Who Determines that the Wife is Excellent? (Proverbs 31:10-12, 28-29)
The first thing that the King states is her worth, which is defined relationship to her husband (his heart trusts in her); therefore, I believe it is the husband that determines that his wife is excellent.
- Does he trust in her?
- Is she causing him gain?
- Is she doing him good or harm?
While what follows are what she does, this passage is bookended by talking about how what she does affects him. This is the focus of this passage, as King Lemuel is attempting to teach his son what kind of woman to look for as he is considering a wife. It’s important that we get this context when we read through this passage, because the King is going to set forth a set of ideals for a woman (we know of no woman that he is talking about here directly). So the measuring stick in this passage for the Excellent Wife is what she does and who she is in relationship to her husband.
What is the primary focus of the Proverbs 31 woman? (Proverbs 31:13-22, 24-27)
She is concerned about her household. Everything she does is focused on them, from her enterprising nature to her provision of food and clothing. Everything is for their benefit, and because of that and the fact that her husband is well known in the city, the passage is telling us that this is because she is working to his praise, not to her own. While she is certainly doing all sorts of activities, she is doing so with her husband’s blessing and as part of the family unit.
What is the primary feature that underscores the Proverbs 31 woman? (Proverbs 31:30)
This woman fears the Lord, and this is what drives her to do what she should for her household. Obviously, this woman could be out pursuing her own way. She’s intelligent, resourceful (maybe more than her husband), and yet she uses her gifts and talents for him and his family such that he responds that she’s an excellent wife. You would not see this if she was going against his direction, and she’s obviously not a quarrelsome wife.
Does a woman have to work outside the home to be an excellent wife?
No. In fact, a majority of what the excellent wife is doing is in the household—she’s making linen, she’s delivery things for others to sell, she covers her bed, plants a vineyard, and while she buys a land, this isn’t all the time, this is doing something to benefit the household.
Over how long does this passage cover?
Obviously multiple years, as the man is now recognized in the gates, she has children, she’s bought a land and made it a home. Don’t look at this passage as being something a woman should have to be right away, but something that describes the ambitions, desires, and plan of a woman that desires to be an Excellent Wife.