Proverbs 31 is easily the most referenced passage in the Bible when it comes to teaching ladies and girls how to become godly women. Some might say this is for good reason, and maybe it’s so often used because it appears to be the only chapter in the Bible wholly dedicated to praising the character of a righteous woman. Although all Scripture is profitable for teaching, growing up, I always yearned for more biblical truth that was specific to womanhood as so many people preached the 31st chapter of Proverbs to be. I recently polled a few friends to see if they experienced struggles relating to Proverbs 31 and wondering if there was more substantial advice for women seeking to grow their faith. The responsive was overwhelming: yes, yes, yes.
When my best friend responded to the poll with, “What, do you not perceiveth that your merchandise is good and does your candle not stay aflame at night? I’m shocked at you for not buying a field…” I thought her playful take perfectly surmised much of the reason for discouragement we women have experienced when hearing yet another sermon on this chapter. While nothing in the Bible is outdated, the highly specific prose used to describe the activities of an industrious and godly woman in Proverbs 31 no longer apply literally in many cultures. One could definitely say that today’s take away message of Proverbs 31: 14-15 is that we should be entrepreneurial and observant, looking for opportunities to improve things. But again, reading that, I think we all still wonder, is there more? It’s a worthy question considering the whole of our female character is often limited to being learned from a 21-verse long excerpt from the Old Testament.
Among the responses of “yes, I relate,” that were sent in response to the poll, many women who were currently on this journey or had already sought out more examples in Scripture for godly women to learn from sent me some notes of their own on this topic. Here are just a few of the favorite Biblical women my friends and I have learned so much from in addition to Proverbs 31:
Rebekah from Genesis went above and beyond what was expected of her, both for the people around her, and for God. When she saw Isaac as she was drawing water, she fetched something for Isaac to drink and for all of his camels without him even asking. From Rebekah we learn it is good to take initiative, anticipate the needs of others, and to go above and beyond. (Gen 24: 19-20)
Esther bravely followed the call of her people and of her God to rise above the expectations and customs of her culture, winning over the king. Her humility to use her lavish circumstances to bless others demonstrates a compassionate heart. From Queen Esther we learn it is favorable to please God and not man, even if that means going against social norms. (Esther 2:15)
Lydia of Thyatira was a successful business woman and faithful worshiper of God. She was gathered with the other women in Thyatira in anticipation of receiving teaching. After being baptized, she invited Paul and the surrounding company to stay at her house. From Lydia we learn we should actively seek truth, respond to the call when we hear it, and be welcoming to all. (Act 16: 13-15)
Priscilla is seen travelling with her husband Aquila along with Paul on several of his journeys. They are referenced as a couple and not just by Aquila’s name, which demonstrates the prominent role she played in their ministry as husband and wife. We know from Scripture that they opened up their home to many, and she was called a fellow worker by Paul. From Priscilla we learn we can play an active part in ministry, use our home for hospitality, and embark on missions both spiritual and physical. (Romans 16:3)
Deborah was a judge over a whole nation. She was also a prophetess who ruled firmly yet gently, using a direct style to keep her people in check and encourage her fellow leaders to fulfill their missions. From Deborah we learn we may operate in spiritual gifts, walk fiercely in our calling, and speak boldly.
These are a few small examples of the many great women in the Old and New Testament we learn so much from simply by reading about their lives. Just as there are many brave and godly men like David, Joshua, and Daniel we should admire, the stories of godly women are elevated again and again in Scripture for our benefit.
Other examples of godly womanhood include the faithfulness of Sarah, the purity of Jesus’ mother Mary, the love of Mary sister of Martha, the generosity of the widow, the hope of the bleeding woman, the spiritual legacy of Lois, the courage of Miriam, the sacrificial nature of Ruth, the compassion of Tabitha, and so many more.
The character and potential of a man’s spiritual growth is not limited to one chapter in the Bible, and neither is ours. Seek and scour the Scripture for more encouragement and role models of godly womanhood, and you will find an abundance. The narrative of the Bible is God’s love for us. His love for his daughters is no more or less than that He has for His sons. Therefore, He made sure, even in a culture and a time when women were less than esteemed to both include them in his ministry and instruct the Holy Spirit to document their lives in Scripture that we would could learn from them.
Tell me, who are some of your favorite Biblical women or what are your favorite lessons for women in the Bible that I left out?
Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her! – Luke 1:35
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