Anyone familiar with the book of Proverbs knows well the woman described in Proverbs 31:10-31. This has been the "go-to" text for women of God to compare and contrast their own walk with Him. Recently, I've been studying Proverbs and writing notes in the margins of my study Bible. I came to the last chapter, knowing I was about to study the Proverbs 31 woman, but I had no idea what I'd find.
Let me just preface this study by saying this is my interpretation of this passage. On the surface, this IS a "manual", if you will, for women to strive after God's Own heart. But the more I got to scratching at this, I began noticing parallels between this woman -- and the woman of Song of Solomon.
Considering King Solomon wrote both Songs and Proverbs, this isn't too big of a stretch to consider, although, chapters 30 and 31 are under suspicion of being written by someone else, Agur and Lemuel respectively. I don't know who actually wrote chapter 31, personally. But there are definitely shades of the woman outlined in Songs within. I won't go through the entire passage, but I will pick out choice Scriptures that not only parallel Songs, but also just give a richer understanding. For those of you not familiar, or just to have a visual to help with this study, here's a great picture of the entire passage:
The first thing I notice about this passage is in verse 14, "She bringeth her food from afar." If you take this verse and break it down into symbolism rather than literally, this means to me that see seeks her spiritual food from afar. She doesn't expect it to fall into her lap, nor is she content with what she can "buy in the marketplace" (ie., Sunday sermon), she goes "afar" to find her food. She finds different teachers, different writings, studies her Bible, attends groups and prayer meetings.
In verse 15, it says "she riseth while it is still night and giveth meat to her household." It would seem here that she makes time for morning prayer, before her busy day. The "meat" she gives to her family would therefore be the deeper things of Yahweh, since it's already mentioned that she "went afar" to get her food in the previous verse.
Verse 16 is where it starts to get good! "She considereth a field and buyeth it; with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard." My "Song of Solomon" radar went off immediately! First of all, it seems reminiscent of Christ's parable in Matthew 13:44 of a treasure in a field a man sells everything to buy. Then what does she do? She plants a vineyard, which is powerful imagery used in Song of Solomon. The woman's vineyard and garden in Songs was the same place the Beloved was pleased to rest in and eat its choice fruits. I believe this verse is talking about a woman who becomes a Christian. If I'm right, then the Proverbs 31 woman is the OUTLINE of the Lily among thorns in Songs!
We don't get a full picture as to WHY the spouse of the Beloved was considered "as the Lily." But in Proverbs 31, the puzzle comes together. This is showing us WHY the Beloved is so taken with the one His soul loves. Yes, she is covered with the Beloved's righteousness, but she also has a beauty all her own. And here we see how she's won His heart.
If Proverbs 31 is an outline for the Lily, then that means her "husband" spoken of... is Christ.
Let's keep going.
Verse 17 says "she girdeth her loins with strength." In doing my study of Proverbs, I have repeatedly been amazed at how many proverbs define other proverbs. "Strength" is shown in Proverbs 24:5 to be "knowledge."
And from Proverbs 1:7, we learn what "knowledge" is:A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.
All throughout Proverbs, when it speaks of "knowledge" and "wisdom", it is talking about the "fear of the Lord". This "fear" is respect, reverence, and belief in God, which are all the beginnings of wisdom, because from the knowledge of God, flows all other wisdoms. Therefore, God is the Seat of Wisdom and Knowledge. And knowledge of God comes from reading His Word and spending time in prayer.
Therefore, the woman in Proverbs increases her "strength" by increasing her wisdom and knowledge of God.
In verse 18, it says "her candle goeth not out by night." There is a candle mentioned in Proverbs 20:27:
The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord.
Her "candle" is her spirit. It does not go out at night. Just as she prays in the early morning, it is likely she also prays at night, for thanksgiving of the day's blessings, or protection from the enemy over her household. Her flame is for the Lord; the text says it is the "candle of the LORD." Perhaps this is her love for Him, her burning heart that doesn't go out when she is finally alone from the work of the day. In other words, her love for Yeshua is not mere lip-service, but even alone, in the dark of night, it burns brightly.
Skipping a few verses, we see in verse 21 and 22 her family is clothed with scarlet and she is clothed with purple. All throughout the Bible, royalty was clothed in these colors. In fact, Yeshua Himself was mocked at His crucifixion in Matthew 27:28 with a scarlet robe someone found to drape Him after they'd jammed the crown of thorns into His scalp.
So the Proverbs 31 woman is likened to royalty. In verse 24, it mentions she "maketh fine linen". We learn from Revelation 19:8 that the saints are clothed in fine linen, which is "the righteousness of the saints." She sells this linen. She gives it to others, perhaps making disciples?
I find verse 29 to echo Songs 6:9. It says in Proverbs that "many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all." The text in Songs states:
My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and blessed her;
In Songs, the dove of the Beloved is the favored daughter of her mother, and the favorite of the Beloved. It just seems to fit for me.
Finally, we come to the last verse, 31, which says, "Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates." Again, we have almost a perfect reflection in Songs 7:13, which says:
"The mandrakes give a smell, and at our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved."
We have the fruits, which were grown in her vineyard, and we have the gates. In both passages, the "fruit" symbolizes the work of her hands. My notes in Songs says of this verse: "All the fruits laid up for Him are the disciples we have won and all the things we have done in His name for His Kingdom." Also, "Our gates could refer to Heaven's gates, for we are co-heirs to Glory (Romans 8:17)."
Whether or not this study is actually a "hidden" definition of the Lily in Songs, I thought it was compelling enough to blog about it. If the "husband" mentioned is actually Yeshua the Beloved, then what does it say of Him?
In verse 11, it says:
"The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil."
I love that imagery. Christ safely trusts in us. He does not need to steal us, we give ourselves to Him freely. Neither does He need to steal fruit, as we grow it gladly ourselves. Also, in verse 23:
"Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land."
If the gates mentioned are indeed the "gates of Heaven", then that makes the "elders" come into focus doesn't it? Revelation 4:4 speaks of elders 'round His Throne...
Verse 28 states:
"Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her."
Her husband calls her blessed. Perhaps her children are those she's won for Him. But just imagine, the King of Heaven calling you blessed! And He does! He is our Greater Husband, Yeshua, the Lord of Hosts! I can't even imagine what's coming our way, brethren. It is a glorious inheritance indeed.
If I'm right and this is a reference to the spouse in Songs, then the Proverbs 31 woman isn't only for women. She is a "type" of the Church! Men, that means you can get in on this too! I believe Scripture has many layers, and while on the surface this is an outline of the "perfect woman", I also believe her to be a type of Christ's Bride, which means she is the example of the woman in Songs.
I hope this study spoke to you like it spoke to me. It literally came out of nowhere, which is how I usually recognize when the Spirit wants me to stop and consider a hidden treasure. I think this is a hidden treasure in plain sight! May you never look at this passage in the same light again! \O/ Be blessed!