The Perfect Match: A Job 31 Husband and a Proverbs 31 Wife


Many of us have envisioned an ideal marriage prior to our wedding day based on role definitive bible teaching. But in addition, many - both men and women - have found Proverbs 31 very helpful for practical understanding of how the Godly woman's role plays out. It is a guide of the good, hard-working wife and mother that women in all walks of life can aspire to. But what is a practical guide for men to aspire to? What does that look like? What is helpful to both men and women to gain a practical understanding of how the Godly man's role plays out? Let's first look at the woman's role.

A Proverbs 31 Wife

Pastors have long preached on Proverbs 31 to describe the character and duties of an excellent wife and mother. At least they used to. Some, to the dismay of others, have used this passage to try and convince women to remain stay-at-home moms until the last child has finished high-school. Others have broadened the passage to mean that although this woman was gifted in sales and craft abilities, other women should adapt the passage to mean whatever their God-given talents are; that such gifts are to be used to bless others. But regardless of how it has been interpreted down through the ages, believers see it as a gauge of what to expect of Christian women in general.

Just what does Proverbs 31 say concerning the woman's role? Let's take a refresher course. Verses 10 through 31, listed below, are an oracle that King Lemuel's mother taught him. An oracle was the spoken word of a priest concerning a divine revelation from God to the people. The oracle is this (Proverbs 31:10-31):

An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
She looks for wool and flax
And works with her hands in delight.
She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.
She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.
She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.
She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hands grasp the spindle.
She extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies belts to the tradesmen.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all."
Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.

What I love most about Proverbs 31 is that it encourages each and every woman to develop her unique identity as a person, which finds expression in the product she produces and the joy she brings to those on the receiving end. Proverbs 31 also shows us how the woman benefits by conforming to the biblical standard, provided of course that it is God's standard and not a false interpretation of His standard that she is conforming to. For it states, "She senses that her gain is good, She smiles at the future, Her children rise up and bless her. Her husband praises her, Her works praise her in the gates." These are great blessings. And I believe she is blessed mainly because she is engaging in work she has the talent and ability to do, and/or sells her products, or volunteers her services not just to help herself, but to help others. Do you see the difference? Other women have made the mistake of living totally for themselves and their families to the detriment of others; self-centered rather than other-centered. And on the extreme end, some women fit the description mentioned in Ezekiel 16:49-50:

"Behold this was the guilt of your sister, Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them"

They were women of folly.

Yes, these benefits mentioned in Proverbs 31 are a byproduct of a Godly woman of wisdom. She does not praise herself for her accomplishments. Others are praising her.

Are you experiencing these kinds of blessings?

Now of course there are exceptions to this behind-the scenes, stay-at-home, tireless woman. Deborah, a prophetess and judge, ruled Israel for 40 years (Judges 4:4). She, not her husband, was "in the gate" (place of authority) with the elders. But I'm sure when the day was done she went home to her husband, Lappidoth, to resume her wifely duties. There were other female leaders mentioned in scripture as well, such as Hilkiah, wife of Shallum (2 Chron. 34:22, 2 Kings 22:14), and Priscilla, a teacher along with her husband Aquila. And in modern times, most men do not dispute the role Golda Meir played in the years 1969 to 1974 as prime minister in Israel. Others would also include Margaret Thatcher when she was prime minister of Great Britain. And of course there are numerous others.

Today we do need to factor in some cultural differences like fewer children and modern conveniences making it possible for more women to have spare time to explore their creative gifts. But the woman of Proverbs 31 also had maids to help with the tasks at hand enabling her to accomplish so much. Others are not so fortunate.

Proverbs 31 not only shows women how to live out the practicality of loving their husbands and their children; but should cause them to realize the importance of maintaining their own identity formulated when putting their talents and abilities to good use, such as buying and selling what their hands have made, purchasing land and developing it, helping their neighbors in need, etc.

Some women have made the mistake of living totally for their husbands and children, never developing a sense of self. However, they eventually reach a point where they lose their unique identity and feel they are taken for granted. This is not God's blueprint for God's women. But devoting your time to God, husband, children, and outside interests is always a balancing act that must be maintained by wisdom.

A Job 31 Husband

Now let's look at the male role. Such a character sketch as that found in Proverbs 31 for women would truly be useful when it comes to identifying the character and duties of a husband and father. A male biblical role model would give us a clear picture not only of his responsibilities within his home and community, but the Godly character it entails. This would give him a yardstick so to speak, whereby he could gauge his progress along kingdom-living principles in the midst of a fallen world. He would be able to sense that his conduct toward his wife, his employees, the poor, the widow, the orphan, or the immigrant was helpful, not hurtful to them not only from his perspective, but also from theirs. Because his focus, you see, would not be on him. Kingdom-living standards are unlike the world's standards.

So how can the new groom gauge his progress upon assuming the role of head of household? Is he truly thinking of the welfare of those directly under his care and others within his sphere of influence? How does he know whether he is truly giving of himself or simply lording it over them like those of this world's system do? What does an excellent man look like?

One day, while reading the scriptures, I was surprised to find just such a passage that sent my feminine heart soaring. There it was in black and white, one man who fit the description of an excellent husband, a description that any Godly woman would admire. No, it wasn't King David. Yes, he truly was a man after God's own heart. And for this he shall forever be remembered and honored by God Almighty. But from what I read of him in scripture, although he was a man after God's own heart, he wasn't necessarily a man after one woman's heart. And I'm a one man one woman kind of woman. Married couples of his day were not taught by Moses that the husband represented Christ and his wife represented Christ's bride. That would come later. Nor was he instructed by the Levitical priests that he could not hold a leadership position within the congregation if he had more than one wife, because then he could not represent Christ. But under the new covenant, such is the case. And I, and most Christian women I know, are interested in what the bible defines as an excellent husband who truly represents Christ in his faithfulness to his bride.

Solomon, whose Godly wisdom I find astonishing, did not use wisdom when it came to women either. He loved their outward beauty and charm. But I don't believe he ever knew a true, deep oneness that comes with the one man-one woman dynamic. Moses loved Zippphora. And then God called him to perform a difficult, time-consuming task. After that, we don't hear much of anything concerning his thoughts or affections for his wife. We don't know how deep their relationship was. Despite his having to send his Moabite wife away along with their two sons to remain with her father while he attended to his own people, it may have been a terrific marriage. It's just that the bible is silent regarding it. No, the man I am thinking of that most describes an excellent husband is the man Job. And the passage I am referring to is the 31st chapter of the book of Job. His true character shows itself here. It is a description of how an excellent husband, father and leader behaves both in private and in public life.

Below are portions of the Book of Job, Chapter 31. These verses are direct quotes from Job, a wealthy man: He says this:

(v1) I have made a covenant with my eyes;
How then could I gaze at a virgin?

(v9) If my heart has been enticed by a woman,
Or I have lurked at my neighbor's doorway,
(v10) May my wife grind for another,
And let others kneel down over her.
(v11) For that would be a lustful crime;
Moreover, it would be an iniquity punishable by judges.
(v12) For it would be fire that consumes to Abaddon,
And would uproot all my increase.
(v13) If I have despised the claim of my male or female slaves
When they filed a complaint against me,
(v14) What then could I do when God arises?
And when He calls me to account, what will I answer Him?
(v15) Did not He who made me in the womb make him,
And the same one fashion us in the womb?
(v16) If I have kept the poor from their desire,
Or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail,
(v17) Or have eaten my morsel alone,
And the orphan has not shared it
(v18) (But from my youth he grew up with me as with a father,
And from infancy I guided her),
(v19) If I have seen anyone perish for lack of clothing,
Or that the needy had no covering,
(v20) If his loins have not thanked me,
And if he has not been warmed with the fleece of my sheep,
(v21) If I have lifted up my hand against the orphan,
Because I saw I had support in the gate,
(v22) Let my shoulder fall from the socket,
And my arm be broken off at the elbow.
(v23) For calamity from God is a terror to me,
And because of His majesty I can do nothing.

(v24) If I have put my confidence in gold,
And called fine gold my trust,
(v25) If I have gloated because my wealth was great,
And because my hand had secured so much;

(v29) Have I rejoiced at the extinction of my enemy,
Or exulted when evil befell him?
(v30) No, I have not allowed my mouth to sin
By asking for his life in a curse.
(v31) Have the men of my tent not said,
'Who can find one who has not been satisfied with his meat?'
(v32) The alien has not lodged outside,
For I have opened my doors to the traveler.
(v33) Have I covered my transgressions like Adam,
By hiding my iniquity in my bosom,

(v34) Because I feared the great multitude,
And the contempt of families terrified me,
And kept silent and did not go out of doors?

It says a lot, doesn't it? Yes, from the above scripture verses, what makes me proud of Job is this:
  1. He resolved to remain faithful to his wife by holding himself accountable for his thoughts and actions toward other women. He would not gaze lustfully at a virgin, nor allow a woman to entice him, nor covet another man's wife. Most interesting, he cared what his wife thought. (vs. 1,9,10-11)
  2. He understood and respected the rights of slaves. No, this is not an oxymoron. His slaves had rights! Colossians 4:1 states, "Grant to your slaves justice and fairness." (vs. 13-15)
  3. He treated his hired workers with fairness. (v.31)
  4. He helped the poor by giving bread to the hungry and covered the naked with clothing (vs. 16-20) as Ezekiel 18:7 prophesies (" a man who is righteous gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with clothing").
  5. He did not trust in riches. (vs. 24-25)
  6. He served one God. (vs. 14-15)
  7. He did not curse his enemy. (vs. 29-30)
  8. He was hospitable to strangers. (v. 32)
  9. He did not cover his transgressions like Adam, fearing God more than men. (vs. 33-34)
Number nine is my favorite because it encapsulates (encompasses) all the others. The tendency of all humans is to fear man more than God. And yet it is the fear of God that is the beginning of wisdom, Godly wisdom that is. The pressure from outside forces can be so great that most do capitulate. Few there be that take the high road.

Job was seeking the high road. And these are precisely the things I can see our bridegroom Yeshua/Jesus doing. Can't you! And yet, Job probably lived thousands of years before Jesus came to earth. While here, Jesus told us per Matthew 20:25-28:

You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

I don't know how Job came to know how to live so righteously. I just know he did because the scriptures inform us of this. And so we can indeed use him as our example of an excellent man.

Job made a covenant with his eyes that he, a married man, would not gaze with lust at a virgin. He had made up his mind (like Joseph, an unmarried man, during his captivity) that when times of temptation presented themselves, he would guard his heart with all diligence: he would chose to resist the enticements of a woman, nor would he ever covet another man's wife. He determined to remain steadfast in his commitment to be faithful to his wife. And it was not conditional upon whether or not his wife was deserving of such love. Job did not site loss of honor of a virgin's father or a husband's fury as his rational; he mentions only his wife's grief and the sympathy she would receive from those around her, and how the judicial system would move swiftly to judge him on her behalf. He did not want to sin against his wife because he feared God, and believed God's ways were best for both he and his family.

Yet he had slaves. Many believe scripture outlaws slavery. But that is not so. Slavery did exist in the Old Testament under the Mosaic Law. (And in reading the book of Revelation, it looks like it will be returning in the last days upon earth, but not because it is God-sanctioned.) But under the Mosaic Law there were God-given rules regulating who was or who could become a slave, how long they were to remain a slave, and how they were to be treated. (Additional laws were made for foreigners acquired during war and forced into slavery.) Job was a wealthy man who had slaves, and yet he says this about them:
If I have despised the claim of my male or female slaves
When they filed a complaint against me,
What then could I do when God arises?
And when He calls me to account, what will I answer Him?
Did not He who made me in the womb make him,
And the same one fashion us in the womb? (Job 31:13-15).

We see from Job's words that in his eyes slaves had a right to be treated fairly. He did not want to sin against them causing them to cry out to God because of his inhumane conduct.

Job goes on to talk about how he would not oppress the orphan or widow even if the judicial system would support him in this regard, and of how he cared for the poor, his hired workers, and the foreigner - regardless of how it looked to the multitudes who thought it was bad for business, and even though he saw the contempt in the eyes of rich neighbors who gained their wealth on the backs of them. He did not want to sin against them even though they were powerless against him. He didn't want to hurt them causing them to cry out to God on account of him. Yes, this is a man of integrity, a man worthy of double honor.

Job was wealthy, but he did not gloat. Nor did he curse his enemy or rejoice when his enemy was defeated. Not an easy thing to do.

Yes, Job knew what most of us will probably never realize in our lifetime, that the fear of God is truly the beginning of wisdom. He learned that many times he would be asked to make a choice regarding whom he would fear: God or man. And that each time he succumbed to choosing man over God, it would become that much easier to choose man again the next time. He also knew that by obeying God's commands, including never lying or deceiving, he might encounter the ridicule of others:

"Yes, truth is lacking, and he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey." [Isa. 59:15]

He was well aware of what most of us try to forget, that God does see everything. He knew that God literally looks down upon each one of us as if we were the only one on earth. This all-knowing God has given us His rulebook. Why would Job choose to veer from it?

Was Job married to a Proverbs 31 wife? I don't know. Scripture doesn't tell us anything concerning her, except that after they both lost their ten children all in one day and realizing she was about to become a widow as well from watching her husband grow seriously ill to the point of death, she decried, "Curse God and die!" Under such circumstances, I would hope I wouldn't respond in such a manner, but I can certainly understand why she might say such a rash thing out of utter desperation to her husband who suffered unimaginably. Job's children were also her children. I'll let God be her judge.

And then a shift occurred in Job's circumstances. He ended up receiving double of everything he lost of value in this life except his children. He did father seven more handsome sons and three more beautiful daughters, and he knew he would see his original ten children again after the resurrection. (However scripture is silent as to whether Job's wife lived long enough to give birth to the next ten.)

That's quite a tall order, isn't it, becoming a Job 31 man? Now after reading this, some of you men may realize how some of us women feel when reading Proverbs 31. That's a tall order too! It should be emphasized however that we should not use these biblical models to criticize our mates on how they are falling short. This is the temptation that must be avoided. Instead, we need to see it as a tool to encourage and admire our mates when they show any of these honorable characteristics such as diligence, perseverance, hospitality, selfless giving, hard work, etc.

So what if you didn't marry a Job 31 man (or a Proverbs 31 woman)? Then what?
There is a good possibility that you probably are not what you should be either. Become what you should be first. That way, by taking the log out of your own eye, you can then help get the speck out of your spouse's eye. Catch my drift.

What do these two role models, the unnamed woman of Proverbs 31 and the man Job in Job 31 have in common? The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Related: How to Find the Right Man from God

By Janet Truelsch