She looks for wool and flax, and works with her hands in delight. She is like merchant ships; she brings her food from afar
That's where understanding the culture and time in which these verses were written is very helpful in "getting" this Proverbs 31 thing.
Let's start with "She looks for wool and flax". Yes, we want to become a woman who is honored to be called a Proverbs 31 woman, but to be honest, most of us don't know the first thing about wool or flax.
See looked for wool and flax because that was necessary in her culture. She had to have wool and flax in order to weave fabric that would be used to make clothes for her family.
So maybe we don't go out looking for wool and flax, that's not typical for our culture, but we do make sure our children have clothes to wear. She may have had wool and flax, but she did not know how to operate a washer or a dryer and she did not have department stores. If this had been written in our culture it may have said something like this:
When the children's pants are too short, she heads to Wal-Mart, consignment stores, Children's Place, or Old Navy to find what they need at the best price. She makes sure her family has clean clothes to wear and puts a load of laundry in the washer on the way out the door, headed across town to the the grocery.
Speaking of going to the grocery.....let's move on to verse 14 "She is like merchant ships; she brings her food from afar." What was a merchant ship in this day? Merchant ships traveled about the seas collecting needed merchandise to bring back to the people who made exchanges for the merchandise. Often merchant ships traveled at times that were not optimal or convenient, facing the elements of nature. This was typical for their culture.
What is typical for our culture?
Do you go out and bring back to your home what your family needs?
If your child has a fever during the night, and the medicine cabinet is empty, do you head out to Walgreen's for some Ibuprofen or Tylenol?
Of course you do. You go from store to store gathering the things needed to feed, clothe, and care for your family. You do it all seasons of the year, you do it when it's not convenient, you do it when it's not in optimal conditions. You pull in the driveway, drag in the bags, and they fill the counter.
Like a merchant ship.
It's unquestionable that my car feels like a merchant ship when I steer into my garage many times. It seems as if I have had to stop at every store between my house and Timbuktu. I felt like the captain of a a merchant ship this past Saturday. We went to get back to school haircuts, school clothes, school shoes, and we had to restock the cupboards while we were out. Phewwww! You know you've been gone a while when your husband texts you with "Everybody okay?"
The girls were so glad to get home and "dock the ship" and Husband was glad to see my little Buick steering into the harbor too.
(We won't mention the gallon of ice cream that was left aboard the ship until Sunday afternoon...... Ahem.
Yes, P31 friend o'mine, you are like a merchant ship.
Aren't you delighted when these things are accomplished? Delighted when your family's needs are met?
You are more of a Proverbs 31 woman than you thought!