Throughout the Old Testament we have the pleasure of encountering many amazing men often described as “mighty men of valor.” Among those who share that title are Gideon (Judges 6:12), Jephthah (Judges 11:1), David (1Samuel 16:18) and Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:28). Interestingly, this Hebrew word is used to describe only two women throughout scripture. This term is often translated “woman of excellence” and is used in Ruth 3:12 and Proverbs 31:10. Personally, I like the translation “mighty women of valor” much better; what a powerful descriptive term! These two ladies wield just as much power as their male counterparts, but in a different way. Instead of carrying their sword into battle they utilize their wisdom and faithfulness. What an honor for them to be identified in this way!
Let’s take a look at exactly what it takes to gain this title. The first woman we see in scripture who dons this distinctive title is Ruth. The book of Ruth is not a very long one; however, in it we get a glimpse of a truly amazing woman of character. In the face of tremendous loss she is loyal to her mother-in-law, vowing to follow her wherever she goes (Ruth 1:16) and providing for her once they arrive (Ruth 2:2). In chapter 3, we see that Ruth is also extremely obedient, following the precise direction of her mother-in-law. If Ruth were to have lacked in any of these areas, she would not have received her faithful and loving husband, Boaz. She exhibited great faithfulness, loyalty, compassion, and obedience and became a “mighty woman of valor.”
The only other woman described in this way in scripture is the woman of Proverbs 31. This is the ideal woman that King Lemuel’s mother is telling him to keep an eye out for. Read through Proverbs 31:10-31. I don’t know about you, but this passage makes me utterly exhausted simply by reading it! This woman does it all: she works with her hands (Proverbs 31:13), she gets up while it is still dark to serve her family (Proverbs 31:15), she is an investor (Proverbs 31:16), she is physically fit (Proverbs 31:17), she helps the poor and needy (Proverbs 31:20), she clothes herself and her household well (Proverbs 31:21) and on top of all of that she speaks words of wisdom (Proverbs 31:26). I don’t know about you ladies, but I don’t know of anything that takes more valor and commitment than running a household and raising a godly family. This woman has it down to an art. Not only does she do all of this, but she does it with delight (Proverbs 31:13). This woman is thoughtful, wise, hard-working, diligent, and benevolent. Because of these things, her husband and children praise her and say: “Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all (Proverbs 31:29).”
All of these characteristics displayed by these two “mighty women of valor” can be learned. In the words of Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” These women did not just wake up one day and say “I think I will be excellent today!” All of these behaviors are learned. If you want to be wise, read your Bible and pray for wisdom. If you want to be benevolent, serve others even when unprompted. If you want to be hard-working, write out a schedule so you use every hour of your day purposefully and stick to it. Becoming a “mighty woman of valor” is not an easy task (this is evident by the small number of women described in this way); however, with fervent prayer and a little determination we all can achieve this exclusive title!