Thirty Days in Proverbs 31 for Busy, Busy Mamas, Day 22: The Future


Today we look at the quality of the valiant wife’s work and at her attitude about the future. A lifetime of diligence and an abiding fear of God prepare her for a future without worry.

Assignment: Pray for God’s blessing on your time of study. Then read all of Proverbs 31:10-31. As you read, think about the cumulative effect the valiant wife’s cheerful industry and fear of God would have on her household and on her future. Then reread verses 24 and 25. They will be our focus today.

  • Open Blueletterbible and search on the words fine linen. Let’s find out more about this commodity that the virtuous wife makes and sells.
  • Read the verses under “Concordance Results Using KJV”. Where and with whom do we see this fabric in Scripture? What does that say about its quality?
  • Now let’s look specifically at the Hebrew word for fine linen as it appears in verse 24. Search on Proverbs 31:24.
  • Open the “Interlinear” tool and click on the Strong’s number for fine linen. What new information do you gain by looking at this lexicon entry?

The valiant wife has not only sought out flax and prepared it for spinning; she has also spun it into fine thread, woven it into a high-quality cloth, and created a marketable garment from it. We can see, as we continue to read the verse, that her work is of a quality that others are willing to pay money for.

  • What else do the merchants buy from her?

If you would like to learn more about this piece of clothing, click on the “Dictionaries” tab in the tools menu for this verse, and then on the word girdles under Torrey’s New Topical Textbook.

This woman of valor does good work. Others value it. As a woman who delights in her work, she delights in doing it well.

Let’s look at verse 25 next and the meaning of its words.

  • Click on strength and note this word’s definition.
  • Read the entry from Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon, noting the different ways the word is used.
  • Then skim the verses under “Concordance Results Using KJV”. With whom is this word most often associated?

Did you notice that we have looked at this word in an earlier verse of Proverbs 31? The valiant wife girds her loins with strength — this same kind of strength, and figuratively with a girdle like the ones she sells to the merchants.

  • Look at the word honor next. Note its definitions and the other English words that are used to translate this Hebrew word. Skim the verses under “Concordance Results Using KJV”. Who is the word often associated with? Record in your notebook any new insights you gain from your reading.

Read the lexicon entry for are her clothing. Do you recognize this word from verse 22? Under the heading “Root Word (Etymology)”, click on the Strong’s number. After looking at the definitions, skim the verses under “Concordance Results Using KJV”, looking specifically for any verses in Proverbs 31 that use this word. You should be able to find one.

If you look back at the structure of Proverbs 31 from yesterday’s lesson, you’ll see that this verse corresponds with verse 25 in the chiasm. The valiant wife’s household is clothed in scarlet, and her own clothing is strength and honor. She has put on strength and honor — God’s strength that gives her enduring energy, and the honor that sets her apart from so many other women around her.

Look at one last phrase in verse 25, and she shall rejoice. The word rejoice carries a different attitude than we would generally associate with rejoicing. Note its definitions and the way it is used in Scripture. It’s like this valiant woman is looking out toward the future and saying, “Hah, it’s nothing — just child’s play. Go ahead, future. See what you can do to me. My God is with me and He has already won.”

As women of valor, we can laugh in the face of the future. It is an enemy that has already been conquered. We don’t need to worry. We don’t need to fret. We don’t need to imagine.

We do need to believe.

We will face challenges, some of them extremely difficult — deaths, losses, deep hurts, and financial crises — and some of them long, chronic, wear-us-down sorts of trials that tempt us to think that God is just not listening — loneliness, poor health, financial struggles, marriage difficulties — but we cannot be defeated if we are in Christ. He has already endured to the point of victory, and He will give us grace to endure with Him.

Not only is our enemy defeated, but we will spend eternity with the Victor, our Lord Jesus Christ. All wrongs will be righted. All trials will be over. All tears will cease. He’s promised. We have good reason to be mighty women of valor.

  • Meditate on these verses. Have you chosen to put on strength and dignity? Can you laugh at the future, or do you need to let go of some worries? Do you need to rest in God’s sovereign control of your life, and His never-ending love for you?
  • Write down the fears you have about the future. Be specific.
  • Then pray over that list. Spend some time finding verses that deal with your fears. Memorize them. Turn your fears over to God, who has all things under His control, and then step out onto the battlefield.

For your children:

  • Read and discuss Proverbs 31:24-25.
  • Then read all of Proverbs 31:10-31, but only read the last half of each verse, asking the children to provide the first half for each.
  • See how far you can get reciting the entire passage.


Posted in Proverbs 31 Study | Printer-friendly view | 1 Comment

Thirty Days in Proverbs 31 for Busy, Busy Mamas, Day 21: Chiasm


We’ve discussed the parallelism that exists in Hebrew poetry — two couplets that contrast, compare, or complete each other. We’ve appreciated the acrostic arrangement of Proverbs 31 (and will continue to work on our own acrostic of the poem). Today we’re going to look at one other Hebrew literary structure — the chiasm – to help us zero in on the main point of the virtuous woman’s poem.

A chiasm is a bit like a mirror image. The first line of a section of text and the very last line say similar things. The second line and the second to the last line deal with similar subject matter. This pattern continues until it reaches a single central point, which signals to us that this is the main point of the poem or piece of writing.

A chiasm leaves us with a pattern that looks something like this example in 1 John 3:9:

Whosoever is born of God

doth not commit sin

for His seed remaineth in him

B’ and he cannot sin

A’ because he is born of God.

Do you see how lines A and A’ are both saying similar things, lines B and B’ are similar, and line C is in the center? Line C is the central point of this verse, and the literary use of the chiasm helps draw attention to that point.

A chiasm can exist within one single verse, a longer passage of Scripture, or even within an entire book of the Bible. Today we’re going to look at a chiasm in Proverbs 31:10-31.

Assignment: Pray, thanking God for what He has been teaching you through this passage, and asking Him to continue to teach you and strengthen you, as you seek to apply what you are learning.

Then copy the following pattern into your notebook:

A. Vs. 10

B. Vs. 11-12

C. Vs. 13-19

D. Vs. 20

E. Vs. 21

F. Vs. 22

G. Vs. 23

F’. Vs. 24

E’. Vs. 25

D’. Vs. 26

C’. Vs. 27

B’. Vs. 28-29

A’. Vs. 30-31

  • Read all of Proverbs 31:10-31, looking at how different verses relate to each other, based on this chiastic structure. Read verse 10 (Point A)  and then verses 30-31 (Point A’). What do they share in common? The virtuous wife is worth far more than rubies (vs. 20). Her works are valuable. They praise her in the gates (vs. 30-31). These verses are all working with a similar theme. Note this next to their references in your notes.
  • Read each matching pair of verses, noting their common themes.

What ends up in the very center of this chiasm? This is the most important point of the chiasm, which means we should pay attention to it as the most important point of the passage. Everything else in the poem is pointing to this point. Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.

Remember back on the very first day of our study together? We were getting an overview of Proverbs 31. Whose words was King Lemuel (most likely King Solomon) recording in this chapter? To whom was this mother speaking? Remember — this poem is addressed to men. The woman described in this chapter is the ideal a young man should seek, and of course, that then makes her an ideal for women to emulate.

  • Open Blueletterbible and search on Proverbs 12:4. Read this verse.
  • Then use the “Interlinear” tool to look at the Hebrew word used for virtuous in the verse.
  • What do you find? It’s the same word that is used in Proverbs 31! The virtuous woman, the valiant wife, the mighty woman of valor, is a crown to her husband!
  • Let’s focus on this verse for the rest of today’s lesson. It distills into one short proverb all that we have been studying in Proverbs 31!
  • First what type of parallelism does Proverbs 12:4 employ? How does the second half of the proverb relate to the first half? Is it contrasting, comparing, or completing?

The word but signals that we are looking at a contrast. What is being contrasted?

In addition to the contrast, a comparison is also being made in this proverb. To what is the woman who causes shame being compared?


Do you see who is being contrasted with a virtuous woman? A woman who causes her husband to be ashamed is not a virtuous woman.

  • To read Matthew Henry’s lovely (and potentially painful) summary of this verse, click on the “Commentaries” tool in the “Tools” drop-down menu for Proverbs 12:4.
  • Look for “Matthew Henry” and then click on “Commentary on Proverbs 12″.
  • Scroll down to 12:4 and prayerfully read Henry’s commentary. Pause over every phrase he uses to describe this virtuous woman. Write each one in your notebook. His description should sound very familiar after all the time we have spent getting to know her in Proverbs 31.

Is this description true of you? Is this the woman you are becoming, by God’s grace? As you fear the Lord and seek, by His strength, to obey Him, is your life becoming more and more characterized by these traits that Matthew Henry describes?

We can be crowns for our husbands or we can be a disease that eats away at their confidence and effectiveness.

For your children:

Write the following phrases (or any other you choose) on separate 3 x 5 cards or other small pieces of paper:

  • Works hard
  • Shops carefully
  • Saves money
  • Organizes her day
  • Gives people their work to do
  • Gets up early to fix him breakfast
  • Teaches the children to obey
  • Gives to those in need
  • Speaks kindly
  • Cleans the toilet
  • Changes a diaper
  • Speaks unkindly about him to a friend
  • Buys something they don’t need
  • Doesn’t discipline their children
  • Complains about his works
  • Nags him
  • Makes fun of the way he dresses
  • Lies to him

On a larger sheet of paper, draw a horizontal line with a dot on the left-hand end, a man on the right hand end, and five more dots evenly spaced (no need to be precise) along the line.

Using a ring or a small cut-out of a crown as a marker, place it at the left-hand end of the line.

Read Proverbs 12:4 together, and discuss how this verse relates to Proverbs 31.

Then shuffle the cards and have a child draw the first card and read it. If it is a good activity that a virtuous wife would do, move the marker forward one spot on the line. If it is a harmful activity, do not move the marker.

Have another child draw the next card and move the marker in the same way. Except for when the marker is on the very first spot, it should be moved backward whenever a “bad” card is drawn.

Talk about each card as it is read. When the marker finally reaches the drawing of the man on the right-hand end of the line, he can be crowned with the ring or cutout marker.

Shuffle the cards and play again.


Posted in Proverbs 31 Study | Printer-friendly view | 3 Comments

Thirty Days in Proverbs 31 for Busy, Busy Mamas, Day 20: Catch Up and Optional Categorizing


It’s catch-up day again! This is your chance to finish up some of those word studies! And for those of you who are ready for more, we’re going to look at the different kinds of work the valiant wife does.

Optional assignment: Pray for wisdom and for some time to concentrate. Then read Proverbs 31:10-31 and try to categorize the virtuous wife’s many activities. Suggested categories could be: husband, children, household, business, food, clothing, future, outreach, speech, etc.

Write your chosen category headings across the top of a couple pages in your notebook, and then list her activities in the appropriate categories. (Some verses may fit more than one category, and you may find some that you will want to put into a miscellaneous category.)

When you have finished reading and categorizing, review each list and pray about ways to imitate the Proverbs 31 Woman’s example in our present time and culture. For example, we don’t have to gather flax and turn it into thread that we can then weave into cloth and then sew into clothing. But what can we do with that same diligence and commitment?

For your children:

Ask the children to each draw a picture that illustrates everything they can remember about the Proverbs 31 Woman and her many activities. (Or pull out a large piece of paper and have everyone work together on one composite picture.)

After everyone is finished, talk about their drawings. This will be a good way to review what you have studied so far.

Posted in Proverbs 31 Study | Printer-friendly view | 1 Comment

Thirty Days in Proverbs 31 for Busy, Busy Mamas, Day 19: Her Clothing

30DaysProverbsDay19PurpleMuch of this poem about the virtuous wife focuses on what she does for others. Today we are going to read about what she makes for herself and what she wears. We’ll find that even those things are done for others, too.

Assignment: Pray, asking for the Holy Spirit’s guidance as you study today. Then read Proverbs 31:10-31 yet again. Remember to test your memory as you seek to recall all you can before reading each verse.

  • Open Blueletterbible and go to Proverbs 31:22.
  • The first thing we’re going to do is look at some other translations to help us better understand this verse.

Click on the “Bibles” button in the “Tools” menu to open a listing of many different translations of this verse.

  • As you read the different versions of this verse, you will notice that it’s not exactly clear what “coverings of tapestry” are.
  • Go to the “Interlinear” tool for this verse, and click on herself coverings of tapestry.
  • After noting the definition, be sure to read the only other verse in the Bible that uses this Hebrew word. Who is speaking in this verse?
  • What a contrast between the woman in Proverbs 7 and the woman of Proverbs 31! If the adulteress can deck her bed with coverings of tapestry, how much more delight can a valiant wife, doing her husband good, take in making their bed and its surroundings beautiful?
  • Let’s look back at the first main phrase in the verse, she maketh. Note its definition. Does it sound familiar?
  • To find out if we have seen this word earlier in Proverbs 31, scroll down to “Concordance Results Using KJV”, and then down to the bottom of the first page of verses. This word is used a lot in Scripture.
  • Under “Search Results Continued “, click for the reference range that includes Proverbs 31 (No. 70, Pro 17:5 – Ecc 2:5). In this listing, look for any other verses from Proverbs 31.

These verses include the exact same word. Record in your notebook what you find. Here is more work — the making of coverings of tapestry — that the valiant wife does with delight! (Making their bedroom beautiful and relaxing should be a delight! :-) )

  • Look next at the phrase, her clothing. This definition should look familiar, too. Check out the other verses that use this word. Where have we just seen this in Proverbs 31? Where will we see it again later in Proverbs 31? Note this in your notebook.
  • Look at the next phrase, is silk. Take some time to skim the verses under “Concordance Results Using KJV”. Notice where this type of fabric appears over and over, and what colors it has been dyed. Does this sound familiar?
  • Last, look at the word purple. Instead of the “Interlinear” tool, click on the “Dictionaries” tool this time to learn more about the color purple as it appears in Scripture. You should find the word under International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. How was this color produced? Where was the color commonly seen? What sort of people wore purple? Record your answers in your notebook.

Do you see any similarities between the scarlet that the virtuous wife’s family wears and the purple that she wears? Think about how the colors were used, how they were created, how costly both of them probably were to produce.

  • If you would like to learn more about scarlet, type it into the search box, click on the orange “Dictionaries” tab,, and look at the entry in Easton’s Bible Dictionary.
  • Prayerfully meditate on what you have learned in your study today.

The motive of the strange woman as she spreads her tapestries contrasts with that of the virtuous woman who makes and drapes her tapestries.

The colors that the virtuous woman and her family wear are costly and associated with the wealthy.

The Proverbs 31 Woman takes care in the way she dresses.

  • Think about these observations in light of the next verse that speaks of her husband sitting in the gates among the leaders of the land.

How might the virtuous wife’s dress and appearance reflect on her husband’s character and leadership? How might it even affect the respect he receives and the opportunities he is given to lead in their community?

It’s easy, when we’re so overwhelmed with the many tasks of motherhood — many of them dirty and smelly — to forget about our own appearance and the gift that caring for ourselves can be to our husbands. But it’s something we should think about, isn’t it? How will you apply what you have learned today?

For your children:

  • Read and discuss Proverbs 31:22 together.
  • Then sit in a circle and have one person recite the first phrase of Proverbs 31:10. The next person should finish the last half of the verse. The next should recite the first half of verse 11, the next the last half, and so forth. If someone gets stuck, see if someone else can remember. If not, go back to your Bible, read the phrase, and have everyone repeat it after you. Then go on to the next person, and the next part of a verse.




Posted in Proverbs 31 Study | Printer-friendly view | 3 Comments

Thirty Days in Proverbs 31 for Busy, Busy Mamas, Day 18: Clothed in Scarlet

30DaysProverbsDay18ScarletHave you noticed that a lot of what makes our Proverbs 31 Woman such a woman of valor is her attitude?

  • Her fear of God leads her to be a willing worker, because she’s working out of love and gratitude to Him.
  • She is a wife who does her husband good and not evil, because she knows that God has done good for her. 
  • She is willing to plant now and harvest many years later, because she trusts that God will bring fruit from her labors.
  • She is strong, because she looks to God for her strength.
  • She reaches out to the poor and needy because she knows that God reached out to her in her poor and needy state.

Today we look a bit at her attitude about the future.

Assignment: Pray. Thank God for this amazing portrait of a woman who fears Him, and the impact that fear has on her husband, her children, and her community! Then read Proverbs 31:10-31. Is each reading becoming more meaningful as you continue to study this passage?

  • Open Blueletterbible and search for Proverbs 31:21. We’re going to jump right in with some more word study.
  • Look at the phrase she is not afraid. Read (and record in your notebook) how the phrase is used in Scripture. Also note the transliteration of the original Hebrew word. These definitions sound a lot like the definitions for the fear of the Lord. 
  • To make a comparison, let’s search on Proverbs 31:30, and then click on the phrase that feareth.

What is the Hebrew word in this verse? Do you see that it’s the same word as in verse 21? It’s just an adjective form of the word instead of a verb. Keep this fact in mind as we continue studying verse 21.

  • Skim the “Concordance Results Using KJV” for she is not afraid in verse 21. (There are a lot of verse; just skim to get a general idea. What types of things and situations are people tempted to fear in these verses? Take notes.
  • Look at the Hebrew word for snow. Skim the verses that speak of snow. Most of the time, they are speaking of snow like the snow that falls from the sky. It does refer to two other things in these verses. Find those two things and record them in your notebook.
  • A quick glance at for her household confirms that this word speaks of family or all the people living in one house.
  • Skim the information on the phrase are clothed. What does it mean? What items or attitudes does it relate to?
  • Finally, let’s look at with scarlet. Under “Outline of Biblical Usage”, notice how the scarlet dye was produced. Then skim additional verses to see how the word is used in Scripture. Note the different situations. How is the word used? What things does it refer to?

Think over verse 21 again. What do you think it means?

The valiant wife is prudent. She sees that the cold weather is coming, and prepares for it. Armed with warm clothes for all, she doesn’t have to be anxious.

Certainly we can learn from this example! Our lives are full of potential problems and challenges, many of them predictable. We can minimize those by thinking ahead and preparing. Poisons out of reach, proper handling of food to avoid illness, turning pot handles in on the stovetop, even just knowing that dinner time will come and preparing for it — these are all simple ways to care for our family.

We can prepare for potential disasters and crises and spare our household inconvenience and suffering with our forethought. We need to anticipate potential problems (in a non-fearful way) and prepare for them.

But I think further meditation on snow and scarlet and clothing reveals other lessons we can learn from the Proverbs 31 Woman. Where do we see scarlet in Scripture? What does it often represent? Look back over your notes.

Think of Rahab. Think of the purification rituals of Leviticus.

Then think of Miriam who was white as snow with her leprosy, leprosy that struck as a result of her rebellion.

Think of Saul who clothed the daughters of Israel in scarlet as the result of his military victories. (Another military image!)

Think of Jesus, crushed for our sakes, like the tiny animal that was crushed to produce the scarlet dye of Solomon’s day.

Perhaps our woman of valor also is not afraid for her family’s souls, because they are clothed in the scarlet robes of the King’s family. They are safe under the blood of the Lamb, like the Israelites with the blood over their doors, and like Rahab with the scarlet cord out her window.

As the children of believers, our children are claimed by God in a special way. Our job is to train them, lead them to Jesus, and saturate them with the gospel. As we witness them place their faith in Him for their salvation, we can be unafraid of the power of sin, knowing that all our household is “clothed in scarlet”.

Pray over this verse. Ask God to help you see ways to apply it, both in the daily opportunities to bless and protect your family with your forethought, and in your commitment to take your children to the cross, where our King will clothe them in the scarlet robes of His family.

Oh, yes! One more thing — back to those two references to fear in this passage. The virtuous wife doesn’t stand in awe of (fear) the snow (or of sin), because she stands in awe of (fears) her Lord. With Him, there is no need for fear.

For your children: 

Read Proverbs 31:21 together.

Have a “Scarlet Scavenger Hunt”.

  • Divide your children into two groups, and give both groups a list of clothing items such as a hat, coat, gloves, sox, shirt, skirt, and dress.
  • Let both teams try to find all the items in red. The first team to bring everything to you wins.
  • When both groups have finished, instruct both teams to put their pile of items in a designated area, side-by-side. Add a couple white garments to both piles.
  • Line both teams up across from the pile of clothing and have a relay where the first person runs up and puts on all the red clothes. He comes back to his team, tears off all the clothes, and the next child puts them all on and runs up to touch the white clothing that is still left in the pile. He runs back, and the next child does the same.
  • The first team to finish wins. Maybe you could have a little surprise (that is red) for everyone to enjoy when you’re finished.


Posted in Proverbs 31 Study | Printer-friendly view | Leave a comment

Thirty Days in Proverbs 31 for Busy, Busy Mamas, Day 17: Her Hands


We marked all the appearances of the word hand back on Day 8. We saw that the virtuous wife works with willing hands. Later we watched her plant a vineyard with the fruit of her hands. Today we’re going to look more carefully at those hands.

Assignment: Pray for God to teach you from His Word. Then read all of Proverbs 31:10-31. Continue to test your memory. How many phrases can you remember without reading them?

  • Open Blueletterbible and search on Proverbs 31:19. Click on the “Interlinear” tool and compare the two words for hands as they are used in this passage. Look at the Strong’s number for both, read their definitions, take notes, and read some of the other verses that use these words. How do the two words differ?
  • Look at the definition for the word yod. What does it often represent?
  • List the different English words that have been assigned to the Hebrew word kaph. What do they all have in common?
  • Next find out what a distaff and spindle are. Watch the video link in the children’s assignment, or do some research online. What does the Proverbs 31 Woman do with these items? Earlier in the chapter we saw her willingly looking for wool and flax and most likely preparing them for spinning. Here she has the fiber in hand, and she’s ready to spin it into thread or yarn. One hand stretches out the distaff with the fiber on it; the other grasps the spindle, spinning it around, and pulling the fiber as it spins into thread.
  • Let’s go on to verse 20. We see hands mentioned two times in this verse as well. Which Hebrew words are used for hands? What are these hands doing?
  • Compare the words poor and needy (using the interlinear tool). How do they differ?

The virtuous wife is ministering to others with her hands. She is reaching out beyond her own four walls. She is loved by God. She shares that love with others. She spreads out her open palms to give material aid to the afflicted, and she sends out her hand of strength for the poor and abused.

While her husband is known in the gates, she is doing her own work in the community — encouraging the disheartened, speaking up for the abused, sharing food or clothing with those in need.

Paraphrase these two verses, incorporating what you have learned in this lesson.

What does God want you to learn from these verses? Take some time to brainstorm about the ways you can reach out your hands to the poor and the needy. Make a list of the different ways people can be afflicted and weak. Make another list of ways a person can be poor or abused.

Next to each item on both lists, write down specific ways you and your children can reach out to these people to help meet their physical and spiritual needs. Then choose at least one to start doing today.

For your children:

Read verses 19-20 together. Then explain what you have learned about verses 19-20. Watch this video about the use of a spindle and distaff to better understand the type of spinning the virtuous woman was doing.

Then make two lists — for the afflicted and weak and for the poor or abused — as described in the last two paragraphs of your assignment, and put at least one idea into action today!

You could also let the children act out the story of Dorcas, a godly woman who ministered to those in need. Read the account in Acts 9.

Posted in Proverbs 31 Study | Printer-friendly view | 1 Comment

Thirty Days in Proverbs 31 for Busy, Busy Mamas, Day 16: Her Candle

30DaysProverbsDay 16CandleWe’ve looked at the valiant wife rising up early to feed her household and assign responsibilities for the day. We can probably all agree that getting up before the rest of the family certainly does bear good fruit.

But now verse 18 says her candle doesn’t go out at night either! No wonder this kind of wife is hard to find!

As we take a closer look at this verse, I think you’ll be relieved to discover that you don’t have to walk around like a sleep-deprived zombie in order to be a godly, God-fearing wife and mother.

Assignment: Pray. Thank God for giving you the grace to persevere this far into our study of Proverbs 31, and pray that you would not only be learning about the Proverbs 31 Woman, but also becoming more like her as you get to know her better.

Then read all of Proverbs 31:10-31. Try to test yourself as you read. Can you recall the second half of each verse after you read the first half?

Here’s one way to further your memorization of this passage: Copy and paste the passage into a text document, and then rearrange the text. After the first phrase of the verse, tab over a bit to create a second column of text for the second half of each verse. If you are memorizing in ESV, your page will begin like this:

10 An excellent wife who can find?                         She is far more precious than jewels.

11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,             and he will have no lack of gain.

When you have arranged the entire passage this way, cover the right-hand side, and see if you can remember the second phrase of each verse as you read.

When you get good at reciting the second part of each verse, start covering the left-hand side to test yourself on the first halves of each verse.

Then, when that is going well, cover all the text except for verse 10. See if you can recite verse 11, uncover just that verse to check your accuracy, and then recite the next verse before you uncover it.

You’ll get this passage memorized fairly quickly with this method, after the many times you have already read it in our study!

Now let’s take a better look at verse 18.

  • Open Blueletterbible and search on Proverbs 31:18. (Is it getting easier to find your way around on this site?)
  • Click on the “Interlinear” tool, and then on the Strong’s number for she perceiveth.

Check out the meaning and usage of this Hebrew word. This word has to do with tasting. When we taste something, we can evaluate it by experience. (“Just taste it,” we tell our toddlers, “You won’t know whether you like it or not until you taste it.”)

  • Look at that her merchandise next. Read all the information in this listing. Pay special attention to the way the word is used in the verse from Proverbs 3. Click on that verse’s reference to open the text for all of Proverbs 3. What is being spoken of in the verse? And how valuable is it, according to the verse that follows? Does this sound familiar? :-) (You’re taking notes, right?)
  • Onward to the phrase is good. The definition of this word should look familiar. It’s the same word that describes what the valiant wife does for her husband instead of evil.
  • Write a quick paraphrase of the first half of verse 18, based on what you have learned from your word studies.

Now let’s finish the part of the verse that tends to discourage us with this lady’s ability to function on no sleep.

  • Click on the number for her candle. Note its meaning, skim the excerpt from Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon, noting how the word is used in reference to David, and then quickly skim the other verses that use this word.

Many of the verses are speaking of the lamps in the tabernacle and temple. In what other ways is the word used? (Pay special attention to its usage in Psalms and Proverbs.) Summarize how it used in your notebook.

  • A quick look at goeth not out confirms that it is speaking of extinguishing something — generally a flame or fire, but also love and God’s wrath.
  • Last, look at by night. You’ll see that this is the same word that was used when speaking of the woman of valor rising early. But let’s look more closely at the way it is used in other verses.
  • Don’t try to read all the verses under “Concordance Listing Using KJV”. Instead, go to the bottom of the first listing, click on “4. Psalm 6:6-Isa 62:6″ under “Search Results Continued”, and focus on reading the verses from Psalms and Proverbs. This will give us an idea of how the word is used in the poetry books of the Bible.
  • Besides the normal time of day that we expect night to indicate, what else does the word seem to represent? Note your observations and insights in your notebook.
  • Paraphrase the last half of this verse now.

Let’s think about several ways this verse could be interpreted:

1. The valiant wife see that the profit from her work is good, and she is often up late to continue her labors. She might be finishing up a money-making project, or she might just be recognizing the value of staying up late enough to make her husband’s lunch for the next day.

2. The valiant wife’s home is illuminated with oil lamps. She’s kept track of her oil supply, and doesn’t need to run out to the store to buy more when it suddenly becomes apparent, as the last lamp flickers out, that she’s all out of oil. (See ___ for the story of women who forgot to stock up on oil.)

3. It could also mean that there is always enough money in the house — no need to stumble around in the dark because they can’t afford more oil. Bruce Waltke, in his commentary on Proverbs says that “her lamp burning all night signifies her enduring prosperity” (which doesn’t have to mean only financial prosperity).

4. If we think about the connection of this verse with the verse about wisdom in Proverbs 3, I think we can also apply this verse to the “buying” of wisdom in our lives.

This is one of the take-home lessons I gain from this verse. As we experience (taste) the gain (merchandise) of studying and obeying God’s word (wisdom), our candle – the guidance of God’s Word that gives us life — doesn’t go out when we face difficult times, when our days are dark.

Chew on this verse today. In what ways is God calling you to “keep your candle burning at night”?

Well, I’ve gotten long-winded again. But our careful study of this verse should allow us to sleep at night without feeling guilty. :-)

For your children: 

You’ll need to save this activity for the end of the day, when it starts to get dark. You will also need a small flashlight or other form of battery-powered light, and an area that will have lots of hiding places, but will still be safe for running around.

  • Read Proverbs 31:18 with your children, and discuss its meaning.
  • Designate one person as “It”. Have him close his eyes while you give a flashlight to one child of the other children.
  • While he counts to 30, everyone should hide.
  • The child with the flashlight should turn it on, but keep it concealed in a pocket.
  • “It” then hunts for people. He will not know which child has the flashlight. That child is immune and should simply show his light when tagged to be excused from going out.
  • When a child without the flashlight is tagged, he becomes the new “It”, and a new person should hold the flashlight for the next round of play.



Posted in Proverbs 31 Study | Printer-friendly view | 5 Comments

30 Days in Proverbs 31 for Busy, Busy Mamas, Day 15: Parallelism

30DaysProverbsDay15ParallelismWe’re going to take another break from our word studies today to talk about the poetic style of the book of Proverbs. Hebrew poetry isn’t like English poetry. Most English poems conform to some type of meter, and many rhyme. Hebrew poetry does neither of these things.

Instead, Hebrew poetry employs a poetic form called parallelism. Instead of writing one line, and composing the next one to rhyme with it, Hebrew poetry takes the thought of the first line and matches it in different ways. We are going to look at three main types of parallelism. That’s what we are going to explore in the text today. It’s time to start memorizing Proverbs 31:10-31 if you haven’t already, and understanding this parallelism will be another tool (in addition to your acrostic) that can help you memorize more easily.

The two couplets in most proverbs usually relate to each other in one of three ways:

  • They contrast.
  • They compare.
  • They complete 

1. Contrastive couplets. 

In a contrasting or antithetical proverb the first and second lines of the proverb are almost always linked with the word “but.” Both lines deal with the same principle, but from opposite viewpoints.

For example, Proverbs 12:2 says, “A good man obtaineth favour of the LORD: but a man of wicked devices will he condemn.”

The first line introduces the principle that God shows favor to a good man. This first statement is followed by “but,” and we then learn the principle from the opposite viewpoint — God condemns the man of wicked devices. The two phrases are antithetical. We are led to better understanding through the contrasting of opposing views.

The contrasting proverb can also present the negative conduct first, followed by the positive conduct, as seen in Proverbs 13:18,     

Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.

2. Comparative couplets:

The key linking terms in a comparative proverb are almost always the words better than or the words like, as, and so is. These proverbs introduce two kinds of circumstances or choices, and then show one to be preferable to the other, or both to be similar.

Comparisons are made in at least three different ways:

a. By placing similar ideas side-by-side so that one phrase illustrates the main point of the other phrase.

For example, Proverbs 26:3 says, “A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back.”

This comparative proverb teaches us that the fool needs discipline from outside himself, just like the unruly horse or stubborn donkey. The fool and the rebellious animals resemble one another.

b. By the use of simile, employing the words like or as to help communicate the relationship between the illustration (often taken from nature) and the main point or truth being taught.

Proverbs 26:11 tells us, “As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.”  The fool is being compared to a dog’s very disgusting habit.

c. By “better than” sayings that demonstrate how wise and righteous behavior outweighs any gain or influence that can be gained through folly and sin.

Proverbs 16:19 is an example of this type of proverb. “Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.” This wise saying tells us that humility and friendships with those who are humble outweigh any riches we might gain while associating with the proud.

3. Completive Couplets.

The key linking terms in these proverbs are and or so (although a comparative proverb often contains neither one of these words). The main identifying factor is that the second thought adds completion or closure to the first, reinforcing its meaning.

Completive couplets are generally arranged in one of two forms:

a. Synonymous: In this form the second phrase repeats the sense of the first phrase with slightly different words or synonyms, thus reinforcing the meaning of the first.

Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” Both phrases have the same meaning; they are just worded differently.

Note the same use of synonyms in Proverbs 21:14, “A gift in secret pacifieth anger: and a reward in the bosom strong wrath.”

b. Synthetic: Again the second line amplifies and expands the meaning of the first, but this time it completes the thought of the first phrase. Each line adds to the original thought of the first line, making it more specific.

Proverbs 10:18 says that “he that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.” The second phrase of this proverb expands on the meaning of the first. Both the man who covers his hatred with lies and the one who slanders are fools.

Assignment: Pray, thanking God for the amazing gift of His Word, and asking Him to teach you more about being the woman of valor that He’s called you to be. 

Then read Proverbs 31:10-31, looking for examples of parallelism, and identifying which kinds you see. Mark each contrastive proverbs with a “C”, each comparative proverbs with a “Com”, and each contrastive proverbs with a “Con”. (Or use some sort of symbol to represent each type, if you would like.)

Think about each verse as you read. Notice how the parallelism helps us better understand the first statement in each verse. Most of the verses are going to use completive parallelism, but you should be able to find at least one example of comparative parallelism, and two examples of contrastive.

Start using this knowledge to help you memorize the passage.

For your children:

Start working on memorizing Proverbs 31:10-31 with your children.

  • Read the first half of each verse and wait to see if they can finish the other half. If you want, briefly explain how the verse is written. Does it make a contrast? Does it compare one thing with another? Does it say more about what it already said in the first half?
  • For your readers, write one half of each verse on one set of cards, and the other half of each verse on another set of cards (preferably a different color). Lay all the cards out face up, and have the children try to match up both halves of each verse.
  • When this gets easy, shuffle the cards, lay them all face down, and play a game of “Memory”, turning over one card and then attempting to turn over its matching half.
Posted in Uncategorized | Printer-friendly view | Leave a comment

Thirty Days in Proverbs 31 for Busy, Busy Mamas, Day 14: Strength


The Proverbs 31 Woman is a busy lady. What she does definitely requires physical strength, but it also requires a great deal of mental, emotional, and spiritual strength.

Assignment: Pray for a clear mind and a teachable heart. Then read Proverbs 31:10-31. As you read, mark every reference to a part of the body. We have already marked the word hand. For other references to the body, draw small, simple pictures to highlight them in the text. We will come back to these illustrations later in the month. Today we’re going to focus on the valiant woman’s arms.

  • Open Blueletterbible and search on Proverbs 31:17.
  • Click on the “Interlinear” tool for this verse, and then on the Strong’s number for she girdeth. Read the definitions. Note especially that this word has to do with putting on a belt or binding on. It is an action, and it’s often being done to oneself.
  • Skim the verses under “Concordance Results Using KJV”, noticing how often the word is associated with weapons of warfare.
  • Look at loins next. (If you are studying in a translation other than KJV, you may not have this word in your text.)
  • Read the excerpt from Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon, to get a general idea of what the loins are and what they are associated with. (In case you aren’t familiar with the word, parturient has to do with labor and giving birth. That should help you better understand the nature of this word. :-) )
  • Now let’s look at verses that have both these words in them. Type gird and loins into the search box and see what you find — more action — more purposeful action without distractions. In the Roman era of the New Testament times, girding the loins referred to a man pulling up his lower garment and tying it between his legs so he would be ready to move around more freely in battle. He was prepared for action.
  • Use the back arrow to return to the lexicon listing, and click on with strength. Note these definitions in your notebook. Do these remind you at all of the definitions for virtuous that we studied back on Day 3?
  • Look back at your notes, or search on Proverbs 31:10 and use the “Interlinear” tool to review the meaning of virtuous. The virtuous wife, the woman of valor, is choosing to put on strength. She is binding it to herself
  • Now skim the other verses that use this Hebrew word for strength (under “Concordance Results Using KJV”). If your time is limited, focus on the verses from the Psalms. Who is this strength generally associated with?
  • So what is the valiant wife binding onto herself? We’re back to the root of this woman’s valor! She is putting on God’s strength; she’s not trying to wring some sort of pseudo-strength out of herself. With God’s strength strapped onto her, she is ready to cheerfully perform her duties, and to do her very best.
  • We have just two more words to look at. Click on the the phrase, and strengtheneth, and note the usages of this word. It speaks of courage, boldness, persistence, alertness, assurance — all good traits for a soldier, don’t you think? I think it’s time to add this image to our page of “Military Images”.
  • And last, let’s look at her arms in the lexicon listing. What does the word arm often symbolize? Do you see that this word also has a military meaning?
  • Skim the “Concordance Results Using KJV”, focusing primarily on the verses from the Psalms. Whose arm is spoken of over and over?

If our physical arms are weak, what should we do to make them stronger? We should use them. We can exercise with weights, work in the garden, (try to) do pushups. If we purposely push those muscles to their limits, they will get stronger.

The virtuous wife must have been physically vigorous to do all that she did. I’m sure she did quite literally make her arms strong in order to work and serve others the way she did.

She also readies herself for battle as she “girds her loins” with God’s strength. She trusts Him because she knows and fears Him. She can move forward in faith and work with all the strength He has given her, and she knows, as she perseveres, that this is the way to become even stronger.

Every time we act in faith and do what we know we cannot do apart from God’s strength, we change. We grow stronger in our faith and stronger in our knowledge that God is always there to strengthen us and work through us.

We start by “girding our loins with strength” — binding ourselves in God’s strength, firming up our souls with the nourishment of His Word, and then acting in that strength.

Prayerfully meditate on this verse today. Prepare for action, purposefully putting on God’s strength, and then be ready to welcome the strength-building opportunities God will give you.

For your children:

Ask your children to listen for the mention of any parts of the body as you slowly read all of Proverbs 31:10-31. Have them raise both hands when hands are mentioned, flex their arms for arms, point to their mouths, and so forth. As you encounter each word, stop to write what is said about it on a whiteboard or blackboard. Keep these notes for a later lesson.

Share what you have learned about girding your loins and strengthening your arms today.

Posted in Bible Study, Proverbs 31 Study | Printer-friendly view | 3 Comments

Thirty Days in Proverbs 31 for Busy, Busy Mamas, Day 13: Catch Up and Optional Drawings


Today is another catch-up day, which many of you probably need after the word studies we have been working on. Keeping persevering! The study of this passage might just change the way you live the rest of your life as a wife and mother!

For those who would like an additional assignment, let’s put those colored pencils to work today!

I have found that taking the time to add some illustrations alongside verses accomplishes several things:

  • It helps me slow down and really think about what the verse means.
  • It helps me better remember what I have been studying.
  • It aroused my children’s curiosity as they watched me or when they saw the drawings in my Bible.
  • It makes my Bible pretty. :-)

Take a few minutes today to read all of Proverbs 31:10-31. Stop along the way to illustrate each verse (or selected ones) with a simple drawing that will remind you of the verse’s meaning. I usually draw with a fine-point black Micron pen that won’t bleed through to the other side of the page, and then I color the picture with my colored pencils.

Feel free to post a picture of your handiwork on the Facebook group page!

For your children: 

Show your children your drawings, and let them guess which proverb each one represents. (You may have to cover up the verses for your readers.)


Posted in Proverbs 31 Study | Printer-friendly view | 3 Comments