Proverbs 31: Week 20 | The Wolfe Notes

Welcome to week twenty of our Proverbs 31 journey. This week we explore the meaning of household, scarlet, and how it makes us brave. 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 *.)

A ship sails in troubled water with overcast skies above. Text overlay quotes Proverbs 31:21

Worship with "Breathe" performed by Michael W. Smith.
Verse Two Noting phrases and key words of Proverbs 31:21.
*Literal Meaning of Proverbs 31:21 before consulting other sources.
What is Weird? Researching something odd about the verse.
About Household From various sources.
About Scarlet From various sources.
Other Versions of Proverbs 31:21 and writing our own.


with "Breathe" performed by Michael W. Smith.

  1. "This is the air I breathe" - *Envision yourself on a ship, the wind on your face, breathing in salty air, feeling free. Remember it's His breath in your lungs and pour out your praise. ("Great Are You Lord" performed by Casting Crowns)
  2. "Your holy presence living in me" - *We are His temple (I Corinthians 6:19-20), the ship carrying His goods from port to port, person to person.
  3. "You are my daily bread" - *What I need, my provision, is Jesus. The Word made flesh. (John 1:1)
  4. "Your very word spoken to me" - *What was far is brought near. whispered in a still, small voice. (I Kings 19:11-12)
  5. "And I, I am desperate for you" - *I need what you have and only what you have. Satisfy me with your love, Lord. Teach me to be content in you.
  6. "I'm lost without you" - *I need your direction. When I acknowledge You in all I do, You direct my path. (Proverbs 3:6)

Verse Two

Noting phrases and key words of Proverbs 31:21.

She is not afraid / of the snow / for her household: / for all her household / are clothed with scarlet.

Key Words: afraid, snow, household, clothed, scarlet 

*Literal Meaning

Of Proverbs 31:21 before consulting other sources.

Though reasonable to worry about the well-being of your family in terrible weather, this woman is not because she knows they wear proper attire.

What is Weird?

Researching something odd about the verse.

Was there a need to be afraid of the snow? Did it snow that much in the ancient Middle East?

  • "Snow in the Land of the Bible" by Dr. John Delancey at Biblical Israel Tours
    • In Jerusalem, it snows maybe once or twice a year but disappears quickly.
    • In the northern, higher elevated region (including Neve Ativ), it snows quite often. 30% of Israel's water is sourced by the melting snow of this region. 
    • In the Bible, snow is most often used as a metaphor for spiritual cleansing.
      • Isaiah 1:18 KJV: Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
      • Psalm 51:7 KJV: Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
      • Matthew 28:3 KJV: His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow
      • Proverbs 25:13: As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.
      • Psalm 148:8 KJV: Fire, and hail; snow and vapours; stormy wind fulfilling his word:
  • Conclusions:
    • Practically: They may have feared the snow because it did not happen often. So, when it snowed, few knew how to handle it.
    • Spiritually: There is need to fear for the snow (judgement) if you are not clothed in scarlet (Christ's redeeming blood). Reminds me of John 3:20-21 KJV: For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

About Household

 From various sources.

Hebrew from Bible Hub
Definition from Merriam-Webster
  • "those who dwell under the same roof and compose a family"
"Our Need for Home" by Brenda Rodgers from iBelieve
  • C.S. Lewis: "Our Heavenly Father has provided many delightful inns for us along our journey, but he takes great care to see that we do not mistake any of them for home." (*Our homes are refuges often full of joy, but they are not perfect. Our home with God will be perfect.)
  • Building a strong, physical home yields heavenly returns (*because it is built on Jesus). *Verses that direct us how to build strong, physical homes. Our households should be:
  • Our earthly home helps us anticipate our heavenly home in which:
Scripture from Open Bible
  • Proverbs 24:27 KJV: Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house. (*Understand, know, your foundation well before you build on it.)
  • Psalm 127:1 GW: If the LORD does not build the house, it is useless for the builders to work on it. If the Lord does not protect a city, it is useless for the guard to stay alert. (*Work with God.)
  • Proverbs 14:1 CEV: A woman's family is held together by her wisdom, but it can be destroyed by her foolishness. (*Seek wisdom.)
  • Joshua 24:15 KJV: And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. 
  • Psalm 91:1-2 NLT: Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord; He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 ICB We know that our body - the tent we live in here on earth - will be destroyed. But when that happens, God will have a house for us to live in. It will not be a house made by men. It will be a home in heaven that will last forever. But now we are tired of this body.  We want God to give us our heavenly home. It will clothe us, and we will not be naked. While we live in this body, we have burdens, and we complain. We do not want to be naked. We want to be clothed with our heavenly home. Then this body that dies will be fully covered with life. This is what God made us for. And he has given us the Spirit to be a guarantee for this new life. (*Clothed in scarlet = covered in life; her household = our eternal home.)
* Conclusions:
  • Our households are refuges built by God and for God so we can learn and wait for God within as a family living in God's peace, protection, and rest.
  • The Ark was covered inside "mibbayit" with pitch like Moses' basket, like the ark of the covenant. Our households too should be "sealed from within" with the righteousness of Jesus and we should let God shut the door on all evil.

About Scarlet

 From various sources.

Hebrew from Bible Hub
  • shani: scarlet
  • In Proverbs 31:21: references a material used in clothing - see "scarlet (cloth)" section below
  • Other uses: scarlet thread, robes representing sin, material for temple curtain, veil, and priest's ephod, used in purification
Definition from Merriam Webster
  • scarlet cloth or clothes (see below)
  • any of variety of bright reds
  • grossly and glaringly offensive (*sin & Jesus' crucifixion)
  • associated with sexual immorality - a scarlet woman from Isaiah 1:18 & Revelation 17:1-6 (*deceives us into thinking she can satisfy)
"Scarlet (cloth)" from Wikipedia
  • fine and expensive woolen (or silk) cloth dyed with kermes (a parasitic insect - see below) 
  • Anciently, decorated with seal-like patterns
  • Used in priestly garments, symbolized sin, used to decorate wedding chambers (Sheets of scarlet overlaid with gold - I wonder if they will adorn our marriage ceremony to Jesus.), tied on scapegoats' (Jesus to us) horns during Yom Kippur (day of atonement).
"Kermes (dye)" from Wikipedia and Suzanne Dekel
  • Derived from a female parasitic scale insect native to the Mediterranean region
    • Lives from the sap of evergreen oak but does not cause the tree to suffer.
      • "I am like an evergreen cypress; from me comes your fruit." Hosea 14:8.
      • *Not unlike us - John 15:5: "I am the vine, you are the branches."
    • Biblically referred to as the scarlet worm.
    • Produce a red fruit that repels other insects ("If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first." John 15:18).
      • The color is produced in body and eggs at the peak of adulthood (*33 years old, say?) in July and August.
      • The wingless female kermes echinatus with unhatched eggs in her body yields the brightest color.
    • Mostly found in Upper Galilee (*Jesus of Galilee) or Golan Heights (see map)
  • Maintains superior colorfastness in silk and wool.
  • The process to make the dye involved:
    • Women and children gathering the insects
    • Steaming them over vinegar (*Offered to Jesus at His crucifixion.)
    • Drying, then grinding them into a fine powder. (50-60,000 insects produced 1 Kg of powder)
    • Boiling in water and cooking on low, which turns the water red (as the first plague in Egypt.)
    • Straining the water (sorting wicked from righteous).
    • Dipping the fabric in alum, then the dye.
      • Failing to do this step would result in a dull brick red. 
      • Using another acid, other than alum would result in golden yellow.
      • Alum, anciently, was a type of salt scraped from rocks.
"Messiah the Worm" by Jeremy Chance Springfield at Random Groovy Bible Facts
  • The kermes are referred to as a worm because the adult females lose the use of their legs and, due to their robust appetite, they devour the sap of their host tree.
  • The body of the mother kermes must die to give life to her young (The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. John 10:11).
    • It attaches itself to the tree (I Peter 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.) and will never be removed (John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.).
    • Their bodies protect the young while they wait to be born at their proper time (Psalm 31:15 My times are in thy hand).
    • They feed on their mother for sustenance (John 6:35 "I am the bread of life." Proverbs 31;14 She bringeth her food from a far)
  • Psalm 22:6 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised by the people. 
  • Traces of Jesus woven through the Bible 
  • Birth of Judah and Tamar's son - Zerah (meaning scarlet or brightness) reached out and was marked as the first born with a scarlet thread around his wrist. But, his brother, Perez (meaning "breaking out"), actually was the first born. From Perez, came Jesus (Matthew 1:3). In true form, Jesus flips the script. (Genesis 38:27-30)
  • Tabernacle curtains (Exodus 26:1) high priest's ephod (Exodus 28:6) that represents His atoning work on the cross.
  • Rahab (Joshua 2) dangles a scarlet cord out her window that shows her faith and leads to her salvation.
  • The scarlet thread that runs through the Bible is Jesus. We see Him in
  • The scarlet thread represents atonement through Jesus. Without bloodshed, there is no forgiveness of sins. (Hebrews 9:22)
Scripture from Knowing Jesus
  • Isaiah 1:18 KJV: Come now, let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
  • Leviticus 14:4 NLT: He will perform a purification ceremony, using two live birds that are ceremonially clean, a stick of cedar, some scarlet yarn, and a hyssop branch.
  • Isaiah 63:1-3 NIV: Who is this coming from Edom, from Bozrah, with his garments stained crimson? Who is this, robed in splendor, striding forward in the greatness of his strength? "It is I, proclaiming victory, mighty to save." Why are your garments red, like those of one treading the winepress? "I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing." (*He alone does the redemptive work.)
  • Nahum 2:3 KJV: The shield of this mighty men is made red, the valiant men are in scarlet: the chariots shall be with flaming torches in the day of his preparation, and the fir trees shall be terribly shaken. (*His atonement is our shield, our clothing.)
  • Proverbs 23:29 KJV: Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. (*Excess, materialism, and confused doctrines lead to sin which is the need for the scarlet thread.)
*Conclusions: "How deep, [detailed, and divine is] the Father's love for us! How vast beyond all measure, that he would give His only son to make a wretch His treasure." (Performed by Selah.) To be clothed in scarlet is to be wrapped in His sacrificial love. He paid our price so He could spend eternity with us, His bride. Wrap yourself in His love with no fear of judgement - pure love covers your sins.

Other Versions

 Of Proverbs 31:21 and writing our own.

  • KJV: She is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
  • ERV: She does not worry about her family when it snows. She has given them all good, warm clothes.
  • JUB: She shall not be afraid of the snow for her family, for all her family is clothed with double garments.
  • MSG: She doesn't worry about her family when it snows; their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.
  • *Wolfe Stew Versions:
    • As Wisdom: No matter what possibility arises, Wisdom has the solution.
    • As a Godly wife: She considers potential disasters and prepares for them.
    • Relationally: Talk about what could go wrong, things that concern you in your relationship, and together devise a plan of action to counteract the concern.
    • Personally: Consider fears that concern you, personally. Create habits to dissuade these fears.
    • Spiritually: Know you are clothed in robes of righteousness. Judgement day is of no concern to you.
    • Intellectually: Train your mind to reject fear. Clothe your brain with things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy. (Philippians 4:8-9)

Final Thoughts

Throughout this week, there were several moments that stunned me. I forced myself to stay there, soaking in the discomfort, uneasiness, and acknowledgement of new understanding. It overwhelmed me, the goodness of God. Yet, what we experience now is only a small portion. How I long to know more, long to embrace the wholeness of Him, long to see His story in fulfillment. For now, I must find contentment in the reminders, the promises from His word, His faithfulness witnessed in my life. 

Lord, as I dress each morning and am warmed throughout the day, remind me that it is Your love covering me in robes of scarlet righteousness so I can live unafraid.

Growing with You,

Ready for week twenty-one?

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