Ah yes, a topic that woman either love or abhor--the P31 woman. There are many who believe that no one woman could possibly be all that this woman is. There are others who are obsessed with being her in every respect to the point of an insane preoccupation with the perfection of her. I prefer to take a more laid back approach, as I do with most everything, and allow the Lord to lead and guide me in His time and way down the path of wifely perfection! ;-) Afterall, we are supposed to enjoy this journey we are on.
I have taken a good look at this woman every year of my Christian life and it still amazes me how God will build upon previous years in my knowledge and understanding of this woman, this passage, and what will make me a better wife this year than last. I've certainly found that being a P31 wife is something that you never stop growing in due to the immensity of her character, the stages of life that we all go through, and the continuing maturation of love between a husband and wife who are married in Christ.
The thing that I noticed most about her this year was what she is rather than what she does. She is a Godly woman! Everything that she is and everything that she does springs from her Christian character. And true to form, for me anyway, the very first trait I noticed was her humility. Of course, "the chief mark of a true Christian is their humility" (paraphrased from Andrew Murray) and she proves herself to be true to a fault. Her humility before God enables her to willfully and joyfully submit to her husband and to work for his good without any need of recognition or praise from society. She has found the true essence of being a woman created to be a "helpmate".
She's functioning exactly how she was created to function. She busies herself to provide and care for her husband, family, and neighbors. She has no need of finding her own identity, because she has chosen to let her identity be found first in Christ who also came to serve and not be served. This is so indicitive of Christ Himself who also found his identity in God and came as "the exact replication of the Father." He was totally occupied with representing His Father in providing for the spiritual, physical and emotional needs of others.
Out of this humility flowed a strength, or "excellence" as the Word puts it. She may have been meek, but she was not weak--not spiritually, not physically, not emotionally! She was a tower of power! The word "excellent" in v.1 refers to the spirit and character of the woman. It is translated valiant, strong, efficient and is mostly used in military terms when describing power or warriors. When I think of a good soldier, I immediately think of one well trained AND well disciplined in the affairs of war. I think of soldiers who listen for their commanding officer's orders and do them without hesitation and without question. As Burt Clendennen said of his battalion that survived, behind enemy lines and cut off from all supply sources for months and months, "if you didn't duck when he said duck, you didn't make it home in one piece!"
This woman was well trained--thank God for the older women who actually take the training of the younger women seriously--and well disciplined in the affairs of her marriage and family. She had been trained in loving her husband and keeping her home. She understood exactly where she was in life and in position and she worked from that position to the best of her ability. She never considered questioning or challenging the authority of her husband, and she worked, as army wives do, to preserve the reputation and standing of her husband in the eyes of the public. She had no selfish ambitions to equal her husband. She had no selfish ambitions to better her husband. Her only ambition was to serve her husband and through serving her husband to serve her God. She was truly influential in her marriage, in her home and in her society, but that was not her goal. It was the fruit of character and labor in the Kingdom of God. How true it is that the strongest, most influential women in the world are the ones who have no need to be the strongest, most influential women in the world.
I hold a certain fascination with this woman and as God works in my heart what He worked in hers, I see more and more that she is not some unobtainable ideal. No she is God's very best for every woman and is completely obtainable to any woman who will humble and lose herself in God.