6. Wife’s Attitude
Proverbs 31:12 (NIV) “She brings him good not harm, all the days of her life.” The trust (full confidence) of her husband has placed in her (Proverbs 31:11) is, at first, a gift and then, a reward, because, time and again, she provides “good” for him. This “good” is not only relational but is viewed in terms of what she accomplishes for her husband:
- Despite her far-flung entrepreneurial ways, her focus is upon her home, family, and her husband. She spends her life accomplishing, that is doing and succeeding in doing, what is good for him. She is first “Keeper of the Home” (Proverbs 31:27a) and only secondarily a career woman.
- She does not abuse her husband’s trust (Proverbs 31:11). She responds to his trust positively. Her concern is not with her own self; how best she can fulfil her own needs or satisfy her own desires. Her role and responsibility are that of doing him good and not evil, living in submission, not passively but actively seeking to fulfil his desires and to meet his needs for good.
- “All the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:12b) implies that she does well to her husband consistently, constantly and faithfully. It is not dependent on her emotional state or on her husband’s. It requires her to have a heart attitude of love and understanding in order for her to be able to “do him good……all the days of her life.” Without that proper heart attitude, she will not be able to sustain her effort.
- Her right heart attitude allows her to derive from it the strength and consistency to accomplish that which is good for her husband. This requires her to be a woman of perception, anticipation, thought, initiatives, and wisdom.
7. Her Attitude & Deeds
What is considered “good,” follows in the next few verses (Proverbs 31:13-27) – are descriptions of the good that this virtuous wife does for her husband:
Proverbs 31:13 (NIV) “She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.” The Jews used sheep’s wool as the chief material for making clothes for winter. Flax, which is harvested in March and April, is used to make linen cloth and rope:
- This virtuous wife is on the lookout for these raw materials not that they are difficult to find but that she looks out for the quality and best buy because the word “seek” (KJV) does not denote the outward action of seeking but the seeking that comes from a purposeful mind focused on the intention of find the best quality at the best price. This is an indication of her diligence and her desire to do a good job. She is not a miser, neither is she careless with her money.
- Then she works on the wool and flax with her hands willingly – “with delight and pleasure” (literal translation). Her work to her is a delight or pleasure, not done grudgingly or considered a chore. Such a work attitude is a good indicator of results of high quality.
- Proverbs 31:13 paints the picture of a wife who is frugal (thrifty), industrious and happy with what she is doing. She is not careless with her money and she is not afraid of hard work, going about her home cheerfully and happily, not grudgingly or in a complaining manner.
- Much of the material of wool and flax will be used to clothe her family (Proverbs 31:21), but some of the materials will be personal use (Proverbs 31:22b), and still others will be sold for a profit (Proverbs 31:24). She is industrious, conscientious, and unselfish in her labours of love.
- Charles Bridges (“Proverbs,” 623) points out that working with one’s hands “in olden times was the employment of females in the highest ranks.” He cites the cases of Sarah (Genesis 18:6-8), Rebekah (Genesis 24:18-20), Rachel (Genesis 29:9-10), and the daughters of the Prince of Midian (Exodus 2:16), and the daughter of a King (2Samuel 13:5-9). The point, however, is not the station of the woman or the association of the work involved, but rather the point to be learned is the character traits that are being shown: “the good traits of cheerful industriousness and of thrift.”
Proverbs 31:14 (NIV) “She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.” A merchant’s ship has the capacity to go to a faraway land in order to bring back produce that are cheaper or that are not available in the home country. The virtuous woman is likened to a merchant’s ship in that she goes out of her way, beyond her immediate neighbourhood, to look for items that are “value for money” that her household needs.
This reinforces the teaching of her as a frugal (thrifty) and hardworking woman who cares so much for her household that she is willing to take the trouble to do more than expected in order to satisfy the needs of her household. In addition, it shows that she is a woman full of initiatives, courage, and enterprise.
c. Good House Manager
Proverbs 31:15 (NIV) “She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.” Not only does the excellent woman carefully, and broadly, shop for her household (Proverbs 31:14), but she takes charge personally of the meal preparation. She gets up early in order to prepare breakfasts as well as food for the rest of the day for her household and her servant girls.
- It seems odd, in modern day context and to some that a woman wealthy enough to afford household servants is up early, preparing food. However, she views having servants not as license for personal ease, but as a gift demanding personal responsibility. We all would do well to learn from her!
- She is seen as a self-sacrificing attitude. She puts the needs of her household and servants above her own need of sleep and rest. She ensures that her family and servants start the day right.
- She has a heart not only for her family but also for her servants – “Portions for her servant girls” (Proverbs 31:15b). The term “portions” are used in two ways:
- As “portions” of food, the virtuous woman does not mistreat her servants because she gives her servants equal amount of food as to her family. This is an indication of a heart that is just, full of love and care for the people around her regardless of whether they are her family or servants.
- As “portions” of work, she rises up early to plan her servants’ work for the day. She is an organised and meticulous woman.
- The virtuous woman is not the person to be tardy just because she has servants. She has a strong work ethic and ensures that she can do even more as a result of having household help (servants).
- She is a woman of propriety as the mention, “servant girls” (NIV), “maidens” (KJV). During the Old Testament period, male servants are handled by the husband and female servants by the wife. There is a clear separation. However, in our day, this separation does not exist as a female boss could have responsibility and oversight over both male and female employees.
- Proverbs 31:15 show that it is not wrong to employ household servants when the person has the means to do so. The virtuous woman has certain housework delegated to servants; however, she does not abdicate all her responsibilities. Instead, she uses the servants to allow herself to better fulfil her responsibilities as a wife and mother.
Proverbs 31:16 (NIV) “She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.” The virtuous woman manages the household finance and investments – buys a piece of land (investment) and there is no mention of her reselling it, indicates that her purchase is for the family’s use:
- Her purchase is not done at the spur of the moment – “considers” before purchase, with much though (discern, plan and strategy) into the matter before purchase. She weighs out not only the wisdom of investing in land, generally, but she also evaluates the worth of the particular field which she is considering. In the end, she is convinced of this financial venture and buys it. This attitude is consistent with Proverbs 31:14 & 15 in that she is frugal (thrifty) and careful with her money. She is not a compulsive and impulsive woman.
- That this kind of liberty with household finance was not the norm for women of the Ancient Near East only underscores that “the heart of her husband trusts (full confidence) in her” (Proverbs 31:11a). He trusted her enough to let her handle the finance and investments, letting her decide on the purchase of this large expensive item. She must have consistently made good judgements and could be relied upon, her husband safely trusted in her (= full confidence – Verse 11).
- She then decisively turns the land into a vineyard. She plants a vineyard with “the fruit of her hands” – she had laboured and obtained some profit and put it to good use (investment) by purchasing vines and planting them on the land she had purchased. Both the land and the vineyard become an asset to the family.
- In addition to her sound judgement and decisiveness, her work on the vineyard shows that she is hardworking and willing to work with her hands that her household may benefit from her labour.
Stay Tuned….. To be continued