This passage is an acrostic poem, each verse beginning with a subsequent letter of the alphabet. The poem describes in typical wisdom style the ideal wife, praising her economic value while depreciating her physical charms. A young man must be practical even in the affairs of the heart if he is to succeed in life.
Vv. 10-12 introduce the poem. “Noble character” is better understood as “efficient” or “worthy.” A husband trusts that this type of woman will benefit him.
Vv. 13-27 illustrate in concrete terms the desirable characteristics of this type of wife. She is industrious, shrewd in business practices, and capable in managing the home. She plans ahead so that her family is amply provided for and well-clothed.
Vv. 28-31 conclude with praise for the woman. The reference to fearing the Lord provides a Yahwistic cast to the poem. The proper wife would guard the home against all illegitimate religious influences.
Kidner, Derek. Proverbs. TOTC. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1964.
McKane, William. Proverbs: A New Approach. OTLS. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1970.
Whybray, R. N. The Book of Proverbs. NEBC. Cambridge: The University Press, 1972.