The Proverbs 31 Woman’s Stewardship of Her Talents

“She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants.”

Proverbs 31:24

Welcome back if you’re still following this series of posts about the Proverbs 31 woman!  It’s been a lonnng time since the last post, but it’s been good for me to take a break in order to fully process all the things happening regarding the police and violence against them in our country.  I could write many posts just about all the emotions I went through during this time, but I may save that for another lesson series in the future.  For a few more weeks, this blog has the purpose of focusing on what God sees as beautiful, feminine character.  We’re still zeroing-in on the virtues and powerful example of the woman talked about in Proverbs 31.  For all the things that have happened during the course of writing this little series, it has still continued to prevail and change lives.  I’ve had the wonderful experience of getting to hear how God’s used these posts to help open up women’s minds to new ways of looking at what truly matters, and it is so humbling to know that God is using these posts for His purpose in blessing others.

When I was researching for these verses, the image illustrated in my imagination was that of her going about their society, taking her merchandise to the ports in order to sell them to the merchants, walking through the markets buying the food she selectively picks out from them as we saw in verse 14.  She moves through their city, going about doing good for her family, dressed in fine linens and yes, this strange and seemingly worldly choice of extravagant purple.  She is a walking advertisement for the beauty that her hands create!

Let’s dive in fully to the meanings behind this verse.


She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants –

Another look into our virtuous woman’s talented mind for business!  The word, “merchants,” used here, is literally “Cananites,” and it is talking about the Phoenician merchants.

“She delivered these goods to the merchants or traders.  These were Phoenician traders, according to the meaning of the Hebrew word.  Phoenicians were known for their trade and commerce and their skill as a seafaring people. Phoenicia’s two major ports were Tyre and Sidon.

The virtuous woman provided a source of income for her family through her business. “When other women impoverish their husbands by buying, she enriches her husband by selling those valuable commodities for which there is a constant demand” (George Lawson, Commentary on Proverbs, page 567).

“It is only modern pride and laziness which has introduced the idea that it is inconsistent with the dignity of a fine lady to make profit of her own manufactures.  This virtuous woman, although her husband sits among the elders, does not think it a discredit, but an honor to herself, to make fine linen and girdles for sale; and the wise will praise her on account of it” (George Lawson, p. 576).” (2)

These were the same merchants she more than likely bought the purple cloth or garments, or the dye itself, from.  She would take what she was able to afford, and increase it to bless others from the work of her hands!

She used her God-given talents to financially bless her family –

The woman in Proverbs 31 is much like Tabitha in that she makes clothing and looks after the poor and needy as we’ll see in verse 20; however, unlike what we know of Tabitha, she also uses her talents to gain a financial blessing in return.  Let’s look in depth at what it means to use our gifts that God has given us in Matthew 25:14-30.

The Parable of the Talents the Master gives his servants:

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants[a] and entrusted to them his property.

15 To one he gave five talents,[b] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.

16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more.

17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more.

18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’

21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[c] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.

22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’

23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’

26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.

28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance.

But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’


What an incredible parable!  And how convicting is it that we should be taking our callings, our gifts – our purpose so seriously.  Historically, a “talent” was actually a large sum of money, however since Jesus loved to teach using parables, this was never really about the money!  Still the comparison is important to understand because of how it relates to us and our relationship with God.

Here is some history regarding the setting of His story:

The outward framework of the parable lies in the Eastern way of dealing with property in the absence of the owner. Two courses were open as an approximation to what we call investment. The more primitive and patriarchal way was for the absentee to make his slaves his agents. They were to till his land and sell the produce, or to use the money which he left with them as capital in trading. In such cases there was, of course, often an understanding that they should receive part of the profits, but being their master’s slaves, there was no formal contract.

The other course was to take advantage of the banking, money-changing, money-lending system, of which the Phoenicians were the inventors, and which at the time was in full operation throughout the Roman empire. The bankers received money on deposit and paid interest on it, and then lent it at a higher percentage, or employed it in trade, or (as did the publicani at Rome) in farming the revenues of a province. This was therefore the natural resource, as investment in stocks or companies is with us, for those who had not energy to engage in business.” (11)

The “talents” represent the gifts God’s given each of us –   

“By the talents here we are to understand gifts or endowments conferred for a spiritual end, powers of body and mind, abilities natural and acquired, health, strength, long life, understanding, judgment, memory, learning, knowledge, eloquence, influence, and authority over others, wealth, privileges, or offices, civil or religious, and indeed every power and advantage of which a good or bad use may be made.” (12)

Jesus’ particular comparison of our gifts with large lump sums of money given to us, spoke to me deeply as I’ve been researching and studying for this post.  It’s as if He wants us to look at what He’s already given us – our specific gifts, artistic abilities, talents, etc. as we would a hundred thousand dollars in the bank.  We often feel so ill-quipped for the task, so wrongly chosen!  But we forget that it’s Him who has already equipped us – if we were able to do it all on our own ability, how would He receive the glory?  Throughout the ages, God has made it His signature move to call people who never thought they’d be the right one for the job.  The surprise of having God call you to do something that you’ve never expected yourself to do is bewildering and even terrifying.  Yet He expects us to use our gifts, skills, abilities, talents, hobbies, passions, and even connections to invest them in different avenues so that we can multiply our return on those investments for His sake!  Everything we do is ultimately done for the glory of God, and can be used to further His Kingdom.  Whatever impact we have in our sphere of influence, He wants us to use it to glorify Him.  Whether it’s teaching children, teaching Bible studies, cooking, drawing, sewing clothes, taking care of little children, taking care of our own families, or painting, God has a unique plan for the gifts He’s given us.

In plain speak, this parable is calling us to take seriously the work we do to further His Kingdom.


Whatever we do, we must do it well, and to the best of our ability because God is our Master.  It’s not acceptable to hide our talents, to squander the gifts He’s given us.  We will all be called to account at the end of our lives like the servants were, when we’ll have to answer to God for what we chose to do as stewards over our lives.  It’s incredible to think about the fact that we’ve all been given a specific blessing!  No matter who you are, no matter if you’ve realized it or not; God has a specific and glorious work for you to do for His Kingdom!

A warning against comparison –

This doesn’t mean that all our ministries will look the same, we are different parts of the Body of Christ, fitted to do drastically different works and functions.  Whatever your specific work is, be assured that it is precious and valuable in God’s sight.  The servants in the parable were given different amounts of talents, each according to their ability.  This is huge and so important to comprehend!  Some were given more gifts than others, and some less so.  One might be tempted to say that this means God isn’t fair or just – otherwise He would give everyone the same amount to work from.  In my opinion, this parable actually proves how just God is: that He only expects from us what He knows we have the ability to produce!  His fairness comes into play in that He never expected the servant with the one talent to be able to produce 10 like the first did.  He takes into account our weaknesses and humanity.  He takes into account our discipline and proven record of stewardship.  If we’re faithful over a little, He promises to give us more to be responsible for.  This is why we’re not supposed to look at another woman and compare ourselves with what she’s able to accomplish (more or less) than what we’re accomplishing in our lives.  Our focus should be on our own spiritual development and industry of our talents.

I’m curious to know what was really going on in the last servant’s mind.  Was he focusing on how he’d only been given one talent compared to the others? Did he feel disadvantaged?  Ill-equipped?  He said he was afraid of the Master judging him if he didn’t at least preserve what he’d been given stewardship over.  Isn’t that a bit like us when we say to ourselves that we don’t want that extra responsibility?  That extra liability?  When we lack faith in what God’s done for and in us?  That if we dare to step out in faith and teach that class, write that book, start a small business, invite those neighbors over, help when we can meet a need, make that first move toward whatever ministry we’re called into, we don’t even try because we may be judged a failure for it?  That was the main excuse of the last servant, but he paid dearly for it in the end!

Comparison binds us and can prevent us from fulfilling the will of God for our life.  Satan would love for us to compare ourselves to what others are given or able to do, and come up short, discouraged, and ultimately, defeated.  He wants us to have a fear of failure so that we’re never brave enough to even start!  He wants us to be the opposite of what God has planned out for our lives: Unfruitful, unproductive, not letting our lights shine, miserable, and taking longer, more painful routes than needed on our journey.


The devastation of a missed blessing –

Now that we’ve looked at the possibilities of why the last servant chose to bury his talent rather than use it to produce more for God, let’s focus in on the end goal of why this lesson is important.  When we refuse to act on what we know God’s called us to do, when we run away from His purpose for our life, rather than embrace it whole-heartedly, when we are too insecure that God could or would ever use us, or afraid that He’ll judge us harshly if we fail along the way… we are setting ourselves up for the devastation of a missed blessing!  When we use our gifts to bless our families or the people whom God puts in our path, we are actually receiving a blessing ourselves.

It’s in the giving!

‘Well done, good and faithful servant.  

You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.

Enter into the joy of your master.

Receiving those words at the end of our life when we’ve completed this marathon race with perseverance, having not given up or given way to fear, are what we’re hoping for.  Setting our eyes on the “prize,” as Paul refers to it, helps us keep our focus and purpose clear, rejecting the weights that would pull us down, make us slower, and distract us from the path of righteousness.


The Proverbs 31 woman’s main ministry –

Let’s not forget what we learned about at the beginning of this series:

“Her main ministry is to do her husband good and not evil, if she succeeds at anything else, and yet fails in this area of serving her husband, she has lost everything because she’s failed to maintain the most important relationship on earth that God has given her.”

This again is so beautifully displayed within the Parable of the Talents.  Not everyone will be able to handle extra ministries around their church on top of having toddlers.  Not everyone will be able to manage a full-time business that brings in money to bless her family, and also have babies.  There are some women can do those things and do them well, but it’s my opinion they’ve been blessed with a “talent” that is rather rare, and God knew they would be a good steward over this added responsibility because of their personality type or discipline.  The more normal example to see is productiveness based on the different seasons of life, however we have to keep in mind that our main ministry is to do our husbands good (look back over that chapter if you want to refresh your memory, “good” encompasses a whole lot!).  Simply just managing to be the best wife and mother to your children may be all that you are able to handle at this time, and that is totally ok!  You’re working for God’s approval, not for another woman’s opinion on your life.  If we’re tempted to compare ourselves with someone else able to do more, we have to keep in mind the season of life we’re in, and our own particular strengths and weaknesses.  God doesn’t want to burden us down with expectations that we can’t meet, and He knows what we can and cannot do.  If He had expected the servant with the one talent to produce as much as the servant given 5 talents, our God would be a harsh and cruel Master.  But that’s not how the story goes, He is compassionate and takes into account our natural abilities and gifts when He judges how much we’re able to produce for Him.  A woman with young children may not be able to spend her time volunteering or making substantial money, but she may have just enough time to deeply study God’s word and prepare lessons to teach it to her children.  A woman in the middle of growing her family may not be able to write books and teach a woman’s Bible study, but she may be able to give to those in need when the opportunities come up, or carefully plan out how to bring extra meals when a woman in their church needs assistance.  We all need different amounts of rest and sleep, just like we all have different amounts of discipline and energy.  The most important thing is that we’re working on and cultivating the blessings and gifts God has already given to us, and doing our best to serve Him with them.

Lydia a woman faithful over her talents – 

Let’s look again to another woman from the New Testament, a rather obscure woman like Tabitha, who was yet again, another example of a real life Proverbs 31 woman.  When we looked at Tabitha, we saw a loving, kind woman who spent her time giving herself fully to mission work, and making clothing for the persecuted Christians in need and widows of Joppa.  Lydia at first glance, is so entirely opposite of Tabitha it’s striking.  This is a great example of how becoming a Proverbs 31 woman will look different for each of us, according to the plans God has for us.  It’s not known whether Tabitha was rich or poor, and some scholars have debated either way, however, Lydia, we know, was a very wealthy woman.

According to Acts 16, Lydia was a seller of that same strange, brilliant color we learned about before; the same color that the Proverbs 31 woman dressed herself in: purple.  Placed in the right region at the right time, Lydia was a resident of Thyatira, an ancient Greek city in what we now know of as modern day Turkey.  Thyatira was known for it’s many “guilds,” which were medieval associations of skilled artisans or merchants, and that often had considerable power (13).  Lydia more than likely belonged to one of Thyatira’s most powerful and influential guild, the Dyers Guild.  Because Thyatira’s waters were so perfect for dyeing, the city produced indigo, scarlet, and purple dyes, with the latter making the city famous among the region.

Again we are faced with the strange element of where the spiritual meets the secular world.  The examples of this in the Bible are always important because they teach us how to be in the world, but not of the world.  Having now studied deeply in the last chapter, the sheer status symbol of this color purple, of the wealth and secular usage behind it’s being purchased, sold, or worn, it again reminds us of what truly matters to God.  Lydia was immersed in the secular world of fashion, outward appearance, the arts, brilliant and costly dyes, and great wealth obtained from selling purple.  And yet we’re told that this woman loved God and was capable of opening her heart to him!  Let’s look at the passages to learn more about this woman:

Acts 16:12-15 (NLT)

12 From there we reached Philippi, a major city of that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. And we stayed there several days.

13 On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered there. 14 One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God.

As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying.

15 She and her household were baptized, and she asked us to be her guests.

“If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we agreed.

The impression Lydia made on the missionaries was so welcoming that they actually returned to her house to receive rest after their imprisonment in Philippi for preaching the gospel.  Her gift of hospitality to God’s messengers was greatly needed and appreciated!

Acts 16:40 (NLT)

40 “When Paul and Silas left the prison, they returned to the home of Lydia. There they met with the believers and encouraged them once more. Then they left town.”

Paul also writes to the believers of Philippi (Lydia being one of the prominent women of the church), in his letter written from a jail cell, at the end of his life to the Phillippians.  If you read closely, you can almost hear the affection in his words for the believers:

Philippians 1:3-10

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, 5 for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus.

9 I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. 10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.

Lydia’s occupation as a seller of purple might have been a “questionable” calling to the Pharisees, but we can’t deny that her simple yet powerful example has been put in the Bible for our betterment.  Blogger Heather Whidden has a unique perspective on this “unlikely meeting,”

“Consider for a moment how unlikely it is that this meeting even took place to begin with. Lydia, a seller and producer of the much-coveted color purple that can only be afforded by the wealthiest, the Roman elite, crosses paths with Paul, the most influential apostle of Christianity at a river. That’s about as likely as Billy Graham meeting Vera Wang at the local bus station. And yet, this is where God chose to open the door for the gospel to be taken to the hearts of the Roman world and beyond; in the heart of a woman who sold purple.” (14, Emphasis mine)

Because of Lydia’s unique position in society, having influence and access to multiple sellers of the dyes and clothing, as well as her belonging to the Dyer’s Guild, she would be in the perfect place to bring the gospel to people who could spread it even further through their trade.  When the Lord opened her heart after hearing Paul speak at the river, we see that she grew an immediate desire to give the gift of hospitality to the missionaries.

Let’s look at a few things in common between Lydia and our Proverbs 31 woman:

  • They both show the gift of hospitality
  • They are both godly women with whom God is pleased
  • They both are humble and pure in spirit
  • They are both dealers or sellers of the expensive purple cloth
  • They may both be women who wore this purple color in their clothing choices
  • They both use their talents to obtain wealth that they use in turn to bless others
  • They are both good stewards over their talents and skills, being mindful to use them to further God’s Kingdom

Lydia’s work brought in blessings which in turn, blessed the believers of the new church!  God used the rather secular work of one woman, who was being faithful over the stewardship He had given her, to reach many others throughout the region!  Let’s never discount the affect we can have when we choose to be productive servants, and use our gifts and talents for God’s glory to encourage others and bring them closer to His will for them!

Next we’ll be looking at how the Proverbs 31 woman’s proceeds are used to bless not only her family, but also paved the way for her to reach out to the poor (verse 20), and the needy.


Interesting/cited Articles –

  1. Adam Clarke Commentary
  2. The Middletown Bible Church
  3. Matthew Poole’s Commentary
  4. Tabitha: A woman who lived for Jesus
  5. Beautiful in God’s Eyes by Elizabeth George
  6. Natural History by (Henry) Pliny the Elder
  7. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
  8. Greek Lexicon
  9. The History of Purple Cloth & Fabrics
  10. Hebrew Lexicon
  11. Elicott’s Commentary for English Readers
  12. Benson Commentary
  13. Lydia Bible Gateway
  14. The Power of Purple

Applications will be written into the individual posts during the next few weeks

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There’s another side to police life. There’s a part you don’t see in the media. There’s something they don’t tell you when they hand your loved one the uniform to wear, and the gun to carry. They tell you it will be a difficult life, that there will be challenges, stress, and sometimes horror. You […]

via Not Just A Job — This House Is Our Home

The Virtuous Woman’s Blessings of Her Hands to Others

 phoenician purple

She makes for herself, coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple (vs. 22)-

Moving on to the next verse revealing what the Proverbs 31 woman does with her hands, we find that after blessing others, after looking after her household and servants, she makes something for herself.  This is notable because it is the only time in the entire passage about her life that we see her ever doing something for herself.  When reading this verse, I wondered what all it implied?  What are coverings of tapestry?

From Matthew Poole’s Commentary,

Coverings of tapestry, for the furniture of her house.

Silk and purple, which was very agreeable to her high quality, though it doth not justify that luxury in attire which is now usual among persons of far lower ranks, both for wealth and dignity. (3)

Other translations say “bed coverings,” and it more than likely was both that she made.  Rugs, wall tapestries, coverings for her furniture, as well as coverings for their beds.  This verse confronts a topic many Christians feel a little uncomfortable in talking about: the value of outward appearances and beauty.

What is the importance, if any, in our virtuous woman beautifying her house?  There must be some hidden virtue here, for it wouldn’t be mentioned in the Bible otherwise.  The secret?  Beauty shows us an element of the divine artistic Creator, Himself.  Yes it can be misapplied or become an idol, but the artistic skill of creating beauty, seeking to make one’s home a beautiful place, is another essential character trait of our virtuous woman that reveals the character of God!

Of course we know that the Proverbs 31 woman doesn’t go into debt in order to buy merchandise to furnish their home, she makes it herself, for herself!  We know she would never harm her husband buy spending more than they have in order to achieve a beautiful home, and this can be applied even to wives with little extra spending money in their budgets!  For several years, I was able to beautify our home with choice pieces I’d find from thrift stores, things my Grandma or mother didn’t use anymore and wanted to give away, and I was amazed to find how easy it was to create a look of elegance without hardly spending anything at all!  It was too easy, and you can do it, too!  Creating a beautiful place for your husband and children to retreat to, is an extremely valuable character trait as a wife.

Elizabeth George has a perfect quote on this subject,

“Wherever home is for you, it’s an expression of youyour virtues, your abilities, your love.  You may not be able to determine the kind of home you have, but you can determine its beauty.  You control whether it’s clean, organized, and orderly.  You also choose your favorite colors, styles, and moods.” (5)

Our homes are a kind of blank slate of the kind of culture we want to present to our children.  Do we want them to be familiar with a culture of order and beauty, or of constant mess and clutter?  Consider the kind of music we play in our homes that serves to create the atmosphere which will give our children culture.  It’s been a goal of mine that our sons grow up hearing and being familiar with music that transcends our time with it’s beauty.  They listen to many different genres such as classical, jazz, European styles, French music, Brazilian music, Spanish music, Mexican music, as well as kid music that they dance around to.  Whatever music we have on at the time, it permeates through the house and has the power to completely transform a mood with it’s particular beauty.  The visual beauty is no less important, so let’s think about how we’ve spending time on the appearances of our homes.

You may think this all sounds just a little too Martha Stewart for you, and in a way I agree.  The Proverbs 31 woman is a little like Martha Stewart on steriods!  There’s a reason Martha Stewart has become so popular, as well as so hated, for the success and beauty she’s created for years.  Women who desire to beautify their homes and become proactive in learning to create and develop their own particular home beauty, love her.  Women who feel like they don’t have the time or energy, or who just don’t want to feel like beauty of their home matters, feel ashamed when they see what she’s done.  It is the same reactions we see in how women choose to respond to the Proverbs 31 woman: they either use it as something to model their life after, to challenge themselves to be better, or they discount her virtues and claim it’s not possible, that she never existed, or choose to ignore the passage in the Bible.  

You can choose to ignore verse 22 on the Proverbs 31 woman, but you ignore it at a peril of misunderstanding God’s heart.  He Himself is the Master Creator and Appreciator of beauty.  When we engage in activities that beautify our homes, we’re employing a gift God displays Himself, in everything He has created.  Let’s not diminish how important outward appearances really are in this case.  If they’re that important to God, that He spent time creating such beautiful things – sunrises, sunsets, the ocean, lush and beautiful gardens of plants, rivers and streams, mountains, the clouds, fields of flowers, birds, fish, and animals and humans – everything so detailed and perfectly done.

If all this beauty is so important to God, may it also be just as important to us.


Her clothing is silk and purple –

The “silk” mentioned in this verse is not silk as we know it – but Egyptian byssup, which was a beautiful, white (as close to white as they could obtain then), linen.  It was light and airy, perfectly tailored to wear in their arid environment for their comfort.

This purple mentioned here is extremely significant both historically and biblically.  It was a color achieved from only one source available for creating the vibrant and beautiful hue in that age.  Tyrian Purple, or sometimes called, Phoenician Purple, it was a mysterious purple-red color that actually deepened and shown more radiantly when aged or exposed to the sun, rather than fade like most dyes still are known to do.


“The purple was manufactured by the Phoenicians from a marine mollusk (shellfish). The shell was broken in order to give access to a small gland which was removed and crushed. The crushed gland gives a milky fluid that becomes red or purple on exposure to the air. Piles of these broken shells still remain on the coast at Sidon and Tyre” (The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Vol. IV, p. 2509).

Purple was prized by the ancients and exported far and wide. “Great labor was required to extract the purple dye, and thus only royalty and the wealthy could afford the resulting richly colored garments” (Unger’s Bible Dictionary, p. 904).

A total of 250,000 mollusks was required to make one ounce of the dye, which helps us to understand how valuable this dye was (Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, p. 288). (2)

Henry Pliny, or Pliny the Elder, described the production of Tyrian purple in his Natural History, which although an incredible insight into the process, was not considered to be a “complete recipe,” of sorts:

The most favourable season for taking these [shellfish] is after the rising of the Dog-star, or else before spring; for when they have once discharged their waxy secretion, their juices have no consistency: this, however, is a fact unknown in the dyers’ workshops, although it is a point of primary importance. After it is taken, the vein [i.e. hypobranchial gland] is extracted, which we have previously spoken of, to which it is requisite to add salt, a sextarius [about 20 fl. oz.] about to every hundred pounds of juice. It is sufficient to leave them to steep for a period of three days, and no more, for the fresher they are, the greater virtue there is in the liquor. It is then set to boil in vessels of tin [or lead], and every hundred amphoræ ought to be boiled down to five hundred pounds of dye, by the application of a moderate heat; for which purpose the vessel is placed at the end of a long funnel, which communicates with the furnace; while thus boiling, the liquor is skimmed from time to time, and with it the flesh, which necessarily adheres to the veins. About the tenth day, generally, the whole contents of the cauldron are in a liquefied state, upon which a fleece, from which the grease has been cleansed, is plunged into it by way of making trial; but until such time as the colour is found to satisfy the wishes of those preparing it, the liquor is still kept on the boil. The tint that inclines to red is looked upon as inferior to that which is of a blackish hue. The wool is left to lie in soak for five hours, and then, after carding it, it is thrown in again, until it has fully imbibed the colour.” (5)

The process was difficult and daunting, and the length of approximately two weeks alone shows the devotion the Phoenicians had to making this lucrative dye!  It was famous for centuries, and mentioned throughout the entire Bible.

We could completely disregard the literal sense of fine linen and purple cloth in this verse, and instead take it for spiritual symbolism.  The problem with that, however, is they are used throughout the Bible as both literal pieces of clothing and garments, as well as symbolic.  The fine linen was spun by the “wise-hearted women” who were moved to create the fabric of the Tabernacle we read about in Exodus.  Fine linen is also presented to the woman who represents Israel (and us) in Ezekiel 16:3-14, before she turned away from God:

“You are to say: This is what the Lord God says to Jerusalem: Your origin and your birth were in the land of the Canaanites.  Your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.  As for your birth, your umbilical cord wasn’t cut on the day you were born, and you weren’t washed clean with water.  You were not rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths.  No one cared enough about you to do even one of these things out of compassion for you.  But you were thrown out into the open field because you were despised on the day you were born.

I passed by you and saw you lying in your blood, and I said to you as you lay in your blood: Live!  Yes, I said to you as you lay in your blood: Live!  I made you thrive like plants of the field.  You grew up and matured and became very beautiful.  Your breasts were formed and your hair grew, but you were stark naked.

Then I passed by you and saw you and you were indeed at the age for love.  So I spread the edge of My garment over you (redeeming her) and covered your nakedness.  I pledged Myself to you, entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine.” This is the declaration of the Lord God.

“I washed you with water, rinsed off your blood, and anointed you with oil.  I clothed you in embroidered cloth and provided you with leather sandals.  I also wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk.  I adorned you with jewelry, putting bracelets on your wrists and a chain around your neck.  I put a ring in your nose, earrings on your ears, and a beautiful tiara on your head.  So you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was made of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth.  You ate fine flour, honey, and oil.  You became extremely beautiful and attained royalty.  Your fame spread among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through My splendor, which I had bestowed on you.” This is the declaration of the Lord God.”

The fine linen here is meant to be both literal in the story, and also symbolic in Him making her clean, purified, and glorious because she is His.  Biblically, we also see the specific purple color mentioned in verse 22, all through the Old and New Testament, giving us a biblical understanding of the uses and symbolic glory this color means.

“Purple cloth was used in the furnishings of the tabernacle (Exodus 25:4), in Solomon’s temple (2 Chron. 2:14; 3:14) and in the high priest’s dress (Exodus 25:4; 26:21).  It was a royal garment worn by kings (Judges 8:26).  It was a symbol of luxury and wealth, worn by the rich man of Luke 16:19 and by the luxurious harlot woman of Revelation 18:16.  In Mark 15:17,20 our Saviour was mockingly dressed in purple when a kingly robe was put around Him.  Lydia was a seller of purple (Acts 16:14).” (2)

Let’s look at when this specific purple is mentioned throughout the Bible again:

  • Purple cloth furnished the Tabernacle
  • Purple cloth furnished Solomon’s temple (workers who were from Tyre were brought in who specifically knew how to work with purple threads and fine linen)
  • Purple cloth was part of the high priest’s dress
  • Purple clothing was a royal garment worn by kings
  • Purple fabric (and also fine linen) was present at the king’s banquet in Esther 1:6
  • Purple robes of fine linen covered Mordecai when he left the king’s presence in victory in Esther 8:15
  • Purple was made into clothing and worn by the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31
  • Purple and fine linen from Egypt covered the ship from Tyre written about in Ezekiel 27
  • Purple and fine linen was worn by the rich man in Luke 16:19 who didn’t want to give up his possessions
  • Jesus was mockingly given a purple robe when crucified – to mock His being “king” of the Jews
  • Lydia was a seller of purple – of the cloth or dye, and more than likely both, (but not mentioned as worn by her) in the New Testament
  • Purple was worn by the luxurious harlot in Revelation 18:16

We also know from history that in Rome, it was restricted by law, who could wear this color.  Only the Emperor was allowed to don this much coveted, vibrant and extravagant hue in their society.  This history surrounding the use of Phoenician purple is so rich, it threw me even more in trying to understand why it is mentioned here as being something our Proverbs 31 woman dressed herself in.

This purple dye was so incredibly expensive, and such a status symbol when worn, that different societies put restrictions around who was even able to buy or wear it!

Women were supposed to dress in an unassuming way, not bringing attention to themselves – why does the Proverbs 31 woman dress in clothing that resembles what royalty would wear?  Why would she dress in something that was such a status symbol and so extremely expensive?

In contemplating the virtuous woman’s wearing of this purple, 1 Peter 3:3-4 came to mind,

Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.”

At a cursory glance, one could read this passage and interpret it to mean that we aren’t to be “concerned” about our outward beauty at all, or wear expensive jewelry (some women are convicted that they shouldn’t wear their wedding rings), or braid our hair – as some translations say “braided hair.”  It’s important to always go back to the Greek wording for understanding and also to consider the context through the use of a good concordance of where the words are used elsewhere in the Bible.  The word here for “beautiful,” in this version, is actually kosmos in Greek.  It is where we get our words for cosmopolitan (a person who has lived in and knows about many different parts of the world), or cosmetic (of, relating to, or making for beauty especially of the complexion, done or made for the sake of the appearance), and cosmetology (the job or skill of giving beauty treatments to women by washing and cutting hair, applying makeup, etc.).  The Greek meaning itself translates to “worldly” or “of the world,” but in the case of this particular verse, most biblical scholars agree it is translated as “adornments,” or “adorning,” (6).

It’s easy to take this passage too far and announce that a woman should never adorn herself with worldly beauty, but that is not the main point of the passage itself.  The main point is that her beauty should come from within, the beauty of a peaceful and quiet spirit that is so hard to obtain for most women.  If we only adorn ourselves with outer beauty, we may look wonderful, but our spirits (where are true beauty should be residing) may be as repelling as if we had dressed ourselves in trash!  I’ve always believed that inner beauty is capable of giving a woman radiance, and this radiance itself affects the outside, making her beautiful and captivating the more she reveals it.  It still bothered me, though, to wonder at such expensive apparel adorning our virtuous woman.  It didn’t bode well to know that a “luxurious harlot,” in Revelation, or the young rich man in Luke 16:19 also wore these same garments.  Weren’t his fine linen and purple an outward symbol of his love of material things, the main reason he could not become a true follower of Christ?

As I was asking myself these questions, talking it over with my husband and friends, I had to concede that maybe I have a somewhat puritanical view of worldly things that doesn’t completely line up with a holistic biblical view.  My own views are not much different from the woman who decides her wedding ring should not be worn, just of a different flavor.  We all come to God’s Word with different experiences, see through different lenses, and bring our own colored perspective – but in searching for truth and wisdom, we have to be able to be able to pray and ask questions around issues that look controversial.

Here are some questions I thought were valid in searching out why this was mentioned in the Bible, maybe you have some these, too.

Was it a pride issue?

No, really.  I’m asking if the Proverbs 31 woman had an issue with pride.  Bear with me here.  Aside from 1 Peter 3 warning against expensive clothing, isn’t it just a tad bit prideful or wrong to wear something so expensive, so out of reach for the common woman?  I grew up in a little town that often seemed completely absorbed and enraptured with status symbols, owning multiple expensive cars, wealth, and accumulation of material things.  In one area close to where I lived, the people who owned the mansions there, were so in debt that they had the highest suicide rate in the surrounding area for a time.  Pride and the desire to be seen with such signs of material “wealth,” were what drove this town’s people to failed relationships and destruction.  My parents raised my brother and I knowing these things, being aware of the perils of spending more than you could afford, and lived with a more “millionaire next-door,” mentality.  My parents taught me to never buy clothes unless they were on sale.  It was almost like a sin to me to pay full price for anything.  Sometimes this meant only buying jeans at the one time a year they were offered at a price of $10 (these were high dollar jeans, too!).  My parents were extremely unassuming, overly modest in dress and appearance, at one time, my dad was even mistaken for a homeless man!  This was something I adored about them, but not everyone understood or felt the same way.

So admittedly, I’m coming to this verse with a very peculiar background of constantly being taught that to spend large amounts of money, no matter your position in society or wealth, was wrong and a display of a lack of wisdom.  In our house, being frugal in all things was equated with wisdom.  It was a mindset passed down from my paternal Grandfather who had weathered the Great Depression successfully, and eventually accrued great wealth.

It’s very likely that the Proverbs 31 woman was wealthy.  We saw before, when looking in depth at all it took to plant and run a vineyard, that only the wealthy could manage something like that.  The Bible frequently makes it clear that it is not wrong to have wealth, in fact, in Post 8 we saw that “wealth is the crown of the wise.”  It’s a wise woman that is able to provide her husband “gain,” which meant material possessions equivalent to the spoils of having gone to war in verse 11, and great investments like planting a vineyard.  It’s also not wrong to be known among others as someone who is wealthy – Job was a wealthy and blessed man, and so was Abraham; Boaz was known as the wealthiest man in Bethlehem at his time.  I imagine Ruth dressed in beautiful, fine linen after they became married, because she reflected her husband and her respect for him.  She was called a “virtuous woman,” and her strength and virtue came from within.  Joseph became wealthy and prominent in Egypt; Queen Esther quickly became the wealthiest woman among several provinces, and dressed in clothing probably much like what verse 22 is describing of our Proverbs 31 woman.  King Xerxes himself owned robes of this famous purple color, it makes sense that he would desire his wife Esther, to be dressed in the same way.

Did she have a modesty problem?  

Our virtuous woman wears colors that are bright and signify what the rich, wealthy, or even royal of that time wore – was this just her way of saying “Look at Mee!”?  Was she too confident in her work, that we see her confidence over-displayed through her choice of such a bold, symbolic color in the clothing she made for herself?  Was she trying to get attention from others as being the best dressed, having the most expensive clothing money could buy, or to be most beautiful woman in their area?

Is it wrong for us to wear clothing that is nice and of high quality and with rich, vibrant colors?  If our outfits are drawing attention to us, or causing people to compliment how we look, should we feel bad or try to dress a little more shabby?  The obvious answer is no.

Modesty is a heart issue.  We know she was humble and pure in her attitude and heart, sacrificially putting her husband and children first, caring so much about the poor and needy, and employing a continual ministry of hospitality.  She had the inner beauty that 1 Peter 3:3-4 talks about, her adornment didn’t truly come from her clothing, but from the qualities of gentleness and peace in her spirit.

When researching on this topic of the balance of wearing such an expensive and famous purple dye, with having an inward spirit of beauty and godliness, I stumbled upon Ezekiel 27:7.  Ironically describing a ship from Tyre, covered in it’s famous purple hues and fine linen.  Matthew Henry’s Commentary confronts the questions I was asking concerning the worldly trade and possession of this dye:

“Those who live at ease are to be lamented, if they are not prepared for trouble. Let none reckon themselves beautified, any further than they are sanctified. The account of the trade of Tyre intimates, that God’s eye is upon men when employed in worldly business. Not only when at church, praying and hearing, but when in markets and fairs, buying and selling. In all our dealings we should keep a conscience void of offence.

God, as the common Father of mankind, makes one country abound in one commodity, and another in another, serviceable to the necessity or to the comfort and ornament of human life.

See what a blessing trade and merchandise are to mankind, when followed in the fear of God. Besides necessaries, an abundance of things are made valuable only by customyet God allows us to use them.  But when riches increase, men are apt to set their hearts upon them, and forget the Lord, who gives power to get wealth.” (7)

So it is God who blesses us with the ability to harvest such things as the radiant purple dye for “comfort and ornament of human life!”  And it is God who allows us to use them.  He keeps His eye upon us as we have to live in the world, but His eye isn’t so much on our outward appearance, but rather on the inside of our hearts, and our consciences.  It is clear the Proverbs 31 woman, although she dressed in fine linen and purple, did not set her heart upon her adornments, and didn’t forget God who gave her and her husband power to gain wealth.

Is she an “envy inciter?”   

Wearing this specific Phoenician, brilliant purple was considered extravagant, in fact, purple color in general was not available to the masses or commonly worn by people of lesser ranks until less than 200 years ago.

“You have probably heard the term “mauve” in decorating and design before; this is short for “Mauveine, which was first synthesized in 1856 by William Henry Perkin.

The creation of this dye was done on accident when its inventor was trying to synthesize quinine. Noticing the gorgeous purple color that the black tar he created left as a stain, he realized that it was the perfect agent for a synthetic purple dye. This invention made owning purple dyed fabrics and cloths affordable for almost everyone in the world. Mauve enjoyed a glorious era after it was released, with much of Europe clamoring to be seen in purple clothes, and have purple cloths adorning their homes.” (9)

So she was wearing a color that hardly anyone had access to, and one that particularly symbolized wealth and status, much like that of a Rolls Royce.  Was she making the other women in the neighborhood feel bad about their own clothes on purpose, or even by accident?  Was she a temptation that men had to warn their own wives about because somehow our virtuous woman’s clothing may cause other women to compare or feel discontented?  If her desire really was to cause others to envy, then it is coming from an unhealthy motivation.

But this being a biblical example of all that is virtuous and pure, the model of what God sees as beautiful, her heart’s desire was not to cause others to envy, and she was not responsible when someone else allowed their heart to envy, or to feel discontented in their own clothing.

Envy is a sin of a person’s own heart that eventually can lead to cynicism and bitterness; it is capable of completely destroying a woman’s faith.  It is only to be curbed by understand Paul’s “secret” of contentment that with whatever gifts or lack of gifts, positive or negative circumstances, blessings or trials that God has given us.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:12-13

Like we saw when we looked at in Post 6, it is our own responsibility for our spiritual growth – this means taking responsibility for the subtle pangs of envy or discontent when we feel them, not shifting blame to other people.  This means we “take every thought captive,” when it comes up and we feel those feelings of sinful emotions.  Envy is simply not a sin we can blame others for, if there is a woman trying to “incite envy,” she bears the weight of her own sins.  We are, however, wholly responsible for how we react to other people or temptations around us.  Any person who accuses her of being an envy inciter is allowing themselves to shift the blame of their own sin, and refusing to do the work required to become content in the circumstances God’s given them.

Overall, I think these are questions that highly mischaracterize and misunderstand the beauty of the heart behind the Proverbs 31 woman, but they are ways that Christianity has been jerked around throughout the ages.  The short answer to all these at once?  No.  God Himself clothed His bride in fine linen and royal garments in Ezekiel 16.  God’s example of what He clearly condones and views as beautiful femininity is not her displaying pride, being immodest in her character, or trying to incite others to envy.  That doesn’t mean that other people won’t see these things from the outside and judge her character based on their own feelings, or sin nature, however.

The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7b

Let’s examine what the virtuous woman is really doing here: she makes all the family clothing and furnishings for their house herself, nothing wrong with that, although one could argue that it could have “shamed” the women back in her time that were too busy or didn’t care enough to do this.  Like we saw before, this is the same argument women use against people like Martha Stewart.  But our virtuous woman does not live her life by fearing the opinions of other men and women.  We know that “fear of man is a snare” (Proverbs 29:25), and so she is not concerned if others project onto her their displeasure at her fine linens and purple clothing.

She seeks after good quality raw materials, and uses her profits to purchase things that will bless her family.  She works and creates as though she is working for God.  When she purchases the purple dye that is so expensive, we have to see this in light of the entire passage – she is not spending more than they can afford, she is not doing something her husband wouldn’t be ok with her doing.  She is not doing something that would bring him (and his finances) harm.  When she wears the beautiful fine linen, and shows off the dazzling and precious purple clothing she makes for herself with her hands, she is a walking advertisement for her home business and gifted talents.  The bottom line is: Our virtuous woman was so caught up in her duties, in the work of the Lord, in blessing her family through the work of her hands, that her outer dress and beauty was not the focus of her life.

Her focus was on being the best wife to her husband she could be.  Her focus was on raising up her children in the Lord.  She was busy reaching out to the poor and doing good works.  She didn’t give in to idleness as a habit – she’d learned to not eat the bread of idleness and learned to use all her time wisely.  She was others-focused, not self-absorbed.

Given all these things, it’s clear that her intentions were pure.  Wearing such expensive and elusive clothing wasn’t due to some flaw in her character, it was simply coming from a part of who she was.  Her adornments and beautiful clothing was a byproduct, even a symbol, of the blessings coming from the work of her hands!

Applications coming out with the third portion of this post



The Virtuous Woman’s Blessings of Her Hands to Others


“She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle.”

“She makes herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.”

“She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants.”

Proverbs 31:19, 22, 24

I’m going to do something a little different with this next post.  Instead of continuing on going verse by verse, there are two instances in this series when it’s appropriate to lump a few together.  This post (and the next one after that, since it has been broken in two) is covering verses 19, 22, and 24.  All these verses have to do with describing what she is doing with her hands.  Her hands are beautiful.  She uses them to be productive and busy, and doing things for the benefit first for her family, others, and then herself.  Writing this series has been mind-blowing for me, and these next posts are no different!  May they bless you as well as you read along and study more deeply about the mysterious and amazing Proverbs 31 woman.

In case you’ve missed some of the posts in this series:

  1. The Best Gift You Can Give to Your Husband
  2. The Power & Difficulty of Becoming a Woman of Virtue
  3. Her Husband Can Safely Trust in Her
  4. His Wife is Over-flowing with Goodness
  5. His Wife Desires to do Good Work
  6. She is Like the Merchant Ships
  7. His Wife is a Beautiful Early Riser
  8. Her Beautiful Dreams Bless their Family
  9. The Virtuous Wife is Full of Strength & Power
  10. The Proverbs 31 Woman Has Confidence in Her Work & Ministry


“She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle.”

The beautiful image of this verse seems to pick right up from where we left off at verse 13, her seeking out wool and flax, and working with willing hands.  We know from the ancient tools mentioned here in verse 19, the “spindle,” and the “distaff,” that much of her free time was more than likely spent being a woman who made clothing.

From Adam Clarke’s Commentary:

“She layeth her hands to the spindle –

10. She gives an example of skill and industry to her household. She takes the distaff, that on which the wool or flax was rolled; and the spindle, that by twisting of which she twisted the thread with the right hand, while she held the distaff in the guard of the left arm, and drew down the thread with the fingers of the left hand.

Allowing that spindle and distaff are proper translations of כישור kishor, and פלך pelech, this was their use, and the way in which they were used. The spindle and distaff are the most ancient of all the instruments used for spinning, or making thread. The spinning-wheel superseded them in these countries; but still they were in considerable use till spinning machinery superseded both them and the spinning-wheels in general.”


She worked with her maidens by example; in verse 15 we saw that she gave portions to her maid servants, where the word “portions” could be interpreted as meat or work, and more than likely meant both.

“One might think that this virtuous woman could command her female servants and tell them to rise up early and prepare the breakfast meal and have it ready for her entire family.  But we are told that she gives a portion of food to her maidens.

Not only does this speak of her kindness to those working under her, but it also indicates that she demanded of others only what she herself was willing to do.

Workers and servants will greatly respect a superior who is willing to “get his hands dirty” and do some of the very tasks which he might require of them.” (2)

This verse in particular, shows us an aspect of her character that no task was too small or beneath her.  She was a woman with a husband who had influence in their city, as we’ll see in the coming weeks.  She had enough means to keep servants, plant and manage a vineyard – something we saw only the wealthy were able to do, and yet the monotonous task of spinning her own thread was not something she delegated out as degrading to her position.

There have been many commentaries that remarked upon the fact that in past ages, even queens were often found spinning with their maid servants.  This is such a far cry from the modern perception of wives of wealthy or powerful men today!  Wealthy women often hire out people to do all their basic chores and house cleaning, anything that could be described as tedious or drudgery for them.  It’s difficult to imagine the modern wealthy woman hiring a maid, and then helping them clean her house.  Or hiring a personal chef, and then cooking alongside them.  These women often don’t even do their own laundry, but we can be assured from this sweet verse that the Proverbs 31 woman was especially down to earth and relatable to us in this area!

We looked at her attitude back in verse 13 (Post 5), and found that our virtuous model of godly femininity did not do her chores and humble tasks with a resentful spirit.

A willing worker is a delight to everyone who has to work or deal with them.  Possibly one of the most frustrating things is to be around, work with, or have to deal with as a consumer, is an unwilling worker.  A willing worker will seek after what needs to be done next, whereas an unwilling worker will look for ways to procrastinate or get out of their responsibilities.  A willing worker gets more done than expected, and often in less time, whereas an unwilling worker will waste an employer’s time.  A willing worker is a go-getter and takes pride in doing their work well, whereas an unwilling worker often has a bad attitude toward work, and doesn’t care about the quality of what they produce or contribute.  A willing worker has a good attitude toward accomplishing what they need to get done, however an unwilling worker often complains or has a negative attitude.  So we can clearly see, a willing worker is valuable to everyone who comes into contact with them, and their attitude toward work inspires others, because it reveals an important character trait of God.

God cares about how we as women approach our work.

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.”

Colossians 3:23-24

He cares about our attitude,

“For it is God who is working in you, enabling you to both will and to act for His good purpose.  Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.  Hold firmly to the message of life.”

Philippians 13-16a

Whether in desirable circumstances or even under persecution, He expects us to continue on in our work, even showing goodness, patience and humility with those who abuse or slander us, which is most likely to happen if we are involved in any kind of ministry.”

We talked about how our virtuous woman’s mindset toward work can be wonderfully applied to the menial household tasks we often take care of as mothers back when discussing verse 13.  What she is doing in verse 19, the simple, yet time-consuming task of spinning thread, was probably mostly done at her moments of leisure, possibly in the afternoon while little ones were napping, possibly after a busy day when she sat in the dark, her candle burning late into the night.  It is the kind of work that is repetitive and relaxing; work that needs to be done, but can be done at a leisurely pace.

One of my favorite things to do involving our modern technology, is to use the time spent doing chores with my hands, as an opportunity to work on my spiritual growth and maturity.  It’s a blessing to be able to fold laundry or put away dishes, cook, or clean the house while simultaneously getting to listen to, and be challenged by a great sermon online!

My chores are transformed into chances to obtain great wisdom from other’s teachings, or to sing and offer praise to God with worship music.  As you can imagine, this dramatically improves my attitude during the day, and helps me ponder greater things while getting the minor tasks done that need doing.  Whatever I’m dealing with at the moment, I can listen to a godly sermon to give me wisdom and guidance as to how to handle it.  Often times God’s double-edged sword (His Word) convicts my spirit and it’s a chance to repent.

I wouldn’t have this immense blessing in my life if I didn’t use the time I have to do my housework as a dual process of working on my spiritual growth as well.


When I was looking up the words women usually use to describe their household chores, I came across adjectives that brought an insight into how we so typically shoot ourselves in the foot before we even begin.  Boring, uninspiring, tedious, humble, lowly, unskilled, monotonous, mind-numbing, dreary, degrading, even “soul-destroying” were among the words I found!  If this is how we view our housework and chores, the majority of how a stay at home mother or even working woman spends a large portion of her time doing, we are setting ourselves up for burnout and failure.

I can understand though, I’ve certainly felt all those things, you could even add “overwhelmed,” to my personal list.  With my husband’s work schedule calling for him to be gone the majority of our afternoons and evenings – a time when the chores and tasks that need to get done pile up fast, keeping a good attitude about them has, at times, been a struggle.  I’m not only responsible for cooking, getting our children to eat enough food (which often involves a power struggle of the wills), I also am alone in handling their bath and bedtime routines, story time, tucking them in, and after all that is done, I still have to clean up the kitchen and take care of the dirty dinner dishes used.  When my older son was in school this past year, he would often cry at night for his dad, which made the entire ordeal even harder.  Doing it alone most nights of the week can be discouraging and exhausting, but it’s also a beautiful opportunity to be doing these little things with excellence and for God!

In talking to women I admire who are older and have some of these things figured out, the sympathy is there, but they constantly adhere themselves and their emotions or frustration to a higher wisdom that pushes them to have a bigger perspective.

When we have a broader perspective on our struggles, on dealing with the many little things that can add up to frustrate or even anger us, we can see that doing these tasks, doing them with peace, and as an offering of love to our children and husband, is laying down a pattern for a wise life.


The Wise-Hearted Women were moved to spin –

Another interesting resource I found when researching for this post, draws us to look into the Old Testament, in Exodus, to see that the women who “were wise-hearted,” were moved to do this humble task of spinning beautiful thread and colors, even “fine linen,” like we’ll see in verse 22, our virtuous woman also makes.

An example of hand spinning is found in the ancient book of Exodus:

And all the women that were wise hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine linen. And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats’ hair” (Exodus 35:25-26).

If a woman’s hands are idle and if she is not engaged in worthwhile, constructive pursuits, then watch out!  “Idle hands are the devil’s tools” and “If the devil can catch a man (or woman) idle, he’ll set him (or her) to work.” (2)

The Hebrew word here for “wise hearted,” is chakam, and simply means “intelligent, skillful, or artful.”  It is used many times in the Old Testament to refer either to the artisans crafting the furnishings for the tabernacle, or men who had a special wisdom in overseeing administrative affairs like Joseph, King David, King Solomon, kings in general, the class of political advisers in Judah, and more broadly, is used to describe people who were prudent and wise in their understanding (5).  In this case in particular, the women who were not wealthy, who had no gold or jewels to bring to offer to the construction of the tabernacle, instead chose to use their God-given talents in creating the masterpieces of tapestries, rugs, table cloths, and curtains that would bring splendor and beauty to God’s Holy place.  Like our Proverbs 31 woman, who was also “wise hearted,” they used their artistic skills to bring forth special blessings from the work of their hands!

From Matthew Henry’s Commentary:

“Without a willing mind, costly offerings would be abhorred; with it, the smallest will be accepted. Our hearts are willing, when we cheerfully assist in promoting the cause of God. Those who are diligent and contented in employments considered mean, are as much accepted of God as those engaged in splendid services.

The women who spun the goats’ hair were wise-hearted, because they did it heartily to the Lord. Thus the labourer, mechanic, or servant who attends to his work in the faith and fear of God, may be as wise, for his place, as the most useful minister, and be equally accepted of the Lord.

Our wisdom and duty consist in giving God the glory and use of our talents, be they many or few.” (3)

Are there other women who were talented in making clothing in Scripture?

Yes!  When doing the research for this section of this series, I was so pleased to really delve deeply into the history and story behind a certain woman in the New Testament.  Her life, artistic skills, and love for doing good, beautifully and symbolically align with many characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman.  She was a living example of a Proverbs 31 woman in the time of the dawn of Christianity.

In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which is translated as Dorcas),

who was always occupied with works of kindness and charity.”  Acts 9:36

Tabitha was her Hebrew name, and Dorcas was her Greek name, but both meant “antelope,” or “gazelle,” even “fawn.”  I love how this verse says she “was always occupied with works of kindness and charity.”  In another translation, it says she “was full of goodness.”  From our study on the Proverbs 31 woman back in Post 4, “His Wife is Overflowing with Goodness,” this being full of goodness requires a depth of spiritual maturity and wisdom.  Tabitha was always occupied with works of kindness and charity – what an inspiring role model for Christian women who longs to be virtuous to aspire to!

She was also like the women in the past we learned about in Exodus, who were “wise-hearted,” that spun goats hair into threads.  We’ll see in the following verses, that Tabitha used her skillful art of making clothing to bless the church and clothe the poor and widowed.  Being constantly concerned with these little acts of charity, particularly known for making others clothing, was her way of serving God!

She was extremely precious to the believers in the persecuted church, and yet she didn’t necessarily accomplish anything remarkable.  Serving in the background, always there when needed or called upon, but not in a role that would draw particular attention, she faithfully used her sewing as a gift – just as necessary as others who were gifted with teaching or prophecy.  This is important to us in order to understand the deeper meaning, she was the only woman who is called a disciple, yet there were other women who stayed around Jesus, even His own earthly mother sat at his feet and listened to His teachings.

According to Minister Stephen Sizer,

“This should teach us not to despise the gift of helps, or undervalue practical serving.  Tabitha was a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. She opened her heart to Jesus and that changed everything. The word ‘disciple’ means a learner, a follower, and that became her motivation in sewing clothes. It was out of gratitude for Jesus that she dedicated her one gift to Jesus. Can you do that? This is the reason I am sure Tabitha was “always doing good and helping the poor”. Because she was following the example of Jesus, following the prompting of Jesus, to do good and help those in need.

She could sew and so she sewed to the best of her ability. She was sewing for Jesus. Can you do that? What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? What energizes you?
What lights your fire? What are you passionate about? Are you channeling that gifting or passion for Jesus? What are you doing for Jesus? It can be as simple as sewing or baking, fixing or driving.

True faith expresses itself in deeds not words. The highest calling in Christian ministry is to care in practical ways for the most vulnerable in society, especially widows and orphans. In previous generations, ports like Joppa, would have had a high proportion of widows, more than other towns. During bad weather, fishermen, merchant and naval seaman were often shipwrecked and drowned. Their wives and children lost not only their husbands and fathers but also their income. That is why the Lord instructs his people:

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

James 1:27 (4)

Continuing on in Scripture, we see that her life full of good works had come to an end:

About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. “Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!” Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.

Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet.

Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.” (Acts 9:40-43)

There are only 7 people mentioned in the Bible as being raised from the dead, and Tabitha is the only adult woman.  Her faith and beauty of her life full of goodness to others led to lead many to Christ, but consider how much more her resurrection brought unbelievers to Him!

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10

Tabitha was yet another example of a virtuous woman like our ancient archetype!  She used the menial tasks of making garments like the wise-hearted women in Exodus, like the Proverbs 31 woman in verse 19, and offered up to others the blessings that came from the work of her hands!

The next 2 verses & applications for this section will come out published ASAP


The Proverbs 31 Woman Has Confidence in Work & Her Ministry


She perceives that her merchandise is good. Her lamp does not go out at night.

verse 18

Welcome back!  If you’re still reading along, I know these posts are long and cover lots of topics that can be broken down into smaller posts.  After the whole series is done, there will be a break from blogging, and then I will more than likely start doing small pieces of posts from this series just for fun since there is so much here in each post.  This wonderful verse gave me so much more to think of than I ever thought from a cursory reading it would reveal.  My husband helped with the ideas and editing all over the second half of this post, which was so exciting to talk about in depth together, over many hours (this post was a major sacrifice!), and come to a conclusion about what is truth and what is false about how we approach women and ministry.

In case you’ve missed some of the posts in this series:

  1. The Best Gift You Can Give to Your Husband
  2. The Power & Difficulty of Becoming a Woman of Virtue
  3. Her Husband Can Safely Trust in Her
  4. His Wife is Over-flowing with Goodness
  5. His Wife Desires to do Good Work
  6. She is Like the Merchant Ships
  7. His Wife is a Beautiful Early Riser
  8. Her Beautiful Dreams Bless their Family
  9. The Virtuous Wife is Full of Strength & Power


She perceives that her merchandise is good –

Each verse has been so full of enchanting looks inside the mind and heart of the Proverbs 31 woman, and now we take time to examine her attitude towards her merchandise and ministry.  How interesting it is that even in ancient biblical days, women like our virtuous archetype had their own small businesses!  This series has been very motivating for me to seek out more ways to contribute financially to our household, even by simply being a lot more mindful about budgeting and planning more aggressively for the future.  When we think of stay at home moms, our culture makes us almost immediately think they don’t contribute financially to the home.  And maybe many don’t in conventional ways!

We seem to have a certain perceptive about stay at home moms, though, and one that isn’t really biblical or even historical.  The biblical women like our archetype were stay at home mothers by default, but they didn’t let themselves get pigeon-holed into thinking they couldn’t also be extremely creative and industrious for their families at the same time!  They not only raised sometimes large families, managed and performed most of the household chores and duties, I think many of them had little occupations that provided some side money.  If they were smart and entrepreneurial like our Proverbs 31 woman we saw in Post 8, the profits they made could be used to make bigger investment ventures that would bless their families even more!

This verse, however, focuses on her side business, and not particularly her bigger dreams and investments like we covered in Post 8.  First, let’s look closely at the words chosen at the beginning:

“She perceives that her merchandise is good.”  The Hebrew word that most translators express as perceives, is “ta’am.” (1)  It figuratively means to “taste, and experience in order to know or try something out.  There is a little more implied here than merely just “perceiving” which can be defined as judging, considering, becoming aware of something usually by only the sense of sight.

This is the same word used in Pslam 34 verse 8,

Taste and see that the Lord is good!”

O taste and see that the Lord is goodThat is, kind, merciful, and gracious, namely, to all his people. The goodness of God, here spoken of, includes both the amiableness and benevolence of his nature, and the bounty and beneficence of his providence and grace; and, in calling us to taste and see this, the psalmist means that we should seriously, thoroughly, and affectionately consider it, and make trial of it by our own experience; which is opposed to those slight and vanishing thoughts that men usually have of the divine goodness.

It is not sufficient that we find him to be a bountiful benefactor to us, but we must relish and take delight in his goodness manifested in and by his gifts, and in the contemplation of his infinite perfections and boundless love; and must be so convinced and persuaded of his goodness, as thereby to be encouraged, in the worst of times, to trust in him, and cast our care upon him.” (2)

Many verses across the Bible use this same word in reference to experiencing the Lord’s goodness, but one of the most beautiful to me, is found in 1 Peter 2:1-3.

“So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech.  Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.

What we experience intimately, we use to understand how to modify our work for the future.  When we experience God’s kindness and goodness, it causes us to yearn deeply for more from Him, and for larger spiritual growth in ourselves.  Our virtuous woman’s merchandise is first experienced by her, tested and tried even, so that she can be sure of what to change or modify – so that she can be sure it is actually good.

So what is exactly her merchandise that we are talking about here?  In verse 24, we see that, “She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants.”  We also know that she makes bedspreads in verse 22, and dresses herself in fine linens and purple gowns – clothing that she more than likely makes for herself.  

We also saw her taking great care to pick out only the best raw materials for making her clothing merchandise in verse 13 (wow, it’s been a little over a month ago since that post!). An excerpt from that post:

” Another way to look at this verse, is to understand the implications behind her searching for wool and flax – she is selectively picking raw materials that are of quality to be used in the cloth or clothing she will make.  She knows if she doesn’t pick out the best quality raw materials, her eventual product that she sells to the merchants (vs 24) or makes for her husband or children to wear (vs 21), will also lack quality.  One of the major ways consumers judge a business, salesperson, or product, is by the quality of the product that is being sold.  A poor quality product reflects badly on the reputation of a business selling that product, because it shows a lack of ethics (selling poorly made items) and virtue (taking pride in their work and what they produce).  A good business is conscientious of this, and so takes the necessary measures to ensure the products they develop, sell, or represent are of good quality.  This is a woman who cares about not only being busy and the benefit of working with her hands, but also the quality of the work she produces.  “

She has confidence in the work she produces –

Because of all this, because of how keenly she picks out the raw materials for her merchandise, because she tastes and tests the items she makes, experiencing and knowing them first on herself, she is then able to confidently sell them to the merchants.  She knows (from experience, from all that hard effort, from being selective, and from trying our herself) that her merchandise is good.

This is probably the hardest part of getting a small business started and up off the ground, is having the necessary confidence in what you’re doing so that you can be motivated enough to not only continue making product, but be aggressive in advertising it to consumers.  It takes confidence based on validity to push us to actually start selling something.  If one doesn’t have that necessary confidence in their work, they’ll never get their side business off the ground into giving them “profits.”

Elizabeth George has a wonderful insight she shares about this topic,

“Verse 18 is the spark that ignites the flame of a full-fledged business for the Proverbs 31 woman, for me, and perhaps for you, too.  As we’ve seen, God’s beautiful woman does all things well, and she enjoys the success that results from attaining her standards of excellence.  We’ve also seen her willingness to work hard and to save pennies by bartering and bargaining.  Through thrift, hard work, and saying “no,” she builds a savings account that supplies her with the capital for some real estate ventures.  Having taken care of her family and seeing that her home is well cared for, she now starts up her own little business.

How did her business begin?  How did it come to be?  The wise, royal mother who is teaching this alphabet of wisdom shows us and also offers us a formula for success – in a word, excellence!  When you and I pursue excellence in all things (Proverbs 31:29), we can experience the kind of success enjoyed by God’s beautiful woman.” (3)


When we govern our duties, our chores, all the facets of being a wife and a mother, our health, even how we exercise, with excellence, it makes our lives so much better than before!

Employing a Spirit of Excellence is the application of wisdom into every area of our life, and of course, no one can manage this perfectly, but just like applying virtues, applying excellence in every area of our life comes slowly – but reaps tremendous rewards that make it easier to do over time.


Her lamp does not go out at night –

I light a candle in the morning when I do my devotional and Scripture reading and pray to God.  I started it back in 2011 when I was going through the Bible with a deep intensity, and became convicted that it showed a certain sign of respect and submission to God, to offer of pleasing scent when I came before Him.  It goes back to the ancient days when God gave instructions for an altar of incense that was burned in the Tent of Tabernacles, right outside veil of the Holy of Holies (the room where God’s spirit would dwell).  Every day, incense was burned on the altar within the tabernacle, and all for God’s pleasure and honor.  When I dwelt on this, I felt moved to offer Him a pleasing fragrance every morning out of love and devotion and thankfulness.  For the Jewish people, incense was to be a symbol of prayer, as David says, “May my prayer be set before you like incense” (Psalm 141:2).  Candles, with their light and fragrance, symbolize to me the most interesting combination of the Old and New Testament regarding our faith.  We want to shine brightly as lights in this world, and give off the pleasing fragrance of our lives lifted up to God as a sacrifice themselves!  As I sit here, writing in the early morning when it’s still dark, watching the candle burning, I’m mesmerized by the beauty and sheer power of it’s light.

We’ve looked at before the dangerous pitfalls of distorting this passage to take it too literally so that we can discredit it, and justify our thinking it has no meanings or applications for us as women today.  I’ve seen many women use this particular verse of her lamp not going out at night, to try to say that she never sleeps!  How can we compare with someone who is a Super Mom that works all day and also all night?

One of the most commonly accepted explanations of this verse, is that it could be applied to her diligent efforts to produce good product, as some biblical commentators have stated in their writings, but most concur that even if it does represent her dedication to her work, that it doesn’t mean she was literally or figuratively, burning the candle at both ends.  Like we looked at in Post 7, in which we saw consistently living on extremely limited hours of sleep can lead to motivational burnout and physical deterioration.

Another application that is hinged back to verse 15 in Post 7, is that the way our virtuous woman keeps her lamp burning throughout the night, requires for her to rise while it is yet still night in order to replenish the oil to keep it from going out.  It may be that women in that age literally would do this – get up in the middle of the night to replenish the oil in their oil lamps to make sure their lights would not go out prematurely, but how can we apply this to our modern life today?  Or should we even try?

Even the biblical commentaries say not to take this literally to mean that she never slept, but the more interesting reason most accepted here has to do with something else completely, and is a broader principle that modern women can apply even today.

According to some of the most renowned biblical scholars, however, the possibilities of meanings here are mostly based on what we know historically of what women did back then.  What was the main purpose for a woman to make sure that their lamp didn’t go out during the night?  Why would it be important?  One of the most widely accepted answers is that it signaled their household’s willingness to give aid and lodgings to travelers who had no where else to stay.  It was a beautiful sign of hospitality, which we see is categorized as a kind of gift to be used in ministering to the body of Christ according to Paul.

Our virtuous Proverbs 31 woman more than likely employed her own ministry gift of hospitality by making sure her lamp did not go out at night.  And this being concerned with strangers passing by, meeting their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs by offering them comfort, nourishment, and a place to stay for awhile is repeated throughout our Christian creed:

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”  Hebrews 13:1

“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”  Matthew 25:35

“Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.”  Romans 12:13

“Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the friends, even though they are strangers to you; they have testified to your love before the church.  You do well to send them on in a manner worthy of God; for they began their journey for the sake of Christ, accepting no support from non-believers. Therefore we ought to support such people, so that they may become co-workers with the truth.”

3 John 1-5



The Lamp signifying our spiritual life; our affecting and reaching others –

A simple and yet illuminating (pun intended!) cross-textual study of the word “lamp,” shows us that our virtuous woman’s lamp in Proverbs 31:18, is the same word and meaning used in the famous gospel passage of Matthew 5:14-16.  Both Scriptures are talking about the same kind of lamp, even though one is in Hebrew and the other written originally in Greek, they are both mentioning a lamp that is lit with a wick in oil.

Let’s look at this widely known passage in a new light (yikes, the puns!), juxtaposed with what our virtuous woman is doing in verse 18.

14 You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.

15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.

16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

From the NIV application commentary:

“Jesus’ disciples are called to be the light of the world.

They cannot be hidden, for their very nature, the kingdom life within them, is living testimony to those in the world who do not yet have that light.

Their good works are produced by the light and life that come from God. It is not of their own making, because those who see them in action will glorify not them but their “Father in heaven.” (4)

In Asbury’s comments on this passage, he even takes it further to say that we have a responsibility to be doing good works and ministering to others publicly, or else we will be like unbelievers and cast out from the presence of God:

“With blessings go responsibilities. Those in the kingdom have a responsibility to function as salt and light to the world.

The purpose of discipleship is to bring stability, wholeness, and the knowledge of God to all the earth through the performance of good works.

Those who reject this responsibility and cease to fulfill this purpose in their lives are by definition no longer true disciples and therefore will be cast out by God.” (5)

As we can see, the biblical scholars as well as Christ Himself, charge us with the responsibility of being a light in whatever fashion that may take concerning our different spiritual gifts.  As women longing to be virtuous women who bless our families and husbands, I think most of us recognize this deep desire coming from our responsibility to be a light not only to our immediate family members, but anyone who crosses our path.  It is important to acknowledge that this is talking about being a light to others publicly – yes this means ministering to others not only in private, but also where others can see our light shining from our good works.  All are called to be ministers to others (to believers and unbelievers who need ministry), we just have different gifts of which we use to minister, but each is equally important.  We are not to hide our lamps under a basket or shrink back from our purpose in using our different gifts.  We are to shine brightly, and have our faith and gifts displayed in the open, as to be seen by everyone.

We talked about before how many scholars actually believe the Proverbs 31 woman is Wisdom personified in the Proverbs.  In (Proverbs chapter 1) we find Wisdom calling out to anyone who will listen… we also see in Proverbs 15:7.

 “The lips of the wise broadcast knowledge, but it is not so with the hearts of fools.”

Our virtuous woman is not a wall-flower, hanging back in intimidation, and declining when implored to give others wisdom and teaching biblical knowledge.  She gives wisdom generously and humbly, but also confidently.  Because she is wise, we see that “her lips broadcast knowledge,” implying it’s not only to those closest to her in private, but also to anyone willing to listen.  This is fulfilling her purpose as a believer in God and as a light to those who need ministering to.

Because she is wise, she knows she has a duty to impart teachings to others.

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of God’s Word.”  Hebrews 5:12

Women who choose to remain perpetual students without passing on their knowledge to others are rebuked by God’s Word, not commended.  It is natural, proper and the duty of those who have learned the truth to teach others also in their own ways (different avenues, not one being “better” than the other), and ministries.

When Christians try to intimidate others into not using their gifts-

One of the saddest things I’ve seen in my life is the propensity for God-fearing men and women to go out of their way to discourage other believers from ministering to others.  Whether it be discouragement from doing a simple Bible study, book study, getting a group together to go over tenants in one’s faith, or discouragement against a particular kind of ministry, this seems to be plain old human nature.

In the Old Testament, we see an example of this displayed in a strange conversation between Moses and Joshua over who should be allowed, or forbidden, to prophesy.

Numbers 11:26-29

26 “Two men, Eldad and Medad, had stayed behind in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but they had not gone out to the Tabernacle [to receive the specific blessing of the same Spirit that God gave to Moses to the 70 men chosen]. Yet the Spirit rested upon them as well, so they prophesied there in the camp. 27 A young man ran and reported to Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp!”

28 Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ assistant since his youth, protested, “Moses, my master, make them stop!”

29 But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them all!” 30 Then Moses returned to the camp with the elders of Israel.”

We’re not told why Eldad and Medad did not go to the Tabernacle with the other men, but it was scandalous enough that when they exercised their gift of ministry to the people, a few were upset by it.  A young man ran to tattle-tale on them to the spiritual authorities, but we see that Moses wasn’t bothered at all, and neither was God.

Enviest thou for my sake?”Art thou grieved because the gifts and graces of God’s Spirit are imparted to others besides me? Or rather, Art thou jealous for my sake?  Art thou afraid that their exercising these prophetic gifts will be a diminution of my honour?  

Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets”That they were all so inspired by his Spirit as to be enabled to speak to his praise, and to the edification of others!   He saith prophets, not rulers, for that, he knew, could not be. Thus we see, though Joshua was Moses’s particular friend and confidant, and though he said this out of respect for Moses, whose honour he was very unwilling to see lessened by the call of those elders, yet Moses reproves him, as Christ did the disciples on the occasion just mentioned, and, in him, all who are of such a spirit.

We must take care,” says Henry, “that we do not secretly grieve at the gifts, graces, or usefulness of others, and that we be not forward to condemn and silence those that differ from us, as if they did not follow Christ, because they do not follow him with us. Shall we reject those whom Christ has owned? or restrain any from doing good because they are not in every thing of our mind?

Moses was of another spirit; so far from silencing these two, and quenching the spirit in them, he wishes that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that he would put his Spirit upon them. Not that he would have had any to set up for prophets who were not duly qualified; or that he expected the spirit of prophecy to be made thus common; but he thus expresseth the love and esteem he had for all the Lord’s people, the complacency he took in the gifts of others, and how far he was from being displeased at Eldad and Medad’s prophesying from under his eye.

Such an excellent spirit as this blessed Paul was of; rejoicing that Christ was preached, though it were by those who therein intended to add affliction to his bonds, Php 1:16.

We ought to be pleased that God is served and glorified, and good done, though to the lessening of our credit and the credit of our way.” (2)

Moses directly asked Joshua if he was jealous for him over his pointless urging to forbid others from prophesying!

It’s very clear that the biblical scholars agree on this passage that this is a “spirit” or more modernly put: an attitude, that we as Christians just shouldn’t allow ourselves to entertain.  Even if we feel strongly convicted ourselves to feel this way about another’s ministry, we should not be speaking out against them or their style.  It’s not a godly attitude, and very far from being virtuous and Christ-like.

In fact, Jesus Himself had an extremely similar scenario of spiritual abuse of power (spiritual envy) with his own apostles in Mark 9:38-40,

38 John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he wasn’t in our group.”

39 “Don’t stop him!” Jesus said. “No one who performs a miracle in my name will soon be able to speak evil of me.

40 Anyone who is not against us is for us.”

Ellicott’s Commentary on this passage is also quite interesting:

“The disciple desired to show, as in self-vindication, that he not only “received” his Master, but that he was unwilling to “receive” any who did not openly follow Him as a disciple.

The fact of which he speaks is significant historically as indicating that one of the effects of our Lord’s work had been to stir up and quicken the spiritual powers of men outside the range of the company of disciples that gathered round Him.

They believed in Him, or they would not have used His Name.

They were fellow-workers with Him, for they were seeking to rescue the souls of men from frenzy and despair.

Their faith was effective, for, as the narrative implies, they not only claimed the power to cast out demons, but did cast them out.” (6)

In both cases of Moses and Jesus dealing with another believer’s unbelief or unwillingness to accept God using someone in a certain way, we see three things that stand out:

  1. They believed in Him, using Jesus’ Name and power in their ministry to others
  2. They were fellow-workers with Him, having the same goal and purpose of rescuing souls
  3. Their faith was effective for ministry work

Why did the disciples try to stop someone who wasn’t in their group from driving out demons in Jesus’ Name?  They were using Christ’s power, they also were doing a good ministry work (the scholar points out to us that not only were they trying to drive out demons, they actually were driving out demons).  Why would they want to stop anyone from spreading Christ’s blessings and healing (ministering) to others?

Scholars point out that it was more than likely because they felt like they had received a special kind of authority ordained to them, and that since they had received their authority in that particular way, that everyone else who would be ministers of Christianity had to be ordained in that same way.  It sadly is in human nature to want to dictate who God can use and who He can’t based on human rules we make up – often even loosely based on biblical texts.  It’s also been pondered that it was because they felt like they were the only ones holy enough because they were in Jesus’ intimate group – the people in the “out group,” could then not be legitimate ministers.

And we forbade him, because he followeth not us

How often is the same temper found in us! How readily do we also lust to envy! But how ill does that spirit become a disciple, much more a minister, of the benevolent Jesus!

St. Paul had learned a better temper, when he rejoiced that Christ was preached, even by those who were his personal enemies.  But to confine religion to them that follow us, is a narrowness of spirit which we should avoid and abhor.

Jesus said,” … — Christ here gives us a lovely example of candour and moderation. He was willing to put the best construction on doubtful cases, and to treat as friends those who were not avowed enemies. Perhaps in this instance it was a means of conquering the remainder of prejudice, and perfecting what was wanting in the faith and obedience of these persons.

Forbid him not” Neither directly nor indirectly discourage or hinder any man, who brings sinners from the power of Satan to God, “because he followeth not us,” –  in opinions, modes of worship, or any thing else which does not affect the essence of religion.

“For he that is not against us, is for us” Our Lord had formerly said, He that is not with me, is against me: thereby admonishing his hearers that the war between him and Satan admitted of no neutrality, and that those who were indifferent to him now, would finally be treated as enemies. But here, in another view, he uses a very different proverb; directing his followers to judge of men’s characters in the most candid manner; and charitably to hope, that those who did not oppose his cause wished well to it.

Upon the whole, we are to be rigorous in judging ourselves, and candid in judging each other.” (2)

I love Jesus’ reaction, as well as Moses’, to this human desire to control other people and discourage their God-given gifts or abilities.  This lesson teaches us that Jesus wants all people to be ministers for Him if they have that desire to do so, that it’s not just for a few or for some ones who feel really special and ordained, but can be for anyone who simply steps out in faith and uses the gifts He’s given to them.  He also teaches us here that we should have compassion for the self-righteous who speak out against the ministries of people they think don’t fit biblical requirements, because they haven’t yet reached full spiritual maturity and wisdom, or they would know better the meanings of these texts in the Old and New Testament.  God never changes, and this is a clear example of that in His diffusing spiritual abuse through discouragement of other believers.

Joshua was an amazingly good, fiercely committed godly man, and yet even he was bothered when seeing others use their gifts of prophesy when specific authority from leadership hadn’t been given to them to do so!

With the passage we looked at in Mark, it was John – the disciple that had arguably the closest relationship with Jesus, as he was one of the three closest disciples to Him – the one that described himself as “loved” – was the person doing the questioning here!  Even he had felt strongly convicted and moved enough to directly “forbid” the other man from ministering to others in the way that they did.

This is a very strange topic to me, in fact, this whole series has been quite frankly a very strange and unexpected journey.  Here I was thinking we were focusing on qualities to teach our sons (and any future daughters) what virtuous women look like, and we’ve found that these Scriptures can have such deeper meanings when corresponded to their same usage across the Bible.  I have to say, I’m not entirely sure why human nature, even spiritual nature, seems to drive us to this practice of trying to decide (against God’s own desire or will for us to do so) “who, should minister and who should be “forbidden,” or rejected as illegitimate.  Apart from clear biblical guidelines of elders in the church and pastors, it seems to be human nature to nit-pick and go about indirectly or directly discouraging regular Christian brothers and sisters who live their lives ministering openly to others in smaller ways and roles in the body of Christ.

But since this has occurred before, it should not be strange to us that there are those who try to get others to hide the lights of their souls on fire for God under a basket.  It happened in the Old Testament in Moses’ time, and it happened in the New Testament in Jesus’ time.  In both situations, the same self-righteous indignation over God’s generosity was displayed.

What happens when Christians succeed in snuffing out others’ Lamps?

What if Joshua’s desires had been granted?  What if he had succeeded in convincing Moses to stop the prophesying of others in their camp just because it bothered him to see them use their spiritual gifts?

What if the disciples were successful in getting other people who weren’t part of their elite group accepted by Jesus to stop ministering to others?  Or even worse, what if His disciples were successful in convincing the other man (or other people) that they had no power or authority to minister to others?  Whose work would they be accomplishing and doing if they discouraged others into silence who are ministering in Jesus’ Name?

I think we all know this answer… they would be winning a major victory for Satan (not for God) when they convince someone they don’t see as “appropriate” to not continue their ministry or using their gifts for the Lord.  According to Benson’s commentary, even if we indirectly discourage other people from ministering we are participating in something wrong and unholy – we are giving in to an attitude he tells us we should “avoid” and even “abhor!”

The purpose of these people’s criticisms was inherently evil, even if they had “good intentions” and were very good, strong Christians.

If they had succeeded, it would have actually been a serious form of spiritual abuse of their God-given authority or influence.  Which is why in both times, we saw that God didn’t allow their man-made rules or preferences to be imposed on other believers.

What if our Proverbs 31 woman was described as telling other women in her neighborhoods to snuff out their own lamps so that only hers could signify a ministry in their neighborhood?  What if she went around as a busybody, criticizing and ridiculing any woman and their ministry it personally bothered her?  Or because they did things differently from her due to their given gifts?  Or worse, what if she gave up her ministry herself for whatever reason, and then made it her personal hobby to go around criticizing any other women who was doing what she used to do?  Of course it isn’t mentioned that way in Proverbs 31, because to be virtuous is to not spend our time doing unproductive activities that grieve God such as that.  We are called to overcome any kind of jealousy or desire to control others’ ministries and what they are personally doing for God, and even refrain from criticizing them in a way to discourage them.


Satan will use anything or anyone to accomplish his own will in the world, it’s nothing against those he uses, they may just be weak in faith (in that area) or not spiritually wise about this topic as of yet.  And yes, we’ve seen before (many times) in the Bible, as well as all throughout the Church’s history, that Satan has definitely been able to use Christians to accomplish things that breakdown the unity of the body, instead of build it up.  One of his most used tactics is through Christians discouraging other Christians through ridicule or criticism, or in flat out “biblical” forbidding like in the examples we’ve also seen.  It’s nothing personal against those Christians, we know that we have a greater Enemy as we looked at in the last post about spiritual warfare.  Our enemies are not people (flesh) but the rulers and authorities and powers of Satan’s world (Ephesians 6).  Let’s separate the people in these examples from their actions and beliefs for a moment (because it really has nothing to do with them as people), and dig into this.

It was an evil purpose that was trying to prevail here – because it was to make other children of God, gifted with the Holy Spirit and bold enough to step out in faith, to snuff out their lamp (lose their brightness or even shipwreck their faith), or hide their brightness under a basket (become “Secret Christians”) so that no one (especially those condemning or criticizing them) can see it.  It was designed to make other godly believers intimidated into being rendered ineffective and no longer fulfilling their purpose by ministering to others because of human misunderstanding of God’s Higher Ways.

Something we need to understand about God, is that Jesus didn’t come to save us so that we can live easy lives of convenience and comfort – never stepping out of our comfort zone and never using the gifts He’s given to us.  He didn’t come to save us so that we could hide our lamps under baskets or be intimidated by what others think so that we give up ministering to others altogether.  He saved us so that we could live on earth in power, being like a city on a hill, shining brightly in His authority, in victory, and prevailing over spiritual opposition.

He didn’t save us so that we could live a pitiful life doing nothing for God, hiding our lamp afraid someone may make fun of us or criticize us, we are called to live with our lamps shining brightly for all to see, even into martyrdom if God so calls us.  We’re called to be up high on a hill, to place ourselves on a lampstand to give light to all who are in our sphere of influence.

Her Lamp does not go out at night –

Our virtuous woman does not let her lamp, her ministry of hospitality to others who pass by her house, go out.  She is not affected any forms of intimidation, ridicule or criticism, because she has confidence in her ministry – a confidence that comes from standing firmly on the promises of God.

This is a hot-topic for sure, and one that has caused major dissensions even recently. Should women be out there encouraging others, using the Bible to teach others biblical truths and applications for their household and life?  Should women be discouraged from or criticized for having blogs where they run a ministry to reach out to other women in Jesus’ Name, offering teachings and even spiritual healing?  There is no other way to understand the Scriptures we’ve looked at, than to admit that if a Christian woman is following Christ and growing in maturity, that she takes care to not let her lamp be hidden in fear or intimidation, or go out, giving up her purpose as a fellow believer (Matthew 5, Proverbs 31:18).  We saw from looking at Hebrews, that if she takes her faith seriously, she has a duty to no longer be only a student when she should be a teacher because of the wisdom she’s accrued over the years of experience and study.

Age here, is not a factor, as we know that Paul encouraged Timothy to act as though to be respected, even though he was considered extremely young to be teaching in authority over men far older than him.

“Do not to let anyone look down upon you because of your young age, but instead to be an example to the believers in speech, in love, in conduct, in faith, and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

According to one commentator,

“Timothy is not to permit the authority entrusted to him as representative of the apostle, to be limited on account of his youth: “permit no one to despise thy youth.” (7)

Even if a young woman desires to be virtuous, she puts her lamp up on a table to give light to all those she entertains, or even like the Proverbs 31 woman is doing for strangers passing by – she puts a light shining brightly in a window for all to see that there is a ministry there for them if they need it.  The lamp represents her Christian life, her Christian witness, and yes, her Christian ministry (outreach/effectiveness/healing/nourishment/teaching) to others!  We are not truly living effective Christian lives if we aren’t actively living in a way that shines forth our faith in order to minister to a fallen world.  We aren’t living in Christ’s power and victory if we are intimidated into silence because some have unbiblical regulations set up that we don’t yet meet.

I’ve seen recently some very strange man-made regulations loosely based upon Paul’s admonitions to elderly women of the church, going around in order to discourage other believers.  Some Christians are declaring that women should not be teaching other women biblical truths or sharing passages, or “setting themselves up as teachers to other women,” if they aren’t at least 60 years old, grandmothers, and post-menopausal.  Like the disciples who forbid the man to minister in Jesus’ Name, these Christians are going out of their way to point out all the women who do not fall into this very narrow-minded and unbiblical category, particularly speaking out and discouraging indirectly and directly, Christian female bloggers.  Their goal is to discourage them from ministering to other women, discrediting their teaching about marriage and God’s plan for them as wives and mothers, to say they have no right to minister in Jesus’ Name, to say they haven’t been “ordained” in the same way as pastors are, that they have no authority, because to them, these women are not legitimate.  

The problem with this that we’ve seen is that God often does not care about what offends spiritual leaders and authorities in circumstances like this.  Like Moses’ attitude, or Jesus’ when confronted with his disciples’ disgust, He is more than generous, He knows intimately the gifts He gives to other believers, and He is more than accepting of lay persons using their God-given gifts to minister to others in His Name.  The church has a long and extremely intricate history of women used in ministering in different ways to God’s people.  Even going back to Paul’s time, there was a woman he referred to as a fellow “disciple,” in Acts 9:36,

“Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, (which, translated, means Dorcas). She was full of good works and acts of charity.” 

In Acts 18:24-26, there was also Priscilla listed with her husband Aquilla, who were called fellow laborers by Paul.  Together they heard Apollos preaching and pulled him aside afterward to better explain spiritual meanings of God’s Word.  Their correction of him could have been seen as scandalous perhaps – it was the only time where we see that a woman was directly involved in biblically correctly another male who happened to be an elder and preacher himself.  Their correction of him allowed him to go on to greater success in preaching the gospel and winning more Jews to Christ!

In more recent history, we have historical figures that became themselves, or raised children to become, Saints in the Catholic and Greek Orthodox church.  The faith of these great women, their teachings and explaining of Scriptures literally changed and molded Church history!  This is not at all meant to diminish the huge and monumental efforts and success of men in the Church, but only to point out to those who make it their business to discourage and discredit women’s influence and ministry opportunities, that they are going against God’s will in this, and entertaining an attitude that is not of God but of Satan.  Like we looked at previously, when carried out to full fruition, this position only ends in spiritual abuse of power and authority (which is why Moses and Jesus didn’t allow it under their authority).  There are many saints, many mothers and wives of preachers who raised up strong and virtuous families, and who blessed us with writings and teachings of their own that our daughters (and us!) can still learn from today, and thank the Lord for them!

Who wins when a woman is hiding her lamp under a basket, withholding her ministry and gifts God’s given her?  Satan, who hates us and hates our lamps and our ministries.  He would much prefer that our lights are snuffed out in hopelessness (giving up a calling or ministry we previously felt as I’ve already witnessed some women have done), but if he can’t have that, then he’ll do with us still being faithful Christians, but hiding our lamps under baskets so that we’re ineffective in ministering to others by our light!


Interesting/cited articles –

  1. Hebrew Lexicon
  2. Benson Commentary
  3. Becoming Beautiful in God’s Eyes, by Elizabeth George, 1998.
  4. NIV Application Commentary
  5. Asbury Commentary
  6. Ellicott’s Commentary
  7. Meyer’s New Testament Commentary
  8. Article on Spiritual Gifts (regarding even spiritual abuse, using gifts in pride, or projecting our gifts onto others as to cause false guilt).


*Articles discouraging Christian women from ministry, teaching other women, teaching on marriage, or even blogging at all –

  1. Women Teaching Women in Church
  2. On Christian Female Bloggers I: Who Should They Be?
  3. On Christian Female Bloggers II: The Gold Standard of Reverent
  4. For Clarity’s Sake
  5. When Lures Look like Minnows 



Applications for wives –

Phew! Another long and complex look at yet another verse in this passage.  I gleaned so much from this verse myself personally, from dwelling on her confidence in her work, to her confidence in her lamp not going out, it was wonderful to again look at this passage in light of the whole Bible.  As you’re thinking about applications for areas to develop your creativity or gifts into small business ideas, look for information on how to develop an expertise in the area you want to develop.  We saw that her business is successful because not only does she put in the necessary hard work, she employs a specific spirit of Excellence into everything she does!  This is so important for how we as women live in every area of our lives, but especially if we want to create merchandise that we are confident in.  In any area of our lives, it just takes small steps of making consistent good choices, and daily showing up to face the grind in order to develop a spirit of excellence.

Another thing we looked at was her confidence in her ministry to others.  What a beautiful picture of her light, as talked about in Matthew 5, ever burning and not being hidden under a basket or snuffed out.  We are all called to study God’s Word and to take that knowledge and be lights in our sphere of influence wherever God has called us.  **We also all have the call to witness and to minister to the body using our gifts, and for some women gifted with the ability to teach, I believe they are called to teach God’s Word to other women in order to accomplish God’s goals of building up His people with spiritual nourishment.

We also talked about the propensity for even solid Christians to be nit-picky about “who” should be accepted or rejected, even if they are ministering to others in Jesus’ Name through using their different gifts.  Let’s not be women who see another’s ministry and get offended or envious over how God may be using them compared to how He may be using us.  We all have different gifts and callings – someone may be called to minister only in person to other people, whereas another may be ministering through a blog online, it is not for us to be so forward as to even indirectly criticize the way another person is ministering as long as it is not a false teaching.  And let’s not give in to acting like Joshua or the disciples when we get offended by someone we don’t agree completely with ministering to others and be bold enough to discourage them.  I think we need to be prepared that there may be times when we have these feelings come up regarding God using someone we may not like or agree with, and we need to be knowledgeable of what God thinks about that kind of attitude.  Paul had the right heart-attitude when he was able to rejoice even when his enemies were preaching in a way to cause him more pain during his last days and imprisonment.  He was rejoicing because the good news and spiritual knowledge was still getting put out there, no matter who it came from (or their motives).  This is what we as believers need to emulate in how we deal with fellow workers in Christ, male or female.

Applications for sons –

This verse being only focused on our virtuous woman’s work and ministry, at first seems to have little to do with what our sons can learn from it for themselves.  But as far as what to look for in a future wife, a young woman who, like we saw before, values hard work, has a good work ethic either at a workplace or in school, and exhibits a spirit of excellence in the things she does is extremely valuable!

Also, a young woman who studies her Bible, not with the motivation to teach or witness as of yet, but to really learn for herself about God and her faith is such a treasure for him to search for!  We want to teach our sons how important it is to find a woman who truly values God’s Word, and has the humility to be challenged on passages she doesn’t yet understand or may be understanding wrong.  We will need to teach our sons to look for a woman who has a teachable spirit – one who searches out the information with open hands expecting and hoping to learn something new, and not coming to it with the attitude of expecting to already know everything.

Applications for daughters –

We’ve already looked at the application of work and developing a healthy work ethic for our daughters, let’s now look instead at encouraging a spirit of Excellence in her!  Firstly, it’s best to have her learn this by example from her mother first modeling the spirit of excellence in everything she does.  This of course doesn’t mean that she is perfect, but that she takes care to do the things that matter in an excellent way.  We’ll all fail at this constantly at some point, if it’s a particularly busy season or we’re sick or our kids are sick, it will be impossible to do everything “with excellence.”  This is more of a virtue that is applied and taught with specific tasks or goals or even projects to accomplish.  Does your daughter need to clean her room?  Take the necessary time to teach her how to organize and how to set it up (or set it up for her if she’s young) so that she’s set to succeed and not fail.  Teach her to take time every day to put everything away either after she’s done playing with it, or at the end of the day to do a quick clean up.  A spirit of excellence applies to her homework as well – anything that can be eventually attributed to her work ethic.  All this is applicable also to sons!

Teaching our daughters about their incredible ability to be lamps in this world is a beautiful and incredible task!  How do we give her the necessary confidence to stand firm in her faith, shining brightly and optimistically, even against many who will come that will try to get her to snuff out her lamp or intimidate her enough to hide it under a basket?  I believe the only way to give her enough confidence is to help her in studying the Bible, have family time where she studies under the authority of her father, and always be open to answering her questions so that she can grow exponentially in spiritual maturity.  Another thing mothers can do is regularly pray for our daughters to know and understand their God-given gifts and ministries, pray for them to have discernment and wisdom.

Another thing I believe is absolutely critical for daughters regarding gifts and ministry is the warning against female pastors or women teachers who would desire to usurp the authority of men.  It is important for her to intimately know and be able to recognize the flavor of the difference between women like that, and say Elisabeth Elliot who herself took great care and effort to make sure she was never usurping a man’s authority when she spoke and taught.  We need to teach our daughters that not having that authority is a blessing and gift, and not at all oppression.  We are designed as women to have an influence in a much different way, usually through raising up godly children and leaving a legacy (that we talked extensively about in Post 9) – this is the specific way that women “redeem” society and in which we have dominion or influence over.

It is also critical to teach our daughters how to recognize false teachings that have a bent of spiritual abuse of power to control or intimidate others from using their gifts.  Anytime a person is setting up unbiblical and strange guidelines like: a woman can only blog or teach or minister to other women if she’s 60+, a grandmother, a blood-relative, or post-menopausal for Titus 2 teachings to “work,” she needs to be aware that it is anti-biblical and adding to God’s Word, regulations that were never intended to be there.  The only way that she will be able to know this, is if she is well equipped with knowledge of Scripture and spiritually mature.  Elisabeth Elliot was about age 37 when she first started her official speaking and teaching ministry to other women, and she had been using her gifts long before that when living with the Indian tribes during her 20’s and ministering to the women there.  Elizabeth Prentiss, born in 1818, was a daughter of a revival preacher and had a great spiritual maturity at a young age.  She started writing on spiritual matters when she was only a teenager, and to a large audience because even at this young age, her writings were published in a weekly religious newsletter.  Her writings and books have been recommended by Elisabeth Elliot, and have ministered to Christian women consistently for almost 200 years!  When she was only 20 years old, she was bold enough for Christ to open up a small girl’s school in her home, and taught Sunday school classes.  Can you imagine how much the world would have missed out if Elizabeth had been discouraged from teaching or writing publicly just because she was so young?  What if she had been told as a teenager that she had nothing mature enough to say to others?  Would she have then had the confidence to write for a published newletter while in her teens?  Would she have ever had the confidence to open her home to girls at only the age of 20 to teach them from God’s Word?  Would she have had the confidence to go on to write books that minister still to women today and are beacons of hope against the lies of feminism?

Teach your daughter to not let her age be a limiting factor in however God decides to use her, and teach her to avoid listening to religious people who set up restrictions designed to discourage her from using her gifts until she is 60 years old.


**I am not condoning women “pastors” or elders, or any women’s teaching that is usurping authority over a man or church flock.  I believe female pastors are dangerous because they psychologically emasculate a man in his role of leading, not only in church, but also in his own home with his wife.  Female Pastors that lead both men and women in a flock or community, are a world of difference away from female teachers who only write and speak to women as a ministry.  Can men listen to women’s teachings at times?  We believe so, as long as he isn’t using it consistently for his own spiritual growth, and relying on her teaching like he would a leader and Pastor.  A man may want to check out a woman’s teachings to make sure that what she is teaching is correct and on point, or to know if he would advise his wife or daughter to learn from her.

The Virtuous Wife is Full of Strength & Power

shegirdsherselfwith strength

“She girds herself with strength and makes her arms strong.”

Proverbs 31:17

This next verse in the Proverbs 31 passage is so much more than it may seem.  I was amazed at all the hidden treasures found just beneath the surface of this verse.  We will focus on what our Proverbs 31 woman is doing – girding herself with strength, and making her arms strong.  We’ll also look at how this applies to developing a beautiful, godly and feminine character as a wife and mother toward her husband and family.  In looking at the past examples of virtuous women who left families built up in strength and virtue, we’ll see exactly what feminism has robbed us of in recent years – the true inner strength and boldness of that is the inheritance of Christian women.

In case you’ve missed some of the posts in this series:

  1. The Best Gift You Can Give to Your Husband
  2. The Power & Difficulty of Becoming a Woman of Virtue
  3. Her Husband Can Safely Trust in Her
  4. His Wife is Over-flowing with Goodness
  5. His Wife Desires to do Good Work
  6. She is Like the Merchant Ships
  7. His Wife is a Beautiful Early Riser
  8. Her Beautiful Dreams Bless their Family


She girds herself with strength –

When I was younger, I supposed that this verse meant that she “put on” strength figuratively, and revealed that her arms were physically strong for the work she had to do. In fact, in a future verse (25) we read she “is clothed with strength and dignity.”  It is important to look at whether or not this is repeating the same sentiment, however; does “gird,” really mean the same thing as “clothe?”  Are there any subtle differences between this verse and verse 25?  I had the most difficult time trying to find a picture to convey the meaning of this verse when searching all throughout the internet.  There were many pictures of women using weights to strengthen their arms, or flexing their muscles to try to show the physical strength they’ve already gained from exercise, but nothing that accurately portrayed the beauty of the deeper meaning of this verse.

The Hebrew for she girds, is the word, chagar, which means to put on, as a belt or armor for battle (1).  Many biblical scholars attribute her girding herself to the display of her energetic and enthusiastic willingness to work that we also saw in verse 13, “She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.”  Getting ready, even getting dressed first thing when you wake up for the day, actually does help us to be more prepared, even mentally for the tasks ahead.  The biblical scholars are right as well, that it also shows her willingness to meet her duties:

“This seems at first sight a strange assertion to make concerning one of the weaker sex; but the phrase is metaphorically expressive of the energy and force with which she prepares herself for her work. Strength and vigour are, as it were, the girdle which she binds round her waist to enable her to conduct her operations with case and freedom (2).”

But when I looked at the Hebrew, it was interesting to find that the word here is not necessarily describing her work ethic, although of course as we’ve seen before, it can also be applied in that way to her character (verse 13).  But chagar is talking about putting something on, more specifically, putting on armor for a battle.  She is of course, ready and willing, we found to do her work, but she is also ready and prepared for something very different to face in the day ahead as well.

First, let’s look at what she is putting on?

We find that she is putting on strength, and not just physical strength, but the Hebrew word “oz,” which is mighty, bold, or powerful strength, of which the Hebrew root word “azaz,” actually means “prevail.”   To prevail is to prove more powerful than opposing forces; be victorious and triumphant; to conquer or overcome.

Our virtuous woman is not only girding herself with physical or mental strength, she is putting on, like armor for a battle, a supernatural strength that triumphs and prevails over her enemies.


What kind of strength can we put on that will “prevail,” and why do we even need to?  The Hebrew language here is talking about much more than building muscle and being capable of completing our daily tasks.  It is language used throughout the Bible, especially the Old Testament, in tandem with warfare.  She is putting on mighty strength like armor for a battle, so that she will be able to prevail over opposing forces!

Wisdom is a kind of Strength –

We saw in post 2,

“Her power comes from fear of the Lord, from knowing and being intimate with God.

 Since fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom, she learns the ways of understanding, and aligns her life to it. Gaining wisdom causes her to listen to instruction, heed discipline, and set herself on the path to developing formidable pillars of virtue!”

Knowledge of God and understanding His ways by being extremely intimate with His Word, gives us an incredible strength and power, which in turn gives us an intriguing advantage over our enemies, as we find in Pslam 119.

Psalm 119:98-100,

Your commands make me wiser than my enemies,
    for they are my constant guide.
Yes, I have more insight than my teachers,
    for I am always thinking of your laws.
 I am even wiser than my elders,
    for I have kept your commandments.

Not only does wisdom protect us by making us wiser than our enemies, but when we faithfully study His laws and precepts with a humble heart, to accept what is there and allow change to happen in our life if it needs to, we will have a spiritual advantage of wisdom that comes from spiritual growth and maturity.  Wisdom is a protection, and keeps us from walking blindly into danger like the inexperienced person does (Proverbs 22:3). Having wisdom also gives us courage, which is the ability or strength to do something that frightens us, or having strength in the midst of pain or grief.  When we are knowledgeable of His Word and promises, we can stand with courage against the assaults of our enemies.

God promises us:

“If anyone fiercely assails you it will not be from Me. Whoever assails you will fall because of you.  Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows the fire of coals and brings out a weapon for its work;  and I have created the destroyer to ruin.

No weapon that is formed against you will prevail;

And every tongue that accuses you in judgment, you will condemn.

This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD,

And their vindication is from Me,” declares the LORD.…”

Isaiah 54:15-17

How wonderful that we can have this knowledge and assurance that no weapon formed against us will prevail over us in victory or triumph.  Instead, in Proverbs 31:17, God desires us to be women who are ready and prepared, even by what we “put on,” with a strength that is mighty and that prevails over our enemies in spiritual, knowledgeable, and powerful triumph.

Putting on the armor of God 

No where will we find greater symbolism to putting on mighty and powerful, supernatural strength like armor for a battle, than when we look at Ephesians 6:10-18, in it’s explanation of the armor of God.  It was very strange for me to see that Proverbs 31:17 was referring to putting on strength like armor for a battle – we just do not typically think of the Proverbs 31 woman as a woman preparing for a battlefield.  In fact, many people would reject the Hebrew meaning, because it just doesn’t sound domesticated or feminine enough.

When I was researching before starting this series, I was surprised to find that even the word that we translate into “virtuous,” or “excellent,” means something very different and specific in the original Hebrew word of that text.  The Hebrew word in Proverbs 31:10, is chayil, and means “a force; an army, wealth, virtue, valor, strength.”  It is the strength of an army in one virtuous woman, a force of power and prosperity for her husband and family.  Why would this be in the Bible?  Does this mean that godly femininity is supposed to be incredibly powerful and strong?  Does this mean that the woman who is so rare and valuable to her husband and family, is a force as powerful as an army?  Yes!  Even at the beginning of this passage, we find words alluding to warfare and battle, and yet I’m sure the Proverbs 31 woman never had to fight in a real war a day of her life.  All Christians need to be prepared for spiritual battle, however, Paul wasn’t just talking to men in Ephesians 6, women need to be spiritually armed for battle as well. Proverbs 31:17 seems to be calling us even as modern day women, to gird ourselves with mighty strength, to put on this armor to be ready for daily battle.

In studying the different verses that use the same Hebrew words as Proverbs 31:17, I came across Isaiah 11:5.  Part of a larger, prophetic and Messianic passage, Isaiah 11 is referring to Jesus Christ, our Lord, in His second coming to judge the earth and all it’s inhabitants. It says that He will judge righteously, execute justice for the oppressed of the land, and will strike the land with discipline.  From His mouth, He will kill the wicked with a command.  And in verse 5, it goes on to say the same wording we find in the verse about our virtuous woman:

“Righteousness and faithfulness will be a belt girded around His waist.

He will return like a Holy warrior, ready to enact justice and armed for battle.  In Isaiah, He is actually called the Avenger.  I was even more amazed to find that verse Isaiah 11:5 is biblically linked directly to Ephesians 6:14, the heart of the famous passage that describes and explains each piece of the armor of God!  Let’s look at this passage and reflect on it’s application here, see how many words you can find that are similar to what we’ve been learning about Proverbs 31:17.

The Whole Armor of God

10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we[a] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.[b] 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.[c] 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.[d]

Wow!  This passage never ceases to amaze me!  Again we find that our strength comes from being in the Lord and drawing upon His mighty power.  This is what our virtuous woman is doing when she is putting on (like armor) mighty and powerful strength that prevails.  It is not strength in her own right – because the meaning in the Hebrew is so much deeper, but strength and power that comes only from her God.  Although I have the pieces of the armor memorized and cover our older son from head to toe before he goes off to school in the morning, the rest of the passage is just as necessary to remember why we are putting on all this armor.

Matthew Henry has a particularly beautiful commentary on this:

Spiritual strength and courage are needed for our spiritual warfare and suffering. Those who would prove themselves to have true grace, must aim at all grace; and put on the whole armour of God, which he prepares and bestows. The Christian armour is made to be worn; and there is no putting off our armour till we have done our warfare, and finished our course.

The combat is not against human enemies, nor against our own corrupt nature only; we have to do with an enemy who has a thousand ways of beguiling unstable souls.

The devils assault us in the things that belong to our souls, and labour to deface the heavenly image in our hearts. We must resolve by God’s grace, not to yield to Satan. Resist him, and he will flee. If we give way, he will get ground. If we distrust either our cause, or our Leader, or our armour, we give him advantage.

The different parts of the armour of heavy-armed soldiers, who had to sustain the fiercest assaults of the enemy, are here described.There is none for the back; nothing to defend those who turn back in the Christian warfare.

Truth, or sincerity, is the girdle. This girds on all the other pieces of our armour, and is first mentioned. There can be no religion without sincerity. The righteousness of Christ, imputed to us, is a breastplate against the arrows of Divine wrath. The righteousness of Christ implanted in us, fortifies the heart against the attacks of Satan.

Resolution must be as greaves, or armour to our legs; and to stand their ground or to march forward in rugged paths, the feet must be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Motives to obedience, amidst trials, must be drawn from a clear knowledge of the gospel. Faith is all in all in an hour of temptation. Faith, as relying on unseen objects, receiving Christ and the benefits of redemption, and so deriving grace from him, is like a shield, a defence every way. The devil is the wicked one. Violent temptations, by which the soul is set on fire of hell, are darts Satan shoots at us. Also, hard thoughts of God, and as to ourselves. Faith applying the word of God and the grace of Christ, quenches the darts of temptation. Salvation must be our helmet. A good hope of salvation, a Scriptural expectation of victory, will purify the soul, and keep it from being defiled by Satan. To the Christian armed for defense in battle, the apostle recommends only one weapon of attack; but it is enough, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. It subdues and mortifies evil desires and blasphemous thoughts as they rise within; and answers unbelief and error as they assault from without. A single text, well understood, and rightly applied, at once destroys a temptation or an objection, and subdues the most formidable adversary. Prayer must fasten all the other parts of our Christian armour.” (MHC)

Covered from head to toe, in symbolic armor given us by God Himself to carry on in His good work, we march ahead to study the rest of this beautiful passage, in order to become the women God wants us to be.


She girds herself

Now let’s focus on this particular Hebrew word in verse 17, it isn’t just “herself,” it is a specific part of her body that she is strengthening and protecting with supernatural armor.  Mothen is the Hebrew word for it, and it’s English definition is “loins.”  The loins are the part of the body in both the female and male that is the area where we carry reproductive seed.

Genesis 35:11 (King James Version):

“And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins.”

When it says in verse 17 that, “She girds her loins with strength…” it is implying that she is strengthening herself, but also the children that will come after her for generations to come!

When looking at the Lord Himself girding Himself with strength in Psalm 93:1, the word used in Hebrew is not the word “mothen” or “loins,” but simply Himself.

“The Lord reigneth, he is apparelled with majesty; the Lord is apparelled,

he hath girded himself with strength.”

Psalm 93:1

In Proverbs 31:17, our virtuous woman is specifically strengthening her loins, giving courage and power to herself, but which could also mean to the generations that will come from her with a strength that will triumph and prevail over the Enemy.

“How blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in His commandments. His descendants will be mighty on earth; The generation of the upright will be blessed.” Psalm 112:1-2

When we fear the Lord, when we delight ourselves in His commands, we are promised His faithfulness for generations, making our descendants mighty on earth.  The generation of the upright will be blessed!  I don’t know about you, but when I read this I think of my children’s children, and then their children’s children.  I think of all who will come after us in our family tree, and I want this for them!

Everything I do as a wife and mother, is preparing the way for the little ones that will come after me.  Becoming virtuous, becoming spiritually mature and wise, this is not just to benefit myself, my husband, and our children, it is actually to help guide and strengthen the generations to come afterward from our family.

It definitely aligns with the Proverbs 31 woman’s character, being equipped with “virtue at every opportunity,” that she would be future-minded and thinking of her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-to the 5x grandchildren.  The Hebrew people were intimately familiar with God’s Word, she undoubtedly had committed to memory the promises in the Torah of God’s faithfulness extending to a thousand generations of the righteous.

A virtuous woman seeks to leave a lasting legacy –

What we’re talking about here, what I’ve been explaining in her strengthening and protecting the children that will come after her, is called a legacy.  It is a heritage and inheritance of godliness that the virtuous woman is leaving when thinking ahead to the future, to the generations that will come after her lifetime.  The only thing that truly matters in our lives right now, is what we are leaving in the hearts of our loved ones.  Are we planting seeds that will grow beautiful, lush, and prosperous vineyards in our children’s lives, that will in turn, stretch out further into their children and beyond?  Or are we sowing discontent, bitterness, spiritual abuse and ruining their tender hearts’ soil, making it more difficult for their children and the generations after them?

Hopefully you can see how important this is for us and our families, and not even the little faces that are looking up at us now.  As we looked at in the last post, when talking about our children being our “vineyard,” God promises in Deuteronomy 7:9,

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.

Proverbs 31 woman reaches out, we’ll see in verse 20, even to strangers who are poor and in need, how much more is she future-minded and caring purposefully about the daughters and sons and generations coming from her family?

Even if we choose to remain ignorant of the affect we will have being a wife and mother of our family, there are examples throughout history of real life virtuous women whose descendants’ prosperity have been studied and found awe-inspiring.

The Legacy of Sarah Edwards, a Virtuous Wife –

One of the most wonderful and romantic stories to read about a couple who left an astonishing legacy of faith, is that of the love story and marriage between Jonathan and Sarah Edwards.  Born in the early 1700’s, and married in 1727, they both were characterized by those who knew them as people who fervently loved God and cared about spiritual study and discussion.  Jonathan was spiritually advanced even from a young age in early childhood, praying to God several times a day and encouraging his young friends do to so also (4).

Sarah’s father was a minister of a church in New Haven.  From one of the most prominent families in Connecticut, she grew up receiving the best education a woman of that era was able to receive.

She was accomplished in the social skills of polite society. She enjoyed music and perhaps knew how to play the lute. (In the year of their marriage, one of the shopping reminders for Jonathan when he traveled was to pick up lute strings [George M. Marsden,Jonathan Edwards: A Life [Yale University Press, 2003], 110]. That may have been for a wedding musician, or it may have been for Sarah herself.)

People who knew her mentioned her beauty and her way of putting people at ease. Samuel Hopkins, who knew her later, stressed her “peculiar loveliness of expression, the combined result of goodness and intelligence” (Quoted in Elisabeth D. Dodds, Marriage to a Difficult Man: The Uncommon Union of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards [Audubon Press, 2003], 15).”

Jonathan was extremely ambitious, graduating from Yale in 3 years at age 16, and an opposite temperament than Sarah.  He was introverted and shy, an intellectual who noted that he greatly needed more gentleness in his character.  She was social, hospitable, gracious and described by many as having the gentleness that he often lacked.  After he graduated, he pastored a church in New York for a year, before making his way to New Haven.  There is a tale about him daydreaming when he was supposed to be studying his Greek grammar book.  And indeed we find on the cover of his book, written out his romantic thoughts on Sarah:

“They say there is a young lady in [New Haven] who is loved of that Great Being, who made and rules the world, and that there are certain seasons in which this Great Being, in some way or other invisible, comes to her and fills her mind with exceeding sweet delight; and that she hardly cares for anything, except to meditate on Him. . . . [Y]ou could not persuade her to do any thing wrong or sinful, if you would give her all the world, lest she should offend this Great Being. She is of a wonderful sweetness, calmness, and universal benevolence of mind; especially after this Great God has manifested himself to her mind. She will sometimes go about from place to place, singing sweetly; and seems to be always full of joy and pleasure. . . . She loves to be alone, walking in the fields and groves, and seems to have some one invisible always conversing with her” (5).

Their romance evolved as she got older (she was 13 and he was 20 when he first met her), they spent time taking walks and talking about spiritual issues.  Jonathan found she “had a mind that matched her beauty,” and they waited to get married until she was 17 and he 24, in 1727.  Almost immediately after she became his wife, he became a new man with renewed strength and motivation in his preaching that had disappeared for 3 years!  Biographers guess that perhaps waiting for those 3 years, restraining himself sexually, had worn him down emotionally and mentally.

When she finally became his wife, she blessed him immensely with providing him the ability to study and write undistracted from normal everyday chores of life.  She also had an amazing ability to help ease his mind and increase his ability to be more productive in his work and ministry!  He was an incredibly intense researcher, and would be so moved emotionally by the weight of what he found that he wrote in his journal that he often had to shut himself up because of his loud weeping (4).  Sarah managed their household and all it’s little details mostly on her own, and when children came, she made sure it stayed that way for Jonathan’s benefit.

“Sarah found ways to make a happy home for him. She made him sure of her steady love, and then she created an environment and routine where he was free to think. She learned that when he was caught up in a thought, he didn’t want to be interrupted for dinner.” (4)

What a difference from what we so often see today, with wives chiding their husbands constantly about not doing more around the house or with the children.  Jonathan was a loving and doting father, taking many breaks to spend time with Sarah and the children amidst his 13-hour work life, but she dealt mostly with the routine, education, and discipline of their children so that he would not have to concern himself with those things.  Jonathan and Sarah were excellent parents, with many people who stayed with them remarking on the sweetness of their whole household.

Samuel Hopkins, a man who stayed with them during an entire winter season, wrote of Sarah in particular:

“While she uniformly paid a becoming deference to her husband and treated him with entire respect, she spared no pains in conforming to his inclination and rendering everything in the family agreeable and pleasant; accounting it her greatest glory and there wherein she could best serve God and her generation [and ours, we might add], to be the means in this way of promoting his usefulness and happiness.” (Quoted in ibid., 29-30, emphasis added)

In 1900 A.E. Winship constructed a study contrasting two families, one of which, had hundreds of descendants who were a drain and detrimental to society. The other was descendants of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards, many of whom were outstanding for their contributions to society.  Winship wrote of the Edwards clan:

“Whatever the family has done, it has done ably and nobly. . . . And much of the capacity and talent, intelligence and character of the more than 1400 of the Edwards family is due to Mrs. Edwards.”

By 1900 when Winship made his study, this marriage had produced:

  • thirteen college presidents
  • sixty-five professors
  • 100 lawyers and a dean of a law school
  • thirty judges
  • sixty-six physicians and a dean of a medical school
  • eighty holders of public office, including:
  • three U.S. senators
  • mayors of three large cities
  • governors of three states
  • a vice president of the U.S. 

Winship goes on to list kinds of institutions, industries, and businesses that have been owned or directed by Edwards’s descendants. “There is scarcely a Great American industry that has not had one of this family among its chief promoters.” We might well ask with Elisabeth Dodds, “Has any other mother contributed more vitally to the leadership of a nation?”

Her strength and resilience contributed so much to her husband and her children, that their family was affected generation after generation with strength and virtue to contribute to an entire nation!

What makes a strong woman?

Sarah Edwards was undoubtedly a strong, Christian woman – and strong in a way that assists her husband to be all that he can be for God.  We found in post 3, that our virtuous woman,

always gives [her husband] no reason to be worried about what she is supposed to be taking care of – because of his faith in her, he can fully focus on his own work or anything that needs to get done on his part.  This helps him to not waste time trying to figure out where she is, what’s going on in their family schedule, or how much she’s spending when out shopping, and therefore, he maximizes his energy and potential better in every category of his life.  He’s able to be a better father, a better husband, a better employee, a better leader, and a better minister because he’s not trying to pick up where she’s left off with her duties, fix her mistakes, or worry about how she’s handling his possessions.  His heart has full confidence in her management because she’s proven to be so trustworthy!

This is exactly what Sarah Edwards accomplished for her beloved Jonathan!

Sarah’s virtue and excellent contributions to her husband and family actually inspired single men of that age to keep on looking for fellow “Daughters of Abraham” which were like her, when otherwise, they had given up praying for them:

“Another person who observed the Edwards family was George Whitefield, when he visited America during the Awakening. He came to Northampton for a weekend in October 1740 and preached four times. Also, on Saturday morning he spoke to the Edwards children in their home. Whitefield wrote that when he preached on Sunday morning, Jonathan wept during almost the whole service. The Edwards family had a great effect on Whitefield as well:

Felt wonderful satisfaction in being at the house of Mr. Edwards. He is a Son himself, and hath also a Daughter of Abraham for his wife. A sweeter couple I have not yet seen. Their children were dressed not in silks and satins, but plain, as becomes the children of those who, in all things ought to be examples of Christian simplicity. She is a woman adorned with a meek and quiet spirit, talked feelingly and solidly of the Things of God, and seemed to be such a help meet for her husband, that she caused me to renew those prayers, which, for many months, I have put up to God, that he would be pleased to send me a daughter of Abraham to be my wife. (Winslow, Jonathan Edwards, 1703-1758, 188)

The next year Whitefield married a widow whom John Wesley described as a “woman of candour and humanity” (Dodds, Marriage to a Difficult Man, 74-75).

Sarah Edwards wasn’t perfect, she had her own sins she had to learn to deal with and conquer.  There was a period of time in 1742, that a Rev. Buell came to fill Jonathan’s place as pastor while he was journeying to preach to other churches.

Here we see that, even with all her gentleness and sweetness and love of God, Sarah came to a “moment of Truth.”  Would she allow herself to still give in to envy over the other minister’s success?  Or would she let God change her heart so that she was able to rejoice with him?


Sarah worried that God might bless the ministry of the visiting minister more than her husband. She finally yielded her will to God’s, saying: “I had to bless God, for the use he had made of Mr. Edwards hitherto; but thought, if He never blessed his labors any more, and should greatly bless the labours of other ministers, I could entirely acquiesce in His will.”[1]

Following this confession, Sarah could rejoice that God indeed blessed the ministry of brother Buell, saying: “I rejoiced when I saw the honour which God put upon him, and the respect paid him by the people, and the greater success attending his preaching, than had followed Mr. Edwards.” She added, “the sweet language of my soul continually was, ‘Amen, Lord Jesus! Amen, Lord Jesus!’”[2] Can there be any doubt that the example of Sarah Edwards to accept and encourage this guest minister aided the continual work of the Spirit? What an example to us, in a day in which competition or recognition among believers often drive our involvement in the Lord’s church.” (4)

She had her flaws and human feelings; biographers go back and forth on what she was truly feeling during the most trying times of their life together, but from what we know of her husband’s report of even a time when she went through a “spiritual crisis,” she emerged from it, such a transformed and beautiful new creation.  She was already sweet and kind and extremely generous with her love to others, but the hardships and crises in her life seemed to only cause her to become better over time.  She exhibited a kind of strength we talked about in Post 4, emotional resilience.

“A virtuous woman is the embodiment of strength.  If your husband is used to you having emotional meltdowns or even mental breakdowns, it is time to become a woman of true inner strength.  It is not possible for a husband to safely trust in his wife if she is emotionally unable to handle her role as a wife and mother. …

A husband cannot have full confidence and safely trust in his wife if she is on a weekly or monthly emotional roller-coaster.

He also cannot have full confidence and faith in her if she hasn’t become emotionally mature and secure in her purpose and who God has created her to be.  If she is relying on her husband to make her happy or give her worth and value (making him an idol), her emotional and mental strength will be rocky at best and destroyed at worst.  If she is worried or bothered about beautiful women he may see on Facebook or social media, if she desires control over his sexuality, or constantly preoccupying herself with insecurities about her own worth or beauty, or projecting her own fears of abandonment onto him, he will not be able to maximize his energy and focus on what’s most important.

Her lack of emotional health and strength in any area of her life will become a detriment to him, like a negative in a bank account.

An emotionally insecure woman does not inspire a husband to safely trust in her.  Instead, she does the opposite, zapping his own strength and confidence; negatively impacting his entire life.

A major precept of emotional strength is being able to handle both the little and big things with grace and resilience.   You can even say that it is epitomized by Optimism.  Yes, one of the virtues is, in fact, having an optimistic attitude, and it is an obvious outward sign of good emotional and mental health.”

Sarah clearly had this emotional resilience.  Even with going through temptations and spiritual crises, the workload of caring mostly on her own, for their 11 children (spaced very close together!), she still was able to live a life of great Christian virtue and strength!  And you can, too!  This is the kind of life that God wants for you and me, my dear sister!  May we accept the challenges God brings and allows into our lives with grace and thankfulness as they develop our character and “refine us like silver!”

There are many examples of such women throughout history, real life Proverbs 31 women that inspire us to reach for more, to respond to our circumstances better, and to affect our families in the way that they did!

The Demise of Virtuous Women

We have really been sold a bill of goods in feminism having allowed for women to now be suddenly full of power and strength.  In days past, women were strong.  The verse we are discussing even shows that women in ancient biblical times woke up and, “put on mighty, powerful strength, and made their arms strong.”  They were capable and fierce in their devotion to building up their households and making their families prosper.  The women of the past often did hard work daily, raised bigger families than we do, and would look at the work we complain about now with shock and dismay at our collective modern laziness.  Our Proverbs 31 woman, even though she lived or represented ancient biblical times, was certainly content without feminism.

These virtuous women of the past would never comprehend our age of technology, where when we have almost infinite and never before seen, access to endless depths of wisdom through the internet, yet we still so often choose to waste so much idle time.

Our Forgotten Mothers

America has a rich legacy of powerful womanhood, integral to its very foundation and strength.

Consider the inscription on the Monument to the Pilgrim Mothers in Plymouth, Massachusetts: “They brought up their families in sturdy virtue and a living faith in God without which nations perish.”

As America was fighting to establish herself as an independent nation, their foe British general Lord Cornwallis despaired, “We may destroy all the men in America, and we shall still have all we can do to defeat the women.” (Botkin Sisters)

They brought up their families in “sturdy virtue.”  Not weak-minded, ill-tempered, lack of patience… but strong and vigorous virtue.  When women took their roles seriously in their families, they produced children that had great faith and sense of right and wrong.  There is nothing more valuable to a mother than to see that the children she’s raised have self-control and discipline, and are living their lives virtuously.  It is truly sad to think that our generation, with our “equal rights,” and access to endless wisdom and instruction in how to do anything, is just not as full of strength as women of past ages.

“There is a great heritage of strength and even power that should be our birthright as American daughters. But how many of us are making good on that birthright? How many of us could claim to be as selflessly intrepid as the pilgrim women? How many of us are as brave as the wives of the signers? How many as enterprising and resourceful as those who helped build colonial culture and economy? How many as unflappable and capable as the women who civilized the Wild West? How many as poised and gracious as the White House hostesses and army wives whose savoir faire helped advance their husbands? How many as wise and educated as our founding mothers?

In many ways, our pajama-wearing, text-messaging, Me-generation is America’s weak generation of women. To paraphrase de Tocqueville’s quote, if you were to ask us now to what we would attribute the singular weakness and growing apostasy of America, we might say, to the selfishness and pettiness of their women. We’ve forgotten how to build strength into a nation; our idea of “power” is to leave the next generation for others to raise, ramrod through Health Care Bills most Americans don’t want, and put men out of a job.”

Indeed, I don’t believe that we’ve ever been at a point of greater breakdown of moral and virtue in the women of our society than now, although one could argue that there’s nothing new under the sun.  Certainly depravity has always been found within each society, and going back to verse 10, virtuous women full of strength have always been a rarity and extremely valuable.  However, the affects of feminism on our particular society has turned God’s design completely upside down by insisting that women are only valuable and good enough, if they have the same exact strength and capability as a man.

“In Scripture, man’s work and woman’s work are equally valid – wifehood, motherhood, homemaking, and femininity are not belittled, and women are not guilt-manipulated into living and acting like men. On the contrary; woman’s distinctiveness from man is praised and honored, and her unique role is held vital.

Women were to be protected and cherished, to “attain honor” (Prov. 11:16) and be “praised in the gates” (Prov. 31:31). It wasn’t until the advent of women’s “liberation” that women were told, “Your value as a woman is determined by how well you can perform as a man. Being a woman is no longer enough.” And it wasn’t until feminism had raised up “an epidemic of thugs, dolts, and cads”[5] that women as a mass began to be “valued” as objects to be used and discarded.”

We are living in an age where the glory and God-ordained strength of Christian women is horrifically diminished.  I hope you are beginning to really catch this excitement that I’ve found in studying these verses (and we’re not even done yet!).  May we have a clear and inspiring picture of what God greatly desires us to become, and that is women of strength and virtue.

Application for wives –

Another huge post for digesting!  I don’t know about you, but for me this post was inspiring and motivating to increase my vigilance in remembering to put on my daily battle armor!  Not only is it important to armor up our children, verse 17 reveals that our virtuous woman is concerned with strengthening herself first, with a mighty and powerful strength as we saw, before being able to help her husband and children.  We need to become women of true inner strength that we draw from the supernatural strength from God!  I pray that each woman reading this will take this post to heart and choose to bless her husband and children in this way.  Again, we know that Proverbs 31:10-31 is a passage specifically designed to show us all the beautiful qualities of godly womanhood.  It’s God’s desire that we implement these principles into our lives, and as we saw in this post, not just for our own benefit, but so that we can bless the generations of Christian adults that will come after us in our family line!


Application for sons –

Like we’ve seen in many of these verses already, there is no better way to show a son what to look for in a future wife, than to model it ourselves as their mothers!  Jonathan Edwards knew what he was looking for when picking out a future minister’s wife.  His own mother was married to a minister for 63 years, living in the same little home all that time and raising 11 of her own children.  As you become more of who God desires you to be, you will inspire your sons, as well as any single man who has the chance to look inside you and your husband’s marriage, like George Whitefield did of Jonathan and Sarah.

Teach your son the importance of putting on the armor of God.  Our oldest son has come to love me praying the armor over him so much that now he comes to me and asks me for it himself!  Hopefully he will grow up to become a strong, godly man who will be on the lookout for a woman who also takes the armor of God seriously, and will impart to his own children the inheritance of righteousness my husband and I are implanting in him daily!

Application for daughters –

I’m so excited for all the great applications for daughters this post should bring for us!  Not having any daughters yet, I’m writing this for future daughters or grand-daughters in our family.  We want to let them know the great importance of the Hebrew meanings behind this verse. Let’s stress the importance of what the virtuous woman is doing here, putting on like armor for a battle, supernatural spiritual strength that is mighty and powerful!  Let’s model what it looks like to be a woman of true inner strength and resilience, making life easier for our husbands to pursue their mission from God in their own lives.  And let’s make our homes a happy home, like Sarah Edwards did for her children.  Let your daughters see firsthand the joy and pleasure it is to be a wife who accomplishes her tasks with happiness.   Let’s make our husbands so happy and full of joy that the pleasure of being raised in our homes gently flows throughout everyday life for our children.  We want to impart to our daughters the great heritage of righteousness that will create in them a spirit of godliness that impacts their own husband and children later on!

Interesting/cited articles:

  1. Hebrew Lexicon
  2. Pulpit Commentary
  3. Matthew Henry Commentary
  4. Jonathan and Sarah Edwards – A Legacy of Faith
  5. Sarah Edwards: Jonathan’s Home and Haven
  6. The History of Womanhood The Truth About Women that Feminists Don’t Want You to Know
  7. The Prophesied Woman of Strength by Aliyah bat Yisrael
  8. Bible Study Lesson on Proverbs 31 Woman

Her Beautiful Dreams Bless their Family


“She considers a field and buys it;

From her profits she plants a vineyard.”

Proverbs 31:16

We continue on to the 8th post in our series, to another facet of the Proverbial woman’s character that God reveals to us in this beautiful passage.  This verse is one of the many that list specific details that may be hard to get past at first, that is, if we are only preoccupied with exactly what is given as an example.  It is crucial to not see this as something it was never meant to be: a prescription for exactly what to do in order to become a “Proverbs 31 Woman.”  This passage is in the Bible for a reason, but it is not meant to cripple us with the weight of a bunch of rules to follow to a “T” so that we can somehow become virtuous enough.

In this tiny verse tucked away in this famous passage, there is much to glean concerning deep principles found woven in between the texts of the entire Bible!  We’ll look at this verse according to how it applies to wisdom versus folly, fields and vineyards discussed in parables by Jesus, and how we receive this passage on the virtuous woman according to the condition of our hearts.

If you’ve missed the prior posts in the series, here is a list of the 7 posts accomplished so far:

  1. The Best Gift You Can Give to Your Husband
  2. The Power & Difficulty of Becoming a Woman of Virtue
  3. Her Husband Can Safely Trust in Her
  4. His Wife is Over-flowing with Goodness
  5. His Wife Desires to do Good Work
  6. She is Like the Merchant Ships
  7. His Wife is a Beautiful Early Riser


She considers a field and buys it-

Our virtuous wife we find in this verse, is interested in pieces of land!  How fascinating and kind of unexpected when at first glance we may wonder – what on earth is this supposed to say about her character?  What profound lesson could we possibly learn from this single, seemingly random, verse?

There is so much here that is implied in the wording of what our virtuous woman is doing in verse 16.  First, she is considering a field.  She is considering whether or not it will truly be beneficial or a blessing to her family.  She is considering the price, the value of the property, and probably the state of the soil to make an educated guess at how it will fair in the future.  The virtuous woman is considering whether or not she’ll have time and enough energy to devote to this new piece of property, time that won’t take away from her as a wife and mother.  As we found out in Post 4, our virtuous wife’s “main ministry is to do her husband good and not evil, if she succeeds at anything else, and yet fails in this area of serving her husband, she has lost everything because she’s failed to maintain the most important relationship on earth that God has given her.”  Because of verse 12, we can glean that she would not be even considering this field to buy at all, if it wasn’t going to bring goodness to her husband and their family.

We also know that her husband trusts in her (verse 11), and for good reason – she doesn’t abuse his trust by going off and doing her own thing without him knowing.  She has placed her desires and dreams in subordination to the goals and benefits of their family.  We know from verse 11 that she has a proven track record of being responsible, faithful, trustworthy in the past that we can safely guess that she isn’t making this decision of considering a field (in order to buy it) without first making sure it’s ok with her husband.

A virtuous woman causes her household to prosper –

“A wise woman builds her home,
    but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.”

Proverbs 14:1

Everything we find in this Proverbs 31 passage on the virtuous woman can be traced back to Proverbs 14:1.  Everything she does, by purpose or natural consequence, has the end result of building up her home, as opposed to tearing it down, which we will discuss later on in this post.  This is a tenet that all godly women should strive for in their lives, because it is God’s desire for us to build our homes in wisdom.

Every wise woman buildeth her house,…. Not only by her fruitfulness, as Leah and Rachel built up the house of Israel; but by her good housewifery, prudent economy; looking well to the ways of her household; guiding the affairs of her house with discretion; keeping all things in a good decorum; and bringing up her children in virtue, and in the fear and admonition of the Lord (1).

When looking at another biblical scholars’ commentary, “buildeth her house” is interpreted:

increases wealth, which the foolish, by mismanagement, lessen.

He speaks of the woman not to exclude the man, of whom this is no less true, but because the women, especially in those times, were very industrious in managing their husbands’ estates (2)

Considering a piece of property to sell and increase their wealth, or merely to add to their estate, are both ways that she is following Proverbs 14:1 in “building up her house.”  Our virtuous woman’s mind and creativity inspire her to look for ways that will cause her family to prosper.  A vineyard, in ancient biblical times, was a great investment in making sure her family had an abundance of not only fruit, but also a financial supply as she could sell the rest of her harvest or even mix her own wines (Proverbs 9:2).  Wine was also used frequently in their medicines and for sacrificial purposes (3, 4).  Her obtaining a piece of land (a field), as well as planting a vineyard, both are also in line with Proverbs 31:11.  As we already found when looking at this prior verse, as a result of her efforts in being a trustworthy manager of their household and finances, her husband will have no lack of gain.  Let’s remember that “gain,” we found in Post 3, was most commonly attributed to the spoils of war that men would obtain after coming back from a victory:

These rewards were often “people for servants, livestock for food, and treasures of silver, gold, jewels, and clothing.”  But this verse ties his gain to the value of his wife….

Instead of endangering his life by going off to war, instead of seeking out extra labor that would draw her husband away from their family, she provides him with this same opportunity due to her being a virtuous woman (which as we found in verse 10, is more valuable than jewels and rubies).  Her virtue causes her to seek out work to do with pleasure and desire, (as we found in verse 13 discussed in Post 5), which is more virtuous than merely working due to a sense of robotic duty and responsibility.  Her wisdom gives her the knowledge to seek understanding of how to make proper investments to increase their wealth, rather than pressuring her husband to overwork himself in achieving a certain lifestyle that is currently beyond their means.

My husband and I have both known men who worked multiple jobs in order to keep up a lavish lifestyle for their wife and children, often to the detriment of their health.  One in particular that we knew, would work an 8-9 hour shift all day, and go directly to an over-night shift that wouldn’t get off until the morning.  It was like watching a never-ending rat-race of trying to constantly chase after the dollar that kept disappearing beyond his grasp.  My father’s lifelong best-friend ended up marrying a wife that made his workload harder and more stressful throughout their marriage.  He was an insurance adjuster who would often travel to areas where there was home damage, but when he’d return home, he’d find that she’d spent so much of their money on brand new home decor and appliances, that he’d have to turn around and go right back out to work some more to pay off the new things she’d just bought!  It was a vicious cycle that he felt trapped in as the main provider.

As wives, we are given this incredible opportunity to figure out ways to bless our husbands with doing them good (vs 12), to ensure our husbands have “no lack of gain (vs 11)” and, “build up our house (Proverbs 14:1).”  We need to pray for the wisdom and discernment to find ways to accomplish this goal, and to prevent our husbands from literally over-working themselves to early graves.  A lot of this, as we’ll come to see, has to do with recognizing how we are handling what God’s already given to us.  Do we handle our money, our possessions, our children with wisdom or with foolishness?

Principle of Wisdom versus Foolishness –

It’s mysterious to me how many of the verses in the passage on the virtuous woman have interwoven pieces of their meanings and deeper interpretations all across the Old and New Testament!  If anything, in studying each verse carefully in order to write this series for myself and our children, I’ve learned that to more fully understand God and His character, we need to be more familiar with His Word.   How could we possibly know that something is mentioned, over and over again throughout the Bible, if we don’t spend daily time actually reading the Bible?  When seeking out the premise of this verse, I found that the words “field,” and “vineyard,” are used a few more times throughout the Old and New Testament – and to express a much deeper lesson than merely just to say our virtuous woman purchases land sometimes.

In the passage below, we see the same allusions to a field and vineyard as in Proverbs 31 –

Proverbs 24:30-34

30 I walked by the field of a lazy person,
    the vineyard of one with no common sense.
31 I saw that it was overgrown with nettles (thorns).
    It was covered with weeds,
    and its walls were broken down (in ruins).

32 Then, as I looked and thought about it,
    I learned this lesson:
33 A little extra sleep, a little more slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest—
34 then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit;
    scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.

The concept of a person owning a field and vineyard are applied in this context of mismanagement and laziness.   The field and the vineyard belong to “one with no common sense,” which according to many other verses found in Proverbs, may be the personified “Proverbial Fool.”  We see repeatedly, with every verse, that the virtuous woman employs wisdom in everything she does.  There are many scholars that actually believe she is wisdom personified, as there is a direct correlation to the things she does corresponded to the verses in Proverbs describing the characteristics of Wisdom (as a woman), juxtaposed to Folly (another woman), or the Immoral woman described in Proverbs 5 & 7.

Compared to our virtuous woman, who applies wisdom and virtue at every opportunity, we see that the “lazy person,” the one who lacks common sense, allows nettles, literally translated into “thistles or thorns,” to spring up, making it harder, even painful to tend to their field and vineyard.  In my life, I can find quite a few examples of times where I let things go in laziness, only to find that “thistles” or thorns grew up causing the work to be harder and the consequences at times painful.  Mismanagement or irresponsibility in regard to the blessings in our life can cause all kinds of detrimental repercussions for us to deal with.  The field and vineyard in this passage aren’t used to their greatest capacity (if at all!), as it goes on to describe it being overgrown with weeds.  The fruits from it’s harvest are being greatly diminished if not completely and utterly wasted!  In truth, it may not be producing fruit at all!  The walls are broken down into ruins, it has lost it’s protection.  

The fool who owns a field and vineyard could be making the most of their possessions and increasing their wealth, building their house, but instead, even what they possess already goes to waste.  A foolish woman’s household, estate, or possessions will decrease in value, because she lacks the sense to manage it properly!  This is such a contrast to Proverbs 31:16, where we see that a wise wife does everything she can to increase her family’s prosperity!

I’m not an expert by any means on tending a vineyard, but I do know weeds or thistles choke out the life and use up the valuable and limited resources of the plants around them.  In Matthew 13:7, we see that the thorny brambles choked out the good seed that tried to spring up amidst them, but the seed that fell on good soil (soil that had been cleared and deep enough to sustain the growth of plants’ roots), prospered:

Still other seeds fell on fertile soil,

and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”  

In Adam Clarke’s commentary, written in 1831, he gives an illustrative example of the agricultural concept behind the ability of a seed to multiply extensively when in good, accepting soil,

The power of grain to multiply itself, even in the same year, is a subject as much of curiosity and astonishment as of importance and general utility. For the farther elucidation of this text, I shall give the following example from a practice in agriculture, or rural economy, which is termed filtering.

On the 2nd of June, 1766, Mr. C. Miller, of Cambridge, sowed some grains of the common, red wheat; and on the 8th of August a single plant was taken up, and separated into 18 parts, and each planted separately: these plants having pushed out several side shoots, about the middle of September some of them were taken up and divided; and the rest between that time and October. This second division produced 67 plants. These plants remained through the winter, and another division of them, made between the middle of March and the 12th of April, produced 500 plants. They were divided no farther, but permitted to remain in the field.

These plants were in general stronger than any of the wheat in the field. Some of them produced upwards of 100 ears from a single root and many of the ears measured seven inches in length, and contained between sixty and seventy grains. The whole number of ears produced from the single plant was 21,109, which yielded three pecks and three-quarters of clear corn, weighing 47lbs. 7oz., and, from a calculation made by counting the grains in an ounce, the whole number of grains was about 576,840. Mr. Miller thinks that, had he made a second division in the spring, the number of plants would have amounted to 2000.

Who can help admiring the wisdom and providence of God in this single grain of corn! He has, in some sort, impressed on it an idea of his own infinity; and an idea which, like the subject to which it refers, confounds our imagination and reason. How infinitely great is God, even in his minor works. (4)

When seed (God’s Word) falls into a setting of good soil (an open and accepting heart), the results can expand through many generations of God’s people!  It is fascinating to actually comprehend the real-life application Jesus meant when applying our faith to the mechanisms of agriculture and seed production.  It echos of the promise made in Deuteronomy 7:9:

“Know that Yahweh your God is God, the faithful God who keeps His gracious covenant loyalty for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commands.


The Parable of the Good Seed Explained – 

Matthew 13:19-23

You, then, listen to the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word about the kingdom and doesn’t understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.  This is the one sown along the path.

And the one sown on rocky ground – this is one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy.  Yet he has no root in himself, but is short-lived.  When pressure or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he stumbles.

Now the one sown among the thorns – this is one who hears the word, but the worries of this age and the seduction of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

But the one sown on the good ground – this is one who hears and understands the word, who does bear fruit and yields: some 100, some 60, and some 30 times what was sown.

We need to be extremely careful about the soil of our hearts because of how it will impact not only our own lives, but also the legacy of our children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren and beyond.  When we hear or look at these verses about the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31, are we filled with disbelief or misunderstanding?  Do we have some bitter roots of pride that need to be pulled so that we can receive the wisdom in these verses?  Are we annoyed, tempted to discount, or argue and discredit the Words of God concerning what He sees as a beautiful, feminine character?  Proverbs 14:6 in Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary describes an improper attitude toward Scripture, versus a right attitude:

A scorner treats Divine things with contempt.

He that feels his ignorance and unworthiness will search the Scriptures in a humble spirit.

If we catch ourselves treating this passage with contempt for the Proverbs 31 woman, let’s repent and approach it again with ignorance and unworthiness – searching these Scriptures with a humble, as opposed to a prideful, spirit!

A virtuous woman is “sold out” to the Kingdom of Heaven, not to “wealth” –

In the New Testament, we see quite a few parables that Jesus tells about the Kingdom of Heaven and surprisingly, many centered around a field or vineyard!  One of the most interesting one’s in my opinion, however, is of the man who sells everything he owns in order to purchase a certain field:

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”

Matthew 13:44

The Kingdom of Heaven is greater than any treasure on earth!  Yes, the virtuous woman is carefully considering and buying a field; yes, she will take care of it, planting good seed and making use of it compared to the wasteful mismanagement of the Fool’s field and vineyard.  But we know from the the rest of the passage that she is a woman who fears God (vs 30), who takes seriously her “God-given mission,” to do good to her husband all the days of her life (vs 12).  Her entrepreneurial spirit and vision doesn’t eclipse the desire for chasing after the most important thing, more valuable than anything this world has to offer!  She isn’t chasing after wealth or prioritizing living “her best life now” (a frequent tenet of the prosperity gospel), instead, her pursuit is the Kingdom of Heaven.

We threw a large party this last weekend, and the house was so crowded that our older son actually complained there wasn’t enough room to play with all the kids there among the adults!  It had been raining off and on for a few weeks now where we live, and the day of our party was of course, another rainy day, causing everyone to be rather cramped inside our small house.  Even with having to practically shout to each other to hear our conversations, I was able to have a timely chance to catch up with some friends I haven’t talked to personally for months.  One in particular, is a fascinating woman with four children, her youngest being the same age as my oldest.  Somehow we got on the topic of bringing in money while staying at home with our children (she is homeschooling).  A few years ago, she and her husband had tried owning several business chains in the city.  It was a profitable business venture for them, but it was during a time when she was still raising rather young children, and even pregnant with the last two.  Because her husband worked a full-time regular job, it fell on her shoulders to have to effectively “manage” all the chains they now owned.  She was required to frequently visit each chain, solve their problems, take care of paperwork, and make many major decisions.  The stress of having to drive and shuttle her kids all around the city to manage each chain became something they decided just wasn’t worth it.

Now she sees her children, raising them up to be good, wonderful christian adults, as her financial contribution to their family.  They aren’t seeing much in the way of financial results right now in this regard, but I agreed with her that raising them up to be good, responsible, virtuous adults was something that you couldn’t put a price tag on.

It’s easy to see how “small” business ventures can quickly get out of hand if it isn’t in the right season.  With her experience, the extra money, although it was great and beneficial, came at a cost of their peace and rest.  She told me of one of her friends that had started a little side business of selling cars (buying cars with a trusted mechanic and getting him to fix them up and turning them for a good profit).  In just the last year of her starting this “little” side business, she’s made a killing, selling around 120 cars in that time, but it’s come at a huge price to her family and children.  When is the time you get to sell cars?  Evening and weekends!   She’s never there to be able to go to her kids’ events or school activities – and she has 4 children and a husband that still need her.  She never intended for it to take over this way, it just did.

This is not to say that any venture into the business world will be overwhelming, I’ve known women who created successful photography small businesses while still in the midst of having young children.  When we look at the many options available for planning and contributing financially for our families, though, we truly need to discern, consider, and be prudent about what we choose to do.  My wonderful friend that sees her financial contribution as being her producing four good, Christian and virtuous adults – that is her vineyard!  She is seeking after the Kingdom of Heaven in her children’s hearts!

We also need to be willing to walk away from something that is clearly not working for us or our family, or at the very least, be willing to redesign the time we spend doing it.  Our husbands and children are our first ministry, if we work or own a business or side business for even a little extra money, we need to have strong boundaries in place to protect the integrity of our family life and ability to be a wife and mother. Money is good and necessary, however, it can quickly become an idol in our life.  God isn’t against accruing wealth and riches, He actually calls it a blessing of the wise!  It is a wise wife who learns how to successfully build up wealth for their family through investing the small profits she gets.


From her profits she plants a vineyard –

This part of the verse makes me think of a dear friend who literally decided to invest her time and talents into what looks, to me, like a beautiful, lush, flowing vineyard!  A mother of three grown children, she has owned a gorgeous nursery for nearly 20 years now, together with her husband who also has a landscaping business.  We’ve known this couple for almost the entire length of our marriage, and one Summer, I had the pleasure of being able to work for them in their nursery.  They taught me about the different plants they carried, the tree farm the husband was diligently growing, and how to take care of them all.  I got to watch up close and personal, how the wife handled their business, deciding what to buy that would sell, and how to make a profit off of the plants.  I learned many valuable lessons that I still employ with our gardening today, as well as getting to broaden my horizons of creativity in designing landscaping ideas.  She taught me how to rehabilitate plants that were sick or needing to build up their strength, and how to manage her little shop and vast nursery on my own when they were both out on a landscaping endeavor.  When I talked to her about how it all came about, she had this about her “vineyard” dream,

Every step was God opening doors….and it was a process that was not a forced thing, but an obvious sign and provision of God.  It’s funny to think when we were younger we were just having fun and enjoying transforming landscapes, and the best part is our customers and getting the opportunity to so a good honest job for them.

“When I was a little girl, I knew what God’s given gift to me was, I was born to make beautiful things!  Whether it be (floral) arrangements, designs, or photography (she also has her own successful photography business!).  It’s something that really comes from the depths of my soul. When I’m rested and quiet, it flows, and I always feel like I’m doing what I was made for, and I feel fulfilled.”

 Wow!  How beautiful it is to be able to pair up our natural talents and inspiration with a dream that will also financially and materially bless our families!  Our friend was able to do this work even with her children coming with her – it was a great small business venture that bloomed with God’s blessings, yet not taking her away or diminishing the value of their family life.

Feminists have tried to use this verse in particular, to misconstrue God’s design for wives, to try to say that the Proverbs 31 woman acts independently of her husband – that because she uses her own money to buy and trade plots of land, that she is like a CEO in her own right.  I’ve often seen this applied to careerism in justification of women going off and doing their own thing, leaving their children in daycare soon after birth, and searching for their own identity that sidelines their role as a wife and mother.

I do believe that this verse reveals her desire for accomplishing big things for her family – the virtuous wife is a visionary that is on the lookout for ways to increase their wealth for the future, constantly contemplating how things could be and making small steps to realizing her dreams.

She wisely uses the money she gets from her small employments to move on to greater opportunities that will bring larger returns to her family!  She is creative and inspired, motivated by a heart that wants to give and bring her family the best, just like we saw in the verse comparing her to the merchant ships.  Her creativity and exciting dreams are good for her, but also bless her family!

When writing this post this last week, we had one of our bigger harvests of peppers and vegetables, and yet it seemed drastically small in comparison to the idea of the virtuous wife obtaining a harvest from her vineyard!  I was so excited to finally have more peppers and tomatoes than my hands could hold for the next week (far more than enough!), and thought in awe how huge the harvest of an entire vineyard must be!  Also, what monetary return her efforts in maintaining a vineyard must have been!  In biblical times as well as modern times, we know that in harvesting a vineyard, one woman (or man) could never accomplish that task alone.  In Matthew chapter 20, we see that many laborers were often used pick the grapes, even still with our modern machinery, often migrant workers are used to hand pick the grapes so that the owner ensures only the best quality of grapes are chosen, as well as making sure the grapes aren’t damaged in the process of the picking.  This just isn’t comparable to the harvest and return of a small vegetable garden, this is something much bigger in actualization!  I don’t say this to discourage women in their efforts of gardening, I love my garden and the comparatively small harvest it brings in!   But it’s noteworthy to acknowledge that this verse is talking about something much more, the creativity and inspiration married to the practicality of building up wealth for her family.

If you’re a young wife, this verse probably sounds very overwhelming.  It’s more than likely hard for you to even imagine what kind of dream God could have for you that may involve doing something so vast as planting your own Proverbial vineyard.  Let me tell you though, after knowing quite a few friends who are now in their late 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, finding your niche is possible, but it takes time – it may not happen until you’re in your mid-30’s or even 40’s.  We’ve known enough women who have successfully done things like this, but again, it took time, often happening even after they became grandmothers!

Your season of life right now may not be the right timing to be considering your own “field,” in order to purchase it.  You may be just married with little money to spare, or in the middle of having multiple small children and busy making everything run as smoothly as you can – that is, as smooth as it can run with peanut butter sticky fingers everywhere, and cheerios drawn the to floor like magnets!  You may be in the middle of planning your family, and have been or will be pregnant every other year… for the next 4-6 years!  Changing diapers is your professional hobby right now, and your babies need your time, energy and attention.  Our children, raising them to be godly adults, truly are their own kind of vineyard!  This verses may especially be out of sight if you are single right now, and haven’t yet met your future husband.  Take heart!  You have a lot of time to pray for wisdom and discernment!

In biblical times, only people wealthy enough were able to own and operate successful vineyards. We see further on in yet another one of Jesus’ parables, he talks about a vineyard and the work that goes into not only creating it, but also managing it (Matt 21:33-46).   I may be wrong, but it doesn’t sound to me like a venture that our virtuous woman dove into in the early years of her marriage.  Flourish and grow where you’re planted right now, but let’s do our part to take care of the small details that will add up over time to growing and expanding our family’s household.



Interesting/cited articles:

  1. John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
  2. Jamieson, Fassett, and Brown’s Bible Commentary, 1871.
  3. The Use of Wine in Ancient Biblical Times
  4. Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, 1831.
  5. Ruth Bell Graham: A Life Well Lived


Application for wives –

I don’t know about you, but this verse and applications was convicting for me!  Hopefully after reading this post you’ve come to understand that verse 16 isn’t really about a field and a vineyard, as much as it is about the way a wise woman builds her house with prudence, skill, profit, and creativity.  I loved learning about the field and vineyard owned by the lazy fool, juxtaposed to the wisdom of our virtuous woman, but I felt some strong convictions to do things a little differently with handling our finances.  If you felt any convictions over managing your time, energy, or money in a different way, make sure to go to your husband first before attempting any kind of change in plans.  One thing that has been planted deeply in my heart from this series is that to be a virtuous woman, something God wants us all to become, we need to develop our husbands’ trust in us to the fullest degree possible (vs 11).  It’s ok to have big dreams for the future and to make steps toward those dreams becoming real possibilities in using our resources wisely, but let’s never lose sight of what truly matters in life: the people who mean the most to us, our husband, children, and family.

Application for sons –

This is another verse that is a little tricky to apply to teaching our sons what to look for in their future wife.  Who can tell what dreams lie in the heart of a young woman?  Our friend who started her own beautiful nursery/floral/landscaping and photography business said that she knew when she was just a girl that God had given her a certain gift.  The key here would be for older sons, to let them know to be on the lookout for young women they may date for marriage who do have dreams and plans.  We’ve already looked at the importance of assessing a young woman’s character and work ethic, and it still applies to this post in how willing she will be to put her family first above her dreams if they coincide.

Before Ruth and Billy Graham were married, she felt a strong, deep conviction that God needed to use her as a missionary in Tibet, a place akin to where she grew up with her parents being missionaries.  She watched her mother as her example of what a godly, virtuous woman looked like.  In China, her mother had, “built a house, had three children, buried one, had two more, taught her children at home through fifth grade, ran the women’s clinic, always had a missionary or two in the home, … entertained well and often, and wrote home faithfully.”  She wanted to follow in her mother’s footsteps, but when she fell in love with Billy Graham, she found he was feeling God’s call to preach the gospel as an evangelist.  She realized that she was the one trying to force God’s calling on Billy to go to Tibet, and he said to her, “Do you believe that God has brought us together?  In that case,” he replied, “God will lead me and you will do the following.”  This is what she had to say years after making that decision to let go of her personal dream and calling, “I would have missed the opportunity of a lifetime of serving God with the finest man I knew, having five terrific children, and 15 [now 19] of the most delightful, interesting and lovable grandchildren imaginable. All this, plus an unusual, if not easy, life,” (5). It may be rare to find a woman in this day and age that will truly follow her husband and build up his mission and ministry, but that is the goal that we should be setting our sons for.

Application for daughters –

There are so many applications in this post for daughters!  There are many different hobbies you can introduce your daughter to while she is still fairly young to find out what her gifts are and where she is most creative or artsy!  Teaching her ways to use her gifts to make some side money will be a gift she will never regret you giving to her.

For a more spiritual application though, focus on teaching your daughters that there are two ways to live your life: one is following God’s commands and searching after wisdom and understanding, and the other is scorning God’s Word and living life in rebellion to wisdom.  All of Proverbs was given to us in order to understand the difference between living a wise life or a foolish life.  The fool that takes possession of a field and vineyard is too lazy to work and tend to it – mismanagement and apathy causes it to possibly decrease in value.  The virtuous woman in Proverbs 31:16 takes possession of a field and vineyard, however, we see that she is wise and uses these assets to build her house and her husband’s wealth.  The broader lesson from this verse is repeated throughout all of Proverbs: foolishness decreases wealth, but wisdom often increases it (literally and figuratively building one’s house).  In Proverbs 14:24 we find, “The crown of the wise is their wealth, but the foolishness of fools produces foolishness.”

Not Just a Job — This House Is Our Home

Interrupting the Proverbs 31 Woman series because this post was just too awesome!  Post #8 should come out Wednesday this week, thank you for reading! <3 


There’s another side to police life. There’s a part you don’t see in the media. There’s something they don’t tell you when they hand your loved one the uniform to wear, and the gun to carry. They tell you it will be a difficult life, that there will be challenges, stress, and sometimes horror. You […]

via Not Just a Job — This House Is Our Home

His Wife is a Beautiful Early Riser & Contributor


“She rises also while it is yet night, and gives food to her household and work to her maids.”

Proverbs 31:15

We’re on to the 7th post in this series on the virtuous wife of Proverbs 31.  If you’ve been missing the series you may want to start at the beginning, the passage does build on itself, however each verse also has so much to glean from, any post has enough lessons to have us pondering for a week!  Here are the posts in the series so far:

  1. The Best Gift You Can Give to Your Husband
  2. The Power & Difficulty of Becoming a Woman of Virtue
  3. Her Husband Can Safely Trust in Her
  4. His Wife is Over-flowing with Goodness
  5. His Wife Desires to do Good Work
  6. She is Like the Merchant Ships

The beauty of being an early riser –

In taking the time to look through each of these verses, it has really amazed me how beautiful this woman’s character is.  Everything she does is motivated by the desire in her heart to be a woman of God, to love her husband, and to care for those who are in her life. In verse 15, it’s like we get to peer in through her window, and watch how she quietly contributes to her household management through the efforts of something simple, and yet profound: her morning routine.

In applying the principle to modern day reality, I picture a mother getting up early, doing her morning routine of reading God’s word, talking to Him, listening, and treasuring her precious cup of hot coffee or tea in the dimly lit solitude.  It’s something that’s easy for me to picture, having grown up with a mother who made waking up while it was still dark, before everyone else was awake, a priority, I would frequently catch her in the midst of her morning routine doing just this!  Indeed, it would naturally seem that morning is the best time to prepare for the day.  “She rises while it is yet night…” she gets a head start on her work, begins thinking about and doing what needs to get done so that things don’t fall behind.

When writing this post, I found myself wondering if there really were any benefits to waking up early, aside from just getting a head start on the day, or some quiet time in before your children are up.  Those are great things to pursue!  But I’ve often heard and thought myself, that quiet time could be done even in the evening if that suited a person’s schedule better, and that it doesn’t take waking up at 5am in order to get a “head start” on the day – some women would much prefer to wake up only 30 minutes before they have to leave, and even more prefer to sleep until their children wake them up.  We like to equalize everyone’s preferences or lifestyle in order to not offend people, but what I found was that there really are some great advantages that come with early rising, that we’ll miss out on if we choose to sleep in!

The early riser increases their productivity-

Waking up early shows our virtuous woman values productivity, which is a cornerstone to leading a successful life or even business venture.  When interviewing over 200 of the most highly successful people of the world, Forbes Magazine was surprised how many focused on their morning routines as being their “secret” to success:

My single greatest surprise… was how many of them wanted to share their morning ritual with me. Hal Elrod, author of The Miracle Morning, told me, “While most people focus on ‘doing’ more to achieve more, The Miracle Morning is about focusing on ‘becoming’ more so that you can start doing less, to achieve more.

While I heard about a wide variety of habits, most people I interviewed nurtured their body in the morning with water, a healthy breakfast and light exercise.

They nurtured their mind with meditation or prayer, inspirational reading, and journaling. (FORBES 1)

[Emphasis mine]

Carving out the time first thing when we wake up for nurturing our mind and body helps us to literally “become more,” – become stronger, healthier.  We want to be women who are mentally, emotionally, and spiritually strong, because a strong woman is capable of achieving more in her life!  Making it a habit of waking up early may then be well-related to prioritizing taking care of our bodies and our minds first, so that we can better handle the day’s tasks at hand!

Not only does nurturing your mind in the morning with prayer and Scripture reading give you inspiration for the day, just the practice of waking early can give you more control and motivation in your life.  According to a Journal of Applied Social Pyschology study in 2009, early risers were more likely to confidently assert things like:  “I spend time identifying long-range goals for myself” and “I feel in charge of making things happen,” (2).  They don’t find themselves living a life of constant crises and urgent situations, but feel a healthy assurance of some control of what happens.  This same study also found that “morning people are more likely to anticipate problems and minimize them.”   When we wake up early and have time to think and plan in solitude, we find ourselves foreseeing possibilities that may crop up during the day (or week).

About five years ago, I read for the first time, Stephen Covey’s book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  He had this time management chart that has stayed with me since then, which encourages people to breakup their tasks into 4 quadrants:


Quadrant 2, which are things that are Important but Not Urgent, is probably the most important quadrant to pay attention to in one’s life in order to cut down on Quadrant 1 occurrences, that may stem from lack of planning or prevention.  Quadrant 3 needs to stay within set boundaries, not every phone call or email is Important, even though it seems and maybe even feels Urgent because you’re so used to answering every call, or checking your email too frequently.  Quadrant 3 can easily become time wasters, but Quadrant 4 is the King of time wasters if boundaries aren’t in place!  I personally think of online time, facebook, and social media/blog reading/commenting as falling into Quadrant 4, as well as all the above listed in it’s box.

The virtuous woman rises early, busying herself with “production capability activities” like planning and providing their daily food and work provisions, having time to plan for the day, build good relationships with those who serve her in her house (modern day transcription: building a good relationship with her children).  Proverbs 31:15 is a prime example of Quadrant 2 in action, no wonder then that there are so many benefits then!  A virtuous woman is proactive, she is on top of running her household and is confident of her ability to have some control over it running smoothly, thanks to the prevention strategies she daily attends to.

She rises early, but she gets enough sleep-

There are some women who look at the Proverbs 31 passage and decided that the qualities and principles described could only apply to a Superwoman – “how else could a normal wife and mother do all this?  It sounds like she never sleeps!”  Let me be clear here, driving herself to unhealthy extremes on little sleep is not what this passage is about.  God created our bodies to specifically need enough sleep in order to function properly.  The principle of being an early riser, while a little difficult at first, is easy to work into the average mom or wife’s schedule with a little bit of tweaking.  If you haven’t made this practice into a daily habit, or if you are struggling to wake up early to have that wonderful peace and quiet with just you and God, here are some tips for making it easier:

  • Go to bed earlier.  Set a specific bedtime and stick to it, understanding the value and treasure of getting to wake up early and have uninterrupted alone time with God.
  • Have firm boundaries and time limits for activities that fall into Quadrant 3 and 4 in the Time Management figure.  Stick to those boundaries, and make sure at night that they don’t fall too close to your set bedtime!
  • Try taking a hot bath or shower before bed, the heat relaxes you and will help you sleep.
  • Try using essential oils like Lavender dabbed on your wrists or neck before bed, or in your bath.
  • Make your bedroom a no-electronic zone after a certain hour, the light emitted from computers and phones and even some alarm clocks that have a green light color, has been shown to disrupt sleep or delay people’s ability to get to sleep.
  • Make your rest and sleep a priority in the evening, because much of your next day will depend on how well-rested you are.  It is MUCH harder to manage waking up early if you haven’t taken care of yourself, and gone to bed with enough time to sleep
  • Taking care of yourself, body, mind and spirit, will eventually make you look forward to jumping out of bed – I’ve found that I actually crave waking up early because of how pleasurable it is to get that alone time to read God’s word, talk with Him, drink my hot coffee curled up with a blanket, and write articles (even right now I sit here in the dark, listening to a thunderstorm outside, drinking my coffee, curled up, and typing away)!

When reading various material for this post, I was bewildered to find how many of the world’s powerful or successful inventors, entrepreneurs, etc. survive or survived on such little sleep, 4-6 hours being the most frequently cited, but 3 hours or continual working for up to 72 hours even were also not uncommon (3).  Unfortunately, this practice of getting less than 6 hours of sleep can come at a cost of an array of health issues – not many can survive with optimal health when neglecting our much needed sleep over the course of a lifetime.  In my personal research into sleep and it’s necessity to our biological functions in college, I learned that during the time that we sleep, our bodies use that relief to repair everything at the cellular level, fight and prevent aging effects on our cells, and even repair the stress damage done to our DNA (the ends of each DNA strand, the telomeres that help us to multiply cells with relative perfection).  When we don’t get enough sleep, the effects of stress (inner or outer environment stresses) go unmitigated, oxidative chemical reactions caused by free radicals (which come from the inner/outer stresses) build up without enough time for your body to chemically deactivate them, increasing our risks for all kinds of cancers.  When we don’t get enough sleep, the affects of aging are accelerated as the oxidative stress builds up overtime, and the ends of our telomeres are physically diminished and shortened due to lack of time to repair them properly before the next replication cycle.  Simply put: God designed our bodies on purpose in order to need sleep, even at our most intrinsic, cellular level.

Health & Weight Correlated to Sleep Schedules-

According to a 2011 Northwestern University study, late sleepers consumed 248 more calories a day, about twice as much fast food, and ate half as many fruits and veggies as those who went to bed and rose early (4). “The night owls also had a higher average BMI.”  When I was studying sleep and its affects on your brain and behavior in college, I found that lack of sleep, even staying up later than our bodies should be, increases hormone levels that not only make it harder to lose fat (cortisol), we also start secreting a hormone when we’re overly tired called orexin, which stimulates feelings of hunger.  To put it very plainly: when we’re staying up too late or sleep deprived the next day, we feel hungrier than our bodies really are, and are more prone to over-eat, leading to weight problems.

All kinds of issues crop up when women (or men) don’t get enough sleep for their bodies.  I don’t believe verse 15 is promoting some kind of unhealthy lifestyle of a wife or mother forgoing her much needed sleep and rest, but rather the principle that waking up early, while it’s still dark, is beneficial to her life and productivity.  Above all, it reveals her heart again for her family.

Not only does she desire to do her husband good and not evil, all the days of her life, but she also takes that sentiment into tangible actions like going above and beyond in her cooking, or rising before everyone else in the household so that they are all well-prepared for the day.

Her motivation isn’t just for herself to achieve more, it is motivated out of a heart for her family and household.

Being an early riser may bring qualities of excellence to your personal work and life, however!  That is one of the blessings of doing things that God admires in His word!  Students who identified themselves as “morning people,” who woke up early, according to a 2008 Texas University study, earned a full point higher on their GPAs (3.5 vs. 2.5), than those were described themselves as “night owls,” (5).  It may be that certain kinds of people who value and prefer waking up early – the go-getters, the high achievers, the goal-driven – are also the same ones who work harder at their studies and take seriously developing a work ethic of Excellence.  Even God’s Word gives insight into the balance between loving sleep, or valuing hard work and achievement, relating it to our financial trajectory:

“Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; stay awake and you will have food to spare.”

Proverbs 20:13

Sleep and Depression –

Sleep problems can cause and come from, depression, but one of the more common signs of depression is when one has no motivation to get up out of bed, a loss of interest in life and enjoyable things.  When one is depressed, it is near impossible to find the inspiration to get out of bed hours earlier than necessary, even though sometimes forcing ourselves to go through the motions of positive changes is exactly what we may need to do to kick the depression.

When the prophet Elijah had angered the evil queen, Jezebel, she made a vow that she would kill him by the next day.  We find the story at the beginning of 1 Kings 19…

19 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”

Elijah was afraid[a] and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die.

I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

All at once an Angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.”

He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

The Angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank.

Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.

It is amazing to me that Elijah went from calling down fire from Heaven one day, and then scared and running for his life the next just because an evil woman threatened him – but we are only human!  Another interesting aspect of this passage is what the Angel of the Lord (which most biblical scholars believe, was Jesus Christ, Himself), didn’t tell him anything profound or earth-shattering.  He merely said “Get up and eat….  Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.”  When we are in a depression, sometimes it is the little things like getting up, eating enough nourishing food, that immediately go by the wayside.

We feel crushed with the weight of our troubles or worst nightmares come to life, and to “Get up,” or eat, takes much more effort than it would if we were mentally strong.

If you are dealing with depression or in the midst of a series of storms in your life right now, may I encourage you to find inspiration in this story of how God dealt with Elijah’s despair.  He wanted to die, but his time on earth wasn’t over yet!  Get up, dear one, wake up… eat.

Your strength will return to you, think on how Elijah was strengthened after listening to Jesus’ instructions, the food strengthened him for his journey.  The Angel of the Lord plainly said the journey would be too much for him – perhaps you also feel like this journey in your life right now is too much for you.  God’s Word is frequently called “bread,” or “food,” nourishing ourselves on His Word will also give us strength in the worst times of our life.

Try making yourself get up a little earlier tomorrow, listen to His words, “Get up, Eat.”  Try it, and see if you are strengthened a little more for the days you are facing.

A cautionary word for and about teenagers!  Teens need a lot of sleep – not just 8 hours, but closer to 10 hours a night due to all the metabolic and hormonal changes their bodies are undergoing during this time in their life.  So when they sleep in till 11am or 12pm on Saturday, don’t get mad at them, let them sleep in.  They aren’t being “lazy teens,” most of them really do need that sleep, as they aren’t getting enough sleep during the week as it is.  Not getting enough sleep for their bodies can increase their tendency to feel moody or depressed.


A virtuous woman is self-disciplined –

We’ve talked about productivity, we’ve talked about time-management, the benefits of waking up early, and the necessity for taking care of our bodies, and now we look at the under-lying principle in her being able to “rise while it is still night.”  When it really comes down to it, the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 has developed one of the most important virtues through a beautiful combination of habit, practice, and the Holy Spirit which develops in our character the fruits of the Spirit.  Self-discipline is a fruit that comes from seeking and living out spiritual maturity in Christ.

In our household, if I don’t make my morning routine a priority, if I stay up too late and manage to wreck my will to get up in the morning, everyone in our family suffers.  When I make the effort, I wake up early, get the things I need to get done for myself out of the way, and then help my husband get out the door with our sons to go on the morning school run.  I pack our son’s lunch, make him and my husband breakfast, make the baby’s bottle, get the baby ready, and get them out the door on time.  My husband can handle it on his own for sure, and when I’ve been sick he’s had to, but it makes it a lot harder and a lot more stressful.  When we work together in the morning, it runs smoothly and peacefully, everyone has a pleasant and even cheerful morning – no rushing around, less difficulty in the routine, and a lot less stress!

One of the main reasons why I love to help provide this for our family, is because my husband uses the extra time he gets from me taking care of some of the little details, in order to read to our son some of the Bible, go over stories with him, and pray for him/with him before his school day starts.  My efforts seem small in comparison to the father/son time they’re getting and the wisdom and love of God’s Word my husband gets to impart to our son.  It is so important to our family especially, because my husband’s schedule at this time doesn’t allow our son to see him 5 evenings out of the week.  The morning time is usually his only time in his day when he’ll get to see his dad, so we make the most of it in every way we both can.  My husband and my son both love this time together, and my doing this for them is part of my ministry to my family!

I feel as though I should offer another word of caution in this article.  Even good principles can be taken too far, like we saw with the example of successful people tempted to prioritize achievement at any cost, living consistently on 3 hours of sleep a night, or going for 72 hours without sleep.  There is another pitfall that can be talked about: the difference between self-discipline and asceticism.

Asceticism is a form of severe self-discipline and avoidance of all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons.

Asceticism emphasizes all the things you cannot do: “Don’t handle this; don’t taste that; don’t touch that!” It leads to a restrictive, repressive kind of life. But self-discipline is the key to liberty. The disciplined athlete is free to do things that I cannot do. The skillful musician has disciplined himself over hours of practice so that he is free to play a Beethoven symphony that I could never play. And the disciplined Christian has freedom in the Lord to obey Him and not to sin, which is always for our good.

  • Asceticism is aimed at obeying man-made commands; self-discipline is aimed at obeying God’s commands (6)

When I talk about our virtuous Proverbs 31 woman having godly self-discipline, I’m talking about her prioritizing her obedience to pleasing God and her husband, her working for her family’s benefit.  It is a beautiful, godly characteristic that gives her freedom and peace of mind in her life, as well as motivation to accomplish her duties and responsibilities with excellence.  Asceticism, however, is motivated often by a form of self-righteousness, avoiding all kinds of pleasures mostly for outward show at how religious they are.  It is a form of “false humility,” that deals in absolutes and rules added to the Bible to restrict one’s own, or others’, freedom.  It was a quality of the Pharisees that Jesus was repulsed by, because while they instructed the Jewish people to live in that way, abiding by so many rules, the Pharisees themselves were not even living it out.  To be sure, some people even in our modern day culture manage to live ascetically, but it is a heavy burden, laden with many manmade rules they follow that God never intended them to live under.

 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls.”

Matthew 11:27-29 AMP

This principle of rising early, of seeking excellence in our work is not meant to burden us with feeling like we’ll never manage it, because in reality, it takes very simple steps to make waking up early fairly easy.  It’s amazing how much we can bless and minister to our families with just helping them prepare for the day!  What a blessing it is to have the privilege to get them out on the right foot with the right healthy start: a good nourishing breakfast, and their soul being fed spiritual food, and being covered in prayer.  One of greatest blessings I’m able to do for my son when I get up early and get them out with less stress, is that I have the time to pray over him.  He loves it when I pray for God’s armor to be over him – I go piece by piece, helping him to spiritually put on all the pieces of the armor of God before his day starts at school.  This gives him more confidence and peace of mind, as well as making him literally spiritually ready (armored) for the day’s battles that he’ll face.


It’s hard to go against our sin nature/natural laziness –

This principle can be so hard to manage when we’re moms of little children!  It is so much easier just to not do it, and to sleep in those extra moments if it’s available to us.  Before I was a mom, in our very first year of marriage, we met a married couple that had a very rocky relationship with each other.  The wife openly complained about her husband to anyone who would listen – while he was standing right beside her!  One of the times we were listening to her talk, she disclosed that her routine in the morning was refusing to help her husband pack his lunch and fix him breakfast before he went to work – she valued that extra sleep more than helping see him off.  She was a stay at home mom, and I remember being pretty shocked that she didn’t want to do this simple act of showing him love and goodness.  After being a mom, I understood the huge temptation to get in that little bit of extra sleep – and certainly when you have a baby, if your husband wants you to have that extra sleep, then embrace his thoughtfulness!  But even when our first son was a baby, I knew I was able to take naps during the day when he would, so waking up to help get my husband out was fairly doable – if I could get self-disciplined enough to do it!

By nature, we are not self-disciplined… it goes against every aspect of our sin nature.  Ephesians 2:3 says:

 “All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.”

We have to do our part and depend on God’s grace to work in us to develop self-discipline into a characteristic of our being, to truly value the extended blessings that can come from this special spiritual fruit.

She gives food to her household and work to her maid servants-

Of course we don’t have servants, and most of us will never know the luxury of having a maid, but let’s look at this principle a little closer.  The original Hebrew in the verse in relation to providing for her maids or servants can be translated into either food (meat) or it could also be work.  It is most likely that she provides for her servants both of these things: their morning meal, as well as their daily obligations and duties, because servants in those days were often part of the household.  We already know that she takes care of herself, she wakes up early to make sure she is ready for the day and grinds her food, but this aspect of caring for the people who work for her, seeing them, understanding them, adds an element to her personality that is beautiful.

She cares about their productivity, their day’s tasks, and seeks to provide them guidance as well as nourishment for their day.  That sounds a lot like helping the people in our own household, our children and our husband – caring about their personal capabilities and productivity, their needing breakfast and physical nourishment, and for those moms who home-school, providing them with structure and guidance for their days’ tasks will certainly be familiar!


Let’s be women who are beautiful early risers, who have the desire in our heart to get a handle on the day at it’s start and bless our family with our contribution!


Applications for wives –

Wow!  Another huge, long post for digesting.  This next week, really think about the way you approach your morning routine.  I know everyone has their own preferences, you may be a night person and hate the mornings, but look at the way the Proverbs 31 woman is able to bless her family in this simple way.  Try it for a week and see if it doesn’t make a world of difference to your husband and/or children!  If you are dealing with depression and finding it very hard to get out of bed in the morning, seek the help you may need in counseling, make sure you’re getting enough (but not too much) sleep, and try getting in some light exercise 3 times a week.  Meditate on the passage describing Elijah’s despair, and the Angel of the Lord (Jesus Christ) coming to him personally, to encourage him to simply “Get up!  Eat.”

Pray for God to develop in you a spirit of self-discipline and excellence in all that you do for your family.

Applications for sons –

For this post, encourage your sons to develop and value self-discipline by modeling it yourself.  The Wesley brothers that became traveling ministers that helped to found the Methodist church, had a father that badly exemplified self-discipline (he was a Pastor himself, but was often drunk and would run away from home for long periods of time, leaving his wife at home with their many children).  Even with their father being a bad example of self-discipline, their mother was able to affect their personalities and character through her display of faithfulness and godly self-control and perseverance.  John Wesley is quoted saying, “I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians in England.”  Her faith and ability to manage her household well, regardless of her husband’s contribution or spiritual maturity, still had a great affect on her children!

Becoming a virtuous woman that employs cheerful and peaceful self-control, giving and providing freedom to her family, will help him recognize these qualities in future mate, and naturally avoid women who are value the opposite.

Applications for daughters –

Work to help your daughter understand the value of self-discipline, but also the dangers of asceticism!  Help her to know God’s word so well, that she can tell when there is a counterfeit trying to deceive her by adding man-made rules that will make her life harder, heavily burdened, more stressful, or laden with guilt when she has freedom in Christ.  Give her many examples from your family, your friends and your own life, so that she can learn the wisdom from hearing the different pitfalls of what happens when a woman doesn’t develop self-control, rather than having to learn firsthand by self-destructive choices.  Teach her the value and contribution of a mother, by showing her day in and day out what it looks like up close and personal – be the mother that you want her to someday be!  You will be so grateful for this when it comes time to watch your grandchildren grow up, and don’t be surprised if your daughter doesn’t come back to you, like I’ve done with my own mother, and thank you for all you did for her in showing her how important this little principle and life-change is!


Interesting/cited articles

  1. Forbes Article: 15 Surprising Things Productive People Do
  2. Journal of Applied Psychology, 2009.
  3. 5 Bizarre Sleeping Habits of Successful People
  4. Women’s Health Magazine
  5. Earn Better Grades
  6. How to Not Be Godly
  7. Quadrant Image, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey,


She is Like the Merchant Ships…

merchant ships

“She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.”

Proverbs 31:14


In continuing on to the 6th post in our study of the Proverbs 31 virtuous woman, and verse 14 is no less amazing than verses we have looked at before.  This verse is full of wonder and excitement, it was truly a blessing to search out the biblical history behind the purpose of merchant ships, look at pictures of their adventures at sea, see the horror and devastation of shipwrecks, and see for myself what it looks like on a merchant ship in the midst of a terrible storm!  Writing this one post has taken me on an fascinating journey into the past and ancient days, and given me a look inside all that this chosen phrase implies, “She is like the merchant ships…,” and I hope to convey the same insight and wonder to you as you read along!

Remember, as we’re growing in maturity, as we’re allowing God to work in us so that we become more virtuous women, let’s not give up hope that we’ll never reach it!  God desires us to renew our minds (Romans 12:1-2), to give us the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), but that cannot happen if we aren’t actively working against our sin natures and consciously taking thoughts captive to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5)!  We have to give up old ways of thinking and relating, and let ourselves be transformed into the new creatures we’re called to be in Christ, casting off the old self with our fallen natures!  God wants to restore into beauty what was lost,

  “Assuming that you have heard about him (Christ) and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self,[a] which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Ephesians 4:21-24

In this post we will look at specific ways to guard against giving up hope in life, things that ironically tie right into the image of being a ship ourselves – avoiding “shipwrecking” our faith on the rocks of loss of hope, loss of faith, and loss of the will to fight the good fight.

She is Like the Merchant Ships

This is such a beautiful allusion to me, that the virtuous woman is like a merchant ship.  Not only does it draw up in my mind, beautiful images of ancient merchant ships at sea carrying all kinds of merchandise on them, it also represents the Proverbs 31 woman’s perspective on providing for her family.

The merchant ships that are alluded to in this verse were best known for their ability to search the marketplaces for the best products of that time, and at the best prices.  This was their purpose on the seas, navigating the ins-and-outs of the economy in order to make their living.  They were even personified, with paintings of eyes on the sides of the ship, or beautiful sculptures at the bow representing the usually feminine names that were bestowed on them by their owners.   The virtuous woman is like the merchant ships that go out seeking for the best foods and merchandise, being both cost-efficient and adventurous in her search.   She, like the merchant ships, carries and delivers goods back to her beloved family who benefit from them.

The merchant ships also stuck to routes for their journeys, with their travels sometimes lasting for years.  They were prepared to persevere through all kinds of storms and weather, as well as make plans to avoid dangerous seasons when storms would be more likely to occur (1).  The sea in ancient times was a very dangerous and unpredictable place, in fact, people generally feared the sea and rightly so!  In watching footage of a modern-day merchant ship going through a storm, the waves getting higher, crashing down harder, I couldn’t help but think to myself how much that ship was at the mercy of the sea!  I couldn’t imagine what it would have been like to have had to endure the same storm, but with an ancient ship made out of wood.  Watching the real life merchant ship be tossed about on the waves against the backdrop of an immense and raging ocean, with no end of the storm in sight, reminded me of how we often feel when in the midst of our own storms in life.  It looked relentless, as if the powerful ship could be snapped in two at any moment.  As the video went on, the waves seemed to form higher around the sides of the ship, and crash down with more force and violence.

There is one thing for sure, if God’s virtuous woman is like the merchant ships that travel through the fickle sea carrying goods, she must be prepared to sail through the worst imaginable storms of her life!

God’s virtuous woman must have a powerful faith and incredibly enduring spirit.


Sometimes I think we don’t want to hear about how much strength it takes to follow God, or how difficult it is to do the work to be obedient, especially when we’re also expected to weather such things like terrifying storms!  How dare God expect us to be mature enough to get through them and come out on top or in one piece!  How dare He expect us to give up childish things and relating to others with jealousy and strife, hatred and contention – we’re fallen women after all, right?  He shouldn’t expect anything else from us! How dare God expect us to not get afraid of the waves and start to sink down in the tumultuous seas of a storm – doesn’t He know that we’re only human?  Of course!  But He expects us to take His hand, He wants us to look up and see that He is right there to guide us through our storms and will be there to offer us peace, but its up to each person to take His hand.  He will not force us to trust Him, He waits for us to come to Him, He waits for us to desire Him.

It is up to us to be responsible for our own spiritual growth

and maturity in life!


Its not that I believe that we can do this through our own power, I’ve said before that I believe the power behind how this virtuous woman is able to accomplish all she does, comes specifically from knowing the Lord.  But she also has to do her part (4)!  Look back again at Post #2 in this series for encouragement if you feel overwhelmed in trying to change by your own strength.  There are also steps in that post to follow also if you feel spiritually stuck or dry, or are in a time of extreme questioning of your faith.  God wants all his women to do the work to become virtuous – it is not beyond us or impossible – it is simply growing up in our faith… refusing to remain childish and a baby Christian that needs to be fed milk when they should be eating meat.

The anchor of our faith is the continual pursuit of becoming mature, becoming who God wants us to be:

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.  

As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

Ephesians 4:11-15

I love the allusion again to the sea – how we are no longer to be children in our faith, “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind….”  In watching the video of the merchant ship being tossed about, it strikes me that even though it looked like they had no control, deep underneath the water, beyond what could be seen, there was an anchor, helping to steady the ship against the high winds and monstrous waves crashing down.  That anchor is our will to keep on clinging to God and allowing Him to mature us, to pursue spiritual growth, even in the midst of a storm, it still holds firm.

A virtuous woman draws on God’s word for strength and encouragement when in a storm.

While watching the footage, it fit perfectly with what Psalm 107:23-31 says about those who know the sea:

Psalm 107:23-31

23 Those who go down to the sea in ships,
Who do business on great waters,
24 They see the works of the Lord,
And His wonders in the deep.
25 For He commands and raises the stormy wind,
Which lifts up the waves of the sea.
26 They mount up to the heavens,
They go down again to the depths;
Their soul melts because of trouble.
27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man,
And are at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He brings them out of their distresses.
29 He calms the storm,
So that its waves are still.
30 Then they are glad because they are quiet;
So He guides them to their desired haven.
31 Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!

Let’s be women who familiarize ourselves with how God operates when “at sea!”  Let’s be women who know He is in control, even in the worst of the storms of our life, to cling to Him, trusting that He is enough and powerful enough to get us through.  Let’s be women who “cry out to the Lord in our trouble,” and trust that “He brings (us) out of (our) distresses.”  Let’s really internalize His word that declares, “He calms the storm, so that its waves are still.”  We can rejoice and be glad when a particular storm is over, and trust that He is guiding us “to (our) desired haven!”  Be assured, dear one, many storms of life will occur for you, things we may bring on ourselves and things that happen because we live in a fallen world, but don’t ever lose hope that God can bring you through them.

Merchant ships didn’t just set out on their journey and hope for the best, however, they made sure they anticipated high seas and harsh conditions!  To prepare for storms during their voyage, ships would have special features built into them such as oars that weren’t normally used for merchant ships except for during storms, anchors to drop down in order to keep a ship steady, even their cargo could be brought into consideration when deciding whether or not to throw it overboard and lose all their profits in order to make the boat lighter (like we saw in Jonah’s story).  It was often all about survival, and they needed to do everything they could to protect the integrity of the ship in order to keep it afloat.  During a storm, the men would quickly work to take down their larger sail and substitute it for a smaller one.  Their priority was no longer travel, but safety.   It was also common in biblical times for the sailors to “undergird,” a ship by wrapping chains, ropes or cords around the body at a right angle degree to the length and pulling them tight, a process the English navy termed “frapping,” but has been used throughout history to literally hold a ship together while its being pummeled with crashing waves, and tossed about by high winds on a tumultuous sea (1,2)!

We need to be prepared for the storms of life like a merchant ship getting ready to go out to sea.  We need to think practically about the support network of mentors and Christian friends we will need for encouragement during those times, and the tools of faith we will need to “bring on board,” before things start to go south, and before some harsh winds start blowing.

Otherwise, there is always the daunting danger of shipwreck.

Life, just like the sea, can be utterly unpredictable.  Just when you think a storm may be ending, and that safety is around the bend at last, just when you start to breath a sigh of relief, you may come into another, even harsher storm!  That is what happened to Paul when he was a prisoner being transported on a ship to Rome.  Acts 27 details the different routes the ships tried to take in order to avoid bad weather, but even to experienced seamen, the sea was often unpredictable.  Right when they would expect a relief with calmer waters, they would encounter exactly the opposite and have to choose a different way!  Acts 27:10 shows that Paul could tell that they were heading toward danger, “Men, I can see that this voyage is headed toward damage and heavy loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.”  And he was right, their journey was headed straight to shipwreck, but God watched over them even when they didn’t listen to Paul’s advice, and all their lives were spared (vs 44)!

Its hard to imagine being shipwrecked once, but according to 2 Corinthians 11:25 Paul was actually shipwrecked three times!  This was a man familiar with the terrors of the sea, and what it could do to ships mastered by men who ignored sound guidance, who didn’t know how to correctly operate their tools in the time of a great storm, or whose boats were simply overpowered by the might of the angry waves.

The dangers of shipwrecking your faith

If the virtuous woman is like a merchant ship, if the storms of life can be similar to the storms of the sea, and if an imminent danger of traveling by the sea is shipwreck, then its also interesting to look at the danger of shipwrecking our faith.

Its intriguing that Paul chooses to use the word “shipwreck,” to describe the destruction or sabotage of one’s faith.  I looked at many pictures of shipwrecks when writing this post, and saw the devastation and damage.  Boats and ships that were once beautiful and powerful forces, were left in pieces, sunk down to the bottom of the ocean, and rendered useless.

How can one shipwreck their faith?

“Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme (slander and falsely accuse).”  (1 Tim 1:18-20)

Shipwrecked faith can happen to either men or women, since we all have a sin nature and are at moments tempted to let our feelings and emotions rule our faith.  We are in danger of shipwreck if we:

  • Give up fighting the good fight, in pressing on with the work God’s given us, in believing in the good things others have seen in us.  Paul wanted Timothy to remember the prophecies made about him, and use that encouragement to continue on in his fighting the good fight
  • Let go of faith in God
  • Lose the assurance of a good conscience (our conscience can and will testify against us, so if we know we’ve done wrong, we need to pursue forgiveness)
  • Embrace carnality (things of the flesh), pursuing gossip and slander, falsely accusing others, giving over oneself to insecurity, envy, bitterness or hatred
  • Live in the past with regret and resentment, refusing to allow God to move us into new things He has planned for us
  • View ourselves as under condemnation: unable to move on from failure, be worthy enough, or be completed by God, viewing ourselves through a victim mentality lens and rejecting God’s help, hope, and promises
  • Make a person into an idol that we believe can do no wrong, and then when they fail or fall short of our expectations, getting disillusioned

All these things are able to shipwreck our faith if we give ourselves over to them, they are and can be literally anything that goes against God’s word concerning His ability to redeem us, or His desires for us to live in obedience to Him.

The virtuous woman then is like a merchant ship that successfully comes in to shore, she avoids a shipwrecked faith and successfully brings her journey to an end with her Master.

How can we avoid, or overcome, a shipwrecked faith?

  • Meet daily with God for daily strength and provision.  We can’t expect to make it every day going just on a great sermon we heard on Sunday.  We must come to Him daily for our “bread,” like the Israelites came to Him daily for their provision of manna.  He has designed our souls to crave daily spiritual nourishment just like we do our food and water!
  • Fight the good fight, even when its not convenient.  We must continue on in our ministry to others, to our husband and children, not being discouraged by detractors who hate seeing God’s work in our life and choose to slander and mock our efforts.  Part of growing in maturity, is learning how to not be shaken by detractors.
  • Hold onto faith.  We must develop the endurance of a soldier engaging in battle and warfare
  • Keep a good conscience and continually ask God to purify our hearts.  Ask God to seek out any perverse way in us, and to show them to us so that we can change and repent.
  • Reject carnality, reject childish behavior that leads to spiritual immaturity such as reading gossip and slander, giving way to anger and sin, blaming others for our envy or heart issues we childishly refuse to work on – stay away from people or places that endorse and encourage those habits.
  • Live in the present, trusting God with our future.
  • Have a sober view of ourselves, not more than or less than who we are.  Have confidence in God’s promises to bring us to completion, and trust in His ultimate goodness toward us, His children of light and children of the day.


Bringing Her Food from Afar

And now for the second portion of verse 14, “She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.”  The virtuous woman was intimately interested in and concerned about the food her family ate, and goods they purchased.  She loves finding good deals (being like a merchant ship), but she also values the exotic and precious foods that are from different lands!  This could be for health purposes – to add variety to their diet in an environment that only provides certain kinds of nutrition, or simply, as Elizabeth George points out, a display of her adventurous side or penchant for beauty.

Second Chronicles 9:21 tells us that these merchant ships completed their route once every three years.  The long waits, however, paid off in unusual and exotic goods for those at home.  The ships that went to Tarshish (modern-day Spain) brought home gold, silver, ivory, apes, and monkeys (2 Chronicles 9:21).  Cedar was shipped out from Lebanon.  Dye came from Tyre.  Spices, nuts, balm, and grain were exported from Egypt.  Greece contributed oil, wine, honey, and exquisite pottery to the international marketplace. All kinds of woolen goods, pieces of art, hand-crafted objects, and exquisite jewelry were transported – sometimes by desert caravan, other times by boats via canals and rivers – to the ports of each continent to be loaded onto the merchant ships (5).

She more than likely loves to cook

One can’t be interested in and whole-heartedly undertaking the business of her family’s nutrition if one doesn’t like to cook.  Cooking is an art, being interested in the colorful, foreign foods implies that she enjoys the process, the art, of creating something new.  I used to work with a woman who told me that she hated to cook, and said she ‘never’ cooked for her and her husband.  I asked her what they did for food – it was beyond me that a wife would flat-out just refuse to ever cook – and she said they ate out… all the time!  Not only is that far more expensive than most families can handle in their budget, its missing out on the opportunity to learn an art, to show love and care to her husband (or future children).  One of the best ways to grow a love for cooking, is looking for new and exciting foods to try – not difficult dishes, just new foods.  We will talk a little more about cooking in the next post, where it shows she prioritizes providing food for her household.

As we come to a close on the study of verse 14, I’ll leave you with a quote from Elizabeth George revealing the state of this woman’s heart toward her family:

Is your heart in tune with God’s great heart of love?  Do you cherish those at home whom He has given you to provide for?  Are you giving your utmost as you work to provide for your family?  Proverbs 31:14 – albeit an image of a merchant ship – actually addresses a matter of the heart, a matter of love.  You see, only love – God’s gracious love – can motivate you to lay aside selfishness and exert the physical energy needed to set sail on behalf of others.  And only the love of God, filling you to overflowing can supply you with the necessary emotional endurance to forego personal ease and sustain the relentless activity of a lifetime of enterprise for the good of others (5).



Interesting or cited articles

  1. Bible History
  2. Shipwrecked in the Storms of Life
  3. Merchant Ship in a Storm Video
  4. Adult Talk About Childish Things Podcast
  5. Beautiful in God’s Eyes, Elizabeth George, 1998.


Application for wives

We’ve been met with a ton to consider with this post, or at least, I know I have!  Not only do we want to become women who have a heart for seeking the best price and quality of goods and food for our family, but we also want to be women of strong faith.  We want to avoid shipwrecking our faith!  Take time in the next few days to watch the footage of the ship tossed about in a storm, reflecting on the verses mentioned in the first half of this post.  Ask God to show you anything in your heart that needs to change in order to avoid a future shipwreck.  When others look at you, do they see a woman who is like the merchant ships, a strong woman of faith that is capable of surviving life’s storms?

We talked about our spiritual growth and maturity being our responsibility.  If you have time, listen to the podcast listed #4 under the cited articles, really think about the choices you’re making in your life right now.  Are you growing up in your faith?  Are you serious and committed to becoming a virtuous woman?  Are you ready to do the work of developing these habits and applying them practically into your life?  Are you ready to put off your old self and embrace the new self, the renewed mind, the mind of Christ that God wants to give to you?  I sure hope so!  The rewards of learning these things, the rewards of maturity, are numerous!

Application for sons

Concerning looking for a virtuous woman, verse 14 is another verse that focuses on just a few points that are easy to see.  It capitalizes on her desire to be both thrifty and yet choosey.  Teaching our sons to value wise spending themselves will help them be able to recognize a woman showing similar traits.  He also needs to understand the elements that can contribute to one’s faith being shipwrecked.  This is a lesson for both men and women that Paul was warning about, however you want to teach your son to learn the warning signs of a young woman who’s headed toward shipwreck.  Having idols – people she reveres more than God, engaging in gossip and slander – even listening to it – makes her at risk for future shipwreck, engaging in pre-marital sex, thinking too lowly or too highly of herself, are all things to look out for when he’s looking for a future spouse.  He wants to pick a woman that is serious about future spiritual growth, when she is in her late teens and twenties, she is already studying her Bible on her own and searching out Bible studies to be apart of or older women to mentor her.  Yes, a woman like this is rare, but then again… we covered that in verse 10!

For younger sons, model being a woman who loves to cook for her family.  Take your son to the grocery store with you, teach him the different foods that come from around the world, try new things with him, give him the knowledge and desire for good and interesting food.  Help him view cooking as an art, let him cook with you and make it fun!  If he’s older, in his pre-teens or teens, teach him that a great wife will be a woman who loves to cook for her family and who cares about the nutrition they’re eating, because it reflects the state of her heart.  Its sadly rare now for teenage girls or even young women in their twenties to know how to cook since its looked down upon as something degrading, but teach that a girl with a willing and adventurous spirit may be more open to learning how to cook.

Application for daughters

The main crux of this post for a daughter is to teach her the tools of having a strong faith.  If she is very young, then focusing on the basics of faith and modeling it as best as you can as her mother will be enough.  Praying with her daily, praying blessings over her at night (this is something my husband does with our sons as the head of our family), reading the Bible with her at her level of understanding, talking about these things often and applying biblical principles to examples she sees in everyday life and at school.  If she is older, focus on helping her mature in her faith, understanding fully that her spiritual growth and maturity are her responsibility, “we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind….”  Help her have a good understanding as she gets older, of the things that destroy a person’s faith overtime, give her practical reasons as to why, along with practical reasons as to why aspects of good character and strong faith will help her to live a better, even happier life because it will be a more mature life.  Daughters will need lots of practical examples that she can see play out in real life all around her – use examples of friends’ lives, relatives’ lives, your parents’ lives, and your own life in order to draw major life lessons from to teach her while she’s in her teens.  This is the most critical time that you can use to help her become a virtuous woman that will have her heart in the right place in order to desire to keep on growing in faith.  And as we talked about in this post, spiritual growth and maturity (continual throughout her life) will be the anchor of her faith.  I’m so excited to be on this journey with you!  I can’t believe how much I’ve learned myself in doing the research and intense reading behind each post!  These lessons have been powerful for me, and I hope they are just as powerful for you reading along.


Here are the past posts of the series in case you’ve missed them:

  1. The Best Gift You Can Give to Your Husband
  2. The Power & Difficulty of Becoming a Woman of Virtue
  3. Her Husband Can Safely Trust in Her
  4. His Wife is Over-flowing with Goodness
  5. His Wife Desires to do Good Work