It’s no use. I will never have a perfect complexion or perfect teeth. I’ll never quite measure up.
The epilogue in Proverbs 31 provides a catalogue-like description of the many things a noble wife does. Sometimes I read this passage and come away feeling as depressed as when I come away from my recent purchase of milk and cereal.
Yet, I do not think the writer of Proverbs intended for this passage to be a place of condemnation; rather, this passage is one of praise for a wife of deep character.
“She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.” (Proverbs 31:13)
In this verse, the noble wife weaves cloth from raw materials. (Personally, I find this a little show-offy.) I like to sew, but I can easily buy fabric for a few dollars per yard at a local fabric store. My purpose for sewing, though, is not to make a profit for my household. It’s just a hobby.
In ancient Israel, there were few professions available to women. Weaving, however, was a respected industry, not to mention one of the few options women had – if they were fortunate enough to have someone who could teach them the trade.
Today, women have far more choices in terms of career and the workplace. But I think this verse is less about the task itself and more about the work ethic that a wife of noble character possesses. She’s a hard worker. She “works with eager hands.”
“She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.” (Proverbs 31:14)
Most commentaries note the industrious nature of the noble wife. She is able to exchange her own goods in the marketplace for food products that can only be grown in faraway places. Thus, her household benefits from her keen business sense.
There is a weekly farmer’s market where I live, but it is more of a novelty, something we do for fun. For the most part, we have Wal-Mart Super Centers and other grocery chains that stock our local shelves with more choices than most previous generations could have ever imagined.
Again, it’s not so much the act of “bringing her food from afar” that is worthy of honor, but it is the focus and desire of the noble wife to work hard at providing good things for her family.
“She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.” (Proverbs 31:15)
I am not a morning person. Not by any stretch. Then again, I don’t have to grind the wheat in order to have bread for the day either. Thanks to Costco, whenever I run out of bread, I can usually pull another loaf from the freezer. I know that sounds lame, but I’m being honest here.
I guess the reality is simply this: The way we go about providing for our families is more than a little different these days. We have superstores and discount warehouses that make our lives easier in some ways. But part of my weekly routine, and probably part of yours too, is that I run certain errands on a regular basis to ensure that my cupboards are full with the ingredients necessary to make meals for my family.
This is not to say that my errand-running alone substantiates me or anyone else for being a wife of noble character. Being a person of character is not so much about what we do, but it’s about who we are. What we do is just an outpouring of who we are.
Proverbs 31 goes on to list other qualities, but this list is not meant to be a grade sheet where we ask ourselves, “How do I measure up?” That’s what magazine covers in grocery stores do. But this passage of Scripture does point us in the right direction. A noble wife works hard to provide for her family. And that provision doesn’t have to come in certain monetary terms either. As a stay-at-home mom, I may not bring home any “bacon,” but I do many other things to keep our home running smoothly.
I bet you do too.
Be encouraged today as you think about all the ways you provide for your family.