What Does it Take to Be a Wise Woman in 2021?
This program is a Bible Study that connects the Proverbs 31 woman to verses in James 3 which talk about real wisdom and what it means to “live well, live wisely, and live humbly” in God’s world. True wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord and is demonstrated through holy living. The women will learn the meaning of biblical wisdom and how they can apply that wisdom to their lives.
Prior to the meeting
Get familiar with the word khokhmah. In Hebrew, חָכְמָה, or khokhmah means wisdom. This noun is feminine, and the phonetic spelling is: khok-maw’. In English this word is translated as knowledge, but it goes much deeper than just knowing things or intelligence.
Khokhmah is the same word used to describe artisans—or, to be more exact, the craft of an artisan. The word khokhmah refers to the honing of one’s God given talents and skills.
To gain deeper khokhmah regarding khokhmah (that word is just fun to say) check out these videos:
To reinforce the artisan meaning of khokhmah gather odds and ends of craft materials you have on hand that women can use to create a new art project. You can find crafts using left over fabric or tiles on the Internet. The women can either do this while they are discussing the Bible lesson or as a pre–lesson activity.
Read Proverbs 31: 10–30 and James 3: 13–18 from The Message.
I’m about to talk about a woman among women. She is so successful, so good, and so fruitful that other women from across centuries and borders and cultures have tried to imitate her. Women want to be her and men want to be married to her. She’s a master of finance, a procurer of fine home items, poised under pressure, the belle of the ball, mother of the year, and incredibly intelligent. And to top it all off, for many years the theme verse for women’s ministries was all about her! “She looketh well to the ways of her household…” Proverbs 31:27 (KJV) You’ve probably guessed it; yes, I’m talking about the Proverbs 31 woman. Is there a woman in your life who seems to have it all together? What makes her seem that way? Were you ever led to believe that the woman in Proverbs 31 is who you as a woman are expected to emulate?
Being a woman in the year 2021 is both exciting and challenging. We get messages from many different sources, which seem to reinforce the predisposed gender bias of a nursery rhyme that says …
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice and all things nice …
That’s what little girls are made of.
What are some traits that the media and other influences assign to women?
As a woman, do you ever feel like you just don’t seem to “fit the mold?”
If we try to live up to the literal description of the woman in Proverbs 31 most of us fall miserably short. What most people don’t understand, however, is that we were never meant to. The book of Proverbs is a collection of short, clever sayings, which help us to answer two questions:
- What kind of world are we living in?
- What does it look like to live well in that world?
According to the book of Proverbs, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Prov. 9:10). Jon Collins and Tim Mackie of The Bible Project say it this way, “Fear of the Lord means understanding that I am not God and I don’t get to make up my own definitions of good and evil, and right and wrong. But rather I need to humble myself before God and embrace God’s definition of right and wrong even when that’s inconvenient for me.”
The book of Proverbs is a collection of accumulated insight, from multiple generations, which serves to help us gain understanding of God, the way we should react to God, and the way we should interact with one another because of our relationship with God. Proverbs is not a book of prophesies or promises, but it is a book of probabilities.
Look at these two verses from Proverbs: “The fear of the Lord prolongs your life, but the years of the wicked are cut short” (Pro, 10:27). It is true that if we lead pure, moral, happy, healthy, and upright lives the probability that we will live a long life increases, but this is not always the case.
“Train up a child in the way they should go, and when they are old they won’t turn from it” (Prov. 22:6). If we teach our children what it looks like to live well in God’s world, the probability is that when they are old they won’t depart from that teaching. However, there are exceptions. Can you think of a time when one or both of these Proverbs were proven true? Can you think of a time when one or both of these Proverbs were not proven true?
In the case of the Proverbs 31 woman we are not looking at promise, prophecy or probability. We are looking at a poem. Lemuel was a non–Israelite king who loved his momma! In fact, he loved her so much that he created an acrostic poem in honor of the concepts she taught and instilled in him. Each line of the poem begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet and describes the woman of noble character.
The poem is meant to reinforce the belief that a woman of noble character and wisdom filters all her decisions through the lens of wisdom. She displays the characteristics of wisdom through her generosity, sexual integrity, stewardship of resources, genuine personal relationships and deep love of God.
The author of the book of James would have known all about the woman of noble character and perhaps references her when he asks, “Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom?” (James 3:13 MSG). According to James 3:13–18 what qualities are not associated with someone who is wise? (The way you talk, mean spirited ambition, boasting, twisting the truth, trying to look better than others, situational ethics, two–faced interactions)
According to those same verses in James, what qualities are associated with someone who is wise? (The way you live, getting along with others, overflowing with mercy and blessing, genuine personal interactions, resolute, hard worker, treats others with dignity, honors others, kind and truthful.)
If we try to live up to the literal description of the woman in Proverbs 31 we will fall miserably short. It takes wisdom for us to see and understand that God doesn’t expect that of us. God does expect us, however, to filter our lives, our decisions, our relationships and our interactions with one another through the lens of His wisdom, which is demonstrated through holy living.
Do you want to be counted wise? Do you want a reputation for wisdom? Then, what might you need to change about the way you live in order to live well in God’s world?