Happy Sunday everyone! And welcome to this week’s summary post. Ok – hands up who read this week’s verse and thought “BOOORRING”? Well that was me on Monday. I didn’t think there was much to learn from this simple verse, but boy was I wrong. I hope you’ll read on to find out more about this verse in Proverbs:
“She makes linen garments and sell them; and supplies the merchants with sashes” Proverbs 31:24
what’s with all the linen???!
Being ten weeks in, immediately I noticed that it wasn’t a coincidence to see the word “linen” again. We saw it pop up in verse 13 where she chooses the flax (the plant that linen comes from) and also in verse 22. In verse 19 when she is spinning thread, that could also be linen that she is spinning. So we get it – the linen is important! But why? Well here are a few things I found out about linen and why it is important that that is what she is making her garments out of:
- Linen is very laborious to make. The thread used to make it does not have elastic properties and so the fibres often broke. This woman is not taking the easy way out, making a quick buck. She is working hard to make something difficult.
- Linen is strong and highly valuable. There were many great properties about linen, including its strength as a fabric and how absorbent it was. It also dried faster than cotton, making it cool and fresh in humid weather. This meant that is was very valuable and used by the wealthier class of society. This woman is not making a sub-par item, but it working to make the best quality garments she can, even if it is hard work.
- Linen represent purity. Its no coincidence that linen is mentioned here in relation to a noble woman and good character – linen cloth was used to represent purity and righteousness. It was what most of the priestly garments were made out of, and there is even a passage in Revelation (15:6) where angels are wearing it! Apparently Egyptian mummies were wrapped in it as a symbol of light and purity too. This woman is concerned with purity too and making something righteous.
So lots of great things to learn about why this woman chooses linen to make garments of to sell on. I guess perhaps we can apply this by asking ourselves “Am I just taking the easy way out and avoiding hard work even if it would be worth it? Am I creating some valuable with my time? Am I creating some righteous and of eternal value with my time?”. What you are creating may differ greatly (most of us don’t make clothes anymore) but think about this in regards to your own life.
The right order
We come to this verse after reading that the proverbs 31 wife has already:
- Looked after her family. She has provided clothes for her husband and children and food for them too. She has a blood responsibility to them and they come first.
- Looked after her servants. She has made sure they are well fed and clothed as well. Those she has a legal/employer responsibility towards she has made sure to look after next.
- Looked after the poor and needy. She has opened her arms to those who can’t look after themselves and made sure they have what they need. They are the next most important to her.
Only after she has done these three things does she look externally to how she can make items for others who aren’t poor and needy and who can afford to pay for them. I think there is a great lesson in this as to where we put our limited resources and energy – make sure you cover your responsibilities first (both blood and employer) and then look at what you can do next. It is great to sell things, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of those who truly need you to look after them.
What about those sashes?
The final thing that jumped out at me was the word “sashes”. Now, when I think of a sash this is what springs to mind:
So this verse seemed a bit excessive and pointless – why did the merchants need pretty sashes?!! But sashes in those times were much more practical. In fact they were much more like a belt that went around their tunics. They would have be woven around the body several times. Priests used them decoratively, but they were also used by the military to suspend their dagger/sword in it and some also used it as a pocket to store purses inside when folded correctly. This was a much more useful item of clothing! So this woman is providing the merchants with something that would have been very helpful for them, stopping their tunics getting in the way of their work and possibly even more. She is thoughtful and caring towards others.
We move on to one of the more famous verses in this passage, so it will be really interesting to see what we already know about this one:
“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come” Proverbs 31:25
I do hope that you’ll join in the discussion around this verse over in our Facebook Community, where there will also be free phone lock screens for your to download and discussion questions to help prompt your meditations!
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