Society seems to imply that a woman’s worth is found in her physical beauty. Each society will have its definition of what beauty entails which makes it even more frustrating for a woman. Others assume that the ideal woman in the Bible is retiring, docile and entirely domesticated. This is however very contrary to how an ideal woman is perceived in the Bible. Her physical appearance is never mentioned as an attribute of value but her attractiveness is solely based on her character.
The book of Proverbs presents a portrait of an ideal woman who is a total contradiction of the woman portrayed by Hollywood as attractive and desirable. This woman is full of character, wisdom, compassion and has many skills that she utilizes for the betterment of her family. Her husband trusts her because “she does him good and not evil” (Proverbs 31:11). This is the kind of woman who is responsible for the family’s budget and weighs everything first before acting. Her husband has learnt to share with her everything because he benefits from her wisdom.
The ideal woman is not afraid to work with her hands suggesting that she is hard working and utilizes whatever is at her disposal to cater for the needs of her family. She is compared to a merchant ship “which brings food from afar” (Proverbs 31:14) suggesting that she is a business woman who travels in search of her merchandise to sale. One can tell that she is an active woman who knows her way around and succeeds in whatever she does because she exercises wisdom. She will not let her family go to bed hungry because she is not afraid to search for solutions.
This woman is the first to rise and probably the last to bed in her home. She feeds her whole family with the fruit of her labor. Not only does she take care of her family but she also treats her workers well and takes care of their needs. She is a realtor and invests in property from her profits, (Proverbs 31: 15, 16, 18). She makes sure that her family is well clothed and tailors their clothes herself. She is fashionable and dresses elegantly in “fine linen and purple”, Proverbs 31:20-22.
This is not the picture of a docile woman but a purposeful woman who knows herself and utilizes her gifts and talents well for the betterment of her family. This woman protects family secrets and will not indulge in idle gossip. She protects her husband’s reputation and fights for her children. Because of this her husband is respected amongst other men and praises her. Her children respect and honor her and call her “blessed”, (Proverbs 31:27-28). When she speaks she does so with words of kindness full of wisdom. She will not go out to seek attention and neither is she self righteous but her work speaks for her, (Proverbs 31: 26, 31).
Yet this woman’s strength and dignity is not based on her amazing achievement, charm or beauty but on her reverence of God. Apostle Peter in his epistle asks women not to focus on the outward appearance only “arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel- rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” 1 Peter 3;3-4. These attributes are contrary to the world’s view of beauty and what is attractive.
The woman described in Proverbs 31 has outstanding abilities. She is a realtor, a manufacturer, a manager, a farmer, a seamstress, upholsterer and a merchant. Few women can be all these but this should not discourage one to assume that they can never be her. The attributes described could be a validation of the many roles women hold in a family and society at large. The ideal woman will be industrious, resourceful and will have the integrity that comes with the fear of God. A woman should consider this portrait as an inspiration to be all she can be.
In the world we live in today, the physical is highly emphasized and the plastic surgery industry is booming as a result. Women as young as twenty years old are going for plastic surgery because they assume it will make them more attractive. These women have focused on the physical and have little else to offer other than what they perceive as “sexiness”. They have allowed the world to define their self worth, which is very shallow, instead of them using the gift that God has gifted them with to become a gem that is priceless.
Only a woman can define how she wants to be perceived which will be determined by her actions. A woman is much more than a beautiful face, curvy figure, boobs or sex object. She is the mother of nations and has power to shape destinies.