1. Solomon had A LOT of wives, so I wonder if Proverbs 31 is simply a collage of qualities he has seen in all these women. And maybe even his mother.
2. She is wealthy and she seems to have a lot of freedom. She is buying land and isn't getting approval from anyone...she's not chatting about it with her husband. That would not fly in most households.
3. She has servants. You can probably get a whole lot done when you've got live-in servants to do all manner of household duties, like cooking and babysitting. This is a big deal to note.
4. She is a shopper :) She is buying food from afar, a field, and expensive fabrics. She dresses her children and herself in only the very best.
There are many other qualities listed that are admirable. She is a seamstress, she works hard, she sells her products to merchants, she helps the poor, she obviously loves her family and is a positive reflection on her husband. The reason I pulled out those three qualities (her money, her freedom and the way she dresses her family in only the best) is that it proves the point that not every woman can be her. Nor should any of us feel that way.
Proverbs 31 isn't prescriptive. It's not a rule book telling us we have to get up before daylight and go to bed late, sew all our own clothes and bedding, run a home business and be a knowledgeable teacher, in order to be a woman of value. It's a man honoring women and their hard work, to provide and care for their families. We will all do that in different ways and according to our means, abilities, strengths and personalities.
The one thing we can all be, though, is found here:
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. (Proverbs 31:30, 31 NIV)
If I can get that one down and, yet, never figure out what on earth to do with that pile of paper that's always on the corner of the kitchen counter, then I will be successful. If I am so busy caring for my family that I forget to go over spelling words two nights in a row before the test, but I fear the Lord, we will be okay.
So, Fear the Lord and don't do nothing. That's Proverbs 31 in a nutshell.