What is Happening at the Gate?

city gate

“Her husband is known in the gates,

when he sits among the elders of the land.”

Proverbs 31:23

This portion of Scripture, Proverbs 31:10-31, is a Hebrew poem written by a queen mother to her son.  She understood the value of a virtuous woman, and she did not want her son to be tricked into marrying or falling for a woman that did not have a virtuous character.  In order to understand women and their importance to a marriage the poem identifies the traits of a virtuous and godly woman.  Marriage was intended by God to be for a lifetime, and this queen mother wanted her son to have the best opportunity for a lifetime of happiness and not a lifetime of pain and misery.

Proverbs is full of wise sayings and wise counsel to all who are willing to read it and heed what God so readily wants to impart into our lives.  Below is a list of comparison between what Proverbs says about a woman of ill repute and the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31.

Woman of ill repute (Proverbs)                                         Virtuous Woman (Prov. 31)

  1. Adulteress (2:16; 29:20)                                             Husband trusts her (v. 11)
  1. She brings shame which is                                      She does him good, and not harm

like rottenness to his bones (12:4)                               all the days of his life (v. 12)

  1. Foolishly tears her house down (14:1)                     Diligent and hard worker helping                                                                                       her husband build their estate                                                                                                          (v. 13-19)
  1. Focuses on her selfish needs (7:10-23)                   Focuses on the needs of her                                                                                          family, the poor, and needy                                                                                                          (v. 15, 20, 21)
  1. Dresses seductively (9:13)                                          Dresses in a fashionable and                                                                                              modest way (v. 22)
  1. Like a gold ring in a pigs snout (11:22)                              Husband well known and                                                                                                     respected (v. 23)
  1. Smooth speech that is bitter as wormwood                      Kind and wise words (v. 26)

and sharp as a two-edged sword (5:3, 4))

  1. “Her feet do not stay home” (7:11)                                    “Looks well to the ways of                                                                                               her household and is not                                                                                                     idle” (v. 25, 27)
  1. Quarrelsome and fretful (21:9, 21:19, 25:24)                     Husband and children                                                                                                        praise her (v. 28)
  1. Forgets her covenant with God (2:17)                                 A woman who fears the                                                                                                    Lord is to be praised                                                                                                                (v. 30)

The virtuous woman’s husband is able to sit in the gates with the elders of the land because he has a wife at home who is caring for his home and his children and does not bring shame and embarrassment to their family.

Proverbs 31:10-31 is a chiastic poem.  Starting at the beginning and the end of this poem and working our way to the middle we come to the central thought.  “Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.”  Here we have twenty verses pointing out the qualities of a virtuous woman and one verse in the middle about the husband and his standing in the community.  Ladies, one of the ways we can tell how we are doing at home is how our husbands are doing in the community.  As the saying goes, “Behind every good man, there is a good woman.”  If this husband had to make the chores of the home his priority, such as taking care of the children, keeping the house clean, making sure meals were made, children were at their activities, etc., he would not be able to be in the position he is in.

As wives we have a tremendous impact on our husbands and their position and role in society.  I wrote myself a letter the other day to remind myself what I needed to focus on.  Here is a short excerpt:


“You are responsible for you.  You will stand alone before God.  You are responsible for yourself as a wife and a mother.  Stop thinking you have to be responsible for…, rather see yourself as God sees you…a sinner with nothing good to offer if it weren’t for the blood of Christ.”

Wives, the jobs we have to do according to Proverbs 31 is overwhelming, but God does not give us something to do without desiring to assist us.  Maybe the reason we are unsuccessful in accomplishing all God has for us is because we are seeking to do it in our own strength, instead of leaning on God to assist us.  May God bless you as you ponder these thoughts and evaluate your life.


  1. Evaluate your life. Which list more accurately describes you?

2.   Write yourself a letter.  Sometimes it is helpful to get our thoughts back on track.


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