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The Proverbs 31 Man

By: Atticus Nguyen

Photo Courtesy of Mathew Thomas via Pexels

What is Manhood Today?

Manhood is perhaps one of the most twisted terms today, and those effects have reached the church today. We have a generation of men who are defining what manhood is for themselves, or they ascribe to a superficial and flawed view of masculinity at best and sinful at worst. Rather than flourishing in the way that God has designed for them to act, men are going down a path that does quite the opposite. The worldly view of manhood does not give life but destroys it. The effects are not always immediate, though. In fact, they may not appear until the next generation of a family line. The lack of proper knowledge of Biblical manhood is leading to the constant passivity, pride, and selfishness in the church today. That begs the question: What makes a Godly man? The answer can be found in Proverbs 31, which is one of the most lopsidedly interpreted passages today. Do not get me wrong, it is certainly important for men to understand the qualities of a Godly woman to marry. Verses 10-31 tell that she is a woman of character marked by hard work, trustworthiness, charitability, reputability, wisdom, strength (not exactly the type that involves barbells), the fear of the Lord, attentiveness, modesty, nobility, and respect. But let’s not forget verses 1-9. Even verse 23 tells something about the husband of this Godly woman. I would also add the other 30 chapters of Proverbs, but in this time, may we find balance in interpreting this beautiful chapter. To understand the chapter itself, we must understand its context first. It is a chapter meant for King Lemuel, from the teachings that his mother taught him. We don’t exactly know who Lemuel is, with some claiming it to be Solomon or a pagan king who placed his trust in Yahweh. If it was Solomon, then it would likely be Bathsheba writing this. Whatever the case, the intended audience is still clear. There is also an unstated prerequisite that the Proverbs 31 man is also a believer, one who has tasted and seen that God is good through the gospel. A man cannot become a Godly man unless he first puts his faith and trust in the one true God, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

The Character Marks

As we dive into the first 9 verses and verse 23, there are clearly presented aspects to the Godly man archetype. King Lemuel’s mother shows that a Proverbs 31 man is a man of purity, sobriety, honor, wisdom, and reputability. A Proverbs 31 man is also one who leads, protects, and provides. Purity is first mentioned in verse 3, where Lemuel’s mother states, “Don’t spend your energy on women or your efforts on those who destroy kings” (CSB). Infidelity is one of the most dangerous transgressions we face as Christian men because it affects us not only on an individual level but also on a community level. How often do we hear of stories of men who have ruined their lives or reputation because of pornography and affairs?

Sobermindedness is something that directly relates to alcohol in verses 4-5. While it is clear that King Lemuel, the intended audience, should not be the one who indulges in wine or desires beer, there is still a requirement for men not to be ruled over by alcoholic drinks. Alcohol is not a sinful thing by any means, but it is drunkenness or being drunk that is evil in the eyes of the Lord. A person only needs to spend a few hours outside of a bar in a college town or during the Super Bowl to see how alcohol can remove the inhibitions of even individuals who consider themselves moral.

Honor, wisdom, and reputability come from verse 23, where it is stated that “Her husband is known at the city gates, where he sits among the elders of the land” (CSB). It should also be added that the Proverbs 31 man is one who is elder qualified according to scripture. This is one who understands God’s word, knows God’s word, and has lived a life of applying God’s word. It should be noted that I'm not talking about perfection but direction towards Christlikeness. As a result of his faithfulness, he is also entrusted to apply it for the people of God. Much of what I’ve stated relates to the qualities that should belong to an elder of a church or a pastor. Your pastor should have these qualities to be in that ministry position, but there is still a need for all men to have these qualities.

Leading, Providing, and Protecting

The terms leader, protector, and provider are not explicitly stated in Proverbs 31, but it is found when we understand the duties of King Lemuel, the qualities of an elder of the land, and scripture as a whole. His mother tells him not to drink explicitly in verse 5 because he will “forget what is decreed, and pervert justice for all the oppressed” (CSB). He is called to also “speak up for those who have no voice, for the justice of all who are dispossessed. Speak up, judge righteously, and defend the cause of the oppressed and needy” (vv. 8-9, CSB). As stated before, the Proverbs 31 man is elder-like in qualities or is an elder himself in verse 23, and it is clear that an elder is meant to lead and protect for the good of the people under his care.

The aspect of being a provider goes all the way back to the Genesis 1 account, where God created the world and made Adam in His Image. Adam was told by God to subdue the Earth with his work and fill it with fellow image-bearers of God. The Genesis account in Chapter 2 also displays this. It says in Genesis 2 that, “The Lord God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it.” (v. 15, CSB). Being a provider or a worker is how God made us as men, and we should embrace His design for us. When we hear the aspect of how God designed us to be leaders, protectors, and providers, does that mean all of us guys should become soldiers, firefighters, police officers, farmers, hunters, etc.? No.

There is absolutely no verse in all of scripture that says so. When we talk about Biblical masculinity and manhood, we should not gravitate to cultural stereotypes. We should fix our eyes and minds upon divine design and the gospel. Stereotypes when it comes to masculinity can easily crush and deceive men. They can crush men by making them think they have to live upon their own solitary strength and act cold to everything around them. They can deceive men by having them think that their worth is found in money, the number of women they can take advantage of, or whatever temporal exploit you can name.

Men, you can be in the corporate world and be a leader, protector, and a provider. You can also be a soldier and have the exact same role, albeit with different applications. What matters to God is not just the outward actions, but it is also your heart posture. Are you submitted to His Lordship? Are you submitted to His divine design and plan for your life? Or is your life merely conducted for the temporary things and your own glory?

Jesus: the Archetype for Manhood

Something that must be addressed is that leadership does not mean being an authoritarian over individuals. As men, we should ultimately look to the Son of God Jesus Christ, our vicarious substitute who died for us on the cross and rose again on the third day so that we may be reconciled to Himself. Our headship or leadership is sacrificial and is marked by being a servant. Jesus embodied that when He walked on Earth because He humbled Himself by condescending unto Earth and throughout His life in Paul Washer’s words, “He gave, gave, and gave until there was nothing left to give.”

What if you’re not married? That may be a question that many single Christian men have because they do not have a bride of their own and children to lead, provide for, and protect. Gentlemen, if you don’t have a family of your own, make it your mission to pour yourself out for Christ’s bride, the church, and the children of God. You don’t have to be a pastor to have an impact in the church. Even being hospitable for the glory of God and the good of His people has an eternal impact. Maybe the Lord will give you a family one day, but understand that being single or married does not change your standing before God. No marriage status could ever match the redeemed and righteous status you have before God because of His grace or unmerited favor found in the Gospel.

Get Equipped

With everything in mind from expositing Proverbs 31, I would not want to leave every man reading this proverbally hanging. The Bible, God’s word, is indeed inerrant and sufficient, but we must also recognize that supplemental resources can be profoundly helpful in helping us understand God’s word. These resources may not have the inerrancy and the sufficiency that our Bible has, but let us men be equipped for the tasks set ahead before us. As it is noted in Hebrews 12, we have a great crowd of witnesses of past heroes of the faith. Let us lay aside every hindrance in our faith and push forward towards impacting eternity. May our life motto be: “For the glory of God and the good of His people!”

  1. "Biblical Manhood" by Stuart Scott

  2. "The Exemplary Husband" by Stuart Scott

  3. "Disciplines of a Godly Man" by R. Kent Hughes

  4. "Disciplines of a Godly Young Man" by W. Carey Hughes & R. Kent Hughes

  5. "It's Good to be a Man" by Dominic Bnnon Tennant and Michael Foster

  6. "What is Biblical Masculinity and Why is it Important?" by Jonny Ardavanis of Dial In Ministries with Paul Washer


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