The Virtuous Woman
A devotional commentary on
She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. Proverbs 31:19
Yod = a hand, which performs the will in all activity. Used many times of the Lord in Whose hand we rest secure. Also of the handmaid of the Lord who ever keeps her eyes upon that hand that indicates to her by sign each dictate of His Will. Thus does she become his hand whose will she thus fulfils.
Yielded Hands: Her hands are yielded to her Lord. Like all her members, they are His, no longer servants of the former will, but instruments of righteousness. Touched by the blood and by the oil, cleansed from all that is unworthy and impure, they function at the impulse of His Mind Whose Spirit now controls. How gladly she accepts His filling of her hands with that which ceaselessly she waves before the One this offering exalts. Day after day, and hour by hour do they untiring seek His glory, show His praise, in working out His Will, and in her heart His ways. In homely language does this verse its lesson serve this offering to describe. In one hand is the distaff from which the thread is slowly unwound. From the other the spindle hangs. Inch by inch the thread of life passes through her hands. Moment by moment does the spindle spin the seconds by. There is no going back. Of each moment is something made, nor can it be reversed or yet undone. Something is learned, or virtue gained, the processing of time. Through consecrated hands the moments pass, experience and privilege first to last, while to the end the spindle spins, and thus with many fibres forms the thread. Of every moment is there some thing wrought. Like forty days in embryo each hour a change, each moment does it grow, nor does one moment lapse but is so. With wondrous sense of purpose is her life transformed from pointless wandering to a shining way. Thus does she take each moment as it comes and e'er it slips through fingers and away she uses it to glory of her Lord. Thus patience does perform its perfect work, until holiness adorn the servant of the Lord.
Handfuls of Purpose: Tedious the work of gleaning, like that spinning inch by inch. The single ears of corned picked one by one. So Ruth gleaned in the field 'til evening came. But one was watching and observed that maid of Moab's stooping frame, and her meticulous care. How well she searched and gathered, one hand reaching while the other to her breast received and clasped the sheaf she gained. And from his lips (who was to be her future Bridegroom) came the instruction to his servants concerning her, that they let fall "handfuls of purpose" for her to find. Did she the message get? Did she thus realise that overruling of her lord? Do we? "Where hast thou gleaned today?"
...And all the women...brought what they had spun... Exodus 35:25.
She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. Proverbs 31:20
Caph = a covering wing, or the hollow of a palm. Wings were used to cover and protect, to succour and defend. Comforting their warmth and cheer to those in need. Used to describe the dear Lord's care of those He owns as His. His hands too open to fulfil and satisfy each heart's desire.
Child of Consolation: Her name is Charity as her Father's Name is Love. The cheer and goodness that her Lord brings to her life she gladly shares, and knows whatever form such giving takes her own supply will never fail. In emptying she the more is filled, and her abundance overspills to all around. Each cool refreshing cup of water from her hands ne'er fails to guarantee her Master's smile. As many blessings fill the heart that cared. Touched with the feeling of her Lord's compassion, thus does she know the joy of love that lives most when it gives. The "poor" in this verse means those depressed whether in mind alone or circumstance. The reaching out towards all such who need that helping hand, some word of understanding cheer, encouragement and love, involves a caring sensitive heart. It cannot bear its blessed fulness now except to share with those around whose emptiness cries out. Thus deeper grows that bond with her dear Lord, both in her burden bearing and her grace, her sharing all she has, communion of heaven's love. A child of consolation she indeed a breath of heaven breaths into the lives of those whose hearts are low. Known is she, like her God, for refuge, shelter, strength, no, not her own, but His, for His comfort she fits to others needs. The Spirit of her Lord within attracts not to herself but to the One she serves in ministry of that grace received. Inducing trust, such spirit makes her first to whom they turn when earthly comforts fail.
Chalice of Cheer: Hers is the privilege of dispensing now a foretaste of that sweet transforming power this earth shall know in age of love to come. She cannot yet wipe out all tears, but introduces broken hearts to One Who can and will. The reaper, death, she cannot stay, but 'neath its shadow other prisoners hear that song at night's dark hour when she is called to share their pain. If thus her songs of love's salvation one heart claim to turn from prisoner of dark to one of hope, or cause one tearful face to look towards the cross, her life is not in vain. Yet greater joys remain to which such foretastes point. How blest that hour when from death's power the Bride cries "come!", and first to ankles, then to waist, to neck, the weary world first taste and then are overwhelmed by heaven's grace, and that abundant life of knowing God, and walk the path that previously she trod. Each act today of sharing, caring love, engraves more deep that likeness to the Lord, more able makes that minister of grace when heaven's windows open from above to flood this earth with glory.
And saviours shall come up on mount zion
She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. Proverbs 31:21
Lamed = an ox goad. It was used to motivate and thus to guide the ox according to the wishes of its master. In Ecclesiastes 12:11 it is used to describe the words of the wise. In Acts 26:14 it refers to the pricking of the conscience in the mind of Saul of Tarsus.
Labours of Love: The labours motivated by true love of her brethren of the Household of God ever seeketh their highest welfare and good. Such love anticipates with wise foresight the future needs of failing years, and seeks to build up and to strengthen faith in things unseen, dependence on the strength that faileth not when human strength gives way. The effect of her fellowship is thus to deepen trust and to encourage that maturing of the spirit mind, the fitting of the armour well secure against the needs of battles yet to be, that in the evil day they thus may stand. The flimsy passing arguments of time that tend with fruitless words to shipwreck faith, sow discord among friends, and serve the enemy whose devices we well know, can never serve the interest of saints. The structure founded firm, established and secure in Him we love, must grow in things divine—gold tried in fire, in truth's bright silver framed, with precious gems of promise overlaid, a building worthy of our God, His Temple Spirit‑filled, made to endure. Such will not fear when icy blasts of winter chill the air, when looking for our friends, they are not there! To this upbuilding does the woman's task not cease, until, her brethren served, she is at peace in knowing that they share in deed, not word, that "secret place," where they may be secure, whatever comes.
Luxurious Living: Having a Father Who loves to make abundant provision for His child's comfort and blessing, the Betrothed shares that deep desire that the household of God indulge in all the blessings of abundant living available to them now. The Lord's saints may be poor in the eyes of the world, yet are they rich in faith. They must learn to live with glory, learn to live in the centre of a great love the dimensions of which they have yet to comprehend. Their garments are of scarlet (margin, 'double garments'). Theirs are the great privileges of firstborns. They are of a royal line, all children of a King. All these blessed realities, the exceeding great and precious promises, the dizziness of the height of the heavenly calling, the untold treasures of divine truth, all things are for their sakes that the abundant grace might, through the thanksgiving of many, redound to the glory of God. This wondrous provision, the abundance of His thoughts towards us, the riches of His mercy and tender love, all combine to produce that warm inner glow of the beloved of God. Her household will not fear the snow in winter, the chill of earthly loss. The mighty fortress of all the divine resources remains her impregnable abode.
I will lay thy foundations with sapphires
She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Prov.31:22
Mem = water, the waters of the sea. The greatest covering. When the earth was passing through its earlier stages, "Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains." Psalm 104:6. In due course the whole earth will thus be filled with the knowledge of His glory.
Mantle Making: With the vision of that blessed hope in her heart, the wife of the Lamb makes herself ready. As probationary minister of reconciliation she adorns herself with meekness and the mantle of mercy. Her ability as a future minister of the new covenant is related, she knows, to the preparation of the garments of glory and beauty which depict the blessed qualities required of the Christ to befit the work before them and to relate to the satisfying of every human need. Here and now is the time and place of that preparation. Then there is the wedding dress, the cutting out, the making up, the putting on and fitting of His likeness. The sanctifying power of the hope combines with the experimental 'suffering with,' and 'dying with', that constitutes that 'fellowship,' that 'sharing' with her Lord, to form such closeness that His character and mind in her is formed. The path to glory for each saint is marked out by the footprints of the Lamb.
Thoroughly Furnished: Her hours she spends in the beautifying of the House of God, His dwelling place. She takes to heart the instructions, and corrections and reproof of the divine Word. Thus is His sanctuary 'furnished right through' in that blessed and holy way that makes the God of glory feel at rest, at home. His Spirit grants the wisdom and the skill, as in the days the Tent of God was made a shadow of His dwelling‑place today. That Spirit thus adorns all she does touch, and 'everyday' and 'ordinary' transforms, for everything she does is for her God. Her garments were foreshown in priestly dress, fine linen (not here 'silk') of righteousness, while purple to another priesthood points. The order now is of Melchisedec, the King of Righteousness and King of Peace. So high the call she knows, so short the hours that yet remain to make that calling sure. In His hands are her times, Who, calling, knew the heart that would respond to favour shown. He trusts her zeal this one thing to do, all else forsaking, and redeeming time, that she might so run to obtain. In turn she trusts her Lord, Who would not call without supplying every needed aid, and grace sufficient for the pressing task.
He set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen (Esther 2:17)
Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. Proverbs 31:23
Nun = a fish, the name of a gate of the city of Jerusalem. Though dubious the source, the fish became one of the earliest symbols of the Christian church, an acronym for the title in the Greek, 'Jesus Christ of God the Son Saviour', each first letter being taken to form the word ichthys, 'fish'.
The Noble Name: Wonderful Counsellor, He sits at the gate of all knowledge, epitome of the wisdom of the truly wise. Of the Creator, Source of all the great unsearchables, He alone could say, "I have known Thee." He also knows with intimate acquaintance all there is in man. Ruth 4:1 "Then went Boaz up to the gate, (where all matters were decided,) and sat him down there:" with the elders of the city. The Law had claims over Ruth, but could not help her. Boaz settled the claim of Law on her behalf. He acted as her 'gaal', her 'next of kin', redeemer. "What the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh" He has done for this His future Bride. He "hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law." (Romans 8:2,3. Galatians 3:13.) The cost of that redemption and the way that it was met conveys some inkling of her preciousness to Him. In her eyes He is Wonderful indeed, His Name the name of Wisdom and of Love. The only Name all other names above.
Next of Kin: Nearer and dearer than the closest friend, His is the Name she shares. This is the honour that she treasures most, to bear His Name. What sense of honour does this bring, and with what carefulness she walks, that she be worthy of that Name. In His Name does she serve, in His Name pray, in His Name shares with God her deep desires. To call upon that Name is to be saved. To breath that Name, the deepest peace inspires. Its holiness repels unworthy thought. No impure word, no shameful act of hers shall bring upon that Name the least reproach. Her whole life honours it, and hers the first of knees that bow at its sweet sound. When one day every knee will bend, all tongues confess Him as their worthy Lord, she longs to then be at His side to lead and welcome for Him all acclaim, who first has trusted in that Name.
His name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee (Song of Solomon 1:3)
She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. Proverbs 31:24
Samech = a prop or support. A measure of the love for her husband is the total support she seeks to give to Him and to His work. The upholding of His word, and defence of His good Name, in these things she would wish to be His 'pillar of strength.'
Savour of Salt: The seal of a saint is the influence of the life. Her Lord is known for love of righteousness and hatred of iniquity. She is His partner here below, 'salt' of the earth. Together is the title shared "Light of the world." His influence within her glows, her life in flesh does manifest the life of Christ. Salt by its nature purifies. Corruption is resisted by its power, and further it adds relish to all touched. So in her life the woman's touch endows the everyday occasions with a grace befitting to her call. The linen she prepares is yet to clothe the many imperfections of the world. The many righteous acts of saintly souls may seem today to influence so few, but this does not deter her holding forth that living Word, nor can she hide for long the torch that burns within. She whists not that her face her "life" betrays, nor knows what influence her ways may yet reveal. The time may be that others may recall, at hour of their deep need, the light she bore, and glorify her Lord.
Satisfying Service: Not only does she become perceptive in her appreciation of righteousness, and the qualities of service that distinguish human from divine, but her wearing of these adornments so fitly and with such grace models them for the world around. People tend to want what they can see brings satisfaction and delight to other's lives. The blessings of the truth and of the Light, the Christian's joy and peace best advertise. The world will hear her call to "Come and buy!" and then will sluice‑gates open to engulf this earth with all the blest effects of righteousness. For this great call the Bride even now prepares. What she has learned of grace she then will share to turn the tide of human misery. His jewels who His character reveal, that light and beauty of a holy walk, will then turn men on earth to righteousness, and like the suns will shine into this world with all the warmth of heaven's love. The reed of gold, that standard of divine, to which all things on earth must measure up in time, will be the finished Christ, the Head and Body too, in whom He now engraves to His eternal praise that righteous holy law.