Proverbs 31:13-20

In Proverbs 31:13-20 King Lemuel’s mother continues to educate him on an excellent wife. Using wonderful poetic images, she described not the resume of a godly woman, but life-like examples of the busy, hard working, and creative character of the virtuous wife. A woman who attempted to complete each of these tasks would be exhausted and potentially discouraged. Yet her character can be evident in a wise and godly woman’s life in its own way. “She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.” She knows how to seek and find things that are necessary resources for her family and home.

Next an excellent wife is compared to a merchant ship. An excellent wife provides food for her family and home after the pattern of a merchant ship, which operates on time and with hard work. If required, she even rises while it is yet night to either get or prepare food for her household. “She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.” It wasn’t uncommon for many families in Biblical times to have servants or hired workers. The excellent wife wisely manages and cares for those who work for her too, showing her compassion and care even beyond her immediate family.

The next area that is called out is that of making a business decision – to buy some land and plant it. The excellent wife is forward thinking, combining her creativity with hard work. She thoughtfully (considers) invests and uses the profits to better her family and their future, in this case by planting a vineyard. “She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.” What is described here is a lot of hard work. But she is willing to go beyond the bare necessities and do things that may be challenging, but will produce a good return.

The excellent wife is noted for her strength. “She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.” She is wise and experienced enough to get good materials and merchandise for her home. Her wisdom teaches her to buy oil for her lamp, of such quality that it burns through the night and does not go out. “She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.” She knows how to use the tools and technology available to manage the home well. “She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.” And she is a woman of compassion who helps those around her. “She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.”

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