It’s not often we hear Proverbs 31 in the light of manhood, but there’s relevance for men who have ears to hear. When we become abundantly familiar with a passage, apathy and assumption are often waiting at the door. We must not let those twin hucksters steal our Bibles and rebrand Proverbs 31 as a passage applicable only to women and women’s ministries tote bags.
And we must reject the industrialization of Proverbs 31 into a 31-point inspection system for a potential spouse. Paul reminds us how the entirety of God’s Word is profitable for all believers, equipping us for every good work toward the glory of God (2 Tim. 3:16–17). Thus, Proverbs 31 bears fruit for all believers. So what is a Proverbs 31 man? He exhibits three attributes.
Three Marks of a Proverbs 31 Man
1. A Proverbs 31 man treasures his wife.
An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. (Prov. 31:10)
The wise husband actually, in a sense, compares his wife to other women, and even to exotic gemstones, but he discovers the same result every time: she is amazing. “You surpass them all,” he declares (Prov. 31:29). When he sees his wife’s amazingness clearly, he sees her as God does. She’s precious.
The wise husband never demeans his wife, or puts her down, or makes her the butt of a joke. She’s far too precious for a cheap laugh. The husband who fears the Lord believes and lives in sync with the fact that his wife is far more valuable than a truck bed filled with diamonds. She’s rare; therefore, she’s treasured above all the things moth and rust will destroy. A man ought to be enamored with his wife. She is far more interesting and invigorating than Netflix, touchdowns, or a beautiful golf swing.
Men who find more joy tinkering in the garage, fiddling with their hobbies, hanging with the fellas, or working late into the night rather than being with the wife of their youth reveal their heart’s appraisal system is out of whack.
It is the wise man who sees his wife as a living and breathing testimony of God’s grace toward him. “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD” (Prov. 18:22). Husbands who want to live for the glory of Christ must ask some critical questions. Is my wife precious to me? Does she sense how much I adore her? After God himself, would she believe how dear she is to me because of how I love her? Is it obvious?
2. A Proverbs 31 man creates a culture of flourishing.
The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. (Prov. 31:11)
What’s unmistakable in Proverbs 31 is how fruitful, productive, and active this woman is. She is buying fields, making goods to sell at the market, tending to everyone in the house. She’s a go-getter because her husband isn’t a dictator. There is no room for a messiah complex in marriage.
A Proverbs 31 man trusts his wife; he’s not suspicious of her, not cynical towards her ideas. The wise man supports, encourages, and refuses to micromanage her. There is a difference between gospel-formed leadership and flesh-favoring control. It’s impossible for man to maintain his control issues while he lives crucified with Christ.
The Proverbs 31 woman goes out and buys a field without her husband on her hip. I imagine this lovely couple talked before they both headed out to tackle the day: “Honey, I think I’m going to check out some fields today. I might even buy one. What do you think?” I imagine he replied, “Go get it, babe. I trust you.”
I heard of a man insisting he approve the weekly grocery list before his wife went to the store. Ridiculous. Sure, talk about what’s needed for the week, and talk about the budget, but let her do her thing. Even as I’m typing this sentence, my wife is in the other room buying a new dishwasher and cooktop for our kitchen, and I have no clue what she is getting. I trust her. She knows our budget and our family’s needs. Go for it, babe.
3. A Proverbs 31 man is an encourager.
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.” (Prov. 31:28–29)
This is an amazing home. It’s a safe environment, a place of encouragement, a culture of love. There is a gospel culture in the home. Children, who haven’t learned the stealthy ways of selfishness like adults, rise up and encourage their mom. And what does the husband do? He joins in the honoring of his precious bride. “There are lots of great women in the world, honey, but you are the best. What a woman you are!” It’s real, it’s sincere, and it’s godly.
The Proverbs 31 man seeks to encourage his wife and labors to outdo her in showing honor (Rom. 12:10). No one has ever felt too honored, but the wise husband gives it a whirl as he pours encouragement and thanksgiving onto his praiseworthy wife. I suspect most husbands—if not most believers—are prone to underencouraging others. Let’s change that today (1 Thess. 5:11).
When was the last time you moved forward in an umprompted, pure act of love to encourage your wife? The wise husband seeks to affirm, thank, and honor his precious wife. He, like Christ, nourishes and cherishes his bride (Eph. 5:29).
The mega-grace we enjoy in the gospel gives us the power, the vision, and the heart to build one other up (Eph. 4:29). Brothers, it’s no longer us who live, but Christ who lives in us (Gal. 2:20). The ultimate Proverbs 31 man is alive and well in the heavenly places, leading us, guiding, us, empowering us, and conforming us into his image. The Proverbs 31 man is more than a neat way to go about husbanding—it’s the way of Christ. He rejoices over his bride. He encourages us, walks with us, and fills us with his Spirit. Jesus Christ is the Proverbs 31 man in the flesh. Let’s draw near to him and he will draw near to us—and then we, and the homes we lead, will never be the same.