Proverbs 31:10-31 (ESV)
10) An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11) The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12) She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
13) She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
14) She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
15) She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
16) She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17) She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
18) She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19) She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
20) She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21) She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed inscarlet.
22) She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23) Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
24) She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25) Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26) She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27) She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28) Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29) “Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
30) Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31) Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.
Proverbs is known as the book of wisdom. The book in its entirety gives us insight into how to walk and live in wisdom according to God. From the biggest tasks down to the smallest, this book is full of insight and teaches us the value of wisdom. It’s no wonder then, that there can be found instructions on HOW to be a God fearing woman, an excellent wife, a good mother, a true friend with a servants heart, and a woman who is wise. God finishes off the very last chapter in the “book of wisdom” with a “How To” of sorts for us women.
To be honest, I use to read this passage of scripture and just feel defeated. An excellent wife? WHO can find her?!How about mediocre? That’s not ok? I have to rise while its still night!? Why can’t I rest!? I need enough money to buy a field and then I have to farm it myself!? I can’t be afraid? I have to open my mouth with wisdom?? THEN I laugh at the future, all “la-dee-dah” and carefree. WHY CAN’T MY LAMP GO OUT AT NIGHT!?!?! I’m exhausted! I have to make my own clothes, my families clothes, and then sell them for profit? I have to be Caretaker, cook, entrepreneur, farmer, and then be easy breezy about it. Remaining charming and carefree as if the weight of the world isn’t on my shoulders. It just seemed hopeless. This passage didn’t give me encouragement…to be honest it made me feel like I was an utter failure. Surely, SURELY this isn’t how God wants His daughters. Doing it all? Feeling defeated? But that’s what He says, isn’t it?! Read again Hannah… and this time remember God’s goodness. Our good, good father…
“She rises while it is yet night.”
Night, darkness… in the middle of the mess it can seem so dark, can’t it? Where is the light? Is there actually light at the end of the tunnel? In Mark 5:41 Jesus says “talitha cumi”, meaning “Get up little girl…” or “RISE”. You see I believe God is calling us to continue to RISE up spiritually, not just physically. He is calling us to continue to get up even in the darkness. Because the holy spirit lives in us, we have the supernatural ability to RISE even in the dark, in the mess, even when we can NOT see where we are going. See, he didnt ask for us to move, or walk in the dark first. He knows we can’t see ahead. He just asks FIRST for us to RISE. He will move our feet, he will move us, he knows our path even when we can’t see it. We don’t have to see ahead… We just have to RISE.
“…and provides food for her household and portion for her maidens.”
“Provides food”, nourishment, the good stuff. And although one of our duties as wife and mothers is to literally get our little tribes bellies fed… I think in this instance, God is calling us to feed our people love, God’s word and kindness. Fill them up with nourishment for the SOUL. And not just our household, but also food for our “maidens”, our friends. We are called to be there for one another and give “nourishment” to our people. Not deplete them of energy, but to FEED to them love and life.
“She considers a field and buys it;
With the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard”
She considers a field and buys it. She takes careful consideration where she invest her time, money, and energy. She doesn’t just buy any field. She invests into a field that best suits her. Where her gifts, time, and energy will be best suited. With the “fruit of her hands”, her GIFTS. The gifts that God has so generously and individually given to each of us. It’s with our own God-given gifts, the gifts from our hands that we should invest, put in the hardwork, dig in and plant our vineyards. It’s about finding our calling. If we “consider” our field and invest there, and take “the fruit of our hands” , plant and build our vineyard, then it’s easy to find the answer of the age old question, “What is my calling?” Or “what is my purpose?”. See, God will use your gifts for HIS glory. Start with what you have. The fruit of YOUR hands. If you invest, plant, and harvest that… you can watch God grow it abundantly.. vineyard, after vineyard, after vineyard.
“She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.”
She perceives that her “merchandise is profitable.” We have to be aware that our merchandise, our goods, are profitable, successful, valuable, and worthwhile. We are worthy. God says that we are far more precious than jewels. We are worthy, annointed, good, and whole in Him. We have to KNOW our worth, and know that our merchandise is profitable.
“Her lamp does not go out at night”. See, we rose in the darkness. It took a lot, to get up out of the pit of darkness, but we did it! We made food for our house, portions for our friends, bought a field, dressed in strength… and here we are again. The darkness. God doesn’t promise us that the darkness won’t return. We live in a fallen world and we won’t live in his continuous light until we are in heaven. So the darkness can AND will return from time to time, but OUR lamp does not go out. God’s given us a little night light, a lamp. The holy spirit that lives in us, continues to carry a little light for us, in the midst of the dark and scary. We hold tight onto our faith, we hold tight to our “light” and continue to show others the way out of the darkness. We may not can see the way out, but it’s enough light to guide one foot in front of the other, until we finally reach our way out in the full light of God’s goodness and promises again. It’s a light for us, but also when our friends. When they look down the dark tunnel in the distance, and see our little flame, they know that they can keep going too. They see the safety that’s up ahead because you’ve already made it that far. It helps them carry on because they know that it’s possible to make it that far ahead. They just have to keep their light on, take one step in front of the other, and so do we. “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…”
“She puts her hands to the distaff,
And her hands hold the spindle.”
A distaff was basically like a stick, with a ball of thread wound in it and around it. No order, just a mess. A woman would slowly make order out of the mess of thread and wrap it neatly around the spindle for easier use later. One hand on the mess, one hand on the order. It takes a lot of time and patience to work out the knots. It takes a lot of hard work and patience to make usable thread out of the mess. But slowly and over time, our thread will lay straight if we keep diligently working the distaff and the spindle.
“She opens her hands to the poor
And reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
For all her household are clothes in scarlet.”
We are told to open our hands and give, and to reach out to those in need. This is monetary if you have it, OR the “fruit of your hands”. Your gifts. Your ability to cook, Or love, or caretake.
She is not afraid, her household is clothed in “scarlet”. Scarlet along with he color purple was considered high quality cloth. It would be considered warm, and of value. This passage could actually be meant for the purposes intended. Warm clothes, because she makes and keeps her family taken care of. But I dont think we should ignore the fact that Jesus words are written in red. Scarlet words that she has clothed her household in. The word scarlet can be taken down to late Latin as “small images or print”. Small print and a brilliant red color. Her household is clothed in them, so she is not afraid of the cold or the snowstorm that ravages the world outside of her home, because she has her household clothed in scarlet.
Proverbs 31: 22-25
“She makes bed coverings for herself;
Her clothing if fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gate
When he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them;
She delivers sashes to the merchant.”
She makes bed coverings for herself first, and then makes linens and garments to sell and delivers sashes to the merchant. God knows that we can not take care of others if we aren’t taking care of ourselves. We are not only to take care of ourselves but to do so properly. Dressing ourselves in the good stuff, fine linen and purple, not leftovers, not scraps. Feed yourself, clothe yourself. What are we clothed in? Goodness, kindness, Christ? Or a we clothed in bitterness, and hate? Take in and breathe in the good stuff, Gods word in all it’s glory. Rest. Food. Time for him. Time for yourself. It’s so hard to find that extra time, I know. But you must have self care to care of others. God is the only one I have EVER known to produce oil from an empty jar. You can’t do it. Fill your jar with His oil, so that you can continue to pour it out for others. It’s that simple.
Her husband is known at the gates. I dont think it’s a mistake that God included the honor of our husbands in this passage of wisdom for us. I dont think it’s intended purpose is to say, “well, YOU do all the work and let your husband SIT with respect in town with his buddies.” I DO think its God’s way of reminding us to bring honor to our husbands and families, and Him, by continuing to walk in Gods path for our life.
“Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”
We hold ourselves up and walk with dignity. We are to laugh at the future, because we walk with God. Whatever lies ahead of us, we know no fear because God is with us. Whatever is to come, we know we can conquer the darkness because we’ve done it before. We have no fear because our light will never leave us. We open our mouth with wisdom. Heres where I struggle. I’m good at opening my mouth. That has never been a struggle of mine. But we should only be opening our mouth with wisdom and the teaching of kindness. Staying tender and kind while you deliver the wisdom is KEY. See it takes strength and dignity to be able to deliver needed, wise words of advice with kindness.
“She looks well to the way of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness”.
We should care about our households physical needs being met. But more importantly, make sure we are focusing on their spiritual and emotional needs. Don’t eat the bread of idleness. Don’t put it off. Don’t wait. We need to know that tomorrow is not promised to any of us. Pour into your children and your husband. Show God’s love, teach them the gospel. Show them Jesus. Don’t let a day go by that they are not shown how loved they are and how much Jesus loves them.
“Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.”
Our how to be a God-fearing woman guide will teach us how to walk in God’s wisdom. If we continue to walk in accordance to Gods plan for our life then we won’t have to worry about praising ourself. Our children and Husband will call us “blessed”. Those who take hold of God’s wisdom are called blessed. And our works will speak for themselves, but only in this life. Charm can be deceiving, beauty only skin-deep. What does our hearts look like? We will have to give an account at the pearly gates, and no amount of works will let you enter those. So know jesus. Know him as yours. Know his goodness for you in this season and the next. Remember our good, good father and how he loves his daughters so.