The Hebrew word translated variously as “virtuous” or “noble character” or "worthy" in Proverbs 31:10 is only used to describe one other woman in the Bible – Ruth (Ruth 3:11). As we know from her story, Ruth was a very hard working woman and not the Angel in the House many want to twist the Proverbs 31 woman into. Ruth is also a foreshadow of Mary. I think we protestants latch onto the imaginary Proverbs 31 woman and ignore the flesh-and-blood Mary as a model of womanhood because the reality of Mary is.just.too.catholic. We are comfortable making an idol from the mythical Proverbs 31 woman because we tell ourselves we can become her if we try, try, try. One only needs to look in the mirror to greet her early each day before heading off to tackle that to-do list! But apparently praying to have the faithfulness and humility of Mary would be idolatry. Go figure.
And what is to be gained if I become the perfect Proverbs 31 Woman and dance about telling everyone? The comfort that I can rely on myself to work out my personal salvation? The honor of others looking to me as an example? Oh, yes, I am promised that my children and husband will arise and call me blessed. The word vainglory comes to mind.
No. Not going to do it.
Ruth & Mary humbled themselves as servants. The better choice.
And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:38 ESV)
He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” (Ruth 3:9 ESV)