Proverbs 31:18

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by: FCC Staff

10/18/2021

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“She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.  Her lamp does not go out at night.” 

Understanding the wisdom presented in Proverbs 31 predicates a need to understand the culture in which it was written. We can think that women being entrepreneurial or self-reliant is a fairly modern occurrence, however it was very common in the culture of the Bible. It doesn’t mean that women did not face prejudice when engaging in this culture, but the paradigm of wisdom that is held up in the 31st proverb holds a regal dignitary that transcends time, culture, or place.

These two ideas show the ideal of knowing how to manage one’s own business, and making preparations to see to the needs of others. Not having a keen mind for business and knowing how to “get a good deal” can lead one into a cycle of poverty and desperation. The imagery of a lamp staying lit was an ancient metaphor of preparedness. Trouble came in the night, and not having a ready light against the darkness would cause a household to be at the mercy of evildoers. Jesus used this imagery himself when he told the parable of the 10 virgins.

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:1-13)

Oftentimes, we look to the wisdom of this section of proverbs only as an example of a woman who takes care of her family well. And, certainly, we can see this is the case. But moreover, this is wisdom literature, and as such we can find many examples of wisdom personified as a woman.

We easily accept that Jesus wasn’t teaching the practical need to have oil in a lamp to keep watch for a groom on the night of a wedding feast. He was teaching all believers to be prepared for the Son of Man, and equipped to serve His Kingdom. And such is the truth of this proverb, that a wise follower of God ensures that they are physically, mentally, financially, and spiritually ready to serve the Kingdom and to receive Christ.

Life is certainly more than merchandise and lamps staying lit. But these ideas are good examples of how we know to be wise when it comes to mundane issues, and we need to be similarly prepared spiritually. So today, let’s ask God to show us how to be prepared for the work of His Kingdom and to be ready to answer the call of the Son.

Prayer for Today:

Father keep me in the center of your will today. Keep my lamp lit by the grace of your Holy Spirit so my eyes can be open to the needs of others. Help me to intentionally prepare to provide for myself and others, and keep my eyes fixed on you Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith.
 Amen.

“She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.  Her lamp does not go out at night.” 

Understanding the wisdom presented in Proverbs 31 predicates a need to understand the culture in which it was written. We can think that women being entrepreneurial or self-reliant is a fairly modern occurrence, however it was very common in the culture of the Bible. It doesn’t mean that women did not face prejudice when engaging in this culture, but the paradigm of wisdom that is held up in the 31st proverb holds a regal dignitary that transcends time, culture, or place.

These two ideas show the ideal of knowing how to manage one’s own business, and making preparations to see to the needs of others. Not having a keen mind for business and knowing how to “get a good deal” can lead one into a cycle of poverty and desperation. The imagery of a lamp staying lit was an ancient metaphor of preparedness. Trouble came in the night, and not having a ready light against the darkness would cause a household to be at the mercy of evildoers. Jesus used this imagery himself when he told the parable of the 10 virgins.

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:1-13)

Oftentimes, we look to the wisdom of this section of proverbs only as an example of a woman who takes care of her family well. And, certainly, we can see this is the case. But moreover, this is wisdom literature, and as such we can find many examples of wisdom personified as a woman.

We easily accept that Jesus wasn’t teaching the practical need to have oil in a lamp to keep watch for a groom on the night of a wedding feast. He was teaching all believers to be prepared for the Son of Man, and equipped to serve His Kingdom. And such is the truth of this proverb, that a wise follower of God ensures that they are physically, mentally, financially, and spiritually ready to serve the Kingdom and to receive Christ.

Life is certainly more than merchandise and lamps staying lit. But these ideas are good examples of how we know to be wise when it comes to mundane issues, and we need to be similarly prepared spiritually. So today, let’s ask God to show us how to be prepared for the work of His Kingdom and to be ready to answer the call of the Son.

Prayer for Today:

Father keep me in the center of your will today. Keep my lamp lit by the grace of your Holy Spirit so my eyes can be open to the needs of others. Help me to intentionally prepare to provide for myself and others, and keep my eyes fixed on you Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith.
 Amen.

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