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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Marilynn Chadwick

Hidden Heroes: The Proverbs 31 Woman, Part Nurturer, Part Warrior

by Marilynn Chadwick

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies (Proverbs 31:10 KJV).


Deep down, I believe most women long to be world-changers. To use their powerful influence for good and give life to those around them. The Bible presents us with many examples of women who changed their world. Some were wives and mothers. Others were prophets, judges, and leaders. Some were old and wise. Others were youthful and passionate for God. All were warriors who discovered the secret that when they gave their lives away to others, they got back far more in return.


The Hebrew term used in Proverbs 31:10, eshet chayil, is more accurately translated “woman of valor.” “A woman of valor who can find? For her price is far above rubies” (JPS Tanakh 1917). Did you know valor is actually a military term? It was used for warriors like King David and his mighty men of valor. A woman of valor is a nurturer but also a warrior. I believe God knew women would have to be warriors for their families and communities.


The concept of a woman of valor is quite common among Jews, even today. A long-standing custom the evening before Shabbat is for the husband to recite or even sing what is actually an acrostic poem in Proverbs 31, “The Woman of Valor,” as a way to honor his wife.


Valor means showing courage in the face of danger. So naturally, it requires a measure of mental toughness. But the Proverbs 31 woman also had to be physically strong: She “works with eager hands…gets up while it is still night; provides food for her family…plants a vineyard” and “sets about her work vigorously” (Proverbs 31:13, 14 NIV). Her arms are described as “strong for her tasks” (Proverbs 31:17).


I have to smile when I think about her “strong arms” because it reminds me of my friend Beth. We’ve both loved being mothers and now grandmothers. But we agree—when raising our own children, we were used to the constant physical demands that come with lifting, dressing, and bathing little ones. Our arms grew strong. But lifting grandchildren is a little harder.

So, Beth started doing 100 pushups a day. “I want to be able to lift all those grandbabies,” she laughed. She does her first set during her normal exercise time—then she drops to the floor for a few more throughout the day. “It’s amazing how they add up,” she said. Beth—and her 100 daily pushups—give us a good mental picture of what it looks like to make our arms strong.


The Amplified Bible describes the Proverbs 31 woman’s strength in more detail: “She equips herself with strength [spiritual, mental, and physical fitness for her God-given task] and makes her arms strong” (Proverbs 31:17 AMP).


Why not begin now to reflect on how you can strengthen yourself—spiritually, mentally, and physically. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even want to try Beth’s 100 pushups challenge!

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