As a young person, did you (like so many young girls) dream about the man you would marry? My best friend and I sure did! And he would, of course, be dashing and debonair, romantic and good-looking. Why, he would all but nobly rush in on a prancing charger!
But he would also be rich. And we dreamed of huge, luxurious mansions. Of jet-setting around the world. Or graciously presiding over formal dinners, our every need catered to by many servants.
In our fantasy world, a woman with servants didn’t work, because she didn’t have to. And no one in their right mind would work, unless they needed to!
Then what’s wrong with this Proverbs woman? Even with servants she worked hard!
She still got up early and stayed up late. And was always hard at work. Didn’t anyone ever tell her that’s what servants are for?
She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens, (Proverbs 31:15).
But as we age, and hopefully grow in wisdom, we learn that work is good. It brings a certain satisfaction that nothing else can give. That good feeling of a job well done, making moments of leisure all the more appreciated and enjoyed. Things like freshly weeded garden beds or home-cooked meals. Things which I would truly miss doing. It’s the mopping and ironing, that I wouldn’t mind handing over to a maid! (If only!)
But it’s possible, like this virtuous woman, to manage everything — even without servants.
She bought fields to meet for her family’s needs.
Few of us probably buy fields. But then we don’t need to! Supermarkets had not yet been invented, so they had to grow their food. Which took ever more land as the family grew. So surely she presented that hard-earned field to her husband with great delight. Just as we do with bargains!
But she didn’t stop with simply providing the bare necessities. She planted vineyards too!
She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard, (Proverbs 31:16).
The planting of vineyards was important in Jewish culture. They provided drink, medicine, and sacrifices for God. But wine was also an important product for barter. So planting a vineyard was a means of raising her family’s standard of living. Sort of like us, if we take a part-time job, or open a home business.
Or when we put money in the bank, like the woman F.B. Meyer speaks of in his Bible Commentary.
When a friend of mine was sixty, his wife came to him with an annuity which she had purchased for them both, by her wise administration of the money entrusted to her through forty years of married life. (F.B. Meyer’s Through the Bible Commentary; in the Public Domain.)
The virtuous woman worked and worked, yet never tired!
She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night, (Proverbs 31:17-18).
Maybe like me, you can’t put in such long days without physical exhaustion. Yet work seems to pile up on work! Especially as our family grows. Or as in my case, aging brings arthritic knees! So not having servants like the Proverbs woman, what to do?
Plan strategically! It won’t make work go away, but it can make it more manageable.
Even with servants, even the virtuous woman needed organization. So she arose early in the day to plan and organize. I can picture her now. Sipping her grape juice in the courtyard, mentally ticking off the day’s work. “I’ll have Rebecca make the cheese, and Sarah do the laundry, while I start lunch. Then in the afternoon…”
Perhaps she was actually rich enough to do no work. But had learned the valuable lesson that work is good. So she made sure that everything got done well. And found satisfaction in doing it to the best of her ability. Planning, organizing, and doing.
My own strategy is simplifying!
I’ve whittled possessions down to what we truly use, with enough special things to make our home cozy and welcoming. Which has drastically cut my cleaning time!
And cut my spending as well. Because after decluttering, I’m not about to replace all that stuff. Stuff that would only create more work. And shopping which would not help us toward paying off our mortgage!
And for the single woman:
I can’t know your circumstances. Whether you’re hoping for a husband, have lost a husband, or are just happy being single. But the wisdom in this chapter is for everyone. Whatever your status, how you live now can make a big difference to your future.
Wise planning and spending, goes a long way toward creating a life of peace and satisfaction. It could even make it possible to start marriage with the down payment for a home. Or to enter old age mortgage free.
So if you’re having a hard time keeping up, perhaps you need some strategy. Try the virtuous woman’s way, and take time to plan changes to your home and lifestyle.
The virtuous woman managed everything well. And I have a hunch she would have done so even without servants.
Because she understood the value of work, a job well done, and strategic planning!