We hear two caricatures of our great grandmother's life. Feminists (gender-biased towards women) picture her as a "kept woman" trapped in housework. On the other hand, there are shall we say for equality's sake "masculists" (gender-biased towards men) who depict her as a woman of leisure sipping tea with the ladies' guild, while great grandpa slaved away to provide the physical necessities of life. An egalitarian approach is needed, where both sexes are truly treated equally. Neither distortion is an honest picture yet they are readily promoted by a world anxious to dishonor and abandon the wisdom of our ancestors.
In Proverbs 31, we find a woman who is neither extreme. She is neither the brainless bond-slave to a dictatorial husband, nor the lazy woman of leisure, living off her husband's blood, sweat and tears. The first rather impressive description is that her husband safely trusts her. Now what does that mean? Trust is a two way street. You don't earn trust if you also can't give it. So, reading between the lines, I perceive that this is a relationship of mutual trust.
What does trust entail? He trusts her enough to make a decision on buying a field. Now how much money is that? In most of our countries today, that is perhaps worth an annual income or maybe even more. In my retail experience, I have found very few couples who would make a decision over a week's wages in value without the other's input. For a husband to safely trust his wife over something that would entail such a huge cost means to me that this is an extra-ordinary woman in an exceptional marriage.
Another rather remarkable description is that this woman is not constrained by her home duties, but is very enterprising. She not only makes an income from the field that she bought, but also imports goods from afar, and has a rather successful cottage industry which swells the family's income abundantly. Remarkably, she also has employees, but is not the "career woman" who neglects her family, farms the kids out to babysitters or daycare, while she is off gallivanting all over creation, but she manages to personally attend to her family's needs. Granted, there are times when we cannot avoid babysitters or daycare and they become a necessity of circumstances. The Proverbs 31 woman is not however, the absentee wife and mother. She has found a way to richly blend all of these things together.
Some people are offended by such an intelligent and capable home-centered women. In a self-centered world, where family is allowed to rot for the sake of a career, or selfish ambition, the Proverbs 31 woman stands as an example, shining the way for today's citizens that have the highest divorce and family breakdown rates in history. She is not a brainless Hausfrau, nor a selfish, man-hating, family-destroying feminist, but an exceptionally intelligent and graciously dependable woman who is able to preserve and blend family and business life into one seamless, healthy whole. Wow!