Welcome to the third week of my new study series! Once a week I will be unpacking each verse, and sharing tips and tricks, as well as Biblical encouragement to help all of us work on that particular skill or trait.
I am so excited to be personally working on being a better wife and homemaker, so I hope you will join in with me! If you have not done so already, I encourage you to read Proverbs 31:10-31.
Today I am unpacking verses 13 and 14, and I am excited to share the things I have learned! As you may notice in the image above, there is a little sheep and a plant, indicating wool and flax. In my research and studying I have found a few different schools of thought on what those represent, but today I am going with the most obvious.
Both wool and flax were used for clothing. Wool is obviously from sheep, but flax is made from the fibres of a plant (Linum usitatissimum) and was used to make linen. In Biblical times all garments were made from either wool or linen. Wool was used in heavier fabrics for colder weather (but it was worn over linen garments) and linen was typically a warmer weather fabric. So our Proverbs 31 model lady plans ahead by ensuring she has BOTH materials to clothe her family in all weather.
The words “looks for” in verse 13 indicate the care she took in finding these materials. She didn’t grab the first thing she saw, or pick whatever was cheapest. No, she made an effort to look for good quality wool and flax.
When we read “she works”, this means she is purposefully seeking ways to provide for her family in the ways she is able. She may not be the finest weaver around, so perhaps she hires someone to do that part, but she is still taking the steps to provide in this way.
Let me ask you a question. How often do you delight in your chores or tasks, all the stuff that is involved with running a home? Do you delight in grocery shopping, sock matching, toilet scrubbing? I admit that I don’t always. But the worthy wife, as described here, DOES. She would have gone to market in order to find her wool and flax; maybe even multiple markets or multiple sellers. Then she has to either carry all that back herself or arrange for transport. And if she spins and weaves the materials, that is a whole other chore! But she works in delight. She enjoys her tasks even though they may seem mundane.
I discovered a lot of differing thoughts on verse 14, so I will share two of the most common, and let you know which one I think is more accurate.
Merchant ships would obviously bring in items that were not available in the immediate area, and people would be able to purchase them. Perhaps the Proverbs 31 woman sells woven garments and uses the profits to buy special and exotic foods from these merchant ships? If so, that would indicate her willingness to use her talents to support her family. Comparing her to a merchant ship could also mean that she actively seeks ways and places to sell her goods for a profit.
The second school of thought is that she is actively seeking interesting and healthy foods for her family’s meals. Ships are not a fast moving vehicle they are slow and take their time to reach their destination. They are loaded with items, since it would not be practical to partially fill them and then make many more trips. Perhaps the comparison of this woman to a merchant ship is meant to be taken as a form of encouragement for modern homemakers. Like ships, we should take our time to make healthy and tasty meals for our family. I know it is so easy to load your grocery cart with frozen pizzas, soups in a can, and heat and serve meals. And there is nothing wrong with those on occasion but we, as homemakers, should be taking the time and effort and making a self sacrifice to prepare home cooked meals to the best of our means.
Yes, I said sacrifice! In Ephesians 5:1-2 it says to be an imitator of God, and walk in love as Jesus did. Jesus also sacrificed Himself for us, so surely we can make a few sacrifices in our own life! I mean, I would quite enjoy sitting on the couch reading a good book all day, but I know that there are other important things to do around the house. I am sacrificing or giving up something I want in order to serve the needs of my husband.
For those reasons, I believe the second opinion on Proverbs 31:14 is most accurate.
You may be thinking now “That is fine and dandy, but how does all that stuff about the wool and flax fit into my life? I like the idea of home cooked meals but I can’t afford to buy fresh stuff all the time!”
Well, here are my thoughts for applying these verses to our lives:
- be diligently thinking about the needs of our family now and in the future
- taking care to meet those needs and not looking for the quickest or cheapest solution (looking for a bargain is great, but buying poor quality items will only cost us more later)
- use your unique skills and abilities to provide for, or contribute to, our family. For example, I sell my knit goods as a way to make a small income. We don’t rely on that income, but it is nice to tuck it away and save it for either a large purchase or for something fun. But providing and contributing don’t have to mean just financially! You can use your cooking skills, organizational know-how, and more to make your home run smoothly.
- choose to joyfully serve our family (and God) even in what may seem like menial tasks
- put our family’s needs above our own
Hopefully that all makes sense! I write notes as I study, and then transpose that into an actual blog post, and sometimes I struggle to make sense of all the thoughts in my head!