Noble Woman. What is that? It’s outdated. Sometimes it’s translated ‘excellent.’ How do I become a woman of noble or excellent character unless I first understand what that means? Let’s explore this together today. What in the world is a noble woman?
What is ‘Noble’ Anyway?
When we moved to Germany in 1992, we lived in a beautiful old home in the town of Kaiserswert. Herr Ophoven, an elderly man who grew up in our house, was my hero. He rescued me many times from my expat blunders with language and culture and the washing machine.
He was glad to have the opportunity to practice his rusty English on us. One day early on, he rang our doorbell. When I invited him in, he removed his hat, and said, “Can you tell me, please, shall I call you Madame, Mrs., or M’Lady?” I tried not to laugh. Obviously, he had looked up ‘frau’ in the German/English dictionary and found these words. I wanted to say, “just call me M’Lady!” No one has ever mistaken me for royalty before or since!
I looked up ‘noblewoman’ in the dictionary. The term refers to princesses, queens, baronesses, and other assorted royal people. It can also mean someone of noble birth, rank, title, or status. Traditionally these people had fine personal qualities, high moral principles, and honorable ideals. They were taught to live in a way that set them apart. Eventually, these traits became synonymous with the word ‘noble.’ So that anyone displaying these qualities would be considered noble even if they weren’t born into royalty.
The Bible gives us more information about noble women, helping us to flesh out what it means to be noble. A noble woman is rare, noticeable, and valuable.
A Noble Woman is Rare
Proverbs 31 describes a noble woman. The passage begins with, “A wife of noble character, who can find?” (Proverbs 31:10). I love this passage. My husband reads it aloud to me on the 31st of every month. Smile.
The husband of this rare noble woman has full confidence in her. In the Biblical world, men would not normally have full confidence in a woman at all. A noble woman is rare.
We strive for noble character to honor Christ, not to puff up our own pride. But it’s often difficult to navigate being ‘different.’ We are asked to be separated from worldly pursuits, but to still live in the world. We are asked to be rare. That’s a juggling act.
For 13 years, for instance, we chose not to drink alcohol so we could set a good example for our kids. We knew they would be tempted to drink. I was invited to lead in a para-church ministry where they required this concession. And we joined a church that also asked for this commitment.
So we made the decision, for noble reasons. I was always aware of the challenge of refusing to drink without appearing judgmental towards those who were drinking.
Later on, we moved to another church and we made the decision to drink wine occasionally. I don’t believe it’s Biblical to prohibit drinking wine. It’s a choice. But I include this story to illustrate the challenges of being ‘rare’ and noble. I would never want someone else to think they can’t go to heaven because they drink wine. I wouldn’t want someone to feel I was judging them because they drink alcohol.
Thinking I’m better than someone else because of my rare life choices is prideful, not noble!
A Noble Woman is Noticeable
The Biblical book of Ruth is a story about a noble woman. Ruth is a foreigner, moving to Bethlehem with her bereaved mother in law. Naomi has lost her husband and both of her sons. Ruth herself is a young, childless widow. Ruth gave up her family, her culture, and her homeland to travel to Bethlehem with her mother in law. Naomi complains bitterly to her friends upon arrival in Bethlehem. She is completely empty and bereft, she has nothing. Naomi never mentions anything about Ruth. There’s nothing special about the girl, she was just a foreigner.
Ruth reveals her exemplary character as she goes to work gathering food. Everyone notices her. “All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character” (Ruth 3:11b). She is hardworking and respectful to Naomi. The women of the town see Ruth as better than 7 sons.
Noble character is hard to hide. But when we crave recognition for our deeds, it spoils our noble character. When I was little, I must have been into bragging. I remember my Mom saying to me, “You don’t have to toot your own horn.” I remember this saying because I heard it many times!
We are warned by Matthew 6:1, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” The passage goes on to give examples of hypocrites, who announced their charitable giving with trumpets, and prayed out loud on the street corners so everyone would see them.
People notice noble behavior. We don’t have to point it out to anyone.
A Noble Woman is Valuable
A rare, noble woman is valuable. Proverbs 31 notes that she is “worth far more than rubies.” And Proverbs 12 says “A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown” (Proverbs 12:4).
The Hebrew word translated ‘noble’ is chayil, and interestingly, it’s a masculine noun. Its meanings include strength, might, efficiency, wealth, and army. As a noble woman, we bring value to our marriage and family. Successful business people often have noble qualities such as sacrifice, courage, achievement, and leadership. Noble women have enormous influence and power to change things for the better in their marriages and relationships.
In the story of Ruth, we see her noble character gradually change her mother in law from miserable and bitter to delighted and joyful. We see Ruth marrying a wealthy man, and giving birth to a baby boy. In Matthew 1, we see the genealogy of Jesus, and discover Ruth’s name listed there, along with her son. We have a book of the Bible with her name on it as well. It’s pretty amazing to think how valuable Ruth was to her mother in law, to the story of Jesus, and to women today.
What in the World is a Noble Woman?
Becoming a noble woman is also known as Christian growth. This growth doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process as we learn more about who God is and who we really are. It won’t actually be finished until we are in heaven.
As a Christ follower, the Holy Spirit dwells in me. I have a noble character already, but accessing it can be challenging. I have to dispel the lies I’ve believed about myself in order to truly believe what God says about me. There is a learning process to discover who God is, and how much He really loves us. My book, Making Peace with Prickly People: Transforming Relationships by Loving God, Self, and Others provides a path to navigate through this process.
In this short video, I share a bit more about the enormous influence and power of a noble woman.
I’m not a noble woman yet, but I know I’m on my way to that goal, and I hope you are too.
…because U count, deb