Day 15 of Unopened // Esheth Chayil: A Woman of Noble Character

Welcome Back, Friends

We are wrapping up our time studying Ruth today—and I hope it’s been worthwhile to each of you because I know it absolutely has been for me.

Today I want to conclude with Ruth by showing you an incredible connection that came to my attention that I’ve just got to share with y’all.

Open your copy of the Bible to Ruth 3:11.  The Hebrew phrase used by Boaz when he calls Ruth a ‘woman of noble character (NIV), is esheth chayil, also used in Proverbs 12:4, and again in 31:10.

Even though we don’t have a perfect, exact synonym, the phrase has been translated in many ways. In The NIV, Ruth is a ‘woman of noble character,’ in the NLT ‘a virtuous woman.’ The ESV calls Ruth a ‘worthy woman,’ the NASB translates the term ‘woman of excellence,’ and God’s Word Translation uses the words ‘woman who has strength of character.’ Our last example, and maybe my favorite, translation comes from Jubilee Bible 2000, where the adjective is translated as ‘valiant.’

Faithlife Study Bible goes on to say: “The sequence of biblical books in the Hebrew Bible is different than most English Bibles. In one ordering of the Hebrew Bible, Ruth comes directly after Proverbs. This would form a close association between the description of the ideal wife at the end of Proverbs and the character of Ruth.”

Is that not the coolest thing?? Studying the word is so not boring. There are so many treasures just beneath the surface, y’all!

Anyways—this is worth highlighting and sitting on for a minute. Ruth and the Proverbs 31 woman, unique and yet connected at the same time. I love it. In my own personal life and in different Christian circles I’ve been a part of, the Proverbs 31 woman is a frequented topic. Even recently, I’ve had conversations where a dear girlfriend and I asked hard questions with each other about our marriages, finances, working outside the home, the tidiness of our homes—and we directly referenced Proverbs 31: What would she do about toddler temper tantrums? How would she have spent her money? What might she have said in response to her husband? Which I think, was the right thing to do—but go with me here for a minute:   

The Proverbs 31 Woman:

She’s ideal.

She’s incredible.

She’s the energizer bunny for goodness sake!! I mean come on. Who can do all of that amazing stuff all of the time? If she exists, someone please get me her address so I can follow her around for a few days. I am not kidding.

Ruth is like that to me sometimes. Where is her fault? She works hard, loves well, perseveres… the list goes on. Maybe she was socially awkward, kind-of messy, or couldn’t sing worth a lick.

Ok,  I know I do not need to pick at this amazing woman, that is what we are not supposed to do. All I’m saying is that let’s not dog ourselves for not being the perfect Proverbs 31/Ruth example every.single.day.

There was an article I read on Proverbs 31 that blew my mind, and introduced a fabulous concept this chronic over-achiever really needed to hear: The Perfect Proverbs 31 Woman, is just that, she’s perfect. She is an example.

Ruth is an example.

Someone to admire, but not someone to expect be exactly like. I don’t think God is interested in carbon copies. If He was, we’d all be clones. And that would be awfully boring.

God is the one we strive to be just like. He is the one we should pattern our lives after. As our God is all things to all people, we are free to be the unique female He created us to be. So yes, we are blessed to have biblical examples of Godly womanhood, but it’s God that deserves our focus.

Sometimes we get hung up on the example, instead of the Savior. We get so busy trying to do and be so many things for so many people, when all that’s required is the approval of one. The one.

Wanting to be like Ruth and the Proverbs 31 Woman, is most of the time, a wonderful thing. But, are we consuming ourselves with her accomplishments and successes? Are we overwhelmed from trying to copy and carry out her lofty list of tasks?

Just like Yahweh did not name Naomi ‘bitter,’ He didn’t name us Ruth, either. He has a specific, holy, sometimes hard, but wonderful calling for each of us. We need to walk our own journey out, without trying to run parallel to an ideal of perfection.

We are called to be Christ-followers: “a holy rebel loose in the world with access to the throne of God” (Tozer) meant to run the unique race that God set out for us individually. That is what has been spoken over us. I have been enamoured with that quote from Tozer for a while now, and it’s never been more true than it is today. As Christians, we are called to live, and love, in a way that is counter-cultural. So when we do that, we become rebels—in the very best way.

As a bunch of holy rebels, we are not worried about our appetizers being the prettiest, but look forward to fellowship and loving on our sisters in Christ. As holy rebels, we do not run a race called ‘catch-up,’ we run the race set out for us by our Heavenly Father, not Pop Culture. As holy rebels, we can appreciate each other’s different talents and abilities—instead of picking each other apart or being jealous, we can applaud and spur each other on with the love of Christ.

In our efforts to not focus on anything other than our Father in Heaven, that’s when we actually become more like these beautiful examples of ‘valiant women.’

  • Can you relate to this at all? Do any of your packages connect to today’s post?
  • Have you ever measured yourself against the Proverbs 31 Woman or Ruth?
  • How can we move forward as ‘holy rebels’ instead of carbon copies?

Please share your response in the comments section below or join the conversation with our Facebook Community Group. #undividedwomen

// Rachel