This is the thirteenth and final part of a series of reflections on the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31. We finish the chapter with verses 30 and 31.
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.
God is the author of beauty and loveliness. Just the other day, on the drive to worship in the evening, our family saw a breathtaking sunset over the mountains. The sky was filled with bright oranges and deep purples and the children marveled at God’s work of great beauty. As beautiful as that sunset was, it was only a few minutes before it faded into a dark, cloudy night. The Lord is the author of beauty, but some kinds of beauty lasts longer than others. God would want us women to understand that, of the many kinds of feminine beauty, none is more lasting and precious than piety and the fear of the Lord.
Writing in 1850, English minister Charles Bridges comments the following on this passage, bringing attention to the true beauty of the virtuous woman as described in this chapter:
The portrait, pencilled by Divine inspiration, begins with the touch of a virtuous woman, and fills up the sketch with the lineaments of a woman that earth the Lord. For the lovely features described–her fidelity to her husband; her active personal habits; her good management and diligence in her family; her consideration for the necessities and comforts of others; her watchfulness of conduct; her tenderness for the poor and afflicted; her kind and courteous behavior to all–this completeness of character and grace could only flow from that virtue, which is identified with vital godliness.
In contrast to this, the surface beauty and charm that so many women prize above godliness is fleeting. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look presentable or going to some small lengths to make ourselves look pleasing to our husbands, but our daily focus should be upon cultivating our holiness and devotion to God in all our thoughts, words, and deeds. God says focusing on true and lasting beauty is praiseworthy. The Scripture says the woman who focuses upon her piety will even be notable and respected in her community (in the gates).
However, what are we supposed to think when we look around and see that piety and virtue are not praised in our culture, but actually ridiculed? What are we supposed to think when it seems like the women who pursue godliness are thought of as unsophisticated and weak by the world? It can hurt to be thought of this way. However, I am comforted by God’s counsel. I also realize that, no matter what other people may say or how they treat me, their consciences must certainly bear witness to them that God’s ways are right.
We’ll end with the words of George Lawson (1749 – 1820) and his encouraging words for the virtuous woman who is looked-down upon by the world.
She is entitled to honour; and if no tongue should give it to her, the works of charity and wisdom, which she is constantly practising, will be a monument to her name. She is praised by all the wise that know her, and she shall have praise of God on the day when the seal shall be set to every character.