We’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 sees 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.