From Proverbs 31:10-31
Okay, let’s sum up The Mighty Wife so far:
- Woman who fears the Lord, good job! Your family (employer/whoever you work hard for) is lucky to have you! <standing ovation from husband and/or children and/or whoever else should> (Proverbs 31:10-12, 28-31)
- Woman who fears the Lord, thou art STRONG! (Roar!) (Proverbs 31:10)
- Woman who fears the Lord, you are valuable for Whom you have believed. (Proverbs 31:30)
So, we’ve done a pretty good job looking at the beginning and the end of this passage, yeah? All right. Now the middle. <gulp>
Before we dig into what this woman does, let’s remind ourselves quickly WHY she does it. All that this woman does comes from what she believes. What does she believe? Well, actually, the better question is Who. She believes God. She fears Him. She puts her trust in Him. She relies on Him, as it says in Isaiah 50:10:
“Who is among you that fears the Lord,
That obeys the voice of His servant,
That walks in darkness and has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.”
So in all these things that you read, remember from where she draws her strength. She does not have to rely on herself for any of this; she does not have to somehow produce it from her own human heart. This comes from her reliance on God, from her faith and trust in Him. Let’s take a closer look to see how, exactly, this reliance on God influences every tiny detail of her life, because when we look closely, we’ll see that THAT is what this passage is about.
But wait. We’re not quite there yet. First things first.
Now, when we read this, it’s going to sound a bit like this woman is a wax display at a pioneer museum, so I think it will be helpful to translate bits here and there into our modern day so we understand (I’ve summed them all up briefly; if you’d like further explanations, see the P.S.s at the very end). Because the first thing she does is this (huh, what?):
“13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.”
And it just means she goes shopping and buys her family clothes for all seasons.
(See P.S. #1)
“14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.”
She goes grocery shopping.
(See P.S. #2)
So let’s sum up so far: she goes grocery shopping and clothes shopping so her family can be fed and clothed. Funny, she sounds like a mom.
“15 She gets up while it is still night;”
<groan> WHY, woman, WHY? <p.s. see below>
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
She gets up early to make sure everyone’s got something to eat for breakfast before the activities of the day begin. Hmm. She sounds…like…a mom.
(see P.S. #3)
“16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.”
Whoa, nelly, wait a minute. Her earnings? You mean this woman WORKS? <gasp!> That is SO unbiblical. She is so far ahead of her time! <note the sarcasm>
Yes. She does work. She works, and then she invests her profit. This woman is a business woman.
“17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.”
Look at her WORKING! This woman doesn’t just work, she WORKS. Know what I mean? She is GOOD at her job. And she’s strong!
“18 She sees that her trading is profitable,”
She gets good prices.
“and her lamp does not go out at night.”
Because she pays the electric bill on time.
(See P.S. #4)
“19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.”
She has skills. She uses them.
“20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.”
“21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.”
Her kids have coats. Good ones.
“22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.”
She makes her home comfortable. She wears clothing appropriate for the weather.
“23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.”
Everyone’s like, “Whoa, tell us your secrets, man!” because they think her husband is awesome. Really, he’s just a guy who doesn’t have to worry about extra stuff and can focus on what he’s doing because his wife is awesome. (And he’s probably pretty awesome, too. I mean, she did marry him. And there are some pretty awesome men in the world. I married one, too.)
“24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.”
She markets her skills. The economy flourishes.
“25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.”
She trusts God.
“26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.”
She raises her kids. She teaches them what they need to know. Mostly, to fear God. And to brush their teeth.
“27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.”
She works. She pays bills. She keeps her family fed and clothed. She shares. She raises her kids to fear the Lord. And that’s a STINKIN’ lot of work, people! (Can I get an “AMEN!”?) (P.S. Nowhere does it say she does all this in a day, by the way. This is the summary of a lifestyle, lived out over the course of a lifetime. Remember that.)
That’s why it ends the way it does:
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
In other words: WOW, what a woman!
And you know what the best part is? I actually know A LOT of women like this. ❤
Now let’s take a few steps back and remember where all this awesomeness comes from, yes? Great. Next post.
To be continued…
P.S. #1 Wool and flax were the two primary raw ingredients for fabrics of the day – wool for cold weather, flax (for linen) for hot. So when it says “she selects wool and flax,” darlings, it means she goes shopping.
Umm, this woman is praised for how great she is at shopping. Yep. (Put down those credit cards, ladies. Let’s not get TOO excited.)
But also, it means her family is clothed. Because she shops. (Now, she had to make the clothes herself, too – these days it’s actually more expensive to do that sometimes!) But the point is, clothes. Her family has clothes. Kind of important.
P.S. #2 In other words, she looks far and wide for the best food for her family. She includes variety in their diet, bringing her food “from afar.” Like oranges from Texas. Or blueberries from Maine. Avocados from Mexico. That sort of thing.
P.S. #3 Oh, and she has servants. Just saying. (Today we might call them employees, but same same – they are people. Who do work. For her.) (What are you waiting for, woman? Break out those chore charts and feel no guilt!)
P.S. #4 About that “lamp doesn’t go out at night” thing:
Okay, now, listen. This one. This one I have heard people say means she stays up all night. Not only is that not possible, it is not healthy, and it is not productive, two things this woman clearly is. And it fails to consider history.
We’ll look to the very same book, the Bible, to explain this one to us: think about the parable of the 10 virgins. These were young women invited to a wedding. They had brought oil lamps and were sitting outside a gate waiting for the bridegroom to come; some of them brought extra oil in case he was a long time coming, and some of them did not. ALL of them fell asleep. When they woke up, those who brought extra oil found their lamps still burning, trimmed them, and went in with the bridegroom. Those who had not had to go to town to buy more, missed the bridegroom, and were not allowed in. What light does this shed (hehe) on the Proverbs 31 woman?
This may seem obvious, but in those days, there was no electricity. SO, if for any reason you had to get up in the middle of the night (bathroom break, baby crying, late night medical emergency, visitor who arrives a little later than expected, etc.), you could not just flip and switch and voila! Let there be light.
Nope. SO, you had to keep a lamp close by so you could grab it and take it with you. The thing is it is REALLY, REALLY hard to light one of those in the pitch black dark. SO, what you did instead was keep it burning low all night long, and then when you woke up, you turned it up. (Or something like that – my grasp of exactly how oil lamps work is…tenuous.)
Now, I do know that in those days, the lamps ran on oil. So you had to make sure you had enough oil to get through any situation you might have at night. (Hence the virgins.)
In modern words, you had to make sure when you flipped the switch, something would happen. Or, to put it plainly, you had to pay the electric bill.
Yep. “Good job, woman! You pay the electric bill! You are so prepared!”