A Spinster Looks at Proverbs 31

It was lunch break, and I was sitting down for a quick “Bible snack” when my eyes fell on Proverbs 31:26: “The law of kindness is on her tongue.” Though I’ve read it a thousand times, this time it went right to the quick. Uh-oh. You mean, kindness to the classmate who is doing his utmost to replace the pesty older brother I never had?

I’ve heard this passage applied to married women; I’ve even heard it applied to single women in general, but now I began rereading it with a whole new sense that it was written for me.

A Spinster Looks at Proverbs 31

(Feel free to listen in: you just might come up with an application to your own life!)

A worthy woman who can find? For her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband trusteth in her, and he shall have no lack of gain.

Hmmm, no husband, but I do have a boss. Can he trust me to be follow all the rules of my workplace, even though no one is watching me?

She doeth him good and not evil all the days of her life.

There are no days off from honesty.

She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.

I’m seeking out research material, not wool and flax, but am I working with it willingly? Or am I trying to get done studying Pliny as fast as possible so I can move on to more appealing topics?

She is like the merchant-ships; she bringeth her bread from afar.

…and sometimes in a backpack. I used to hate shopping, but God is helping me to turn it into an adventure.

She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth food to her household, and their task to her maidens.

Probably this means making sure the house is ready for guests in a timely manner. Bathrooms clean? Coffee pot on? Cookies served? Or am I rushing around at the last minute?

She considereth a field, and buyeth it; with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

I wonder what this means in my case. Certainly that I ought to be investing in the future, with whatever talents God has given me – and not merely getting caught up in the demands of today.

She girdeth her loins with strength, And maketh strong her arms.

She sounds pretty “in shape” to me! Fortunately, though I am by no means a sports-player, I do love to walk –and have plenty of places to walk to. I think it keeps me happier and more balanced spiritually and emotionally.

She perceiveth that her merchandise is profitable: Her lamp goeth not out by night.

This does not mean staying up all night, much as I’d be tempted to interpret it that way! I’ve heard that in Bible times, a nightlight was kept burning in the house. However, if someone forgot to fill it before they went to bed –out it would go. Much as I’d love to burn the midnight oil, I find that I can’t give my best work to God or my employer if I don’t get enough sleep.

She layeth her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.

No sewing is going on in this house, but certainly I can be reminded to make use of the small moments in the day, rather than frittering them away on things that neither refresh me nor fulfill the goals God has given me. Uh-oh. I’m sure some of my internet use falls in that category.

She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

A good reminder to give the commodity most precious to me: time. If I get lonely, don’t some of the friends I’ve been neglecting feel the same way? This reminds me of a lovely promise that comes from the marginal reading of Isaiah 58:10:”Give to the hungry what your soul desires…” As a single girl, what do you desire most? Kindness? Love? A simple acknowledgment that someone knows you exist? If you give that out, “…then shall your light rise in darkness, and your obscurity be as the noonday; and the LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in dry places, and make strong your bones; and you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.”

She is not afraid of the snow for her household; for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh for herself carpets of tapestry; her clothing is fine linen and purple.

Sounds like a pretty classy lady to me. I’m certain that it pleases God when I put out the effort to show that knowing Him makes His daughters more beautiful. I’m certain it blesses others when my dress is neither too dull nor too bold, but refreshing, sunshiny, and restful to the eye.

Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.

Staying in the background and helping to make my boss look good is pretty easy, but consistently honoring him in my attitude is something that only comes from Jesus.

She maketh linen garments and selleth them, and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.

This lady is a real entrepreneur…something I’ve never dreamed of being. I wonder what God will teach me about this one?

Strength and dignity are her clothing; and she laugheth at the time to come.

Ah yes. I can stand tall because I’m His.

She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

I think the Holy Spirit wants to remind me that as a woman, I’ve got influence I can use for good, if I’ll work with Him on it. And there’s no need to use sarcasm to defend myself from teasing. If I stick to gentleness, He’ll look out for me.

She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

This is becoming a joy to do, but it takes a choice. As a naturally dreamy person, I could tune out needs and resent the interruptions of everyday life…or I can enjoy keeping a beautiful, well-stocked apartment.

Her children rise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her, saying: Many daughters have done worthily, but thou excellest them all. Grace is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.

Did you know that this is a promise? If you fear Him, you’ll be praised. Period. I’ve discovered (to my surprise) that you don’t need a husband and children to receive appreciation and love and recognition for the things that Jesus is doing in you. He knows how to get the message through to you, and sometimes He’ll use the most unexpected people.

Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her works praise her in the gates.

And even if no person notices what you do, for every secret sacrifice, every obedient action, and every beautiful attitude, oh how real is His approval and love!

Related: Elisabeth’s post on Proverbs 31 over at Modern Ruth Project

Photography: JenniMarie Photography


  1. It’s soothing to know that God notices my secret sacrifice, obedient response to His will and my just being His!!! God bless you loads.

  2. I absolutely loved the ending (not that I didn’t love the rest as well!). Yes, His approval and love are as real as they can be – they truly feed the soul, and they have a special way of shining through the most difficult and painful circumstances.

    Thank you Elisabeth…and excellent idea, Lanier! I’m so thrilled at the prospect of this ‘oldies and goldies’ month of August!

  3. Elisabeth,
    Thanks for such an insightful message. Just what I was looking for. We’re teaching the teens in our church about purity and I was looking for an “interpretation” of the Proverbs 31 woman. Your message is perfect. Thank you for your transparence and your obedience in sharing with us! Love and Blessings! ~Shari Freeman, Guam

  4. I never thought of clothing as being “restful”, but that is a great way of describing how I want to dress myself and my little girl. And I admit to giving a sympathetic chuckle as a fellow dreamer – how hard it is sometimes to willingly and joyfully apply oneself to the task at hand!

  5. I have immensely enjoyed reading your insites into this passage! As I said when I commented on Part 1, I had never thought to apply this to a single woman. Thank you!

  6. I like what you said about our clothing being neither too dull nor too bold, but refreshing, sunshiny & restful to the eye.

    Never thought about it that way.

    Thank You Elisabeh!

  7. Thanks for taking the time to write on this. I love your explanations! You are a great writer-and I love to reading your posts. This one was very encouraging. You are so right…we read about or hear about the Proverbs 31 woman a lot. Thank you again for writing on this and sharing what you are thinking!! -Katie

  8. Once again, thanks for your insight. I’ve absolutely loved reading about this! It is SUCH an encouragement!

  9. I can’t wait for part 2! This was so good! My translation of the Bible (NASB) says, “An excellent wife, who can find?” So I always think that it applies to married women. But how insightful to apply it to a single girl as well! I, too, have a boss. I have a father with whom I live as well. Can he trust in me? Thanks for sharing this!

  10. WOW oh my how lovely was your post!
    So inspiring and just great Elizabeth!
    I could relate to so much that you wrote i’m a single girl myself and i work part-time and take 1 college class..and am busy a lot, i can relate to you so well, i sometimes rush through my homework quickly as well..and how we treat our bosses and coworkers is so important..i can’t believe just how much Proverbs 31 has taught you..i will follow suit, i will reread Proverbs 31 tonight and even though i’ve read it many times before i will see it with new eyes thanks to you hun! Thanks so much!

    And i like the idea of “bible snack” in the middle of the day to refrersh ourselves..:)

    Thank you so very much for your wonderful & insightful post!
    I can’t wait for Part 2..:)

    take care!
    Blessings & hugs to you!
    May God bless you richly in all you do Elizabeth!
    To God be all glory!


    In Him, Jane.

  11. I like the concept of having a “Bible snack” midday, just like we do with food. Thanks for your thought-provoking post, Elisabeth!


  12. Good work!
    I was just talking with my sisters about going back to the “basic” scriptures and lessons. The stuff that we’ve heard in church all our lives isn’t to be forgotten…they emphasized it for a reason. Proverbs 31 was one of our examples (what female who has ever attended a youth group event HASN’T heard this passage?) Thanks for shining a new light on it.
    Keep it up,

  13. I love hearing about what others have learned when reading the Bible. I learn so much from hearing what they have to say. I have learned that everyone sees something different when reading a scripture passage and when we share we all benefit from what the others have learned. Thanks for sharing.
    “God’s girl”

  14. wow! what a interesting interpretation. i’m interested in hearing the rest. i’ve always interpreted “her lamp goeth not out by night” to mean that she is making money and saving money so that her lamp is always filled. in my world, that means my electric bill is paid and my car always has gas.

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