30 These words could be the husband’s but may better form the poet’s summation of the matter. In any case, what is valued in the wife are her domestic efficiency and her piety rather than charm and beauty. Physical appearance is not necessarily dismissed—it simply does not endure as do those qualities produced by the fear of the Lord (see Note). Beauty is deceitful, and one who pursues beauty may well be disappointed by the character of the “beautiful” person.
Her beauty is unfading (v. 30)
The world may measure a woman’s worth by outward charm and beauty, but those who are wise look beyond the surface. A flirtatious woman may gather a crowd of suitors, but underneath the charm one may find a rotten character. Likewise, worldly women often have physical beauty while lacking character. ‘As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion’ (11:22). Mere outward beauty does not last in spite of make-up, exercise, and surgery. A marriage based merely upon outward beauty will fail because the body wilts over time like cut flowers. But the godly woman’s inner beauty grows over time. She is adorned by her good works and wise character. A godly man finds his greatest delight in such beauty.
The secret of her success is that she fears God (v. 30b)
Godly women do not succeed in their own strength. The book of Proverbs ends where it began: ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge’ (1:7). Because of the Fall, virtue does not come naturally. A woman may be tempted to abandon her role as helper and may desire to dominate her husband (Gen. 3:16b). But the woman who turns to God in faith is forgiven her sin and receives a new nature. A common complaint I hear from some women is ‘I’d be an excellent wife if he were a better husband.’ Yet the wise woman’s service to her husband is not based upon his worthiness but Christ’s. The virtuous woman does not put her ultimate trust in a man, not even her husband (29:25; see also Jer. 17:5–6). She serves God in her home with the strength that God supplies (Jer. 17:7–8).
31:30 / Verse 30b is generally rendered as in the niv (cf. nab, nrsv). But the Masoretic vocalization of Hb. yrʾt suggests the feminine construct of Hb. yirʾâ (= the fear of). The customary adjectival translation seems to presuppose the feminine form of the adjective yārēʾ, which one would expect to be vocalized as yerēʾat or yerēʾt. “Fear of the Lord” was read by the Gk. (“an intelligent woman will be praised, but let her praise the fear of the Lord”). It is possible that the original reading was: woman, the fear of the Lord, she (hyʾ) is to be praised. The apposition of woman and fear of the Lord (the beginning of wisdom) would confirm the symbolism of the woman in vv. 10–31. Both Woman Wisdom (in 9:1–6) and Wisdom in 31:10–31 (where “house” occurs four times) are the mistress of a house! See the discussion by McCreesh, “Wife.”
31:30. This wife is praiseworthy from the inside, not just because of external charm and beauty. An attractive outward appearance can be deceitful because it reveals nothing about a person’s true quality and may in fact mask character deficiencies. Moreover, it is vain in any case because it is fleeting. Of course, beauty is not a negative quality, and a husband should find his wife attractive (cf. 5:19–20). But attractiveness is relatively insignificant when compared to the decisive factor making the excellent wife so praiseworthy. What matters most is that she fears the Lord (cf. 1:7; 9:10). Her relationship with the Lord makes her such an exemplar of wisdom and righteousness.
31:30. Her secret is her godly character. She is physically charming and beautiful but those qualities may not last. But as a woman who fears the Lord, she is praised by her husband (v. 28) and others (v. 31). Appropriately here near the end of Proverbs, the book concludes the way it began, by referring to fearing the Lord (1:7).
31:31. The writer urged his readers to recognize and reward the faithful diligence and kindness of such a woman. She along with her husband (v. 23) should be honored publicly. Honoring a woman at the … gate was not normally done in Israel. But an unusual woman called for unusual recognition.
The virtues of a noble wife are those that are extolled throughout the Book of Proverbs: hard work, wise investments, good use of time, planning ahead, care for others, respect for one’s spouse, ability to share godly values with others, wise counsel, and godly fear (worship, trust, service, obedience). As Proverbs has stated repeatedly, these are qualities that lead to honor, praise, success, personal dignity and worth, and enjoyment of life. In the face of the adulteress’ temptations mentioned often in Proverbs, it is fitting that the book concludes by extolling a virtuous wife. Young men and others can learn from this noble woman. By fearing God, they can live wisely and righteously. That is the message of Proverbs.
31:30, 31 The writer now adds his amen to what the husband has just said. It is true. A woman may have charm but no common sense. She may be beautiful but impractical. But a woman who fears the Lord, as described above, is the best kind. Let her be honored for her diligence and noble character. When the town fathers meet at the civic center, let them praise her outstanding accomplishments.
It is noteworthy and fitting that Proverbs should end on this very positive note about women. Three women have been prominent in this book: the personification of Wisdom, seen as a woman inviting learners to her banquet, the immoral woman or seductress, and finally, the “woman (or wife) of valor,” as the literal translation reads in 31:10 (NKJV margin).
31:30 — Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
The Book of Proverbs ends where it began, with a focus on the fear of the Lord (Prov. 1:7). Those who know and worship God for who He really is find both success in life and praise after it.
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 Newheiser, J. (2008). Opening up Proverbs (pp. 180–181). Leominster: Day One Publications.
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 Finkbeiner, D. (2014). Proverbs. In M. A. Rydelnik & M. Vanlaningham (Eds.), The moody bible commentary (p. 969). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
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