From the very beginning, God had a design for women. As we embark on this journey through scripture focusing on what God tells and teaches about women, we will set the tone for the whole study by first identifying the characteristics of a Godly woman; a woman of noble character. Through this, we should then understand God’s design a little better, and apply the upcoming studies with more wisdom and discernment.
What characterizes a Godly woman?
You have likely heard that all women should strive to live up to the ideals of the Proverbs 31 Woman. You may also have heard women referenced in regards to the Beatitudes, and how it expands on the qualities women should embody. What you likely have not heard is that these characteristics are not only meant for women. These passages in the Word of God are important for all people, men and women alike, to learn, consider and encourage others to display. This may sound like an extremely bold statement, but hang on with me and let me explain.
An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. Proverbs 31:10-12 ESV
It can be difficult for an unmarried woman to read Proverbs 31 and feel that it is relevant to her. Similar feelings are likely to be expressed by a man, or anyone who has no intention or desire to marry. We must apply Proverbs 31 in relation to the rest of what God tells us. We are the Body of Christ, and as such we are the Bride of Christ, His wife, and He is our husband. All of us are wives to our Lord and Savior. When we accept Christ, we are accepting His proposal of marriage and choosing to enter into this relationship as a submissive wife. Yes, even the men. Yes, I did just say submissive, but hang on, we will get there, too.
For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called. Isaiah 54:5 ESV
Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” Revelation 19:7-9 ESV
Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, Revelation 21:9-10 ESV
The relationship between God and His people, His Church, is regarded as a marriage relationship where God is the husband and we, His people, are His wife. When God explains a Godly wife, He is speaking to all of us as His bride. God describes His people throughout scripture as His wife, or bride, and Proverbs 31 is identifying the noble character God wants all of us to have as His wife. This is contrasted in scriptures such as Isaiah 54 where God is relating His people to an unfaithful wife. He wants us to understand the difference between being a bride that honors Him and a bride that dishonors Him, and he uses the imagery and place of a woman to explain the place all Christians are called to.
He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord. Proverbs 18:22 ESV
What is an excellent wife?
Through service to her Husband, an excellent wife is trustworthy and faithful, brings peace and goodness into the marriage relationship, and honor to her Husband. This requires the wife to set priorities according to the will of God, not personal passions. We are sinful and selfish from the day sin entered the world and must all learn to cast off our selfishness to put Christ in His rightful place, and thereafter place people in their rightful order according to the will of God in our lives. Because we are naturally selfish, it is far too easy to serve ourselves first and incorrectly prioritize God and other people in our lives.
She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.' Proverbs 31:13-31
A Godly wife is hard-working, organized, productive, and should be resourceful and contributing to her family, her community, and the work of God. She uses talents and skills granted from God to serve God and family. She should not idly wait for people to serve her but intentionally seek to serve others. She can be trusted with life decisions, finances, and business ventures, and does it all for the benefit of her family and the glory of God - not for her own benefit and independence. A Godly wife presents herself with dignity, focuses on taking care of home and family, serving God, and caring for her community. She contributes to her family while her husband tends to the greater needs of the family and community.
The Godly wife contributes to, supports and adds to the reputation and success of her husband. As the bride of Christ we are called to contribute, also, to the reputation of God by sharing His truth, love and mercy and bearing His fruit in our lives through faith in Him. Husbands should compliment their wives behind closed doors as well as in public, and we should seek to do what will please God. The fruits of her labors should be recognized publicly as well as privately. She should present herself and speak with wisdom, dignity, and kindness. The Godly wife is God-fearing, God-focused, and God-serving in all she does, and displays the fruits of right priorities and virtues in her relationships.
'giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:20-21 ESV
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.' Ephesians 5:22-33 ESV
Strong’s G5293: Submit - hypotássō, hoop-ot-as'-so; to subordinate; reflexively, to obey:—be under obedience, put under, subdue unto, subject, be in subjection, submit self unto.
This use of “submit” is found over 30 times in the New Testament, and is referring to the submissive relationship we are called to have with God out of respect, love and reverence for Him. As a marriage is a representation of the relationship between Christ and His Church, so is this submission between husband and wife - to be subject to Him, obedient to His will, out of love and reverence. This submission is a mutual balance where husband and wife submit one to another, as we are also called within our marriage relationship and individually to submit to Christ. Wives are called to submit all things to their husband’s leadership as the head of the family, as the Church is called to submit all things to the will and leadership of God. Husbands are called to submit themselves to their wife, offering themselves up fully in love for their wife as Christ offered Himself up for the Church, His bride, providing for all her needs and caring for her in all things. This submission is not providing an excuse for abuse, dominance, intolerance, dictatorship, tyrannical treatment, or participation in sin from either husband or wife. It is also not to be mistaken for women not being allowed to participate in decision making, or a discouragement for women to express themselves.
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:1-7 ESV
Husbands are called to love their wives as Christ so loves His Church. Wives are called to respect their husband, in awe and reverence for him, just as we as the bride of Christ are called to respect Christ out of love and subjugation to Him. Husband and wife become one flesh and should regard one another in such a manner. We are also called to submit to our husbands, and to Christ, so that through our faith we may bring others to Him. Our faith is not merely for our own benefit, nor is it only an inward experience, but also an outward expression. It is meant to be displayed in all aspects of our character, to shine and share God's truth and light with others, planting seeds that bring them to Him as we strive to live faithfully as His bride; His excellent wife, in all we do.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV
Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. Colossians 3:18-25 ESV
Strong’s G5399: Respect - phobéō, fob-eh'-o; to frighten, i.e. (passively) to be alarmed; by analogy, to be in awe of, i.e. revere:—be afraid, fear (exceedingly), reverence.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a ESV
If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. 1 Corinthians 3:17 ESV
How do these attributes translate to all followers of Christ?
Our culture is jealous, idolatrous, and materialistic and it is too easy to fall into the culture and away from the characteristics God calls on us to display. We must remember that He is the source of salvation, comfort, and all of our needs and that only He is sufficient. Things of this world will never satisfy what we truly long to satisfy. The Beatitudes are commonly applied to women, but should actually be applied to all who follow Jesus. We must dive into practical applications for each Beatitude characteristic focusing on all believers as the Bride of Christ.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22-26 ESV
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:12-17 ESV
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:1-2 ESV
All followers of Jesus are called to love God above all, and love people. Our definition of love and what qualifies us as “good” does not compare to God’s definition. We must always look to God’s definition over our own, and seek to live by His Word not the world’s. Through displaying the love of God in our relationships with people we should inherently produce the fruit of the Spirit, which are vital virtues of a Christ follower. These fruits can also be translated into the Beatitudes presented by Jesus during the Sermon on the Mount.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3 ESV
Strong’s G3107: Blessed - makários, mak-ar'-ee-os; fortunate, well-off, happy.
Strong’s G4434: Poor - ptōchós, pto-khos'; pauper, beggar.
To be blessed in this sense is to happily be of good fortune. This is about recognizing that it is God who blesses and provides, and recognizing that His provisions are sufficient. Being poor in the spirit is to be humble; recognizing our need for God and trusting Him to provide all we need. When we humbly subject ourselves to the rule of Christ, we enter into a salvation relationship with Him and inherit the promise of eternity in Heaven. Subjecting to the rule of Christ includes to subject yourself to His provisions and trust that He truly is sufficient for all your needs.
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:26 ESV
The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life. Proverbs 22:4 ESV
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 1 Peter 5:6 ESV
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4 ESV
Strong’s G3996: Mourn - penthéō, pen-theh'-o; to grieve, wail, grief so all encompassing that cannot be hidden, passionate lamenting.
“Those who mourn” is referring to those who are sensitive and responsive to their sin and compassionate towards others. Mourning here is to mourn a loss of something due to sin. The loss of earthly things due to sin should lead you to mourning and seeking God’s forgiveness and comfort. When we are led to Him through our mourning, it is a blessing because it strengthens our dependence on God, repentance from our sin, and peace in His comfort. God’s peace surpasses understanding and is an incredible comfort in times of mourning and distress. He will be there for us when we are hurting, will forgive us when we sin, and will always lead us back to the right path and strengthen us through the process. We must come to God in our grief because grief that does not lead you back to God will always lead you into darkness, and eventually cause spiritual death.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 ESV
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 2 Corinthians 7:10 ESV
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5 ESV
Strong’s G4239: Meek - praÿs, prah-ooce'; gentle, humble, meek.
The meek are those who are gentle and dependent on God rather than themselves. The meek display self-control and submission to God. Meekness equates to humility and recognition that you cannot do it on your own; we all need God in all things.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33 ESV
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:1-7 ESV
But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. Psalm 37:11 ESV
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Matthew 5:6 ESV
Strong’s G1342: Righteousness - dikaiosýnē, dik-ah-yos-oo'-nay; innocent, holy, righteous, just; righteousness of God; designate the perfect agreement of God’s nature and acts in which He is the standard for all people.
To hunger and thirst for righteousness is to desire to hear and obey the will of God in faithfulness. “Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” are those who long for true righteousness to be evident in their life, but recognize that coming into a relationship with God is the only way to satisfy their hunger and thirst. We must all recognize that only God can satisfy our needs and faithfully submit to His provisions and instructions. We also need to recognize that earthly or material wealth does not equate to the righteousness of God that we yearn for. We cannot be faithful to God if we are leaning on things of the world to satisfy our needs.
He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. Luke 1:53 ESV
Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Psalm 85:10 ESV
He struck the rock so that water gushed out and streams overflowed. Can he also give bread or provide meat for his people?” Psalm 78:20 ESV
The path of the righteous is level; you make level the way of the righteous. Isaiah 26:7 ESV
Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22 ESV
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Matthew 5:7 ESV
Strong’s G1655: Merciful - eleḗmōn, el-eh-ay'-mone; actively compassionate; of Christ as a High Priest, and those who are like God.
The merciful are those who are compassionate toward the needs of others and, out of faith, work to meet those needs. Mercy that is shown to others will also be shown to us. God gives us all that we have, even and especially our salvation through the blood of His Son, and commands us to have mercy for others as He has with us. All of us sin and fall short of the glory of God; all of us struggle. If God has mercy for us, how could we possibly think we have any right to withhold mercy for others? None of us deserve mercy, but He gives it and commands it anyway.
And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. Luke 1:58 ESV
For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13 ESV
And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you? Matthew 18:33 ESV
But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. Jude 1:20-23 ESV
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8 ESV
Strong’s G2513: pure - katharós, kath-ar-os - Clean, clear, pure; free from corrupt desire, from sin and guilt in reference to the heart.
Strong’s G2588: heart - kardía, kar-dee'-ah - The heart; figuratively, thoughts or feelings; mind; the outward, outpouring of one's inner self; the seat of the soul.
“Those who are pure in heart” live a lifestyle of holiness, set apart and different from the world, including in thoughts and actions. Being pure in heart means you are intentionally pursuing purity in all areas of life. In order to be in a right relationship with God we must seek to lead a lifestyle of purity, constantly repenting and seeking for God to clean the darkness, brokenness and sin from our lives, softening our hearts to Him and His will. We all miss the mark constantly, but must live with holy intentions and a heart of repentance when we slip in order for God to purify us once again.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 ESV
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Psalm 24:4-6 ESV
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9 ESV
Strong’s G1518: Peacemakers - eirēnopoiós, i-ray-nop-oy-os; subjectively peaceable, loving peace, pacific.
Peacemakers are those who seek reconciliation, forgiveness, forbearance, and restoration of fellowship. They are those that strive to live a quiet life and be in fellowship with those around them. This includes being full of forgiveness and grace for those who have done wrong. When conflict arises, the peacemakers are those who are able to remain peaceable and level-headed with a heart of forgiveness, and also quickly recognize and repent for their own wrongs.
Whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. Romans 3:25 ESV
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:18 ESV
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 ESV
To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. Titus 3:2 ESV
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7 ESV
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Matthew 5:10-11 ESV
To be persecuted for righteousness sake means that your loyalty and commitment to God can not be broken even while being treated wrongly because of your faith. Patience and self-control are needed to willingly endure suffering and persecution. Being persecuted for standing firm with Christ is a blessing because He is being glorified and honored through our suffering, and our faith is being strengthened and used as a light for His good.
There is variation in degrees that people will face during persecution and there will be those who are under immense pressure and hostility. As much as we rejoice in persecution for ourselves, we also must be lifting up others who are going through their own persecution and not fearing, condemning, or judging one another's levels, intentions or even reactions to persecution. We must have the self-control to remain faithful and peaceable in our own persecution and as a response to the persecution of others.
So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:15-17 ESV
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:3 ESV
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 2 Timothy 3:12 ESV
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 1 Peter 4:12-14 ESV
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Romans 12:14 ESV
If we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; 2 Timothy 2:12 ESV
And you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. Matthew 10:22 ESV