Proverbs 31: Week 16 | The Wolfe Notes

Welcome to week sixteen of our Proverbs 31 journey! This week we dug into the meaning of Proverbs 31:19 which talks about spindles, hands, and distaff. If you'd like to return to one of our previous stops, let our "Wolfe Notes" guide you. 

  • In January we examined our value with the help of Proverbs 31 verses 10 and 29.
  • In February we learned what uplifting means by looking at Proverbs 31:11 and 23.
  • In March, we considered the virtue of respect by studying Proverbs 31:12 and 28.
  • In April, we are training to be hardworking with Proverbs 31:13 and 19 as our instructors.
If you're ready to travel with us, welcome! Grab your April calendar with daily activities, the lamp for your feet (the Bible), and let's get going! We're journeying through the concluding poem of Proverbs and we're so glad you decided to walk along this road with us! Imagine that as we walk, we're talking about the daily activities. Our side of the discussion is outlined below. What would you add? How would you challenge us? (Ideas that are our thoughts alone are designated with an *.)

A table strewn with fiber art supplies with Proverbs 31:19 quoted in text overlay.

Contents:
*Literal Meaning Interpreting the meaning of Proverbs 31:19 at face value.
What is Weird? Researching something odd about the verse.
About Hand From various sources.
About Hold From various sources.
Other Versions of Proverbs 31:19 and writing our own.
Commentaries of Proverbs 31:19.
*As Christ's Bride what Proverbs 31:19 means for us as the church.

*Literal Meaning

Interpreting the meaning of Proverbs 31:19 at face value.

A woman personally operates tools of labor.

What is Weird?

Researching something odd about the verse.

Is there a connection to Sleeping Beauty through spindles? Might spindles signify danger and distaff provision?

What does a spinning wheel symbolize? (Notes from "Sleeping Beauty: Symbols" at Spark Notes
  • "Spinning a spell" which means curse (*Genesis 3:17 cursed to labor with struggle.)
  • The pricked finger represents maturity or awakening (*Genesis 3:7 awakened us. We realized our nakedness - shame - and worked to cover ourselves - made clothing.)
  • Dipping her foot in water symbolized a mature knowledge of the world.
  • An unstoppable revolution of years or contemplation of time is symbolized by the spinning wheel. (*So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. Psalm 90:12)
  • Creation is represented by the spinning wheel because through its work, yarn or string will eventually be woven into cloth. (*The scarlet thread through the Bible - which we'll be looking into in May when we study Proverbs 31:21.)
Is there symbolism to distaff? (Merriam WebsterGhorbany and Blue Letter Bible)
  • Women's work, domestic life 
  • The female side of a family; mother's line of descent
  • Fertility; midwifery
  • Virtues of women
  • Fates and weaving thereof
  • Hebrew saying: "There is no wisdom in a woman but in the distaff." 
    • A woman's great praise is her industriousness.
    • Or to mind her own affairs (Gill's Commentary on Proverbs 31:13)
*Conclusions:
  • Both are commonly and anciently associated with women.
  • If a spindle does represent a spell/curse, time passing, awakening, and creation - we can rest assured God's right hand of righteousness is on all of it.
  • If distaff symbolize women, fruitfulness, productivity, or desires, we can consider distaff from two different perspectives:
    • The distaff, women, help continuously. As in "Behold God is my helper; The Lord is with them that uphold my soul." (Psalm 54:4) Because God's hands hold the distaff, we are helped by his hands to hold back 
    • worldly desires and lusts in propagation, possession, and power, that our left (symbolic of foolishness & judgment) hand seeks to cling to. 
  • The right hand calms chaos; the left hand holds back destruction. God, my helper, the distaff sits to the left of Jesus.

About Hand

From various sources.

Hebrew (from Bible Hub)
  • yad: hand
  • By frequency: hand, hands, power
Definition (from Merriam-Webster)
  • the terminal part of the vertebrate forelimb when modified as a grasping organ
  • control or supervision, especially when plural (*plural in both instances)
  • skill, ability
  • a pledge, especially of betrothal (*We are pledged to Him.)
  • worker, employee (*us to God -He activates us.)
  • with the hand, rather than by machine (*care, intimacy)
"What is the Significance of God's Hands in the Bible?" by Candice Lucey at Christianity.com
  • "God's hands" is an example of anthropomorphism - given human qualities to better understand something not human
  • Three major ways we see God's hands symbolized through scripture. To represent His: permanence, presence, and power.
  • The Permanence of God's Plans: Isaiah 49:16 MEV: See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before me.
    • This is the "Divine Memorial" (Spurgeon), which through it God says "I shall not forget you. I constantly recollect you. Your name, your business, and your circumstances are at my fingertips."
    • He is "constantly looking at the blueprint of the maze that is your life...to direct you back." (Wolfe Stew)
  • God's Presence with Christ
    • Marks on hands bridge the Old Testament with the New (engravings to crucifixion marks)
      • Jesus sees these marks eternally
      • Spurgeon: "it is on himself he bears the memory - the permanent memory of all whom He has bought with blood."
    • Christ is seated at God's right hand. (Colossians 3:1 which alludes to Isaiah 41:10)
      • Colossians 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. *Which alludes to:
      • Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. *Which is reminiscent of:
      • Psalm 54:4: Behold God is my helper; The Lord is with them that uphold my soul.
    • At creation: Isaiah 48:13 Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together.
    • Foreshadowing His coming: Psalm 16:11 You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
  • God's Hand of Power
    • Psalm 110:1 The Lord said to my lord, "Sit at My right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool."
    • I Peter 3:22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.
    • Exodus 15:6 Your right hand, Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand, Lord, shattered the enemy.
  • Jesus Hands
    • Submitting His Hands on the Cross
      • Allowed soldiers to drive nails in 
      • Defeated enemies through submission
      • Romans 8:7 ISV: That is why the mind that focuses on human nature is hostile toward God. It refuses to submit to the authority of God's Law because it is powerless to do so.
    • Holding Him by the Hand
      • Extended to us in peace
      • Trustworthy, powerful, merciful, submissive
      • All will see His hands: Revelation 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
  • *Connections: Hands over chaos (the spindle). Jesus' work was creating work, but also saving work.
Scripture (from Open Bible)
  • Psalm 90:17 NKJV: And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands.
  • Matthew 5:30 MEV: And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body be thrown into hell.
  • Isaiah 49:16 KJV: Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.
  • Isaiah 42:6 KJV: I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the gentiles.
  • I Kings 18:46 MEV:  And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins and ran ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.
  • Luke 23:46 JUB: Then Jesus cried out with a loud voice and said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit; and having said thus, he gave up the spirit.
  • Mark 16:18 TLB: They will be able even to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won't hurt them; and they will be able to place their hands on the sick and heal them.
*Conclusions: Hands are about power, making a choice, building a habit, and trusting with intimacy. His hands provide power, permanence, and presence. Our hands, as modeled by Jesus, are open in submission, surrender, and servility.

About Hold

From various sources.

Hebrew (from Bible Hub)
  • Tamak: grasp, support, attain
  • By frequency: uphold, holds, support, take hold
  • In Proverbs 31:19: grasp, lay hold of, with accusative of thing (Also used this way in Genesis 48:17 KJV: And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father's hand to remove it from Ephraim's head unto Manasseh's head.) *So, distaff would not be a good thing. Distaff is likely worldly desires. 
Definition (from Merriam-Webster)
  • to have possession or ownership of / at one's disposal
  • to keep under restraint*
  • to make liable or accountable or bound to an obligation
  • to have or maintain in the grasp
  • to prevent from leaving / getting away
  • to have in store
  • to cover with one or both hands (cover with clothes; to cover our nakedness, shame, sin)
"God Will Hold You Through Your Habits" by David Mathis at Desiring God\
  • God Keeps Us
    • I Thessalonians 5:23-24 NIV: May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
    • Jude 24 KJV: Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy
  • Habits free our focus by keeping us in a position to receive God's grace (time with God, prayer, fellowship)
  • Habits protect what's important
    • They keep us from having to make the "right" decision because we already know what it is.
    • Good habits protect what's important.
    • They keep us on the track of perseverance even when we don't feel like persevering (being HARDWORKING).
    • *Laying and holding would be habits, what our hands are used to doing. Where do you lay your hands continuously? What are your hands holding on to?
  • Habits are unique
  • Habits are driven by desire
    • An earthly gift that keeps us eager for heaven and holds our mouths open for tastes of heaven
    • Our ultimate goal is "possessing Him," knowing and enjoying Him
    • Hosea 6:3 MEV: Let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His appearance is as sure as the dawn. He will come to us like the rain; like the spirng rains he will water the earth.
    • The greatest thing in all my life is knowing you.
* Conclusions: Being hardworking requires building habits and what habits you form reflect your soul. Her (Wisdom's) habits are laying her hands over chaos and holding back destruction from sin. Are you trusting her to do her work? My habits are laying my hands in Jesus' and holding on to His promises.
 
Scripture (from Daily Verses)
  • Revelation 3:11 ERV: "I am coming soon. Hold on to the faith you have, so that no one can take away your crown.
  • I Thessalonians 5:21-22 GW: Instead, test everything. Hold on to what is good. Keep away from every kind of evil.
  • Isaiah 41:13 KJV: For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.
  • I Timothy 6:12 ERV: We have to fight to keep our faith. Try as hard as you can to win that fight. Take hold of eternal life. It is the life you were chosen to have when you confessed your faith in Jesus - that wonderful truth that you spoke so openly and that so many people heard. 
  • Deuteronomy 13:4 KJV: Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
*Conclusion: Our distaff, what we're feeding into our "spindle of life", should be faith in what is good because He's holding on to us as we hold on to Him for eternity.

Other Versions

Of Proverbs 31:19 and writing our own.
  • KJV: She layeth her hands to the spindle and her hands hold the distaff.
  • CEV: She spins her own cloth.
  • DRA: She hath put out her hand to strong things, and her fingers have taken hold of the spindle.
  • ERV: She makes her own thread and weaves her own cloth.
  • TLB: She sews for the poor and generously helps those in need.
  • NLT: Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber.
  • VOICE: Her hands skillfully place the unspun flax and wool on the distaff, and her fingers twist the spindle until thread forms.
  • Wolfe Stew Versions:
    • She=Wisdom: Wisdom calms chaos and holds back destruction.
    • She=Earthly wife: A godly wife calms chaos in the home and holds back destruction from its residents.
    • Practically: Do the work. Put in the effort. Face challenges head on.
    • Personally: Hold on to good to calm chaos.
    • Relationally: Seek ways to calm the waters and hold back destruction in your relationships. Don't expect the other to do it; take it upon yourself.
    • Spiritually: Trust God to calm the chaos and hold back destruction. Make it a habit.
    • Intellectually: Consider if the action or decision under consideration will bring chaos or destruction. If it will, then hold it back; subdue it.
*Conclusion: This is a verse of power. To use it skillfully, we must practice it habitually.

Commentaries

Of Proverbs 31:19 from Bible Hub.
  • Benson: By her own example she provokes servants to labor.
  • Keil & Delitzsch: Hands denote skillful work. This verse resembles a description of the Fates written by Catullus. 
  • Gill: Her web is not like the spiders - out of its own bowels (inward parts; affections) - which do not create covering garments (Job 8:14 NIV: What they trust in is fragile; what they rely on is a spider's web.) "...but the church's web is both for ornament, the adorning of her profession, and for defence and protection from the calumnies of the world; for by these are meant good works."
*Connection: Hebrews 10:24 NLT: Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.

As Christ's Bride

 What Proverbs 31:19 means for us as the church.

We, the Church, will:
  • Respect Jesus by making it a habit to hold back worldly desires and work to calm chaos.
  • Submit to His desire to find peace and provision solely in Him.
Because Jesus:
  • Loves us by using His power to hold back destruction and lays His hands over chaos.
  • Leads us to His provision and peace.

Final Thoughts

This verse is about His power and our submission. What I thought would be a verse about our works, I've learned is a verse about His. We know peace when we submit to His power. Picturing God holding desire in one hand and controlling chaos with the other puts me at ease. I can surrender my problems to Him. I trust the Master's hands. 

Keep weaving Lord, cover us in your righteousness.


Growing with You,

Ready for week seventeen?

Interested in more faith-related blogs? Then you're looking for Faith Food. At Faith Food, you'll find links to all our faith-related blogs and a short description of each.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Proverbs 31: Week 14 | The Wolfe Notes

Proverbs 31: Week 27 | The Wolfe Notes

Proverbs 31: Week 30 | The Wolfe Notes