Life Lessons: A Proverbs 31 Woman: An Engaged Woman
“She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.”
(Proverbs 31: 20-24)
“She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.”
This Proverbs 31 woman not only takes care of the required obligations of her household but she also has compassion on the less fortunate. With all she seems to have going on it’s hard to imagine how she found time to be about service but it is obvious that her reputation for being kind-hearted is known. Maybe you are amazed that this woman found the time to reach out or maybe it makes you think of a wonderful lady you know who always seems to make the time for others in spite of her own obligations. I don’t know a living person that doesn’t think they are busy beyond belief but that shouldn’t be the reason to ignore the need around us. These needs manifest themselves in a variety of situations. If I’m honest sometimes the easiest “need” to help is something financial. I can write a check or make a donation and then go about my life feeling that I’ve done my part. However, I find that often with those around me money isn’t the answer. Instead they need YOU and ME. They need a basketball coach for the children’s league or a chaperone for the next youth lock-in. They need a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen. They need someone to set up for the Singles event or they need you to be in charge of security on Sunday mornings.
Sometimes these tasks seem not so urgent and are easy to push aside when you have a million other things going on in your life but they are needs or someone wouldn’t be asking for help. Who knows? Maybe the Lord has given you just the skill set necessary for this moment. I was somewhat grumbling to myself the other day that I had somehow managed to make myself the head of no less than four “social committees” and while I love setting up events they always seem to come at the worst possible times when I have no spare moments. However, I was talking with someone about the next upcoming event when she made the comment of how thankful she was that I was willing to serve in this way because she had no idea where to start with a gathering for 200+ people and it stressed her out because she knew she would forget something. At that very moment I already had the event designs, lists and timeline in a folder in my car. She was at a loss and stressed because that is not where her gifts lie and yet I had trouble viewing it as my place to serve but that’s just not the case. The Lord has given us each unique abilities that allow us to help those who need them. Don’t miss your opportunity to help those in need because it doesn’t look like a mission trip.
“When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.”
As a born and bred southern girl I know only a handful of facts about snow.
It is cold and wet.
It is beautiful for the first day.
Walking with grace and dignity becomes an impossible task when it’s around.
My city shuts down because no one can drive in it.
I become a lone being in the midst of a frozen wasteland who quickly goes from hot cocoa and cookies to survivor rations out of fear for the future.
Now, I did not always prepare for snow as I do now, with trepidation of the unknown, and this is because I lived with my parents. My father, while converted, grew up a Yankee and has some amazing snow maneuvering skills but it is now up to me to deal with the little household of me and two cats because I’m an adult. (Except last winter when I had to call him to bring me medicine...and soup! So maybe I’m a microadult? Adult, jr.?) Regardless, hearing that our lady has no fear for her household tells me that she has prepared for winter. She knows they have food to keep them nourished and clothes to keep them warm. In fact, it says her household is clothed in scarlet and the coverings for her bed are made of fine purple linen. That’s some fancy duds!
Once again, our woman doesn’t just provide cloth she provides fine cloth that is dyed ornate and beautiful colors. In the ancient world you couldn’t just run down to the corner and purchase a bottle of Rit to get yourself a lovely scarlet shade. In fact, these colors were highly prized because they required a lot of work. Purples required grinding down the shells of sea snails to create the royal hue and reds often used similar sea snails or a special variety of beetle, female to be exact. I have no idea how our lady acquired these beautiful pieces of cloth but it is evident that she took great care in clothing those in her charge.
The descriptions provided in verses 21 and 22 invoke images of a warm, cozy and comfortable home not just a house that provides shelter but a place for friends and family. A place where you can come on a cold night and sit by the fire while the storm rages outside. A place of hospitality and love.
“Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.“
By this point in our study you should not be surprised that Miss Priss’ husband is respected at the city gate or that he is apparently in a position of leadership or at least respected enough among the leaders that he can hang out with them. There are several reasons I don’t find this revelation shocking.
First, we know she is a woman of discernment and high standards. If she takes such care and concern selecting a field don’t you think the same would go into her husband and I hear you say, “Wait! This is the ancient world a woman didn’t pick her husband, her family did.” You are correct. I sincerely doubt our lady had the privilege of marrying for love but I tend to think that parents who raised a woman of distinction and good judgement most likely used good judgement and discernment to select her match.
Second, you also see that he was of enough importance to take a seat among the elders or leaders of the city. This is a man in the public eye, therefore it is crucial that she take care to not cause issues or undue stress. In the modern day she might be the wife of a senator or civic leader. Someone who is perhaps under a microscope because of her husband’s position.
Third, and adding to the above, we know that Mr. Man should be respected, at least in some regards, because his wife brings honor and pride to him and his whole household. He doesn’t have to worry that she is out making a fool of herself or embarrassing him. We know she takes on her responsibilities with care and efficiency. We know she is financially astute rather than being a burden on the family income. We see a woman known for her kindness and compassion to others. A woman who can be trusted.
“She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.”
If you have somehow missed it in the last fifteen or so verses, our friend is a talented seamstress and businesswoman. This seems to be her area of expertise because some mention of her weaving or sewing or dyeing or selling is in every other verse. I take that to mean this is a great representation of what she is known for and how she is seen. It’s not like this was the only vocation or trade available to a woman but this is what she apparently excels at. It actually reminds me of my grandmother except she didn’t deal with too many merchants. Like our Proverbs 31 lady, my grandmother was known for her seamstress skills. I personally watched her transform ballgowns and create costumes. Her creativity was astounding and people spoke of her abilities with high praise. She never had to advertise because her customers always did that for her. That’s what I imagine with our friend. Someone with skill and precision who has a reputation for quality.
My Take Away
We are called to show the love of Christ to those around us.
Christ’s love is needed in the practical and everyday of life.
Having a great home is far more important than having a great house.
Your character can reflect and impact those you love.
You should do everything as if working for the Lord (Colossians 3:23), even hemming some pants.