Dr. Dressler, an Old Testament professor from my Bible College days, made an inflammatory, heretical, impossible, chauvinistic observation regarding Proverbs 31. He said that it was not about the ideal woman, but rather an allegory on wisdom generally, personified as a woman because of the sustained imagery throughout Proverbs comparing the wise woman and the harlot who does not fear God. He said that this interpretation could really ease the burden of guilt for thousands of mothers who have to endure sermons regarding the Impossible Ideal year after year on Mothers’ Day. On the other hand, it applies to men as well. We too need to be diligent, organized and wise in the way we spend our days.
Of course, I would never endorse such and interpretation. In fact, I wouldn’t even bring the subject up in more, um, sensitive settings. Nevertheless, I have never preached a message on Proverbs 31 on Mothers’ Day. A mom even thanked me once for not doing so because of the aforementioned guilt that she had experienced during such messages.
Putting aside the “tongue-in-cheek” factor, I do think that Proverbs 31 does have particular application to women, though I am thankful for the balance provided by Dr. Dressler’s take. It bears reflection.
By the way, if you can help Kim at the Upward Call with good Proverbs 31 research material, pop over there and make a suggestion (never mind that she has way more readers than I do). Proverbs is a book that is still largely uncharted territory for me in terms of sustained study. That’s why I didn’t leave a comment over there. Her post did twig this post, however.
And, no, I’m not preaching on Proverbs 31 on May 14th.