In these last four verses, the word “praise” is used three times. This is the same root for the word “hallelujah” which is used throughout the Bible to offer praise to the God of Israel. In this context, the word is being used for a wise woman, and we do not confuse worship offered to a creature for worship offer to the Creator. But as we have noted previously, there is a sense in which this Virtuous Wife is a type of Israel and of the New Israel, the Christian Church. And therefore, the work of the Church, the worship and ministry of the Bride of Christ is a sacrificial ministry for her husband Christ and for His people and for the world. In this sense, as we worship Christ faithfully in thought, word, and deed, God returns that worship to His bride, and she becomes a praise in the world.
The position of honor and authority that this woman enjoys in the home is underlined by how her children and husband praise her. They stand up and bless her; he stands up and praises her. And there is a reciprocal relationship between the good that a wife does her husband and household, and the praise and blessing that they bestow upon her. In the Psalms, frequently David describes how God has delivered him or his people and caused them to “stand upright” and cause the wicked to fall down so that they cannot arise (Ps. 18:38, 20:8, 36:12, 40:3) or raises up the needy (Ps. 113:7). The wise woman delivers and fights for her household. She guards them and provides for them such that they rise up before her. They rise up because she has raised them up. This “rising up” is an act of honor and reverence (e.g. Ex. 33:10, Lev. 19:32), and Waltke points out that “praises her” is very similar sounding to Hallelujah. Godly men have a high reverence for their wives, as the older marriage vows put it: “With my body, I thee worship…” This standing is also a sign of ready, eager attention and service. Like a servant standing at attention, her husband and children praise her and are eager to extend her glory. A wise man understands that his wife is his crown, and therefore he who loves his wife loves himself (Eph. 5:28). This kind of service is also obedient to the example of Christ who loved the church and gave Himself for her (Eph. 5:25). This “standing” is also a contrast to laziness: She does not eat the bread of idleness, and therefore neither does her household (Prov. 6:9). The temptation of course is to think that it would be easy to stand for a woman like this, but you don’t have to live with my wife. While there are sometimes very hard cases, and foolish women do pull their own houses down, the pattern of the gospel urges husbands to love and honor their wives with abandon awaiting resurrection with firm faith.
The shift to the second person “you” indicates that this is the husband’s praise and perhaps the blessing of her sons. This is a poetic form of the Hebrew superlative (e.g. holy of holies, Song of Songs), and this may be an allusion that broader, corporate typology of Israel and the Church. Here there are many daughters which are “mighty/valiant,” but this valiant wife rises up over them all. This is the same word from the beginning of this passage, frequently translated virtuous or excellent (31:10). Wisdom is a kind of strength of body, mind, and spirit which gives men and women the ability to see their duty and to perform it faithfully. Ruth was a “mighty/valiant/virtuous” woman (Ruth 3:11). The fact that she is a “daughter” is striking, relating her back to her father and mother. This is probably a reminder of where she received this valiant wisdom. She became wise and strong through the teaching of her parents, and just as the son has been exhorted throughout Proverbs to heed his parents, she is living proof of it. This is also why she is to be sought out like wisdom (31:10); she has learned wisdom faithfully from her parents. Obedience and honor to parents is the path to strength, wisdom, and success. This is why practically speaking, you can learn a lot about someone’s wisdom (or lack) by seeing them interact with their parents and others in authority over them.
While the Bible does not shy away from celebrating physical beauty (Gen. 24:16, Prov. 5:19, Song of Songs, etc.), it must always be enjoyed and celebrated as temporary. It is the fear of the Lord which is the foundation of a godly woman’s wisdom and beauty. Grace/favor is deceptive, the wise man says, and this may be referring to a kind of flattery. The poet also says that beauty is “vapor” which is the word Solomon uses to describe life in Ecclesiastes. This means that not only is it temporary, but it is also elusive, uncertain, and it isn’t a hard and fast bedrock to build upon. You can’t count on it. But you can count on the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and it is certain, fixed, and true. Peter seems to have this text in mind when he exhorts wives to adorn themselves not only with outward apparel but also inwardly with chaste fear and a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Pet. 3:1-6). This exhortation to beauty is in the context of disobedient husbands (1 Pet. 3:1) which indicates that Peter understands the power of beauty and the power of godly beauty in particular. The daughters of Sarah are not timid, and they are praised. Notice the emphasis on this word “praise” (31:28, 30, 31). Again, this underlines the reciprocal nature of the world. The valiant wife serves her household and her husband, she values and praises them, and therefore she is praised.
This woman’s fruit and work have already been enumerated, and this final verse underlines what we have already noted: she is being given what she has given. She has laid her life down to make her home and family and community a fruitful place, and therefore her hands are full of fruit. What she has given away has become hers. This is always the way of the gospel: if you want to find your life, you must lose it. Waltke points out that the final verb is a more general command, invitation to those “in the gates.” Those who praise her are not outside of her immediate family and household; the writer calls upon all men to praise this mighty woman. There is a sense in which all people can generally admire her wisdom as well as participate in it through its blessings to the community, but the writer exhorts them to say so. Being the recipient of such blessing should make people thankful. When people speak wisely and act wisely, we should stand up and recognize it publically. This is different than being obsessed with the virtues of other women in a way that causes your wife distress, or harping on your wife by constantly giving her books and articles by other women who really have their acts together. But to refuse to praise real virtue and beauty is itself wrong. Just as it is wrong to praise that which is worthless, so too it is wrong to miss the gifts of God, the blessings of God right in front of us, especially when it is born out of envy or jealousy.