I'm really enjoying sharing these pretty blocks with you each month, and hope you're finding just as much joy as you stitch them. It's also my prayer that as we dig deeper into the study of this chapter of Proverbs, we grow in our character, becoming more and more like Christ's own example of one who follows God and chooses to apply His Word to every area of our lives.
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The previous month's patterns can be found HERE
When you read verse 14, it can seem like a pretty big ask to be like a merchant ship when providing food for our family, especially as this dear homemaker lived 3,000 years ago.
Today we’re told to ‘buy local’ or ‘grow our own’ if we’re able, and many of us do that, but it’s also very easy to buy food from the other side of the country, even the world, if we want to. Such is our way of life in 2023.
In 1000 BC, around the time the book of Proverbs was written, far away did not mean what it does today, but for those like our women who travelled by foot, wagon or mule, to gather supplies for the family’s pantry, far away may well have been the markets in the next town. She did not pop out to the shops or the supermarket each day as many do now, but gathered her requirements in larger quantities (hence the merchant ship similarity) to maintain all her household, which would have included husband, children, maid servants and perhaps elderly parents.
Unlike today, there was no refrigeration, and therefore red meat was only eaten on special occasions, and fish or poultry cooked fresh. The daily diet of our Proverbs 31 family predominantly consisted of –
Grains such as wheat, barley, olives, grapes;
Legumes such as lentils, fava beans, chickpeas;
Vegetables such as onions, leeks, and garlic;
Fruits such as olives, grapes, dates, apples, watermelon, pomegranates and figs.
When you consider the diet of those living around Jerusalem in that time, it’s easier to appreciate why our virtuous wife was described as being like a merchant ship. Imagine the effort she made to procure the produce, in large quantities to last a while, and for a large household!
I can imagine she was very wise with the family income because evidence of this is shown further along (in verse 16), and as we read in verse 11, her husband safely trusted her and had no lack of gain, so she would have made the very best decision on what, when and how much to buy when filling the pantry, never being wasteful.
I found this verse to be quite a topic to tackle when I studied into it, because I live in a consumerist society, just as most of us do; a society used to shopping online or in person when we want something, gathering odd ingredients to make that ‘new’ recipe, tossing out the pot with the loose handle to buy another, trying different cuisines, eating out or buying take-away meals when we’re too tired, busy or just don’t feel like cooking, filling the kitchen with electrical appliances that make anything from waffles to pies to donuts and yet end up living pushed to the back of the cupboard when the novelty wears off…do you know what I mean?
Of course, we’re more than likely not all doing everything I listed, but I mention them because they are quite common today, in varying degrees, in our lives and the lives of other women.
Income is something (usually) obtained through hard work, and I am sure this Proverbs wife and her husband worked hard for all they acquired. They did not squander their resources on impulse buying, or frivolous expenses, but carefully directed their assets into the provision of food, shelter, giving to the poor, and expanding their ability to provide for their family in the future.
You may not be challenged by this verse, you might be on top of it all as you ‘bring your food from afar’, but I am challenged to go through our budget again with fresh eyes. My husband praises me for how I run our household, but I am frivolous at times, and without a shopping list can tend to buy more than we need or buy items that we could have easily done without. Oftentimes I have looked over the household receipts at the end of a month and been downhearted at the $ which could have gone towards our mortgage or been added to our giving, but praise God for His Word, and the reminders within, which guide us when we begin to stray from the better path.
Perhaps some of you will join me in February as I pray about our family finances, eliminate the unnecessary, and plan our new budget with God’s grace and wisdom. May we all seek to better equip ourselves as keepers of the home.
Bless you heaps,