In the first part of Proverbs 31, we see a hard-working woman who engages in several financial enterprises: selecting wool and flax, bringing food from afar, buying property, and planting vineyards. Her labor is profitable.
Verse 19 then functions as a seam that stitches together the first part of the epilogue with the second.
“In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.” (Proverbs 31:19)
After selecting the wool and flax (in verse 13), she turns those raw materials into thread and cloth (in verse 19). But what she does with that cloth is two-fold.
First, she gives to the poor (in verse 20).
Second, she provides for her family (in verses 21-22).
Verse 20 talks specifically about giving to those in need.
“She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.” (Proverbs 31:20)
What I love about this passage is the way it connects her own work with what she gives. This is not a wealthy, lazy woman who donates to the poor out of her abundance. Rather, this is a woman who works hard for her profits, and out of her earnings, she gives to those in need. She does not cling to her profits, keeping them solely for herself and her family. She gives, openhanded.
The hands that hold the distaff and grasp the spindle are the same hands that extend to the needy.
The woman of noble character is a woman who gives. Sometimes I may feel as though I don’t have anything left to give. Sometimes I may feel as if it takes everything I’ve got just to keep my family and myself afloat. But this passage reminds me to think beyond my own household, to think of others and their needs. Paul reiterates this same message in his letter to the Philippians:
“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4)
Lord, help me to look beyond – beyond my family and beyond myself. Help me to see – to really see – those in need. Help me to open my palms and freely give all that You have blessed me with. Amen.