( This is the 9th in a 10-post series)
"19 Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber. 20 She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy. 21 She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes. 22 She makes her own bedspreads. She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns. 23 Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders. 24 She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants.
I've had a really difficult time writing about these verses. I've read Proverbs 31:19-24 in every English language translation, many times over. I've searched far and wide for sound commentary, but have found little apart from the writings of narrow minded fundamentalists who would keep all women at home, and 17th century theologians who obviously lack insight for women of the twenty-first century. And I don't know about you, but I don't know a single woman who spins her own thread. So are these verses irrelevant? I don't think so. Like all scripture, they are "inspired by God, and useful to teach us what is true" (2 Tim 3:16 NLT). So we need to look at the biblical principles underlying these verses, which transcend both time and culture. Here's my take:
Verse 19: Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber. She is industrious. She is actively involved in providing for her household. Whether she works primarily at home or the workplace, she works hard to give her family her best.
20: She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy. I don't think the placement of these verses is an accident. She provides for her family first, then looks to the needs of others. Over the years, I've seen so many women in churches get busy 'serving others', to the neglect of their own households. First, care for those whom God has given you, then engage them in serving others, too!
21 She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes. She is preparing for "winter" before winter arrives. I don't think the meaning of this verse stops at making sure our kids have coats and mittens. I think "winter" is symbolic of times of difficulty or hardship. When things are good, she's preparing for tough times. She's not afraid because she trusts God, and she has set aside provisions (money, clothing, food?) for a 'snowy' day, so she doesn't fear what may come.
22 She makes her own bedspreads. She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns. She cares about the appearance of her home and herself. She adorns both with the very best she can afford. I don't make my own bedspreads, but I've worked hard to create a home my family loves. I'm not always as careful with my appearance. Most days, a purple Crossroads t-shirt and jeans is as close as I get to this verse, although I usually dress a little better when I leave the house. Hey, I'm a work in progress :o)
23 Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders. She does all she can to help her husband succeed and gain the respect of his community. She prays for him. She does her part to keep the home running smoothly, whether she's a homemaker or has a career outside the home. She respects him, encourages him, and pays attention to his needs. She speaks highly of him to others. A man who is respected, loved and built up by his wife has the best possible chance for success in any field and will have the admiration of his peers.
24 She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants. She finds a way to use her skills and resources to bring income into her household, while still managing her home. You probably haven't sold any linen garments or sashes lately. Perhaps you sell yard sale finds on eBay, or keep your kids well dressed through consigning the clothes they outgrow. Maybe you own a business and work from home. Perhaps you prepare 95% percent of your family's meals at home, saving hundreds compared to take out or convenience foods. Whatever you do to bring income into your home, you are a doer of verse 24!
Next time, we'll dive into the last seven verses of Proverbs 31. Thanks for joining me on this personal journey.
Prayer for Today: Father, help me to do the very best that I can for my family with the resources You've provided. Help me to make Your priorities my own. In Jesus' Name, Amen.