For the homemaker whose husband “safely trusts her” (Proverbs 31:11) because of her willingness to submit to his leadership and her creativity in doing so, the opportunities for her to use all the gifts and talents God gave her are limitless. That is the first task a homemaker accomplishes: gaining the confidence and trust of her husband. The second opportunity, as we saw last week, is as a clothier and and fashion designer, with the attendant commercial possibilities. Next in the description of the role of a biblical homemaker in Proverbs 31 is:
3.) A chef – Proverbs 31:14-15. These two verses communicate some very interesting ideas about how this virtuous woman views her responsibility to feed her family, one of the main tasks of a homemaker.
In the 21st century this means something totally different than what it meant in biblical times. The main point in this section of Proverbs 31 is that the homemaker is responsible for the meals for the family, and within the budget given her, she fulfills that obligation. These verses imply that those meals are interesting with a variety that demands planning and skill. Depending on schedules, time-crunch and other circumstances, that planning may involve take-out or eating out on occasion, again always considering budget considerations. Well-planned meals for guests is not only a wonderful blessing for them but also a very important part of the homemaker’s ministry.
With 21st century schedule’s, meal times are often irregular and do not include all family members. However, the homemaker understands the importance of mealtime and the opportunity to be together as a family, for this is a time for building family togetherness and communication. She does her best to provide regular, on-time, sit-down dinners for her family whenever she can, and she does whatever is necessary to be ready and to make it special.
There is always enough food for guests who might be in the home, and all who enter her home feel welcome to “stay for dinner.” (vs. 15b).
4.) There’s still more to be done – Proverbs 31:16, 17, 26, 27. Clothing and feeding her family and the activities that resulted from those tasks are the basic functions that everyone knows a traditional, virtuous homemaker performs. However, Proverbs 31 says we haven’t yet scratched the surface of her ministry.
In verse 16a, she is seen to purchase real estate, and her deliberations before the sale are mentioned as if to let us know that she was not simply acting as her husband’s agent. He must have recognized her proficiency in real estate (maybe she grew up in the home of a father who was a real estate agent and discovered she had a talent in this area), and he had given her free reign to make real estate decisions herself, probably using his family capital. This must be the source of “he will have no lack of gain” in verse 11. By her purchases their estate is growing!
From her profits from her home business (Her clothes are selling well), she plants a vineyard, probably on the land she has just purchased (vs. 16b). This means the land will be productive and justify its acquisition. She did not spend all of the profits from her home business on herself and her own desires but is wise enough to plow a portion of it back into a producing investment, the vineyard, and uses its harvest either for the family or to continue to build the family estate with the sale of the grapes. All with capital she has generated herself! How does she find the strength and wisdom to do all this?
This homemaker somehow finds the time to “gird herself with strength,” and to “strengthen her arms,” in verse 17. These terms are redundant if they both refer to the same thing: exercise sufficient to keep the virtuous wife in physical shape. The second phrase refers to just that, but the first phrase, I believe, is a reference to the supply of spiritual strength and wisdom she draws from God to accomplish all she must do as a homemaker.
“She opens her mouth with wisdom,” in verse 26a, implies some form of teaching, either the instruction of her own children at home, or teaching both formally and informally in her capacity as an older woman in the community. She is certainly qualified, because “on her tongue is the law of kindness” (vs. 26b), not malicious gossip. She is an example for the younger women in this regard, for the area of the tongue is the most difficult area of life for us to master (James 3:8).
The final task mentioned in the job description of this ideal homemaker is in verse 27a: “She watches over the ways of her household.” This indicates her administrative ability to coordinate the efforts of all that help her: her children as well as her servants. They are all responsible to her, and she leads them with grace and kindness. She does not use her children and servants to evade work herself, for she “does not eat the bread of idleness” (vs. 27b). Her leadership is by example.
That is the job description of the virtuous women as described in Proverbs 31. It would take Wonder Woman to actually work all of that activity into a day! God is communicating to us, not that all of that must be done by all homemakers, but that when one of His daughters goes to work for Him in His family business of ruling over the earth, He has real work for her to do that is demanding and challenging.
Next week I want to conclude this series on how a biblically based family functions by looking at some ways it will affect the world around it.