As Christian wives, we so often become overwhelmed with the thought of becoming the wisdom of what was Solomon’s standard—the Proverbs woman. Many wives will say it’s impossible—it’s just a guideline. Other wives will say that it’s not impossible, and that many women are just lazy and don’t wish to do what they are “supposed to” in their role as the Proverbs 31 woman. They served their families well.
The good news is that neither one of them are correct, and neither one of them are incorrect either.
As a modern day wife, we have challenges that weren’t necessarily always presented to the Proverbs wife. Sometimes, the very things that were created to “help” us get our jobs done are the very things that prevent us from doing them. Don’t beat yourself up too much about it, we all have different lives and lifestyles—some of us work and some of us stay at home with our kids. But ultimately, the role of a wife is still the same, no matter what your job inside or outside of the home is. Your family is always your priority.With that said, there are many differences between the Proverbs wife and the modern wife, and I think after you see them, you’ll understand a bit more.
10 Differences Between the Proverbs Woman and the Modern House Wife:
1. The Proverbs Woman had servants
Don’t stop there, though. We have servants too. They are called the washer, dryer, dishwasher, vacuum….shall I go on? Unfortunately, those amenities sometimes cause us to take things for granted. We now have the option to let things “sit around” until it’s convenient for us to tend to them. This eventually means that we are piling over with laundry and haven’t unloaded the dish washer for 3 days. The very things that were created to make our lives easier sometimes make our lives more complicated.
Convenience is not always best. The Proverbs Woman knew she had to tend to her chores first, otherwise, it would take ten times longer.
2. The Proverbs Woman most likely had a dirt or concrete floor (unless she was royalty)
Which means she didn’t have the extra stress of keeping things completely immaculate. It was impossible to keep her house spotless with dirt constantly flying around from little feet running through the home. She kept it as clean as possible, though. And that is what we are asked to do.
3. The Proverbs Woman had less clutter
She had what she needed, and used what she had. She did not have 3 different closets to push storage bins into. She did not have to sort through 15 loads of laundry each week, because they didn’t have a place to store 25 different outfits in their closet. They wore their clothes until they were dirty enough to be washed, while still keeping their bodies clean. It doesn’t mean they stank or were unclean. But they used their work clothes to work in and their home clothes for home. They rotated.
The children did not have huge toy boxes full of toys. The Proverbs Woman didn’t have kitchen cabinets full of useless utensils and a 15 piece china set. There were not gum wrappers strung about the house or a refrigerator to clean. The Proverbs Woman had a small space to work with, therefore, she absolutely couldn’t have clutter. Therefore, she had more time on her hands when it came to organizing.
You could say that the Proverbs Woman was the first famous minimalist wife and mom!
4. The Proverbs Woman awoke before her family, and went to bed after her family
Her time management skills were amazing, but I imagine she wasn’t up by 4am. Most men in the Proverbs Woman’s time didn’t go to work until it was sunny enough to see (or right at dawn). They arose with the sun and slept with the sun on work days. This allowed her time to awake earlier, but not three hours before sunlight. Now days, some of our husbands are up and out of the house by 6 a.m., and that means if we want a hot breakfast on the table for them, we must be up and going by 4:30 a.m. Talk about a long day!
The Proverbs Woman not only awoke early, but she prepared breakfast for her family and her servants. She was not waited on hand and foot like so many believe. Please keep in mind, however, that their meals were not as elaborate as our meals…which brings me to my next difference….
5. The Proverbs Woman cooked differently than we do now
Everything was natural. Meat was a treat and not served with every single meal. If you’re a meat eater, you might find this challenging to understand. But the bulk of their meals were things that they had grown themselves (rice, beans, veggies, eggs, milk, bread) or animals that they had raised themselves. Since there weren’t any freezers or refrigerators, they had to cure their meat or go without until they were ready for slaughter and could share with family. She certainly had her moments when she went all out, I’m sure. But it was not something that was expected of her.
6. The Proverbs Woman worked and supported her family after all of her chores were done
Yes, she worked—inside and outside of the home. With that said, she ensured that all of her home chores, children, and husband were tended to before going out and working. She bought a vineyard and hired servants (or, employees) to tend to it. She most likely visited it a couple of times a week.
She would work in the market or buy fine linen there to make clothing. She worked with her hands in the garden, and with nimble fingers she wove rugs and canvases. Life was about serving and supporting her family—not just about her and what she felt entitled to.Unfortunately so many women now think that staying home just means you clean the house and raise your kids. And that is so true—that is a huge job in and of itself. But never ever look down on wives who choose to work from home or who cannot afford to stay at home. Sometimes working outside of the home is the only way that they can tend to their children and husbands first.
7. The Proverbs Woman poured her life and the love of God into others
She didn’t just do her chores, get some work done, and then kick her feet up and call it a week. No way. She actively poured her heart into other people—tending to her friends or family that were sick. Taking them a nice warm meal or babysitting for that new mother. I imagine a close knit community of fellow believers who helped each other when in need. I want that again….
8. The Proverbs Woman didn’t have to worry about exercising
Because the reality is that she was on her feet all day long. She didn’t care about a thigh gap or how flat her stomach was. Her priorities were God, family, servanthood, and everything else fell into place. While she may not have been worried about exercising, she certainly made herself beautiful, depending on her means and where she lived.Women would adorn themselves in necklaces and paint when they were at events or a special occasion. They would use oils to make themselves smell lovely, and often painted makeup on their faces, hands and arms with mineral pastes.
9. The Proverbs Woman wasn’t distracted by social media and cell phones
It is so easy for women to post all day long about their lives. We love our lives, most of the time. But often we forget that most people could care less about what we had for lunch or what we did at the gym. And many times we end up creating an idol of ourselves in our own minds without ever realizing it.
I can see the Proverbs Woman now, “just made rice and beans #LikeaBoss”….or “isn’t my eye paint for King Solomon’s shindig just gorgeous? #I’mSoFancy”.
We have so many distractions today that the Proverbs Woman didn’t have back then. She didn’t have a choice. Her only options were to live life to its fullest. She knew her job and she did it. That’s not to say she didn’t have off days or unorganized days. She certainly did—she’s a woman, after all. But she did not have nearly the amount of distractions or comparisons that women today have.We constantly compare our lives and wife duties to other wives’ lives and duties. Each and everyone of us have such different lives. Stop comparing yourself—whether for the good or for the worse.
10. The Proverbs Woman completely relied on God
You might ask why this is a “difference”. I understand that not every modern wife doesn’t completely rely on God, but just stay with me for a moment.There are so many factors listed above, and there are so many more I could list. We realistically must remember that the Proverbs Woman lived in a different era than we did. Her life was much more simple and direct. That is no excuse to not strive for that standard, however. We chose the lives we have, therefore we must own up to them.
Not only did she have a simple life, but she lived in a time where people had been (or would be) directly connected to Jesus Christ (once we get to the New Testament women). Christ was fresh and walking around, not a 2,000 year old historical man on a timeline. It was easier for her to understand God when she could hear stories that happened to real people in her life—miracles of healing, visions, prophecies that came to pass, and serving a God that was alive and well.
She could rely on Him more because He was an intricate part of daily life for her and her family. He was tangible. They would pray and they would believe what they would pray, because they had seen first hand the power of God.
Here’s a Proverbs Woman Challenge For You
Delete social media apps off of your cell phone/ipad for one week. Make a commitment not to log on for one full week, and see what a difference it makes in your life and priorities. If you find yourself getting angry or annoyed easily because you don’t have immediate access to social media or the internet, there is a real issue in your heart. You really need to take a step back and re-prioritize your life. However, you can push through it, and eventually you will start filling up that time with more important things. You might even be amazed by how quickly you can get your chores done in a day!
If social media isn’t an issue for you (most of the time it is but we aren’t willing to face it—yes, I’m talking to you), then that’s great! However, there may be something else in your life that is taking up your time and being a distraction. This week, try to simplify. Throw out or donate things that you don’t need. Start simplifying your closet space—do you really need all of those outfits?
Commit to rearranging your kitchen so that it is simplified and uncluttered. The only way to cook meals efficiently is by having a clean kitchen. Try cooking simple meals from scratch and leaving out a meat one night. You’d be amazed at how many yummy things there are out there that don’t require a meat—and hearty, too!
All in all, remember that your life is much different than the Proverbs 31 Woman’s life. Society is much different now as well. But don’t ever use it as an excuse not to strive to be that standard—however, don’t beat yourself up over it either. Some of us are good at everything—some of us are only good at a few things. Ultimately, it is our responsibility to own up to the life we’ve chosen to live—whether we’re in an immaculate high-rise apartment or a small dusty cabin in the woods.