Proverbs 31: Week 23 | The Wolfe Notes

 Welcome to week twenty-three of our Proverbs 31 journey. Join us as we research night, maidens, and consider various interpretations. 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 saw what it takes to be resourceful by examining Proverbs 31:14 and 21. 
  • In June, we are developing our caring muscle by exercising Proverbs 31:15 and 22.
If you're ready to travel with us, welcome! Grab your June 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 loaf of bread on a white table makes the background. The foreground text overlay speaks of wisdom and daily bread.


Contents:
What is Weird? Researching something odd about Proverbs 31:15.
About Night from various sources.
About Maidens from various sources.
Other Versions and writing our own.
Commentaries Reading what others say about Proverbs 31:15.
*As Christ's Bride interpret Proverbs 31:15.
*A Look at Roles Applying Proverbs 31:15 to everyday life.

What is Weird?

It says she also rises, what else does she do?  Was meat what was actually eaten for breakfast?

Also: *If we look at the previous verse (Proverbs 31:14), we see the woman headed off on a merchants' ship to procure food from afar. These two verses, linked by also, showcase a woman who performs beyond anyone's expectations. No ordinary expectation of household maintenance would include gathering food from afar or getting up extremely early to serve food to those who serve you.

Meat: According to The Jerusalem Post, typical breakfast foods included coffee, milk products, bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggs. This meal was to last until dinner time. Dinner, according to Friends of Asorwas typically a meatless stew made of veggies & legumes. Meat was reserved for special occasions like weddings (*married daily?). 
  • Deuteronomy 12:20 NIV: When the Lord your God has enlarged your territory as he promised you, and you crave meat and say, I would like some meat," then you may eat as much of it as you want. (Our nephew chose this to be his first memory verse because he likes the idea of being able to eat as much meat as you want. *Meat = abundance)
  • Romans 14:2 MEV: For one has faith to eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. (*Meat = faith)
  • John 4:32 KJV: But he said to them, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of." (*Meat = Godly nourishment)
  • I Corinthians 3:2 WEB: I fed you with milk, not with meat; for you weren't yet ready. Indeed you aren't ready even now. (*Meat = deeper spiritual understanding)
  • Romans 14:17 KJV: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. (*We should only concern ourselves with fruits of the spirit.)

*Conclusions: This verse is further evidence that the subject of this verse (Wisdom / Bride of Christ / a woman of virtue) exceptionally provides for her household. Spiritually, this verse challenges us to delve deep into spiritual nourishment for our flocks, warning against skimming the surface. But, also, serves as a reminder of God's great love for us: He deems us worthy of the food reserved for special occasions on a daily basis! 

About Night

From various sources.
  • Hebrew from BibleHub
    • Layil / lel / layelah: night
    • By use: night, nights, tonight
  • Definitions from Merriam-Webster
    • the time from dusk to dawn when no sunlight is visible
    • the quality or state of being dark
    • a condition or period felt to resemble the darkness of night (i.e. inactivity, affliction, or absence of moral values) *even when no one else works or does what is right, she does
  • "God Was Up All Night" by John Piper at Desiring God
    • Our God works for us even when we're sleeping
      • Our help comes from God, the maker of heaven and earth (Psalm 121:1-2: I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.)
      • God does not slumber (Psalm 121:3: He will not let your foot slip; he who keeps you, does not slumber) 
    • For whom does He work?
      • For those who wait for Him. (Isaiah 64:4: For since the world began no one has seen or heard of such a God as ours, who works for those who wait for him!)
      • For those whose hearts are perfect toward him. (2 Chronicles 16:9 For the eyes of the Lord search back and forth across the whole earth, looking for people whose hearts are prefect toward him, so that he can show his great power in helping them...)
    • Why does He work for us?
      • He came to serve. (Mark 10:45: For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.
      • To strengthen us. (2 Timothy 4:17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the preaching might be fully known...)
      • Because He rejoices in doing good for us. (Jeremiah 32:40-41: And I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good. But I will put My fear in their hearts so that they shall not depart from Me. Indeed, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with My whole heart and with My whole soul.)
  • Scripture from Knowing Jesus
    • Job 4:13, 14 and 17 Amid disquieting dreams in the night, when deep sleep falls on people, fear and trembling seized me and made all my bones shake...A form stood before my eyes, and I heard a hushed voice: 'Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can even a strong man be more pure than his Maker?'
    • John 9:4 I must do the works of Him who sent Me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work.
    • John 11:9-10 Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks during the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks during the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him."
    • Psalm 74:16 The day is Yours, the night also is Yours; You have prepared the light and the sun.
    • Psalm 42:3 My tears have been my food day and night, while they always say to me, "Where is your God?"
*Conclusions: Night, metaphorically the opposite of the light, is not a place for righteousness and not where God's people do their work. Yet, God controls both, works in both, and we need Him to make it through the nights. Practically, a virtuous woman will do the work (physically, morally, etc.) even when no one else is. Spiritually, keep God close, even in the darkness.

About Maidens

From various sources.
  • Hebrew from Open Bible
    • naarah: a girl, maiden
    • By use: girl, girl's, maidens
    • In Proverbs 31:15: Of female attendants
  • Definition from Merriam-Webster: an unmarried girl or woman
  • "The History of Maids" from Hankering for History
    • Being raised by a dedicated staff became a hallmark of refined breeding in high society. 
    • Most domestic housemaids gave life to service and never got married. (*We're to give ourselves over to a life of service and are betrothed to God.)
    • They were provided for but rarely paid. (*We're provided for by God but not paid with riches that fly away as an eagle to heaven. Proverbs 23:5)
    • When they were paid, it was never equivalent to the value of the work they performed. (*Reminds me of laws God put in place to protect the disadvantaged - widows, fatherless, foreigners, etc. Deuteronomy 10:18)
  • Scripture from Knowing Jesus
    • Genesis 29:29 And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid. (*Seen as property)
    • Psalm 123:2 Behold as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, and as the eyes of a maiden to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look upon the Lord our God, until He has mercy upon us. (*We're slaves to God. Romans 6:18)
    • Proverbs 27:27 You will have goats' milk enough for your food, for the food of your household, and for the maintenance of your maidens. (*Supports the provision of food to maidens)
    • Ruth 2:13 Then she said, "May I find favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and have spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not like one of your servant girls." (*God finds favor in the humble.)
    • Luke 1:38 Mary said, "I am the servant of the Lord. May it be unto me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her. (*God wants our obedience. Isaiah 1:19)
*Connections: Initially, we notice her kindness - that she would rise early to serve her maidens. Yet, we see this very service of the Master toward his disciples reflected in Jesus (Matthew 20:28). Practically, we are to watch over and provide for everyone that is in and contributes to the functioning of our household, even those who serve us - for Christ serves us. Spiritually, by serving others we serve God as God serves all of us.

Other Versions

And writing our own.

  • KJV: She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
  • AMP: She rises also while it is still night And gives food to her household And assigns tasks to her maids. 
  • CEV: She gets up before daylight to prepare food for her family and for her servants.
  • ERV: She wakes up early in the morning, cooks food for her family, and gives the servants their share.
  • *Clarification: There are two interpretations for the "portion for her maidens" phrase: 1) the woman gives them food or 2) she assigns them their tasks for the day. Either way, she is caring for the ways of her household. I favor the food interpretation as portion, in Hebrew is "choq" and means something prescribed or owed, a statute - like the food due to them for their labor. This word is similarly used in the following verses:
    • Genesis 47:22 Only the land of the priests bought he not; for the priests had a portion assigned them of Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which Pharoah gave them; wherefore they sold not their lands. (*Priests were dependent on food - portions - provided by Pharaoh)
    • Proverbs 30:8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me. (*Give me just what I need for today - not too much, not too little - my portion.)
    • Ezekiel 16:27 Behold, therefore I have stretched out my hand over thee, and have diminished thine ordinary food, and delivered thee unto the will of them that hate thee, the daughters of the Philistines, which are ashamed of thy lewd way. (*As a punishment from God for fornicating with Egyptians, God lessened their portion.)
    • Job 23:12 Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food. (*God's words are greater than the food I need for the day.)
  • Wolfe Stew Versions
    • As Wisdom: Wisdom is awake while you sleep, waiting eagerly to supply nourishment for all in the household.
    • As a Godly wife: Be prepared to nourish your household richly and eagerly.
    • Personally: Arrange your schedule to meet the needs of the day. You should not be surprised by the routine expectations of the people in your care.
    • Relationally: Consider what the needs, expectations, and routines of each other are. Find ways to nourish each other deeply and eagerly through them.
    • Spiritually: When you rise, seek Jesus. He's there, waiting to give you your portion.
    • Intellectually: Start every thought with the meat (deep spiritual truths) He provides so you can use it to strengthen others.

Commentaries

Reading what others say about Proverbs 31:15.

  • Benson: an early riser who does not indulge herself with too much sleep, provides for those who work in the fields, and sets her maidens to the day's work.
  • Pulpit: Eastern houses kept a lamp burning throughout the night, a housewife would rise at midnight to replenish the oil and often began her day's work then - grinding corn or preparing food. (Proverbs 31:18...her lamp does not go out at night.) Early rising is consistently mentioned in scripture:
    • In Genesis 22:3, Abraham and Isaac wake early to offer Isaac as a sacrifice.
    • In Psalm 57:8, the psalmist eagerly rises to wake the dawn with his song. 
    • In Jeremiah 7:13 Jeremiah rebukes Israel for not responding when God rose early again and again to speak to them.
    • In Mark 16:2, Mary Magdelene and Salome rose early, making them first to see the empty tomb.
  • Pulpit (cont'd): Original word for meat used here, tereph, means food "torn in pieces with the teeth"; (Psalm 111:5 He hath given meat unto them that fear him: he will ever be mindful of his covenant.)
  • Keil and Delitzsch: She cares for her house above her own comfort; the care of others brings her satisfaction and joy.
  • Barnes': Food and tasks assigned simultaneously.
  • Matthew Poole: Early in the morning, to redeem thee.
  • Gill: As Christ prays before the break of day (Mark 1:35) so the church shows affection of her family and zeal for her husband's interest. Contrast with Song of Solomon 5:2: I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of night. (*A time to sleep, a time to rise.) Household = family of Christ and maidens the ministers of the word - (Proverbs 9:3 She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city.) stewards of the family given food to dispense. The church feeds the family of Christ with Gospel doctrines given portion by portion in due season, according to their age and circumstances - milk for babes and meat for men (Luke 12:42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his Lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?).
  • Conclusions: Practically, get up and gird yourself to face the evils of the day. Take care of the needs of those in your charge. Do the work, even when they aren't. Spiritually, God is ever awake, ready to hand out our portions according to our needs so we can do His work.

*As Christ's Bride

Interpret Proverbs 31:15.

As Christ's Bride, we:
  • Submit to Him by daily rising to nourish our family and coworkers with meat from the gospel.
  • Respect Him by performing this work faithfully and eagerly.
Because He:
  • Leads us by providing our daily bread.
  • Loves us by serving us first.

*A Look at Roles

 Applying Proverbs 31:15 to everyday life.

A Helper
  • Submits to her husband by strengthening her family and coworkers with high-quality, sustaining food (physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually).
  • Respects her husband by making it her first thought to undertake this task faithfully and resourcefully.
Because He:
  • Leads his wife by providing the required daily resources she needs to fulfil her role successfully.
  • Loves his wife by making it his first thought to serve her.

Final Thoughts

I am quite relieved that God isn't telling me I must rise while it is still night. The more I consider the feats performed by the subject of this poem, the more I realize no human could successfully and consistently perform them, but God can and does. We are extraordinarily cared for.

Growing with You,

Ready for week 24?

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