As we continue our study of Proverbs 31:10-31, I think it is fitting to remind ourselves of the approach we ought to have when studying any portion of Scripture. When studying God’s Word, it is vital that we approach the Scripture with the intent that we will lay our lives down next to the Word, and since the Word is the absolute standard, we must be willing to change our lives to make them fit the Standard. However, some folks like to take the Standard, twist it and change it, so that it appears to conform to their life.
Sadly, there has been a lot of twisting when it comes to Proverbs 31:16. Instead of approaching the Scriptures with an open mind and a willing heart, ready to conform to God’s plan for the family, The assertion is made, based on this Proverbs 31:16, that the virtuous woman had a career, a business which took her away from her family, in real estate. However hard as one may try, one simply cannot come to that conclusion with honest exegesis.
The virtuous woman does indeed play an active part in expanding her family’s resources. There seem to be a couple of possibilities here. The Hebrew text literally says that she “taketh” it. This could possibly mean that she looked over the family property, and upon seeing that a certain field is not presently being used, she takes it and puts it to good use by planting a vineyard. However, the word is most commonly translated “buy”, and so we will continue with that supposition.
First, she considers the field and buys it. That is – she does not buy impulsively! Before buying she gives thought to: “Can we afford it?” “Is it worth it?” ” Is the soil fertile so that it will produce well?” “Will it benefit my family?” Only after satisfactorily considering if the benefit will outweigh the cost is the purchase made.
Perhaps we would do well to evaluate our own spending habits. Compulsive shopping is a significant problem in our shop-happy society. It creates hardship on the family budget and it is not in keeping with being good stewards, which the Lord requires of us. Too often people engage in emotional shopping, using it as a temporary fix for a troubled spirit. There is a saying that my husband heard growing up, and it bears repeating: “If your outgo exceeds your income, then your upkeep will be your downfall.”
Second, “with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.” The virtuous woman was able to use her homemaking skills to generate some extra money, and in turn, she used that extra income to build additional resources for the family. Notice that the text does not say that she set up a business away from her home. The text does indicate that she worked diligently at home, and she enjoyed profit from her endeavors.
Additionally, she didn’t have the attitude “This is MY money which I earned, and so I will spend it on MYSELF.” Too often women have the attitude that if they are able to generate extra income, for some reason it automatically ought to be their own, to spend on all those extras which they like to enjoy. The worthy woman of Proverbs 31 always had the well-being of her family in mind, and she did her part to help the family prosper. Yes, she did personally benefit from the fruit of her labors – she enjoyed fine clothing and tapestry, but she was not selfish with her gain.
From her profit (the fruit of her hands) she was able to secure the vines to plant in the vineyard. She had the cash first, then she made the purchase. We would do well to do a self-examination on spending habits. Our society makes plastic purchases so tempting. We are bombarded daily with advertisements trying to convince us of our latest “need.” Sometimes people do suffer hard times, due to circumstances beyond their control – illness, loss of job, etc., but very often financial difficulties are a result of poor money handling. There is a reason why financial gurus, such as Dave Ramsey, have a huge following.
Verse 16 is just another glimpse into her fine character which gave her husband every reason to be able to trust in her. She demonstrated good industry and wise stewardship, which resulted in blessings for her family.