Proverbs 31:19

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by: FCC Staff

10/19/2021

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"She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle."

Spinning various materials into cloth was a cornerstone of any civilization in the ancient near-east. Truly, unless one was to be content wearing clothes of animal skins, someone had to spin cloth for clothes, from simple ephods to elaborate coats and cloaks. It was hard, monotonous work. And for a person of means, a chore that could be relegated to hired hands and servants.

But the wise woman of Proverbs 31 does not shy away from this common task, stereotypically the role of women. She isn’t too proud, too good, too delicate to work with her hands and ensure she and her family are clothed properly.

We can sometimes look down at the original recipients of scripture in thinking they were distracted by petty things. Clothes were not mass-produced things one could simply pop over to Wal-Mart to buy if you need them, or if your favorite pair of jeans gets a hole. No, most people had very few changes of clothes, and if they came into disrepair, they would be exposed to the elements as they made their way throughout the day.

So, yes, Jesus was speaking about the vanity of having fashionable clothes when He taught, “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” (Matthew 25:28-30)

But he was also pointing out that humble flowers are clothed by God in glory that exceeds even the finest the richest king in the history of Israel could have ever imagined. And the choice of flowers as a comparison was not a random choice but an intentional one. Flax, which is used to spin linen for clothes, is sown in the winter in the Middle East and flowers in the late spring. With sky-blue flowers that open only in the morning, flax is one of the most beautiful of all crops when flowering. It is often planted just for its ornamental appeal.

The plants people used to make clothes were more beautiful as God created them than the clothes that people made from them for themselves.  And God provides the flax so that people can harvest it to produce linen. This is how it was, there was no need to worry about clothes if you knew how to use a spindle and distaff to produce linen.

As believers today, we can learn a lot from this simple statement; that as we look around at the things that worry us most, God has provided, in his creation, a solution to our worries. But we cannot be ignorant of how to best use the resources God blesses us with, or think we are too good to do the humble work that it takes to be blessedly content. Today, as things arise that can cause us concern, let’s remember that God provides for us, both in the bounty of nature and in the skilled use of our hands. Today let’s learn to be at peace with what we can achieve with our own hands. We are wise to be content with what God provides and do the simple things with as much care and intentionality as anything we do for the Kingdom.

Prayer for Today
Father, thank you for all you have blessed me with. Help me to be content with the work of my hands and the things I can produce for myself and others. Let me remain humble and not think anything is too simple or mundane for me to do. Help me to be wise, and to learn to see the blessings you have provided all around me, to help bless me and others. Amen.

"She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle."

Spinning various materials into cloth was a cornerstone of any civilization in the ancient near-east. Truly, unless one was to be content wearing clothes of animal skins, someone had to spin cloth for clothes, from simple ephods to elaborate coats and cloaks. It was hard, monotonous work. And for a person of means, a chore that could be relegated to hired hands and servants.

But the wise woman of Proverbs 31 does not shy away from this common task, stereotypically the role of women. She isn’t too proud, too good, too delicate to work with her hands and ensure she and her family are clothed properly.

We can sometimes look down at the original recipients of scripture in thinking they were distracted by petty things. Clothes were not mass-produced things one could simply pop over to Wal-Mart to buy if you need them, or if your favorite pair of jeans gets a hole. No, most people had very few changes of clothes, and if they came into disrepair, they would be exposed to the elements as they made their way throughout the day.

So, yes, Jesus was speaking about the vanity of having fashionable clothes when He taught, “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” (Matthew 25:28-30)

But he was also pointing out that humble flowers are clothed by God in glory that exceeds even the finest the richest king in the history of Israel could have ever imagined. And the choice of flowers as a comparison was not a random choice but an intentional one. Flax, which is used to spin linen for clothes, is sown in the winter in the Middle East and flowers in the late spring. With sky-blue flowers that open only in the morning, flax is one of the most beautiful of all crops when flowering. It is often planted just for its ornamental appeal.

The plants people used to make clothes were more beautiful as God created them than the clothes that people made from them for themselves.  And God provides the flax so that people can harvest it to produce linen. This is how it was, there was no need to worry about clothes if you knew how to use a spindle and distaff to produce linen.

As believers today, we can learn a lot from this simple statement; that as we look around at the things that worry us most, God has provided, in his creation, a solution to our worries. But we cannot be ignorant of how to best use the resources God blesses us with, or think we are too good to do the humble work that it takes to be blessedly content. Today, as things arise that can cause us concern, let’s remember that God provides for us, both in the bounty of nature and in the skilled use of our hands. Today let’s learn to be at peace with what we can achieve with our own hands. We are wise to be content with what God provides and do the simple things with as much care and intentionality as anything we do for the Kingdom.

Prayer for Today
Father, thank you for all you have blessed me with. Help me to be content with the work of my hands and the things I can produce for myself and others. Let me remain humble and not think anything is too simple or mundane for me to do. Help me to be wise, and to learn to see the blessings you have provided all around me, to help bless me and others. Amen.

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