Proverbs 31:15 has become a conundrum to me. The wife of noble character “. . . provides food for her family. . .”
My Christian upbringing told me I needed a husband to be a provider—that’s not what a wife is supposed to do!
Maybe the NIV is just getting it wrong, so I search other versions. . . the NKJV, NRSV, HCSB, ESV, and CEB all agree that the wife provides! (I didn’t check all the versions, but KJV and NASB use some variation of “give” instead of provide).
“Forget about the English versions,” you say! What about the original Hebrew? Well, here’s the list for ways to define that word, and both “give” and “provide” work.
But am I taking this out of context? Does the wife’s providing simply mean she places food gained from her husband’s earnings on the table before her family?
Let’s look at the rest of the chapter. . .
Proverbs 31 shows that this wife does, well, pretty much. . . everything, and some of her work includes activities that gain money to provide food for her family. She buys a field and plants a vineyard (16), gains profit through trade (18), and sells linen garments (24). Her earnings provide.
“So what?” you ask.
Am I against moms who primarily provide stability for their kids by staying at home full-time? Absolutely not. I was raised by this kind of mom and have many friends who’ve chosen this.
Am I saying that husbands should quit providing so their wives can take over? Absolutely not again. I am no advocate of “taking over,” in general. It sounds so violent as in “hostile takeover.”
Am I stating that the Proverbs 31 woman was the primary breadwinner in her family (this is what provider often means, according to Fortune Magazine)? I have no idea. All I know is that her providing was notable.
So what am I saying?
I’m trying to debunk something I was taught as a single Christian woman.
I was taught to look for a husband who’s a provider, and that’s great.
However, this seemed to be to the exclusion of my own responsibility to provide. I was told to be a Proverbs 31 woman, but I wasn’t told to hone my providing skills.
Truth is, if a man wants a “Proverbs 31 woman,” then he should look for a wife who’s a provider.Truth is, if a man wants a “Proverbs 31 woman,” then he should look for a wife who’s a provider. Click To Tweet
And this shouldn’t be to the exclusion of his own providing.
Most women would admit, like me, that we prefer to sleep until it’s light out and like to turn off our lamps at night, thus diverging from that Proverbs 31 woman’s path. Our provision may not look like hers. And when measured numerically against our husbands’ provision, it may be greater or less.
But still, wives provide. The Bible says so.
May we be empowered to provide in the unique way God has individually called us!Wives Provide. The Bible says so! Click To Tweet
(Interested in hearing more from me? Check out my book, The Book of Womanhood)