Who is a virtuous woman? Does she skip the job and stay at home to take care of the kids and her husband? What does God want women to do in this day and age where many families feature both a husband and wife ‘bringing home the bacon’? I would like to present a study straight from the Bible of the good wife and virtuous woman in order to answer some of these questions that modern Christian wives seem to have.
First we’ll start with the well known verses in Titus that seem to tell us that wives ought to be stay at home wives.
Titus 2:3-5 “The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”
So we saw here that in order to be in behavior as becometh holiness women are to be keepers at home amongst other things. So what is a keeper at home? I believe we have to go back to those scriptures in Genesis regarding the creation of Eve to understand what a keeper at home does.
Remember that God created woman for two purposes, one because it was not good that man be lonely, and two, he created her to be a ‘helpmeat’ for man. In other words, she needs to do what she has to in order to help her husband. If he needs her to cook food and raise the kids, that is what she ought to be doing as his wife. If he needs her to mend clothing, then she should do this. Keeping this in mind, let’s move onto the book of Proverbs chapter 31.
Most of chapter 31 in the book of Proverbs teaches us what a virtuous woman is. It gives us an example of a woman who is virtuous and shows us all of the things she does to be virtuous including being a keeper at home.
Proverbs 31:10 “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” First we see that virtuous women are possibly hard to find, and that they are so precious that their price is ‘far above rubies.’
Proverbs 31:11-12 “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.” Next we see that a virtuous woman is married and that her husband safely trusts in her. She doesn’t do evil against him, but always good.
Pro 31:13-16 “She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.” These verses show us quite a few things about the virtuous woman. She is seeking out things to bring into the home (wool, flax, food from afar), she willingly works with her hands, she’s up early or late providing meat for her household and her servants. And the very last thing in this set of scriptures is kind of exciting. She considers (looks at) a field and buys it, and plants a vineyard. These verses are exciting because not only is she in the home working and providing for her family as a keeper at home, but she’s also out buying fields and planting vineyards.
Proverbs 31:17-23 “She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.”
She represents strength, as she is clothing her loins in strength and doing things that are making her arms strong (such as planting a vineyard). She knows her merchandise is good. Merchandise is something that you sell, and we will see this later. So not only is she out of the home buying fields and planting, but she’s making merchandise to sell. She is also helping the poor and needy.
She’s not afraid of bad weather for her household because she knows they’re well taken care of and clothed. Now, we also see how she dresses… in silk and purple. I would assume this is a pleasing way to dress, and that she is doing it for her husband.
The very next verse tells us that her husband is well known. We don’t know at this point if it is because she married an influential individual, or if it is that he is well known because people know her and admire that he has such virtuous wife. We do know from Proverbs 12:24 that a virtuous woman is a crown unto her husband. A crown is something that a person wears and that is becoming to them, not something they hide away. So if she is indeed virtuous and he wears her as a crown, he is probably telling others about her because he is pleased.
Proverbs 31:24 “She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.” Ok, so here we see the virtuous woman and wife making, selling, and delivering. Does this sound like a job? Absolutely. She’s making merchandise, selling it, and delivering it, on top of buying and planting fields and being a keeper at home. This woman is being used as a good example of a wife in the Bible. If we are to follow the example the Bible sets, then are we to go out and work as well as be keepers at home? I believe it goes back to what our husbands need us to do. This woman’s husband has obviously needed or asked her to do these things.
Proverbs 31:25-28 “Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.” Yet again we see that she is clothing herself not only in strength, but in honor as well. She also doesn’t appear to be bitter or unhappy because she is ‘rejoicing’ in the time to come. She speaks with wisdom and kindness, not hurtful words. She looks after her household and takes care of them and is not idle and lazy. Her family calls her blessed and praises her. We can see from this set of verses that this is a happy woman. She is obviously fulfilled and joyful, especially if her family is praising her.
Proverbs 31:29-31 “Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.” Here we see that ‘many’ women are virtuous, but this woman who is at home taking care of her family and out in the workforce (making, buying, selling, and delivering) has excelled above all other virtuous women and is therefore the most virtuous. She also fears the Lord.
I wanted to study these verses because I have heard too many people say that a woman’s place is at home and nowhere else… that she should not be in the workforce because her family will suffer. Yet here, used as an excellent example of a virtuous woman in the Bible we see that this woman is the all in one package. Her family is very well fed, clothed, and taken care of, even her servants, and yet she is also working, both as a merchant, as well as buying land and planting vineyards. Not only that but she is a happy woman, who rejoices. She is clearly able to be a keeper at home and hold job, and her husband is happy with her as well, praising her alongside her children.
One of the things I love about the Bible is that it almost always gives us an example of what it means, even if it’s in different book. We know wives need to be keepers at home from the verse in Titus, but then Proverbs gives us an example of how she’s being a keeper at home as well as being virtuous in other ways. We also need to remember that God created us to be a help meat or helper to our husbands. So we should do what our husbands need us to do. We can still be virtuous by just being a keeper at home, as we saw that others are virtuous but the woman in Proverbs apparently is the most virtuous. But if our husbands need us in the workforce, then there’s nothing wrong with that either. The most virtuous woman in the Bible does both though. Maybe they should just call her superwoman.