The Wife of Noble Character

Proverbs 31

Works of art by Nina Koch, Amy Sherald, and Domenico Ghirlandaio
Commentaries by Ursula Weekes

Proverbs 31

Bible passage (Revised Standard Version)

31 The words of Lemuel, king of Massa, which his mother taught him:

2What, my son? What, son of my womb?

What, son of my vows?

3Give not your strength to women,

your ways to those who destroy kings.

4It is not for kings, O Lemuel,

it is not for kings to drink wine,

or for rulers to desire strong drink;

5lest they drink and forget what has been decreed,

and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.

6Give strong drink to him who is perishing,

and wine to those in bitter distress;

7let them drink and forget their poverty,

and remember their misery no more.

8Open your mouth for the dumb,

for the rights of all who are left desolate.

9Open your mouth, judge righteously,

maintain the rights of the poor and needy.

10A good wife who can find?

She is far more precious than jewels.

11The heart of her husband trusts in her,

and he will have no lack of gain.

12She does him good, and not harm,

all the days of her life.

13She seeks wool and flax,

and works with willing hands.

14She is like the ships of the merchant,

she brings her food from afar.

15She rises while it is yet night

and provides food for her household

and tasks for her maidens.

16She considers a field and buys it;

with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.

17She girds her loins with strength

and makes her arms strong.

18She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.

Her lamp does not go out at night.

19She puts her hands to the distaff,

and her hands hold the spindle.

20She opens her hand to the poor,

and reaches out her hands to the needy.

21She is not afraid of snow for her household,

for all her household are clothed in scarlet.

22She makes herself coverings;

her clothing is fine linen and purple.

23Her husband is known in the gates,

when he sits among the elders of the land.

24She makes linen garments and sells them;

she delivers girdles to the merchant.

25Strength and dignity are her clothing,

and she laughs at the time to come.

26She opens her mouth with wisdom,

and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

27She looks well to the ways of her household,

and does not eat the bread of idleness.

28Her children rise up and call her blessed;

her husband also, and he praises her:

29“Many women have done excellently,

but you surpass them all.”

30Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,

but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

31Give her of the fruit of her hands,

and let her works praise her in the gates.