Strange VS Virtuous Women
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. (Proverbs 31:30)
When woman was first created, she was made by God in a beautiful and sinless state. Due to her fall into sin, all women are now in one of two categories:
The woman apart from God: The sinful woman who has not accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and received forgiveness for her sin.
The woman of God: Once a sinner, this woman has confessed her sin and accepted Jesus Christ as Savior. She now stands virtuous (holy) before God.
The book of Proverbs in the Old Testament emphasizes the contrast between these two categories. The woman apart from God is referred to as the "strange" woman. The woman of God is referred to as the "virtuous" woman.
The subject of the strange woman runs like a connecting thread throughout the book of Proverbs until the final chapter where the characteristics of the virtuous woman are presented as a glorious contrast.
The Book Of Proverbs
The book of Proverbs has been referred to as "vertical wisdom for horizontal living.” It is a collection of wise principles given from God to man (vertically) to govern our living (horizontally) with others.
The word "proverbs" means "a brief saying instead of many words." Each passage in Proverbs is a concise summary of an important truth.
Solomon, the son of King David, wrote most of the Proverbs. It is recorded in I Kings 4:32 that Solomon spoke three thousand proverbs under the inspiration of God. Some of these are preserved for us by the Holy Spirit in the book of Proverbs.
Solomon's emphasis on strange and virtuous women developed in part from his own marriage relationships. Solomon sinned by marrying more than one wife and some of his wives were "strange" women who served false gods.
The Strange Woman
The word "strange" in the book of Proverbs means "foreign, alien, adulterous."
It describes a woman separated from God, a foreigner to His righteousness.
Since God's ideal plan for woman is that she be part of His Body, the Church, this makes the strange woman an adulteress from God because she has turned from relationship with God to a sinful life.
Proverbs identifies several characteristics of the "strange" woman. While all of these characteristics may not be evident, any of them can emerge in a sinful woman's life.
The strange woman uses flattering speech, giving insincere praise with a wrong motive. Proverbs teaches that such a woman should be avoided:
To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words. (Proverbs 2:16)
To keep thee from ...the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.
That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words. (Proverbs 7:5)
One of the purposes of Proverbs is to provide principles....
To keep thee from the evil woman. (Proverbs 6:24)
The strange woman seeks to destroy others by drawing them into her sin:
For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread; and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life. (Proverbs 6:26)
The sinful woman dresses immodestly:
And behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot... (Proverbs 7:10)
The strange woman is deceptive and subtitle:
And behold, there met him a woman...subtitle of heart. (Proverbs 7:10)
She is pictured as a deceptive pit which causes others to fall:
For a whore is a deep ditch; and a strange woman is a narrow pit. (Proverbs 23:27)
She speaks deceptive words which entice others to sin:
For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil. (Proverbs 5:3)
"Contentious" means to be argumentative, always involved in controversy:
The contentions of a wife are a continual dropping. (Proverbs 19:13)
A continual dropping on a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike. (Proverbs 27:15)
It is better to dwell in the wilderness than with a contentious and an angry woman. (Proverbs 21:19)
Two verses speak of the brawling of the strange woman. To "brawl" means to be loud and to fight noisily. Proverbs warns:
It is better to dwell in the housetop than with a brawling woman in a wide house. (Proverbs 21:9)
Even the corner of a housetop is more desirable:
It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop than with a brawling woman and in a wide house. (Proverbs 25:24)
The sinful woman may be involved in adulterous physical relationships. For sure, she is an adulterous from God because she has neglected her relationship with Him:
Such is the way of an adulterous woman... (Proverbs 30:20)
And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger? (Proverbs 5:20)
The sinful woman does not comprehend her own true spiritual condition:
...She eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness. (Proverbs 30:20)
Proverbs states that the strange woman is "odious" which means "hateful." The writer expresses concern...
For an odious woman when she is married... (Proverbs 30:23)
It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman. (Proverbs 21:19)
Two verses reveal a strange woman can cause financial ruin:
Take his garment that is surety for a stranger, and take a pledge of him for a strange woman. (Proverbs 27:13 and 20:16)
Foolish And Clamorous:
To be foolish is to lack wisdom. "Clamorous" means to loudly complain and demand:
A foolish woman is clamorous... (Proverbs 9:13)
A foolish woman is clamorous; she is simple, and knoweth nothing. (Proverbs 9:13)
This means she has no tact. Proverbs compares a beautiful woman without discretion to a jewel in the nose of a pig:
As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion. (Proverbs 11:22)
The book of Proverbs describes the strange woman as a rather unpleasant person. It is better to dwell in the housetop (Proverbs 21:9), in the wilderness (Proverbs 21:19), or in the corner of the housetop (Proverbs 25:24) than to dwell with her.
A Series Of Contrasts
The book of Proverbs presents a series of contrasts between the virtuous or wise woman and the strange, foolish woman:
Destroys her home (14:1) Builds her home. (14:1)
Clamorous, simple, knows nothing (9:13) Retains honor (11:16)
Like a jewel in a swine's snout (11:22) Crown to her husband (12:4)
Woman As Wife
Proverbs makes several observations regarding the woman's role as a wife. These comments continue to develop the contrast between strange and virtuous women:
A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband; but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness to his bones. (Proverbs 12:4)
Men are warned against adulterous relationships with women:
So he that goeth in to his neighbors' wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent. (Proverbs 6:29)
But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding; he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. (Proverbs 6:32)
A man is to be satisfied with his own wife rather than strange women:
Let thy fountain be blessed and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.
A virtuous wife is a gift from the Lord:
Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord. (Proverbs 18:22)
...a prudent wife is from the Lord. (Proverbs 19:14)
A strange wife is contentious and a continuing trial:
...the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping. (Proverbs 19:13)
The Virtuous Woman
After describing the strange woman throughout the Proverbs, the writer closes with a glorious contrast of the virtuous woman. The discussion opens with a question and a declaration:
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. (Proverbs 31:10)
Read Proverbs 31:10-31 which details the characteristics of the virtuous woman. Keep your Bible open to this passage as you review her personality traits.
10 Virtues Of The Proverbs 31 Woman
Remember, just as the sinful woman may not exhibit all of the traits of the strange woman, the following characteristics may not all be apparent in a Godly woman. They can be attained through spiritual growth, however, and are God's picture of the ideal woman.
The following is a verse-by-verse study of the characteristics of the virtuous woman:
The virtuous woman is rare, as the writer questions "Who can find a virtuous woman?" To be virtuous means to be morally good. This kind of woman is awarded eternal value, far above rubies. This verse could be expounded upon to include the characteristics of wisdom, spiritual gifts and capabilities.
She is trustworthy and the heart of her husband safely trusts in her.
Her relationships are right. She wants only good for her husband. The Amplified Bible expands the meaning of "good" to include the concepts of comforting and encouraging her husband.
She is industrious and a willing worker.
She provides for her household. This verse means spiritual as well as physical provision. The Amplified Bible expands this passage to explain that she provides for the "physical, material, and spiritual needs of her household."
She is considerate and responsible. She rises early to make provision for her family. This is also a type of making spiritual provision by rising early to meet with God. The virtuous woman is a good supervisor and she provides for those who work for her.
She is businesslike. She considers, plans, and thinks before she acts. She is aggressive and productive in the "vineyard" or work God has given her to do. She doesn't neglect her present duties. She expands prudently (wisely) in obedience to the Word of God.
The virtuous woman is strong. She develops spiritual, mental, and physical fitness for her God given task.
She has a good self image and is not affected by outward circumstances. According to the Amplified Bible, her light of encouragement burns in the night of trouble and sorrow, warding off fear, doubt, and distrust.
She is skillful and trained for her work. She knows how to use the "tools of her trade," so to speak.
The virtuous woman is generous to the poor and reaches out to minister to the needy. The Amplified Bible says she "ministers to the body, mind, and spirit of others.”
The virtuous woman is fearless. She clothes her family, not only physically but spiritually. Hebrews 9:19-21 speaks of the spiritual covering of the blood of Jesus Christ.
This passage describes the virtuous woman as a creative homemaker as well as being properly dressed.
She is supportive of her husband's position.
She is a good business woman.
She is strong, honorable, and joyfully looks to the future.
She is wise and ministers through the spoken word. She controls her tongue and is kind.
She is conscientious (responsible) and looks well to the ways of her household. She is not idle, but is active and energetic. The Amplified Bible states she "does not eat the bread of idle gossip, discontent, and self-pity."
The virtuous woman is an ideal wife and mother.
She "excels in virtue." The spirit of excellence is apparent in her life and ministry.
She is successful and others recognize it. She also fears God.
She will be fruitful (productive) and others will honor her for her contributions. Her own works praise her. She does not have to boast.
The Secret Of The Virtuous Woman
What is the secret of the virtuous woman? How can she achieve all of these positive traits?
She fears the Lord! All of her righteousness, all of her wonderful positive character traits spring from her right relationship with God.
Fearing God involves more than respecting Him.
It includes acknowledging Him as God, recognizing and confessing your sin, and accepting Jesus Christ as personal Savior. As you become a new creature in Jesus Christ, all the old things are done away with:
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (II Corinthians 5:17)
The virtuous woman was once affected by the sin which came upon all men and women through Eve's original sin. The difference between her and the sinful woman is that she is no longer sinful. She has been cleansed by the saving power of Christ.
Your life may be ruined by sin. You may have many of the characteristics of the sinful woman evident in your life. Right now, through Christ, you can be transformed from a sinful to a virtuous woman. You can restore your relationship with God and then let Him develop these beautiful, virtuous characteristics in your life.
All you have to do is confess your sins and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. If you have not already made this commitment, pray to God in your own words and do this right now.
One verse provides a concise summary of what Proverbs teaches on the subject of women. It is the final contrast between the strange and the virtuous woman:
Favour is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. (Proverbs 31:30)
If you made the special commitment to Jesus Christ, asked Him to forgive you of your sin, and accepted Him as your Savior, we would like to know about it. Write us at: firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know about your decision.
To enable further study, read the verses found in Proverbs listed below and learn what Proverbs teaches regarding women.