Proverbs 31:17

She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.


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Great women keep getting better. They know being exceptional takes great effort, so they prepare themselves for it. A virtuous woman is not content with her abilities, appearance, or achievements; she continually strives to improve in every area of life. She does not relax her pursuit of excellence. She takes her role seriously and intends to be the best.

The productivity of the virtuous woman is exceptional. Women faint when reading her description. This proverb shows her commitment to energetic effort and diligent labor. Every woman who will please God and men must commit to high energy and strength as well. Wife and mother are not comfortable and easy roles, when properly fulfilled.

Note the figures of speech. Girding with strength is encircling a thing to make it strong and ready for action. Extreme effort in Solomon’s day required girding up long, flowing garments for greater movement (II Kgs 4:29; 9:1; Job 38:3; 40:7). The metaphor and synecdoche of this clause intend strengthening her whole person for greater activity and effort, not just her loins. Abdominal crunches or Kegel exercises are not the main point.

Bicep curls and tricep extensions will keep a woman’s arms firm and shapely, but the synecdoche of the second clause also intends her whole person. Her loins, the center of bodily strength, and her arms, the useful tools of a hardworking woman, are important bodily parts used to represent her whole person: body, mind, and soul. She needs overall power to be the productive woman that accomplishes much for her husband and family.

A great woman strives for excellence. She has drive, energy, strength, and zeal. She does not rise slowly to drowsily go through the motions again. She rises with a new lease on life and intends to be better today than she was yesterday. She takes regular steps to identify, develop, and preserve her abilities. She wants to increase her productivity.

Many women anticipate their husbands leaving for work and children for school, so they can go on cruise control. With the laborsaving devices of this modern society, she can pace herself at 30% of capacity with frequent pleasantries and still get her work done. God forbid! The virtuous woman in the same situation would use the freedom of no husband and children to rev up to 100% and do the work of three women. Love her!

It is not God strengthening her loins and arms here; she does it herself. Do not be a Fatalist and hope for improvement; take charge and improve yourself. She reads, talks to others, exercises, learns better methods, takes classes, changes habits, breaks routines, buys witty inventions, reorganizes household duties, and any other measure to be better. She is committed to high productivity, and she will put forth whatever effort it requires.

Because she is the virtuous woman, she has good understanding (I Sam 25:3). She knows that wisdom can multiply and direct her efforts to greater productivity. She will not be caught with a dull axe (Eccl 10:10). She is eagerly sensitive to better methods, tools, schedules, subcontractors, communication, recipes, or anything to enhance productivity. She is on the cutting edge of every advantage she can discover to accomplish ever more.

Continuing education is required of many professions and trades, for a changing world demands additional knowledge. If a man will not keep learning and improving, then he will be helped to a lesser job. Most employers will pay for tuition and books for courses that enhance an employee’s value to the company. They want employees who are continually expanding their abilities and knowledge to contribute more and more value. And the role and work of a woman is no less important. She must continually improve.

Older women should teach younger women in Christ’s churches (Tit 2:3-5). If this were done diligently and wisely, each generation of Christian women would be greater than the one before in terms of holiness and marital and domestic godliness. If this is not the case in your church, who will change the ungodly trend? And when? Every Christian mother must also rise above ungodly prudery or slothfulness to teach her daughters completely.

A virtuous woman is not content burying her talents; she will develop and exploit them to their full potential. She wants to take her five, invest them well, and gain five more. She does not want her Lord to judge her for squandering the roles He gave her (Matt 25:14-30). She remembers the parable of the talents and multiplies hers as well as she can.

Wife, are you the best lover you can be? The best cook? The best mother? The best investor? The best home decorator? The best shopper? Is your house spotless throughout? What is the annual income of your home business? Do you apply yourself with full vigor every day for your husband and children? Or have you retired on the job? Do you attack your duties? Or do they overwhelm you? Gird up your loins! Strengthen your arms!

Remember, the LORD’s emphasis for a virtuous woman is on marital and domestic abilities and achievements (Pr 31:10-31). Do not hide behind quoting Bible verses and reading Christian books; God has not made that a priority for your life. Every reference to the activities of women in the Bible is related to their husbands, children, and home.

Husband, it is not only wisdom to help your wife get enough sleep to run wide open all day, it is a commandment (I Pet 3:7). You are to know and understand that your wife is a weaker vessel, and in most cases requires more sleep than you. Give her the sleep, and leave this proverb on her nightstand. Help her start the day refreshed and raring to go.

Husband, it is not only wisdom to help your wife get better by allowing her opportunities to expand and multiply her abilities, it is a commandment (Eph 5:29). You are commanded to love your wife by nourishing her – promoting her growth. Let her take a class, pursue a friendship, buy a tool, or anything that will make her better. You must also give her some of her productive labor for her to reinvest it for greater returns (Pr 31:31). After all, husband, you will receive the greater benefit. God’s ways are always win-win.