Proverbs 31:18

She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.

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A virtuous woman is confident and driven. King Lemuel’s mother described the perfect woman in detail, so her son would know what to look for in a wife (Pr 31:1-2,10-12). The fear of the Lord is the first prerequisite (Pr 31:30), and diligence is the most important character trait (Pr 31:13-31). This proverb shows a great woman’s confidence and drive.

“She perceiveth that her merchandise is good.” The virtuous woman knows her performance, productivity, and results are good. Her purchase of a field and investment in a vineyard are great ideas (Pr 31:16); she is committed to do what it takes to make her income-producing venture a success (Pr 31:17). She is confident of her plan and future.

Humility is not a defeated attitude about abilities. Humility is being strong and confident about plans, because you trust the Lord, not just yourself (Jas 4:13-15). Paul was a humble and meek apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, but he also declared that he worked harder than the other apostles, by the grace of God (I Cor 15:10; II Cor 11:5; 12:11-12).

Great women are not puffed up about abilities, nor do they brag about accomplishments. Never! But they know they have a good plan, what it takes to get the job done, and that they can do it. This confident and strong approach to domestic and outside-the-home pursuits condemns the timidity and weakness of many Christian women (Pr 20:4; 22:13).

A virtuous woman is a confident and strong woman. Jael is one of the greatest women in the Bible (Jdgs 5:24). Why? Intimidation, false humility, timidity, and fear are not Christian virtues, no matter how piously they are presented. A skilled and gracious hostess knows when a meal is well prepared. To think otherwise is folly or slothfulness.

Confidence in personal ability and benefit to others is a strong source of motivation to work hard and extra hard. Knowing her efforts produce much, she is willing to put in extra effort and time. Knowing her productivity benefits her family and others, she is glad for the opportunity to serve and applies herself with focused intensity and perseverance.

A virtuous woman is bold, while humble and modest as a Christian woman (Pr 28:1; I Tim 2:9-10). Think Esther, Ruth, the great woman of Shunem, the woman of Canaan, and others (Es 5:1-2; Ruth 3:1-5; II Kgs 4:8-10; Matt 15:21-28). This godly boldness and confidence even makes her a better lover (Song 1:12; 2:3-7; 3:1; 7:10; 8:10; I Cor 7:1-5).

“Her candle goeth not out by night.” The virtuous woman is driven. She knows there is profit in all labor (Pr 14:23). She does not waste time talking. Once she settles on a plan, she goes for it. When she has a job to do, she gets it done. Extra effort or extra hours do not discourage her. She finishes her projects. She completes her tasks. She is a success, because she will not quit until the goal is obtained. She does not faint (Pr 24:10).

She knows her family and she will become poor, if she is not diligent at her duties (Pr 10:4; 13:4; 21:5). She knows future freedom and opportunities for her family also depend on her diligence (Pr 12:24; 22:29). Everything at her disposal she uses wisely (Pr 12:27), wastes nothing (Pr 18:19), and leverages labor-saving devices or methods (Pr 14:4).

This great woman detests and rejects the pampered lifestyle of many wives, who live a leisurely lifestyle due to their husband’s diligence and perseverance. She does not excuse herself by thinking of him as the only breadwinner or the main one to be productive and persevering. She will match or exceed him cheerfully in her own areas of responsibility.

Of course, this is a proverb. It does not mean she never sleeps, even if the words indicate she works all night. This is hyperbole – an obvious exaggeration. She puts forth whatever effort is called for to get the job done. She perseveres energetically. But she does not cross the line of reasonable labor, though appearing extreme when compared to the lazy women around her, into that excessive effort that denies the Lord His role (Ps 127:1-2).

What is the purpose of Proverbs 31:10-31? It was written by a queen mother to tell her son how to find a great, virtuous wife (Pr 31:1-2,10-12). Fathers and sons should learn the passage well and pursue only those girls that match the character and conduct found here. Mothers and daughters should see the inspired standard and choose to follow it. All of it is part of God’s divine library to give wisdom to His children for ultimate living.

What is the spiritual application? The church of Jesus Christ is His bride and wife. She should perceive that the spiritual blessings, truth, and wisdom committed to her care and defense are incontrovertibly great (I Tim 3:15-16). She should put forth whatever effort it takes to defend and promote them against carnal Christianity (II Tim 4:1-4; Jude 1:3). She should be eager and willing to love and serve others regardless of cost (II Cor 12:15).