Proverbs 31:20 “She stretcheth out her hand to the poor;
yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.”
Helping those who are less fortunate is not just a nice thing to do; it is something that Christians are called upon to do every day. Like the woman in Proverbs 31, we must “stretch out our hands” and show our caring for others through our giving and compassion. She is not selfish, but shares with the less fortunate. She is generous in helping the poor and needy. She has a big, giving heart. Part of the charm of the Parker Valley Sisters is the fact that they are always caring for others, even in their times of distress.
While caring for those who are less fortunate may not be the easiest thing to do, the Bible clearly calls upon us to do so. Not only the woman in Proverbs 31 but many people throughout the Bible are shown helping others. In fact, Jesus himself told the story of the good Samaritan, a man who helped someone who was his enemy when even his own countrymen turned their backs on the poor victim. It is very clear from the Scripture that God has commanded Christians to care for others.
Notice that nowhere in the story of the woman in Proverbs are we told that she gives large sums of money to the poor. Instead, the emphasis is put on her actions. She “stretches” and “reaches” her hands to the poor and the needy. The implication is that she does not simply write a check but takes an active part in taking care of those who need her help. The words “stretch” and “reach” imply effort. What she does is not necessarily easy but it is something she feels compelled to do.
The woman of Proverbs 31 is emulated in the story of the Parker Valley sisters, particularly Sondra. These girls find out that caring for others is not just a suggestion or something that is done when we feel like it. It must be a way of life and something that we do because we are following the call of Christ.
Proverbs 31:19 “She layeth her hands to the spindle,
and her hands hold the distaff.”
Getting rid of laziness at all costs is an important goal in your life. Did you know that the opposite of the Proverbs 31 woman might be said to be “lazy?” After all, while her character is praised in the early verses, most of the passage has to do with the fact that she is industrious and cares for the needs of her family. A hard working woman is one that puts the needs of others before her own. In the Parker Valley series, Sondra learns the value of being industrious when it comes to keeping her family together.
The picture in verse 19 of Proverbs 31 is of a woman who is spinning thread from wool or flax. The spindle and distaff were tools used to spin before the spinning wheel was invented. The woman would hold the distaff against her shoulder with the wool or other fibers wound around it. At the same time, she would turn the spindle, drawing up the fibers and winding them to make thread. This was a tedious and laborious process that required great concentration. However, the woman in the verses does not hesitate; she employs the spindle and holds the distaff at the same time, meaning that she is taking on the job of spinning thread to make clothing for her family.
The picture in Proverbs 31 of the hard working woman is timeless, even though we no longer use a spindle and distaff to make clothing. In the Parker Valley series, Sondra finds that her “spindle and distaff” comes in the form of other types of work that she must do in order to keep her family together. It is important for us as women to be aware of our work demands and what we must do to keep our families healthy, safe and happy. Just like Sondra and the woman in Proverbs, we must be willing to do the tedious day-to-day work as well as the fun and exciting work necessary to glorify God through our lives and our families.
Proverbs 31:18 “She perceiveth that her merchandise [is] good:
her candle goeth not out by night.”
Today’s women face many challenges, but perhaps one of the greatest is being grateful every day for family and friends. Too often, women are told that they should “take time for themselves” and “find their own path.” As Sondra learns in the Parker Valley series, there is a time when sacrifice must come first in order to protect the family. As the woman in Proverbs 31 models for us, working hard to give the family what it needs is a noble calling. Taking your family for granted, on the other hand, can result in tragedy.
In Proverbs 31:18, the picture is of a woman who is hard at work all day and even long into the evening. She works hard because she wants to produce beautiful goods for her family. She is successful; that which she produced for her family in clothing, food and wealth was good and profitable.
However, there is a price to be paid for this bounty. “Candle” or “lamp” is to be understood literally. The same woman who planted the vineyard during the day is also weaving and working late at night. She will also rise early, before dawn, to prepare food. It is clear that her schedule starts before sunrise and ends late at night! However, she is happy to do this hard work because she wants to care for her household. This is the foremost priority of her life, not her own fun, pursuits or desires.
The Proverbs 31 woman protects what is her own. She appreciates her husband and her family and works to keep them happy. When you are taking your family for granted, you are looking down on the gifts God has placed in your life. Notice that this model woman “perceives that her merchandise is good.” You know deep in your heart that when you do what God has called you to do, you will receive satisfaction as never before and will find the “peace that passeth understanding,” even if you are tired by the hectic pace of family life!
Proverbs 31:17 “She girdeth her loins with strength,
and strengtheneth her arms.”
“I’ll get to it later.” How many times have we said that? It is not really sensible; after all, why save for tomorrow what you can do today? However, we tend to procrastinate, and procrastination makes us weak and vulnerable to worry, hurry and, ultimately, sin. In contrast, a Proverbs 31 woman of noble character gains virtue through rigorous work and is strong because she does not put off till tomorrow what should be done today. By pushing herself to finish her tasks, she strengthens herself tremendously and by extension her family.
Note that the picture here is of a warrior, not a “soft” woman. “She girdeth her loins with strength” refers to the reinforcing armor that a warrior would wear into battle. The “loins” are the area between the belly button and the knees, where the femoral artery is located. A favorite battle trick was to slash a soldier in the leg so that he would quickly lose blood and die, or stab the soft, unprotected lower belly. Therefore, armor was reinforced in this area so that the vulnerable loins would be protected.
“Strengthening her arms” is also a battle reference, this time to the gear that would cover the arms to protect them. As a warrior fought, his arms were right out in front, waiting to be slashed or stabbed by a sword. When warriors placed greaves over their arms, it gave them extra protection and strength. Another interpretation of this picture is of a warrior building up strength in the arms by exercising or perhaps lifting heavy objects.
Why does a strong woman like Sondra in the Parker Valley series need to think about battle? The battle in this case is not physical but spiritual. A Proverbs 31 woman of noble character knows that, just as we learn in Ephesians 6:10-18, putting on the “whole armor of God” is necessary to withstand temptation and remain strong in the Lord. Women of faith and strength can resist Satan’s wicked darts because they do not procrastinate. Instead, they gird themselves in preparation for battle every day and remain alert and vigilant.