Being a woman is easy; it’s decided before you are even born, and you don’t have much say in it. Being a Christian woman is work, hard work. If there is one thing that I learned doing this study of Proverbs 31, it is that the Proverbs 31 Woman is a hard worker. She is focused, poised, and reliable. It is no surprise that God holds her up as a person for other women to emulate. What we learn and the qualities we develop by taking care of our daily duties and our families should transfer over into our work for the Lord.
Be a Strong Worker
17 She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.
- The phrase “dresses herself with strength” refers to being prepared to work for the day. She wakes up ready to achieve the things she needs to accomplish. She has energy and is ready to work.
- The second half of this verse lets us know the benefit of her labor. She has become more fit and healthy from her hard work. She is not weak and sickly. Work is helping her to stay healthy and do her part for the family.
Am I prepared every morning for my day? Have I gotten in bed at a reasonable hour to give me the energy for my tasks? Have I spent time with the Lord so that I can be spiritually energized? Am I taking care of myself physically through exercise and healthy eating so that I become stronger, not weaker?
Many times as women we put ourselves last after taking care of everyone and everything else. While we are commanded to serve
others, we need to be careful with this attitude. We must make sure that we are taking care of ourselves physically and spiritually so that we can take of our families and other commitments. It’s like the reminder when you fly to put on your oxygen mask first before helping someone else. If we are constantly giving without seeing to our needs, at some point we’ll run out of breath!
Be An Industrious Worker
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.
- The Hebrew word for perceives in this verse is the word taam which literally means “to taste”, but is used figuratively here as perception.
- This woman can tell that her merchandise she’s producing (the linen garments of verse 24) will bring in some extra income and this pleases her.
- The fact that her lamp does not go out at night lets us know that she works even after daylight or normal working hours are over. She lights her lamp and continues being productive after others are done for the day. She finds work to do.
Do I look for ways to make money or save money? Am I frugal? Do I go about my day looking for ways to save money and stretch a dollar? Do I seek out work to do or do I look for excuses to get out of work?
Women need to be savvy business women even if they aren’t in the work force. We need to make sure and be wise with our money and our time. If there’s a job that needs doing, we need to do it. Procrastination is not in this woman’s vocabulary. If there’s way to cut costs, we need to do that as well.
Be a Humble Worker
19 She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.
- The distaff (peluk) and the spindle (kishor) preceded the spinning wheel which mounted both the distaff and the spindle onto a wooden frame. The distaff held the finished thread while the spindle held the fibers. You held one in your hand while the other was placed under your arm or in your lap.
- This verse is interesting because we know from verse 22 that this woman is wealthy since she owns purple clothing and fine linen, yet here we see her participating in at least part of the manual labor for her cloth-making business. She does not view herself as being too high above her employees and servants that she is not willing to work with them.
Do I view some jobs in the church as “beneath” me? Do I view certain people in society as ones I do not want to associate with? Am I leading my family in service by example?
The Lord told his disciples that the first will be last, and the last first (Matthew 19:30). We need to remember that as we volunteer in our homes and our churches. Do what needs to be done; not what makes you happy or is always in your comfort zone.
Be A Compassionate Worker
20 She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.
- Two different Hebrew words are used here for “hand” and “hands”. The first word translated “hand” is caph. It is specifically talking about the palm of a closed hand. Implying that when she opens her caph, she is holding money there and giving it to the poor.
- The second word translated “hands” is yad. This word indicates power and direction of the hand and almost always refers to an open palm. In other words, now that this woman has given money, she reaches out her hand again with an open palm to give a comforting touch.
Application Thoughts: Do we remember to give what we have to those who are poor and needy? Do we only think of giving in terms of money? When we give, do we also remember to give affection and love to those in need?
A perfect example of this type of woman is Dorcas in Acts 9:35-41. Even though she was a widow and most likely in poor circumstances herself, she used her talent of sewing to make clothing for other widows in need. Based on what the Bible tells us of the grief of these women who had received her garments, Dorcas ministered to their spirits as well.
Be A Prepared Worker
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
- Palestine does get snow every couple of years, but it usually melts quickly and they don’t have a lot. The implication in this verse, though, is that it’s cold.
- The fact that she is not afraid that winter is coming is because she has prepared. She is ready for whatever lies ahead.
Do I have myself and my family prepared for what lies ahead? Are my children or grandchildren prepared for when they are on their own? Do we have the word of God written on our hearts so that our faith is strong?
Fear, and his best friend Worry, are huge problems for most women. In fact the phrase “do not be afraid” and “do not fear” are the most often found phrases in the Bible. We need to remember to be like the woman in Proverbs 31. Prepare as much as we can, then trust God to supply where we have fallen short.
Be A Modest Worker
22 She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.
- The phrase “bed coverings” is the Hebrew word marbaddim which means a tapestry coverlet.
- This verse lets us know that this woman is wealthy. She wears “fine linen and purple”. Both of these items were expensive, but she is also dressed properly for who she is. Her husband is an important man (verse 23) and they are rich. She does not dress too simply, nor does she dress too fancy. She is neither overdressed, nor underdressed. She is a classy lady.
Do I dress as a woman of my station, a Christian, a daughter of the King? Does my dress reflect modesty?
While we are not all able to afford expensive clothing, we are all able to dress in a way that is glorifying to our Lord. We should not dress to call attention to ourselves, but neither should we dress so that we look dirty or unkept. We should wear clothing that flatters us as women, but show that we are true Proverbs 31 ladies.
Be a Competent Worker
23 Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.
- This woman is a benefit to her husband. She advances his position in the community. He can relax and do his job because she is taking care of all the domestic concerns.
- The phrases in this verse “known in the gates” and “sits among the elders of the land” refers to the Old Testament practice of having legal disputes and transactions settled by the elders of the town. We find an example of this in Ruth 4:1-12 when Boaz takes Ruth before the elders to confirm that he will be her redeemer as her closet relative.
Am I a blessing to my husband? Can he relax when he’s at work, knowing that I have things under control at the home? Does the way I conduct myself in public allow people to speak well of him in the community? Do I speak poorly of my husband to others therefore limiting his effectiveness with them?
The influence of a woman on her husband, her children, her friends, her acquaintances, the church, and the community cannot be over emphasized. We are always ambassadors of God and our spouse. We must make very sure that we are handling that role with competence and gentleness.
I don’t know anyone who has mastered this list, but this is what we strive for as Christian women. We want to be a worker in our homes, in the church, and in our towns that is characterized by all of these things: strong, industrious, humble, compassionate, prepared, modest, and competent. May the Lord bless us and help us to be a Proverbs 31 Worker.
By Chelli Guthrie
Chelli and her husband, Luke, work with the Abell St. church of Christ in Wharton, Texas, where Luke is the pulpit minister. Chelli teaches the Jr. High class on Sunday mornings and leads the Children’s Bible Hour program on Sunday nights. She is a full-time mom who homeschools their three children: Grace (9), Sophia (5), and Levi (3). Her blog is ThePlantedTrees.com
Hunt, Donald. Pondering the Proverbs. Joplin: College Pres, 1974.
Spence, H. D. M. and Exell, Joseph S. The Pulpit Commentary: Proverbs. New York: Funk and Wagnalls, ND.
Strong, James. The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1984.
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