Last week I read the familiar verses of Proverbs 31 in my morning devotional time. Throughout my life I have been alternately overwhelmed and motivated by the virtuous woman passage. I have studied through it for my own personal growth and have taught through it for the benefit of others. But, I have never seen it quite like I did last week.
As I read through the familiar passage, I could help but wonder if we’ve missed at least a portion of the original intent of the admonition. The entire book of Proverbs is written as instruction to a son. Could it be possible that Proverbs 31 is an admonition to a young man regarding his search for wisdom? In fact, my brilliant husband reminded me that throughout Proverbs, wisdom is personified as a woman. It is entirely possible that this chapter is continuing the personification of wisdom, reminding the young man being instructed that the virtuous “woman” he is to be seeking is, in fact, wisdom itself.
Now, before you write me off and say that I am disregarding years of teaching from this powerful passage, please know that I am not saying we women are “off the hook.” We still have the responsibility to be women of virtue. We must live out wisdom in our own lives. We must train our daughters to be young women of virtue. But, how many of us are actively teaching our daughters to be Proverbs 31 women of virtue while neglecting to teach our young men to look for it!
Parents, our society trains our boys to chase after girls and our girls to attract boys. Preschoolers talk about having boyfriends these days, and parents encourage it! Even if we don’t personally encourage our children toward “romantic” relationships, they would have to have their heads buried in the sand to miss the fact that our culture expects everyone from oldest to youngest to be in some sort of relationship. No matter how much we’d rather our children not think about boyfriends and girlfriends for a long, long time, it’s hard to avoid the press of our society.
So, what do we do about it?
We teach both our sons and our daughters what it means to chase after wisdom and virtue. Not to chase after men and women of wisdom and virtue, but to chase after wisdom and virtue themselves. When they chase after those things, they will find friends, and eventually spouses, who fit perfectly into those molds.
Next time you read through Proverbs 31, I challenge you to go beyond comparing yourself to the image of the perfect woman. I challenge you to go beyond even thinking about how you need to be training your daughter to be that perfect virtuous woman. Instead, I’d like to encourage you to think about what you’re teaching your sons and the other young men over whom you have influence. Think about how you’re praying for the young men in your life as they are seeking to follow God in all aspects, including their search for a virtuous woman. Think about the Proverbs 31 woman as a picture of wisdom, and hunger to teach both the young men and young women in your sphere of influence to hunger after that wisdom.
I just can’t help but think that if we raise up children who chase after that wisdom and virtue, all else will fall into place.