A devotion on Proverbs 31:15-31
The KJV renders this woman as a ‘virtuous woman,’ not a ‘capable wife’ as most other translations do. Let’s name her Isha, the Hebrew word for woman. Henry Drummond said, “As you have seen a man of science take a beam of light and pass it through a crystal prism, as you have seen it come out on the other side of the prism broken up into its component colours—red, and blue, and yellow, and violet, and orange, and all the colours of the rainbow—so Paul passes this thing, Love, through the magnificent prism of his inspired intellect, and it comes out on the other side broken up into its elements.”
Let’s borrow Paul’s crystal prism, pass Isha through it, and observe her elements. Note that the bulk of the resulting elements are action words. I will underline those for emphasis.
10 Who can find a virtuous woman? She is far more precious than jewels.
The word ‘virtuous’ is (druuum rrrrroll!) – chayil. That is the third time in as many days that this chayil has come up. It means strength, might, efficiency, ability, force, wealth. Is that not fantastic? That is what you are called to be, Isha!
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will not lack anything good.
12 She does him good and not evil, all the days of her life.
Do you do good to your husband or to those around you? Are you a reward to them? Where have you been a pain and a detriment? This is a sensitive area where we could easily say, “I’ve been nothing but good to that man.” In humility, sit a moment on Dr. Holy Spirit’s examining table so he can shine a light (Zahar) on your heart (Purposes, Affections, Passions, Desires, Attitudes, Thoughts, and Emotions) and expose malignant areas, no matter how small, that need your immediate attention.
13 She selects wool and flax and works with willing hands.
We will note a plethora of action words that refer to Isha’s intellect or thoughts. The first is ‘select’ or ‘seek.’ The Hebrew darash means to enquire or require/demand with care. It means to practice, to study, to pursue diligently. And if she does this for wool or flax how meticulous is she in other areas? This is the raw material of her trade and she is not slipshod about it. If you want a good thing at the end, start with a keen/selective/discriminating eye for a good product at the beginning.
I’m not saying choose the most expensive thing. I’m saying choose the best that you can afford and make it even better. I love hearing stories of people who grew up poor and didn’t know they were poor because they had a mother who spun gold out of straw, who made delectable meals out of weevil infested beans and a lump of gristly fat.
Isha works willingly with her hands. The word asah for ‘work’ means to fashion or make; to accomplish; to produce or prepare; to govern, serve, perform. What a job description! She has busy hands and a busy mind but is no busybody. No work is beneath her. Diligence is her hallmark.
I sense Dr. Holy Spirit highlighting the attitude with which we work. He uses the word ‘willingly.’ Chephets means with delight and pleasure. Isha does not grumble and complain about what has to be done no matter how often or how mundane. She does the laundry and sweeps the floor for the fourth time in a day with delight and pleasure. She deals with difficult customers and wipes dirty little faces with delight and pleasure. She gives personal care or does therapy on the elderly with delight and pleasure. What do you have to do today? Do it with delight and pleasure.
14 She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from far away.
Isha doesn’t pick the lowest fruit, the easiest pickings. She seeks the best sources of what she needs and does what needs to be done to procure it. One never knows what treasures they will find in her baskets as she unpacks them on the kitchen counter. Furthermore, she is selective. If you have to pack things onto a ship for transport, you learn to choose the best of the best that you can afford. You don’t transport what’s easily found around you. You transport what’s exotic and special. You don’t transport what will die in your climate. You practice good judgement in forethought about what will thrive in your environment.
15 She rises while it is still night and provides food for her household and portions for her female servants.
While most are still in the horizontal position, Isha yawns and stretches quietly and takes on the day. “But I’m not a morning person,” you might say. Well, I’ll tell you a personal story. I’m not a morning person. In fact, my DNA results said that my ideal wake-up time is 7.58 a.m. Can someone say Amen! That was until March of this year when Dr. Holy Spirit performed a procedure I do not understand while we were in the operating room of Psalm 5. “Oh Lord in the morning, will I direct my voice unto you and will look up.” From the following day and since, he rouses me at 4 or 5 a.m to prepare the food of Zahar. My husband chuckles in disbelief every single time. It’s not me. I love sleep more than I love food – and I love food a lot. Friends, he can help you rise while it is still night to do what he has planned for you to do. And he will be your rest that you need.
16 She evaluates a field and buys it; she plants a vineyard with her earnings.
The word for evaluate or consider is zamam. Isn’t that a fun word, zamam? It means to have a thought, to devise a plan. Isha, you have the mind of Christ. That means you think the thoughts of Christ. You are alert to the things Christ is alert to. You plan the plans of Christ. You desire and are motivated by the things Christ desires and is motivated by. You problem solve the way Christ problem solves. As you surrender to Dr. Holy Spirit, you gain a holy imagination and your very ideas increasingly become Christ’s ideas. Ensure that every cognitive concept of yours aligns with Christ’s.
That thought makes me want to stand and shout for joy!
I did not say run with every idea you get. If I did that in my own life, I’d be running in a thousand different directions and not accomplishing much because I have six hundred fabulous ideas a day. Revisit the section on prudence to help you in decision-making. (https://tribalminded.com/2021/08/27/the-key-to-your-chayil/.)
Note that Isha buys a field with the fruit of her hands. Women, we are not to be in debt. Living in debt is not living the abundant life God has for you. If this an area of struggle for you, I’d love to pray and/or walk with you towards deliverance in this sensitive area. Scripture says the borrower is slave to the lender, Pr. 22:7. You are not to be a slave to anyone but your God.
If you can’t afford something, don’t get it. In the cultures represented in our group, a home is such a large expense that I can make an exception for being in debt for a home loan. Even within that, get the reasonable home, not the most expensive that you are approved for. Gain an aversion for debt and don’t think of it as normal. It can be one of our worthless ways of thinking passed down to us from our ancestors but that does not make it right. Determine to save for things you want or need instead of getting loans for them. Managing your finances is a spiritual matter. Ask God to help you.
17 She draws on her strength and reveals that her arms are strong.
KJV renders this verse, “She girdeth her loins with strength and strengtheneth her arms.” What a great verse! To gird is to strengthen, to buttress, to fortifiy; it is to ready; to encircle or surround. Visualize putting on a belt or armor. So start by putting on the whole armor of God and stand your ground as outlined in Ephesians 6: be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power; realize that your battle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, the authorities, the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms; wear truth, righteousness, the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasion, with all kinds of prayers and requests.
‘Loins’ refers to the waist, hip, or the small of the back. It has a connotation of being slender. It may refer to a fleet animal like a greyhound, readied for action. Other references are to press down and out; or to squeeze or crush so as to tighten and close up. This sounds like a work-out. Spiritually we are to strain, to reach deep down inside when we are weak and weary and find supernatural strength to keep going.
We know that women are strong. They are made of tough stuff. We do hard things. Whatever is before you, you can handle it with Christ. You can do what he calls you to – and when it gets hard, you hunker down and keep at it. We must train our girls and sons in the same way. Enough pampering and coddling and catering to our children. These are not times for that. There never were times for that. We are soldiers of the cross. We are in battle. We are to trim off all the fat that hinders us from our calling – laziness, indulgence, lack of awareness, etc. Press those down and out.
You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Phil. 3:12 -14
This devotion is turning into a book. I’ll stop here. If interested in the balance of this chapter with its fantastic word pictures, let me know and I’ll share on the rest of the passage. Blessings and Chayil to you, beloved Isha!