Proverbs 31: Week 19 | The Wolfe Notes

Welcome to week nineteen of our Proverbs 31 journey! This week we attempt to understand what it means to "get food from afar" and how that looks practically and spiritually. 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 trained to be hardworking with Proverbs 31:13 and 19 as our instructors.
  • In May, we are seeing what it takes to be resourceful by examining Proverbs 31:14 and 21. 
If you're ready to travel with us, welcome! Grab your May 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 *.)

Two merchant ships travel a troubled ocean. Text overlay reads: Lord, as I seek nourishment in troubled waters, keep me safe within your hull.

Other Versions of Proverbs 31:14 and writing our own.
Commentaries Considering the viewpoint of authorities on scripture.
*As Christ's Bride we consider how to be resourceful.
*Look at Roles and apply Proverbs 31:14 to each.
*Godly Wisdom What Proverbs 31:14 teaches us about God, the source of wisdom.
*Application of Proverbs 31:14 in the past, present, and hopes for the future.
Serve a Meal and make connections after researching origins and nutrients.

Other Versions

Of Proverbs 31:14 and writing our own.
  • KJV: She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
  • EXB: She is like a trader's [merchant] ship, bringing food from afar away.
  • TLB: She buys imported foods brought by ship from distant ports.
  • TLV: She is like merchant ships, bringing her sustenance from afar.
  • VOICE: She moves through the market like merchant ships that dock here and there in distant ports, finally arriving home with food she's carried from afar.
  • Wolfe Stew Versions 
    • Personally: Take the time and put in the effort to procure the best nourishment. Think about what you eat, both literally and metaphorically.
    • As a godly wife: Provide the best nourishment for your family. Carefully consider what they eat, literally and metaphorically. Go beyond what's expected to make it happen.
    • Relationally: Do not settle for the easy or popular choice but seek out and act on God's best for the other person.
    • As Wisdom: Wisdom goes places beyond our understanding to provide boatloads of eternal nourishment from heavenly places.
    • Spiritually: Seek manna from heaven - the bread of life. Don't compromise for nourishment of this world that will never satisfy.
    • Intellectually: Do the work to choose the "far off," inconvenient decision or thought that leads to life.

Commentaries (from Bible Hub)

Considering the viewpoint of authorities on scripture.

  • Ellicot: She would travel far to get the best deal - frugality/management (*While I didn't consider this interpretation, saving money would be my primary reason for sacrificing ease.)
  • Poole: Because she sold her own wares, she could afford higher quality food.
  • Gill:
    • Practical commentary: Like an entire navy of ships - she returns laden with rich goods. Likely bread from Egypt. 
    • Spiritual commentary: As the church of Christ, we are ships of burden that trade with heaven offering prayer, worship, and other spiritual exercises as our payment. In return, we receive grace and mercy. Though we undergo difficult and dangerous passages with Christ as our pilot, faith as our sails, and hope as our anchor we ride out each storm and return safely. The food we nourish ourselves with is bread from heaven where God our Father, Jesus our Husband, and our friends the angels reside. Because we carry on correspondence with them, we have food for our family - corn of heaven, angels' food, heavenly manna, the bread of life: the Gospel of the grace of God, the good news from a far country.
  • Cambridge: She created a wise, domestic economy.
  • Pulpit: She reaches beyond her immediate neighborhood to the best markets to find advantageous terms, regardless of distance, so she can make a profit.
  • Practically: She makes purchases that benefit her household regardless of discomfort to herself.
  • Spiritually: She seeks nourishment that comes from her heavenly home and because she keeps Jesus as her pilot, faith in her sails, and hope as her anchor, she weathers every storm.

*As Christ's Bride

We consider how to be resourceful.

  • Submit to His mission by providing:
    • safe harbor (i.e. honesty, a listening ear, a supportive attitude, a welcoming environment, faithfulness)
    • and a variety of nourishment (i.e. food, practical knowledge, wise advice, Biblical truths)
  • Respect Him by taking extraordinary measures to care for His children well.
Because He:
  • Loves us by taking extraordinary measures to care for us.
  • Leads us by consistently guiding us through rough waters and abundantly supplying us with an eternal storehouse of provisions.

*Look at Roles

And apply Proverbs 31:14 to each.

  • Complements her husband by providing:
    • Safe harbor (i.e. honesty, a listening ear, a supportive stance, a calm environment, an appreciative attitude, faithfulness)
    • Well-suited nourishment (i.e. food, practical knowledge, wise advice, Biblical truths)
  • Respects him by taking extraordinary measures to care for his children (literal and metaphorical) well.
Because a Keeper:
  • Loves his wife by taking extraordinary measures to care for her well.
  • Leads her by
    • Ensuring she has all she needs (i.e. access to resources, authority, physical space, encouragement, trust, and guidance)
    • Protecting her (i.e. time, reputation, intellectual pursuits, physical well-being, spiritual standing)

*Godly Wisdom

What Proverbs 31:14 teaches us about God, the source of wisdom.
  • Cares about what we feed ourselves and directs us to where we can find it. (John 6:25-59)
  • Expects us to put in the effort, extraordinary effort. (Hebrews 5:11-14)
  • Is prepared to bless us abundantly in a way that can never be taken from us. (Matthew 6:19-21)


Of Proverbs 31:14 in the past, present, and hopes for the future.

  • In the past, I viewed this verse with DERISION, thinking: "Well sure, because she's rich. She can afford to bring in food from afar. That's not available to, nor should it be expected of, all of us."
  • Presently, I am CHALLENGED by this verse. I should be searching far and wide for proper nourishment (physical, intellectual, relational, and spiritual) for my household and filling my ships when I find it.
  • In the future, I hope to find myself CONTENT. Resting in knowing that the nourishment provided by Christ is all I need, and that I am filling my ships with it to share with others.

Serve a Meal

And make connections after researching origins and nutrients.
  • The meal: Eggs Benedict
  • The origins: 
    • A 6,327-mile round-trip journey would be required to travel to each location where the foods I used were manufactured or distributed
    • In theory, if we still produced our own food, I would only need to trade for two ingredients from "afar": lemon and paprika.
  • The nutrients: 
    • In truth, I did not research the health benefits of each ingredient. I started then realized each one holds numerous benefits. Food in general sustains us. 
    • Basic nutrients of ingredients acquired from afar:
      • Lemon: aids in heart health, weight control, kidney stone prevention, anemia protection, reduces cancer risk, and improves digestive health.
      • Paprika: contains antioxidant properties that reduce cancer risk and heart disease, improve immunity, and alleviate gas.
  • Through this exercise, it seems this verse describes a woman who is willing to put in extra effort to enrich her family's diet to make it more enjoyable. She takes pleasure in spoiling them - what woman doesn't? And of course, God takes great pleasure in us when we feast on His word!
  • God wants us to enjoy the gifts He's given us: eat, drink, and be merry! But frequently warns against doing so in excess.
  • Limitless access to knowledge (of good and evil) is not always a good thing. It leads to anxiety and decision fatigue. The antidote is handing the choice back to God. "I don't want to eat from this tree God. I don't need to know (or judge) everything. I return judgement to You, I trust you to teach me what I need to know, and I rest in Your wisdom."
  • We can connect food from afar to eating a varied diet and appreciating the effort required to obtain it. If God is to be the source of our soul nourishment, then the advice here would be to make an extra effort to maintain a varied spiritual diet by feasting on the entirety of scripture, fellowshipping with other saints, communing with Jesus, and delighting in our Father, but moderating where we eat from - choosing only His word.

Final Thoughts

Thou art my portion, O Lord! (Psalm 119:57). How God delights to give us more than we're expecting. We don't always know what's going to be on that merchant ship, but we can trust that it will be for our good. The captain offloads abundant surprises. Surprises like a son that unexpectedly returns in a time of dire need, a word that pivots us back in the right direction, a scripture that connects wayward thoughts, a sudden end that leads to a long-sought answer, comfort amid chaos, laughter intermixed with tears, a conviction that brings peace.

The struggle comes in remembering He is more than enough for all our needs. This thought seems far off, especially in the materialism and independent thinking that surrounds us. We can surrender all. We can board this merchant's ship. We can trust Him to sustain us.

Lord, as I seek nourishment in troubled waters, keep me safe within Your hull.

Growing with You,

Ready for week twenty?

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