"Her children rise up and call her blessed [happy, fortunate and to be envied]; and her husband boasts of and praises her, saying, 'Many daughters have done virtuously, nobly and well [with strength of character that is steadfast in goodness] but you excel them all.'" Proverbs 31:28,29

     Here is an ideal wife and mother, honored by her family.  The first phrase of this verse, above, tells us that her children love her and are so very proud of her, being aware of her goodness of character, her ways and others' respect for her; a "lifting up" in regard for her.  We can picture her children lifting their heads, a light coming into their eyes and faces, with reverential respect and love.  They also grow, or "rise up," into adults who are admired and respected; whose lives are successful and abundant; all based upon a solid spiritual foundation.  For this they thank her, their mother, and "call her blessed."

     What her husband actually "boasts," or says in praise of her, is quoted in verse 29.  Like her children, this woman's husband also rises up and boasts of her to others.  What prompts him to do so?  It is her regard for him, and her putting his needs first above all else in her life, except her love for God.  She adapts herself to him as in 1 Peter 3, keeping strife out of their relationship and their home.  Note that the very first facet of her role as a wife as set forth in Proverbs 31 is her relationship with her husband (verse 11).  This is more important than any of the responsibilities she holds in her daily life, and the basis for all her other qualities as a wife.  This is the "good portion" of marriage for any woman.

     Her husband is surely aware of her management and mothering skills, as well as her other talents, but it is her regard and love for him that fills him.  Even if she weren't a very good housekeeper, or cook, or household manager, her presence would always light him up inside and give him a sense of security and well-being.  If a wife acquires only this quality, her husband will be the best he can be and her home will always enjoy a foundation of harmony, regardless of any adversity that might befall their family.  Her husband will surely respect and praise her, and boast to others of her ways and achievements; no matter how small, they will always be significant to him.

     In verse 29, above, her husband speaks to and of her.  As Dake's tells us in a footnote on this verse, the Proverbs 31 woman "excells all other women in wife-hood, mother-hood, religion, and industry."  1 (see Notes).  (The word "industry" is used here to describe her diligence and attention to personal duties and responsibilities, rather than in a commercial sense.)

     The Amplified Bible has a footnote on this verse as well, which expounds on this facet of her being and gives us its scope:

          "This is a very great deal to be recorded of her, a woman in private life.  It means she had done more than Miriam, the leader of a nation's women in praise to God, Exod. 15:20,21; Deborah, the patriotic military advisor, Judg. 4:4-10; Huldan, the woman who revealed God's secret message to national leaders, 2 Kings 22:14; Ruth, the woman of constancy, Ruth 1:16; Hannah, the ideal mother, 1 Samuel 1:20; 2:19; the Shunammite, the hospitable woman, 2 Kings 4:8-10; and even more than Queen Esther, the woman who risked sacrificing her life for her people, Esth. 4:16.

"In what way did she 'excel them all?'  In her spiritual and practical devotion to God, which permeated every area and relationship of her life.  All seven of the Christian virtues (2 Peter 1:5) are there, like colored threads in a tapestry.  Her secret, which is open to every one, is the Holy Spirit's climax of the story, and of this book.  In verse thirty that 'reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord' which is 'the beginning and principal part of Wisdom' (Prov. 1:7) is given the full responsibility for a life which is valued by God and her husband as 'far above rubies or pearls.' "  2 (see Notes

     Based upon this expansion of this verse, we can see that this woman is a model to emulate: one who excels even beyond the great women of old with their significant strengths and talents.  The footnote states that all seven of the Christian virtues listed in 2 Peter 1:5-7 are present in her.  2 Peter 1:9 says that "whoever lacks these qualities is blind, [spiritually] shortsighted ..."  In order to become fully mature in godly mind and character, Peter teaches us to exercise our faith and diligence to develop these qualities, in the following order, like building blocks: 

          1.  Virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy)

          2.  Knowledge (intelligence in spiritual things)

          3.  Self-control (temperance)

          4.  Patience (steadfastness, endurance)

          5.  Godliness (piety)

          6.  Brotherly affection

          7.  Christian love (agape)

Notice that operating in agape love (God's love) only comes "naturally" after the first six qualities are in place.  God operates this way, because He is a fully-developed spiritual being.  We, on the other hand, can operate in agape by choice -- as an act of our will - until the other fundamental qualities have matured in us.  With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can continually exercise agape love as we are growing spiritually.  It's important to note that these qualities are built one upon the other, not at random, to form a firm structure.  Knowledge without virtue, for example, would be ineffectual.  2 Peter 1:5-9, examining each of these seven qualities in depth, would make a good bible study.

     One more facet of verse 29 is worth noting.  If the prophetic words of the writer meant, as is implied in the Amplified translation, that the Proverbs 31 woman's husband would have actually spoken the words in this verse -- at the very least, holding them in his heart -- then it follows that he would be a godly man himself, knowledgable of the Scriptures and God's ways of righteousness.  It implies also that this woman was emotionally and spiritually mature at her marriageable age, to have such a man choose her for his wife.  As in 1 Peter 3:7, this man would have a godly understanding of the marriage relationship:

          "In the same way you married men should live considerately with [your wives}, with an intelligent recognition [of the marriage relation], honoring the woman as [physically] the weaker, but [realizing that you] are joint heirs of the grace (God's unmerited favor) of life, in order that your prayers may not be hindered and cut off.  --Otherwise you cannot pray effectively."

     In Puritan times, God's laws were closely knit with earthly government on local as well as higher levels, and there existed only a theoretical separation of Church and state.  The Massachusetts Bay Colony, for example, required husbands by law to treat their wives with due respect.  If they failed to do so, wives had legal recourse in the courts.  It is still most important that a Christian woman choose the right man for a marriage partner.  Although it is true that God provides a means, through prayer and spiritual understanding, to change a less than desirable partnership, a marriage will be much more productive if it is healthy from the start.  However, again, as set forth in 1 Peter 3:1,2, if a Christian wife -- particularly a newly Christian wife -- finds herself with a non-Christian husband, or one who believes only with his head and not his heart and doesn't operate in God's ways of living, her best and most efficient weapon is not to contend with him but rather to be adaptable to him, continuing to live as a godly example herself, and ask God for His wisdom and intervention.  In this forum, God can and will work on her behalf, and in His mercy will always give options to relieve any serious situation while long-term spiritual changes are still in process.  She only need ask in faith.

     In this vein, if the Proverbs 31 woman somehow found herself married to an ungodly man, or perhaps if her husband "fell away," he would still have good feelings and good words for her out of respect and admiration; for again, she is a wise wife who wouldn't try to contend with him about his ways and beliefs, and would always create an atmosphere of openness and love for him.  This atmosphere then paves the way for change to take place, for he doesn't feel the need to be "on the defensive" with her.