Proverbs 31: Week Thirty-Six | The Wolfe Notes

Welcome to week thirty-six of our Proverbs 31 journey. 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 developed our caring muscle by exercising Proverbs 31:15 and 22.
  • In July, we practiced being savvy with help from Proverbs 31:16 and 27.
  • In August, we witnessed exemplary behavior outlined in Proverbs 31:18 and 31:31.
  • In September, we will find what being necessary looks like from Proverbs 31:20 and 24.
If you're ready to travel with us, welcome! Grab your September 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 baby's hand rests in an adult's hand. Black and white. Text overlay quotes Proverbs 31:20

Literal Meaning of Proverbs 31:20
What is Weird? Researching something odd about this verse.
About Spreading from various sources
About Reaching from various sources.
Other Versions of Proverbs 31:20 and writing our own.
Commentaries of Proverbs 31:20.
*As Christ's Bride, how do we enact this verse?

*Literal Meaning

Of Proverbs 31:20

She gives to those who lack: indeed, she is available for those who need assistance.

What is Weird?

Researching something odd about this verse.

Why repeat the phrase? Don't both parts of this verse essentially say the same thing?

"Poor vs Needy: The Main Differences And When To Use Them" at Content Authority

  • Poor means lack of material wealth (money) or resources (goods)
    • Often a permanent condition
    • Can also refer to quality (i.e. poor product, poor attitude, *poor relationship, *poor spirituality, *poor intellect.)
  • Needy means lack of basic necessities - food, shelter, or medical care
    • Indicates a state of crisis
    • Requires immediate attention
    • Includes physical and mental disabilities.
    • Caring for elderly and small children.
    • Can be temporary or permanent


  • "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3 NIV. God wants us to be poor in spirit. He wants us to feel a constant longing for a Savior, to be restless in anticipation of reunification, to know no money or resources can ever satisfy, and to know we in and of themselves are not enough. We need Him.
  • Women in ancient Israel were proficient at recognizing human need and at lending a hand to the poor. (See "The Wolfe Notes" on Proverbs 31:31)


Poor and needy are different. Poor is more of a constant state of living while needy requires immediate attention and may or may not be permanent. 

  • To the Poor: Stretching out a hand may serve as an open invitation: "I'm here for you when you need it." 
  • To the Needy: Reaching with both hands signals immediate concern: "I'm dropping everything and running toward you with open arms because you need me now." 
Household managers learn proficiency in recognizing the difference between the two. (See "The Wolfe Notes" on Proverbs 31:27)

About Spreading

From various sources.

Hebrew from Open Bible
  • paras: to spread out
  • Other uses: extended, stretched, scattered
  • In Proverbs 31:20: of almsgiving
Definition from Merriam-Webster
  • to open or expand over a large area
  • to stretch out: EXTEND
  • to distribute over an area, time period, or among a group 
  • to make widely known (*We are to spread the Good News throughout the world. Mark 16:15
  • to cover or overlay (*He covers me so that I can do the work prepared for me. see "The Wolfe Notes" on Proverbs 31:22 and 31.)
"The Spreading Goodness" by Michael Reeves at Desiring God
  • The Father is the loving head
    • He will send and direct His Son (Just as the Centurion understood that Jesus' authority operated by obedience Luke 7:1-10.)
    • The Son does not send and direct the Father.
    • This chain of command that spreads to us: The Father is the head of Christ; Christ is the head of man, man is the head of woman. (I Corinthians 11:3)
  • "The Father-Son relationship (headship) begins a gracious cascade."
    • Christ loves the church as God loves Him NOT as a response to our love but because of God's love: "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love." John 15:9 ESV
    • We love because of Christ's love. "We love because he first loved us." I John 4:19
    • Husbands love their wives. He is the lover; she the beloved. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." Ephesians 5:25
    • *We cascade that love to others. (As mentioned in Barnes Notes of Proverbs 5:18)
  • *Conclusion: We can spread our hand to the poor because of an overflow of God's love. (See "The Wolfe Notes" on Proverbs 31:19 to explore symbolic meanings of hand.)
Scripture from Knowing Jesus
  • Isaiah 25:11 KJV: And he shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them, as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim: and he shall bring down their pride together with the spoils of their hands. (*God spreads forth His hands in justice when we stand opposed to Him.
  • Isaiah 1:15 KJV: And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. (*Mirrors Proverbs 31:20 but here he does not help us for we are guilty. We must first cover ourselves in His righteousness.)
  • Isaiah 65:2 KJV: I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts; (*Even in our rebellion, He still beckons us home.)
  • Isaiah 48:13 KJV: My hand also haith laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together. (*Showcases the omnipotence of God)
  • Exodus 9:33 KJV And Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread abroad his hands unto the Lord: and the thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was not poured upon the earth. (*A power which spreads to us when we act in God's will.)
*Connections: God's love spreads throughout the universe: in the heavens and on earth. His love cascades to us through His son. Our job is to openly spread that love to those who lack it throughout the earth.

About Reaching

From various sources.

Hebrew from OpenBible
  • shalach: to send (*implies urgency & widespread reach)
  • Other uses: stretch, go, let [subject] go
  • In Proverbs: Person (charity)
Definition from Merriam-Webster
  • to stretch out: EXTEND
  • to touch or grasp by extending part of the body (*Church)
  • to pick up and draw toward one
  • to make an impression on
  • to communicate with
"Glorifying God by Reaching the Lost" by John Piper from Desiring God
  • "Lost" in Scripture
    • Luke 15:24 KJV: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. 
    • Luke 19:10 KJV: For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
    • John 17:12 KJV: While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition [Judas]; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
  • How Lost is Lost? 
    • So lost are they that the things of the Spirit are foolishness to them (I Corinthians 2:14)
    • Our lostness and deadness is a condition of human will: We love darkness, sin, pride, and autonomy. Therefore, all of us are on our way to destruction, away from God, away from His glory. II Thessalonians 1:7-9
  • How God Receives Glory
    • We cannot reach the lost, so when the lost are reached, only God gets the glory. 
      (Matthew 19:25-26)
    • Our equipping. (I Peter 1:22-25 paraphrased):
      • We hear the living and abiding word of God (which provides and sustains new life) 
      • We are born again into eternal life.
      • Our souls are purified souls by obedience to truth (i.e., faith in God)
      • We now can love one another earnestly from a pure heart (with no evil/selfish intentions).
      • Because of the gospel that was first preached to us.
    • The process of belief. (2 Corinthians 4:3-6 paraphrased):
      • They start in a state of disinterest, blinded by Satan.
      • They hear the Good News of Jesus Christ proclaimed.
      • God says "Let there be light"
      • They see.
    • Our role.
      • "How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!...So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:15, 17 
      • "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. I Corinthians 3:6-7 I'm nothing, you're nothing, but everything...and makes our nothing [necessary].
Scripture from Knowing Jesus
  • Genesis 48:14 KJV: And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh's head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn.
  • Genesis 19:10 KJV: But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut the door.
  • Ezekiel 29:7 KJV: When they took hold of thee by thy hand, thou didst break, and rend all their shoulder: and when they leaned upon thee, thou brakest, and madest all their loins to be at a stand.
  • James 5:4 CSB: Look! The pay that you withheld from the workers who mowed your fields cries out, and the outcry of the harvesters has reached the ears of the Lord of Armies.
  • Luke 22:53 KJV: When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness. 
*Conclusions: We send out our hands to bless, to save, and to support, but sometimes we send them out in distress or to work evil. We must be careful what our hands are doing because our primary work is to spread the gospel with a willing servant attitude: "I'll let go of my own desires and send forth my hands in love with every effort to help." Others won't know about Christ if we don't talk about Christ and if we don't show them Christ. We aren't giving God a chance to open ears, to heal the blind, and save the lost, if we don't do our work. 

Other Versions

Of Proverbs 31:20 and writing our own.


  • She stretcheth out her hand opens & extends / reach out / helps / always gives /opens the palm / welcomes / is generous / sews / spreads out
  • to the poor: oppressed / afflicted
  • she reacheth forth her hands her filled hands/ extends / opens her arms / helps those / sends her hands to / putteth forth / is generous / extends her hands / openning her hands / stretches them out / generously helps / quick to assist / holds out her hands / extends mercy 
  • to the needy: those in need / the destitute / [whether in body, mind, or spirit]

Significantly Different Versions

  • VOICE: She reaches out to the poor and extends mercy to those in need.
  • EXB: She welcomes [stretches her palm to] the poor and helps [sends her hands to] the needy.
  • CJB: She reaches out to embrace the poor and opens her arms to the needy.
  • ERV: She always gives to the poor and helps those who need it.
  • TLB: She sews for the poor and generously helps those in need.

Wolfe Stew Versions

  • WISDOM offers itself to those who don't have it: indeed, WISDOM labors to help those who need it.
  • The Bride of Christ works to bring the Bread of Heaven to those who hunger for righteousness: indeed, the Bride of Christ works tirelessly to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight by the blind, and to set free the oppressed by proclaiming the gospel. (see Luke 4:18-19)
  • Practically: Give generously when you see someone is lacking because you know your treasure is in heaven. Moreover, lend a willing hand to someone in need when it is within your power to do it.
  • Personally: Accept that you have deficiencies and needs. Allow others to help you.
  • Relationally: Watch for opportunities to give or to help. Offer resources, labor, compassion, and support as needed. Don't back down. This is how we demonstrate Christ to others.
  • Spiritually: Stretch out your hand and hold on to the one who reaches out to you. Accept the treasures He offers and allow Him to complete the work that needs to be done within you.
  • Intellectually: Accept you don't have it all figured out. You are poor and lack understanding. But reach out both hands to Jesus, He will give you the understanding that you need.


Of Proverbs 31:20 at Bible Hub.

  • She stretcheth out her hand to the poor:
    • with sympathy or alms (Ellicot)
    • to relieve their necessities (Benson)
    • extensive with her giving, reaches many, done with cheerfulness and readiness (Gill)
    • spreadeth out her palm - i.e. holding a gift - for acceptance; open-handed and widespread liberality (Cambridge)
    • loves to extend to others the blessings which have rewarded her efforts; "hand" here is caph, meaning palm, evidently in alms [*Maybe to offer help up?] (Pulpit)
    • offers herself as an alliance "Place confidence in me, I shall do whatever I can - there thou has my hand!" (Keil & Delitzsch)
  • yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
    • Both hands that others may grasp them, offers warm sympathy [Ezekiel 16:49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.] (Keil & Delitzsch)
    • "Hand" here is yod, with its nerves and sinews ready for exertion [Proverbs 10:4 ...diligent hands that bring growth.]. She puts forth her hands to raise and soothe - exercising gentle ministries of a tender love - the prosperity she experiences is the reward of this benevolence. [Proverbs 22:9 Your goodness blesses; you give bread to the weak.] (Pulpit)
    • The same hand which was laid on the distaff and spindle "supple with toil, dexterous with acquired skill" (Horton & Cambridge)
    • Spiritual food to the poor in spirit who hunger and thirst for righteousness. (Gill)
    • She is keenly alive to their sorrows and pities them. She aids them with all her power. (Ellicot)
*Conclusions: Because of her hard work [practically, relationally, spiritually], she is able to give generously to the poor. She selflessly and adeptly aids those in need.

*As Christ's Bride

How do we enact this verse?

As Christ's Bride, we can:
  • Submit to Jesus because we know we can lean on Him for our needs and our standard of living.
  • Respect Jesus' provision and care by not abusing or overlooking it and expressing appreciation for it. Then, by mimicking it in our actions to others.
Because Jesus:
  • Leads us in modeling necessary behavior: giving generously to those who are accustomed to less and healing those in need. 
  • Loves us by sacrificing Himself and His will (Luke 22:42) so that we may live.

Final Thoughts

You are a co-laborer with Christ (I Corinthians 3:9). 

What a title. What a responsibility. What an opportunity. By accepting His love, you're accepting your standing as a part of the Kingdom that is called to gather the lost. Branch out. Go. Search for those who accept a subpar level of living and tell them of their Father, the King of Heaven, who is calling them home to share in His splendor for eternity. Reach out to those who need His love, who are headed for destruction, and tell them of The Son of Man who sacrificed His very life to give them restoration and peace. 

Lead the poor to find enduring treasure. Lean the needy on the everlasting arms.

Growing with You,

Ready for Week 37?

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