She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
Great women are ingenious and industrious. They are intelligent and diligent. They see business opportunities and leverage them for the benefit of the family estate. They fulfill domestic duties to husband and children first, but they have a mind and drive to do more.
A virtuous woman – the great woman every wise man should marry – is an enterprising woman. She is not content with merely being a limited housewife. She knows she is capable of more, so she does more. The example here is a manufacturing and wholesale business in fine linen and girdles. This woman has an entrepreneurial and ambitious spirit that seeks profitable projects to support her husband and build the family income.
Leisure women, who like the easy life of a limited housewife and resent this proverb, need to remember that a mother gave the advice. This chapter of Proverbs has the words of King Lemuel, but they are the prophecy his mother taught him (Pr 31:1-2). This great mother gave her son godly wisdom on how to be a great king (Pr 31:3-9) and how to find a virtuous woman for marriage (Pr 31:10-31). Wise men and women will love the advice.
In all fairness, the virtuous woman did have servants (Pr 31:15). However, managing servants has its own burdens. But she did not have refrigerators, telephones, email, easy transportation, microwaves, vacuum cleaners, clothes washers and dryers, dishwashers, cheap capital, and a thousand other labor-saving devices, inventions, and sources of information. She was exceptionally diligent, disciplined, focused, and productive.
It is an error of Bible interpretation to believe a woman must be home all the time doing only domestic duties. Some require this even when children are in school, old enough to care for themselves, or married and gone! The “keepers at home” of Titus 2:5 condemns idleness, busybodies, and gossip, which a comparison with I Timothy 5:13-14 shows. It warns against the actions of a strange woman, who wanders wantonly in a city (Pr 7:11).
The Bible error, possibly the Victorian era, and other factors have caused some Christian women to be decorative, pampered, and unproductive objects at home. God never intended this! These women struggle to put boxes of cereal out for breakfast, run a couple loads of laundry through machines, and extort pizza out of their husbands for supper. What do they do all day? Little! The virtuous woman could do their day in an hour!
The virtuous woman is preeminently a diligent woman – extremely hard working for her husband and children. Fearing the Lord (Pr 31:30), this holy woman applies herself physically and mentally from early to late each day. She has no time for chatting on the phone, long emails, window-shopping, tea parties, Bible studies with televangelists, sitting for hours at soccer practice, playing tennis, checking prices at ten stores, sewing clothes that could be purchased, reading for pleasure, art lessons, or other wastes of time.
A woman with small children and no servants has little time for business, but that is true only for a few years of a woman’s life. If she is a good mother and trainer, even children of 7-10 can do many domestic duties. The heart of a great woman is motivated to do more as soon as possible. She does not pace herself, protect a leisure lifestyle, or become a soccer mom. She wants to outwork her husband and contribute financially, so she does!
The virtuous woman is creative, diligent, energetic, focused, intense, and most of all, productive. She gets a lot done every day! She does not lose or waste time. Her family is well cared for, but she does not stop there. She looks to the future and builds the estate. Men married to such women should give them part of their earnings, so they can plow it into greater earnings (Pr 31:16,31). Her husband is famous because of her (Pr 31:23,28).
Christian woman, here is the standard; here is the ideal – the virtuous woman. The lesson is simple: she takes on financial projects to add earnings to the family, whether it is a paid job or a small business. She is not content with the leisurely life of a housewife in an age of many conveniences. She finds opportunities to add income for the family, and she does not sacrifice the family pursuing them. She is the perfect woman. Study her! Copy her!
Christian wife, if your husband and children are well cared for, and you work a full-time job, you are already doing a great deal. There is little to no time for much else. You are to be commended for balancing such large responsibilities in two opposing directions. May God comfort you that you may have already met the standard of this proverb, and may He teach you the principle of mercy toward yourself (Matt 12:7; Pr 11:17).
Christian wife, if you are at home with young children, and resources and time will not allow much outside work, focus on what God does expect. Make sure you are the best companion and lover for your husband, keep an exceptional home, and diligently train godly character into your children, so they can help in the house and soon be great in their lives and endeavors. Be wise as things change to not miss an opportunity for more.
Christian man, here is the standard; here is the ideal – the virtuous woman. There are two inspired criteria that a king’s mother taught: a woman that will be a great wife fears the Lord (Pr 31:30), and she is exceptionally ambitious and diligent, well beyond domestic duties. Require these two traits, and you will have a jewel with value far above rubies (Pr 31:10). If men expected women like this, many marriages would be different and better.