Saturday, June 8, 2013

Thirty-one: Lamplight

(This is the 8th in a 10-post series)

She sees that her profits are good,
and her lamp never goes out at night.
Proverbs 31:18  HCSB

In Proverbs 31:18, we see that the Excellent Wife paid careful attention to the fruitfulness of her labors, giving her time and resources only to worthy pursuits. And we've heard that she "burned the midnight oil", working tirelessly until very late into the night. Some translations even render the verse that way.  But I think there's much more than the obvious for us here. After studying many translations, reading lots of commentaries and praying for insight, I saw some things I never saw before in this text. Maybe you'll see something new as well.

  From all we've read in Proverbs 31, there's no question the Virtuous Wife is industrious.  So it makes sense that she would sometimes toil late into the evening to finish important tasks.  But in verse 15, we read that it was her habit to "rise while it is still night" to prepare for her day.  To me, staying up half the night and getting up before dawn seemed incongruous with the way she conducted herself, and with the instruction to rest we see in both the old and new testaments (Genesis 2:2, Jeremiah 6:16, Matthew 11:28, Hebrews 4:9-10).  So I continued to study and search for insight.  In nearly a quarter-century as a Christ follower, I've found that searching His word like you're digging for hidden treasure always yields riches.

Is it possible that "her lamp never goes out" speaks not only of working late, but of preparedness at all times? Throughout scripture, oil is a type of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus' parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), the five wise maidens have enough oil in their lamps to last through a long, dark night and are ready to greet the Bridegroom when He appears.  When the five foolish maidens realize they don't have enough, it's too late and they are tragically unprepared to meet Him.  I used to think how mean the wise girls were for not sharing their oil with the foolish ones.  But since oil represents the Holy Spirit, it would be impossible for one to share her supply with another.  A continual filling of  the Holy Spirit, is very much an individual pursuit, nurtured through a lifetime of prayer, obedience, fruitful living and time with God.  You cannot do that for me, nor can I do it for you.    

So I believe our virtuous woman doesn't stay up all night, every night. Her lamp is always burning; she lives ready.  From from now on, when I read verse eighteen, I'll remember her example. I won't think only of burning the midnight oil, but of keeping the oil midnight, and always.

Join me next time here at Chick Food as we dig into the next several verses of this precious proverb. 

Prayer for Today: Heavenly Father, I pray you will help me give my time and treasure to only that which is truly profitable.  Please help me to be continually filled with Your Spirit, that my lamp may always burn brightly.  In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen. 

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