inspirational Proverb! It makes me think long & hard about who I am. And like Rachel stated, no, I'm not the best sewer, cook, etc., but I am honest, strong, and family means everything to me. I think that's what this Proverb is all about, the woman who is behind the scenes making sure her family is happy, healthy & following God.

    Now I can read all the comments! :)
    Have a great day & weekend, everyone!
    Pat in NYC

  72. Rachel, thank God that your retreat was great and that He brought you back home safe. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, and thank you ALL for sharing your stories, insights and prayers - I learn much from all of you.

    I believe we all have that protective and hard-working attitude as the P31 woman, and seek that balance by prioritizing, but only God will provide us with the "virtues" when we honor and love him.

    I pray for each one of you today, and ask our God to help us see and fulfill our purpose in life, to renew our strength each day because it is not easy being a "P31 woman". While we do our best, I pary that He will do the rest. I applaud you and bless you in the name of Jesus Christ - Amen.

    You are Beautiful! Have a BLESSED day!

  73. One thing that I just thought of today is this p31 woman is what God says we should strive to be. Did you notice that not one time did God say we had to be a size 2 and look like every women on the front of a magazine now a days? That is what the world says we should be! Not our God! It showed me what is really important. I struggle with that. After having 2 kids my body isn't what it used to be and my husband is so wonderful he says he loves/wants me just the way I am. Why is that so hard to believe and why do I want to be the "skinny girl on the magazine"?
    I really struggle with this. Does anyone have any insights that might help me? Thanks

    Blessings ~ Christi

  74. Rachel, thanks for the input on Proverbs 31 woman. I have decided that the housework I need to do is on me. So I am going to wash gossip out of my mouth, polish friendships, sweep unclean thoughts from my brain, mop thoughts of not being good enough, and fabric soften my heart which can be hard at times, but above all put God first!

  75. The first anonymous could have been writing my story too. Although I try to be the P31 woman, in my human weakness I wish for just a little verse 28. I must learn to put my focus on those other verses, and most especially my God.

  76. I worried about not reflecting the P31 woman - I work full time, barely have enough time to get home and only see my husband two evenings a week. I come home from work too tired to play with my daughter. I, too, was lucky if the laundry was in the dryer, ready to be ironed the morning OF work! I am not a "Stay at home mom" and that bothered me a great deal - those mom's get to go to ladies bible class and have "mommy and me" time with their kids at church or other functions. I actually used to call myself a "part time mom."
    I got over it!

    I am a loving wife and mother, frugal with our money, don't use credit cards and we live in a humble two bedroom apartment - working on debt reduction! We are happy and loving to each other with the time we have!

    AM A P31 MOM!!!!!!!

  77. beblessed55May 14, 2008

    Good morning to all My Sisters In Christ...I have been unable to be with you for awhile, had computer problems. I will be reading where I left off and commenting in a couple days. It's back to Denver for me. The job in California didn't work out, but I know God has a plan for my life, just wasn't that plan. I hope all of you are doing well and look forward to chatting real soon. I love you and Rachel O. all your insights have nourished me, you really know how to break it down in terms that can be understood. I really appreciate all of you. Be Blessed! Jo Ann/Denver by way of Calif..... :)


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