I have loved this week – this verse kind of feels like it fits me, and more than any of the others, than it is describing part of my character. I haven’t had that tugging feeling of condemnation that I have felt when I initially read some of the other verses about this amazing fictitious wife! So what was this weeks verse:
“In her hands she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy” Proverbs 31:19-20
What on earth is a distaff?!
So my first reaction this week was that I didn’t have a clue about the items it was discussing in the first part of the verse. I knew I would have to do a bit of research to figure out what they were and why they were significant. Apparently a distaff was used in the spinning process to keep the unspun fibres together and untangled, hence making the process much easier.
I like that this woman is organised, she has the right tools for the job and does it efficiently. Earlier in the passage we read about how she selected the flax, and here she is spinning that flax to make thread that she can use. She is productive and doing the jobs that are needed to keep her family clothed and warm.
In the message version it uses the phrase “She is skilled in the crafts of the home and hearth, diligent in homemaking”. I think this puts it more in a way we understand now – she is homemaking. This woman that Bathsheba is recommending Solomon looks for is a homemaker. Someone who will make sure that the home is ready whilst the husband was working, plying their trade or out fighting for their nation.
Nowadays we don’t have to spin our own thread, we don’t have to sew our own clothes or curtains or bedspreads, we don’t have to make our own bread or many of these traditional crafts, but when this was written they were the things that made the home comfortable, liveable and enjoyable. Some of them even meant protection and survival, as without a warm blanket the family wouldn’t survive a cold winter.
Now we are still homemakers, in that we seek out the products we need to make our homes warm, comfortable and enjoyable too. We might not sew them ourselves, but we still provide them and make sure our families have them. Perhaps we could spend some more time doing these things the traditional way too, as one Facebook Group Member mentioned “the mental wellbeing side of taking time to create something beautiful and/or useful is seen as worthwhile”.
Charitable as well
The second part of this verse is all about this woman’s heart to help others. After asking the Mummy Meditations Community what charitable things they got up to, I am pretty sure most of us share this heart already! But I just wanted to highlight two things that God revealed to me about this:
- She is reactive in her help. The first way it describes her charitable nature is that she is “quick to assist anyone in need”. This is a reactive help – she sees someone without something and she steps in to help. We should be like this too, looking out for opportunities to help and being quick to react. In practice this might mean that we are willing to share a spare room when needed, give a donation to a disaster that has just happened, or keep aside a kitty to buy things for those who are struggling.
- She plans to help. As well as reacting and helping when things come up, this woman also plans in how she can help and “reaches out to help the poor”. This means that she recognises there will always be those who are poor, and so she is actively planning to help them. This is a long term, planned approach, and means that she can provide support to a particular group and make a difference. In practice for us this means that we could plan monthly donations to charities that help the poor (perhaps sponsor a child, donate food items to a food bank regularly or donate to a charity like Christians Against Poverty). This isn’t reactive, but saying that we will stand with the poor whoever they might be.
I love that it is important to Bathsheba that she advise her son to look for a woman with a caring heart, not one who is just power crazy and wants to be a queen, but a woman who will use that role wisely and to look after others, both actively and reactively as needed. We may not all be queens, but we have all been given time, money and other resources with which we can care and look after others with. Lets be woman that actively and reactively care for those in need.
We are almost half way (can you believe it!) through the Proverbs 31 series and I hope you are all enjoying it. Next week we will be meditating on this verse:
“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.” Proverbs 31:21-22
Naomi will be leading the discussion over on our Facebook Group so please do join in the conversation! The new bookmarks for weeks 9-12 will be out soon to download in the etsy shop soon too, so keep your eyes peeled for those!