Proverbs 31 Wife: Prepared
“She is not afraid for her household when it snows, for all her household are clothed in crimson.
She makes herself coverings; her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the city gates, taking his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them; she supplies the merchant with sashes” (Proverbs 31:21-24).
I don’t like sleeping alone in my home. Sounds childish, I know. But I really don’t. My imagination still activates when I hear a strange noise or see an odd shadow. I plan my escape routes just in case, which in reality, does more to frighten me than to calm me. There is just something about having Chris home that makes me feel safe. I know he would fight for my protection, which allows me to relax in his presence. (My hunch and hope is that becoming a mom some day will kick in some protective courage).
This Proverbs 31 Wife has certainly learned how not to fear in the face of danger to her family. Snow might seem soft and magical, but it can be furious and deadly. People can freeze or starve in the course of a fierce snow storm, yet this woman did not fear snow’s attack on her family.
What’s the secret to squashing out fear?
Being prepared. We can’t predict all things, and we certainly wouldn’t want to develop paranoid tendencies, but we can develop a healthy sense of preparedness. The Proverbs 31 Wife looks ahead to the needs of her family and puts in the work to prepare them for that need. In this case, she makes clothes of scarlet or crimson, which have been also interpreted as double garments (inner-wear and outer-wear).1 In our cases, it could be as drastic as taking a self-defense class, gathering an earthquake survival kit, or agreeing on a meeting point in the case of phone lines being down in a drastic emergency. Or it could be as everyday as paying life insurance premiums, doing the grocery shopping, cleaning the clothes, looking for clothing sales, and arranging for carpools. No matter what the preparation is, it brings blessing to the Proverbs 31 Wife’s family.
Similarly, she makes coverings “for the furniture and ornament of her house.”2 Even her home is dressed beautifully and protectively. Keeping a home is challenging for a number of reasons, but this wife appears to be prepared in the decor of her home. If a guest arrives unannounced, she will have already done the work to demonstrate a well-kept home.
She herself wears clothes of fine material and of esteemed color, both of which are fitting for her position. Her husband is an elder at the city gates, which means he contributes to the counsel and judgement of the city.3 He is considered a man of repute not just because of his elder status, but also because of his wife: “His domestic comfort promotes his advancement in public dignity.”4 The care that she puts into her own dress and into his shows her care for their reputations. This is not in a manner of vanity but in a manner of respect.
How we dress reflects our husbands. How they dress reflects us. Beyond apparel, how we speak about one another and how we behave in public have a direct influence on the other spouse’s reputation. This Proverbs 31 Wife is prepared to keep her husband an esteemed elder by also maintaining good repute in the home life.
Matthew Henry writes, “By [the husband's] wise counsels, and prudent management of affairs, it appears that he has a discreet companion in his bosom, by conversation with whom he improves himself. By his cheerful countenance and pleasant humour it appears that he has an agreeable wife at home; for many that have not have their tempers strangely soured by it. Nay, by his appearing clean and neat in his dress, every thing about him decent and handsome, yet not gaudy, one may know he has a good wife at home, that takes care of his clothes.”5
Very little in our lives is neutral in its reflection on our husbands. When we are caught off-guard in our fatigue, our stress, our irritation, our pain, or our greed, we can leave reputational scars on our husbands, especially with our careless words. Being prepared in the daily decision that we will honor our husbands and in the daily maintenance of our own self-care will drastically reduce the number of times our words, actions, or appearance will disparage our husbands’ repute.
Outside of the home, her reputation precedes her. The implication of selling linens and girdles (“costly and highly valued”6) to merchants is that this Proverbs 31 Wife has already provided for her family and is able to offer, out of her abundance, fine garments to the community.7 It takes preparation to create a quality surplus, and it takes preparation to engage in the community. Relationships are not built over-night or haphazardly, but with care. This wife is leaving her community better than she came to it by engaging it with her excellent gifts.
The most significant reason why a prepared woman is a fearless and valued woman is not because she will have a plan in the face of danger and not because she will make her family look its best, but rather because she rests in the true knowledge that she has done everything she could. She is above reproach in her thoughtfulness and execution, and if all else fails after that, she knows that God is still cheering her on saying, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
1. Gill, John. John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible. Accessed 2 April 2012. http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/proverbs-31-21.html
2. Gill, John. John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible. Accessed 2 April 2012. http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/proverbs-31-22.html
3. Wesley, John. Wesley’s Explanatory Notes. Accessed 2 April 2012. http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/wesleys-explanatory-notes/proverbs/proverbs-31.html?p=2
4. Brown, Jamieson Faussett. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. 2 April 2012. http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/jamieson-fausset-brown/proverbs/proverbs-31.html
5. Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete). Accessed 2 April 2012. http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/proverbs/31.html?p=4
6. Brown, Jamieson Faussett. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. 2 April 2012.http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/jamieson-fausset-brown/proverbs/proverbs-31.html
7. Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete). Accessed 2 April 2012. http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/proverbs/31.html?p=4