She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
A great wife is creative and diligent. She will not settle for convenience, economy, or habit. She seeks better dishes to serve her family and better ways to fulfill other domestic roles. She gladly puts forth the effort to obtain excellent and unique things for her husband and children. She is not discouraged that creativity requires extra work and time.
Solomon’s Proverbs include the lengthiest and most detailed description of a wife’s role found in the Bible. Written by a queen mother, it is inspired wisdom for men to marry an industrious and productive woman. After the fear of the LORD, which is the crucial trait for a virtuous wife (Pr 31:30), she must be diligent in her life. Here she must be creative.
Addicted to convenience and ease, the world has spawned a generation of lazy women, who have lost the ability and drive to be creative and diligent domestically. They are often more concerned about how easy of a supper they can throw together than plan an imaginative and pleasant surprise for the family. This is a loss! This is the lesson!
Excellence marks the virtuous woman. She does not look for shortcuts; she looks for the best. Convenience means little to her. Superb nutritious eating and great pleasure and comfort for her family are far more important. She does not care what other women are doing; she wants to reward and honor her husband and children with special service.
She knows well that a new meal with an innovative dish or two is a special event for everyone. Enjoyed in the quiet, warmth, and security of a peaceful and loving home, it provides double pleasure to those at the table (Pr 15:17; 17:1). Soul and body are nourished and renewed there, and she rises to new levels in the esteem of her family.
Merchant ships did not travel short distances to find whatever was available or on sale; they went great distances to find unique commodities and special products that would command a premium. The ship arriving back in port with the most unusual and intriguing items would receive enthusiastic attention and build the reputation for that merchant.
A virtuous and industrious woman generally does not sleep in, go to bed early, take naps, talk on the phone, play every day, text friends, window shop, watch television, sit at Little League practice too often, take up hobbies, play long board games with children, or waste time other ways. She lives with a sense of time urgency, rather than pursuing ease.
A man would get fired, or never get ahead, if he worked the same way – looking to avoid as much work as possible to protect his easy daily routine. He is expected to be creative, diligent, productive, and to work with his own time urgency, every day! Some Christian women, piously claiming to be a “keeper at home,” lead a life of ease that women in history could not have imagined. Life is close to a perpetual vacation for such women.
The average woman a few generations ago could outwork any two women of this generation, and she never complained that her husband did not take the family out to eat enough. She did not know what it meant to eat at McDonalds or any other restaurant, and she never begged, bribed, or coerced her husband into ordering pizza. You better believe she worked hard. What do you think the chief character trait of Proverbs 31:10-31 is?
A virtuous woman knows she can create a more unique and exciting meal for less than going out to eat. She also knows the atmosphere at home is more conducive to family unity and marital affection. The reverence of her husband and children far outweighs the lazy desire to skip meal preparation and cleanup. And she also knows her meal is better nutritionally than most fast food deals. She gladly chooses excellence over convenience.
A real meal takes longer than mac-and-cheese (from a box), pancakes (for supper), frozen TV dinners (from a sale), two-for-one pizza (from a newspaper clipping), and fish sticks and tater tots (from the same frozen food bin). This is what guys at college might fix for a meal, but not a woman that loves her husband and children and believes this proverb.
Meat, gravy, eggs, potatoes, biscuits, and fruit for breakfast take more work than spreading an array of colorful boxes of sugared puffs with a pitcher of so-called milk. A wise woman will remember the simple fact that the so-called food in such a box is worth only a small fraction of the packaging, advertising, and distribution of the box!
Most men complain little as their wives become less creative and diligent. To criticize such things condemns her person and performance, which might disrupt other aspects of the marriage. So these men quietly remember their mother’s creative cooking and excellent meals and ascribe the bland or convenience food he now gets to changing times.
Slothful women know how to act confused or tired at mealtime in order to solicit their husbands’ compassionate call for take-out, so men endure a deteriorating routine of domestic slothfulness until they get accustomed to it or escape by death. (Or a friend, who married a virtuous woman, invites them to eat a proper meal at his house!)
Husband, if your wife works full-time outside the home, you made a choice in allocating her scarce resources of time and energy that has consequences. You cannot expect her to be a domestic queen like the virtuous woman in addition to being gone fifty hours a week to a job. If you do expect both, then your bedroom will likely be for sleeping only!
Husband, if your wife teaches your children at home instead of sending them to a public or private school, you also should discreetly and kindly allow less creativity and effort in meals, for you have asked her to invest much energy, emotion, patience, and time into a project most men could not handle for one week. God loves lovers of mercy. Remember the additional burden you have put on her and assist her in meals in the ways you can.
Christian woman, God’s standard for a virtuous wife is very high. But remember that a woman, one of your own, looking out for her son, wrote it (Pr 31:1). This is the kind of woman wise men should seek in marriage, and this kind of woman will be honored by her husband and children (Pr 31:28). Can you be more creative and diligent as a wife? A woman with a pure conscience and strong fear of God will soberly consider these things.
As bride of Jesus Christ, what will you give Him today? Will you settle for convenience, like a slothful wife – hurried Bible reading and a quick prayer? Or will you meditate carefully, pray fervently, praise gloriously, and obey faithfully? Learn to hate religious routine – a mere form of godliness. Do not be a lover of pleasures more than a lover of God. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12; II Pet 1:10).
God denied David’s desire to build a temple. Since David loved the LORD, he did not use God’s answer to excuse his conscience, which craved to do something special. He zealously gathered funds to pay for Solomon’s temple, so it might be exceeding magnifical (I Chr 22:5; 29:2). Follow David’s creative example of loving and serving God. What can you do to be like this man in his zeal for the worship of the living God?