|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
31:10-31 This is the description of a virtuous woman of those days, but the general outlines equally suit every age and nation. She is very careful to recommend herself to her husband's esteem and affection, to know his mind, and is willing that he rule over her. 1. She can be trusted, and he will leave such a wife to manage for him. He is happy in her. And she makes it her constant business to do him good. 2. She is one that takes pains in her duties, and takes pleasure in them. She is careful to fill up time, that none be lost. She rises early. She applies herself to the business proper for her, to women's business. She does what she does, with all her power, and trifles not. 3. She makes what she does turn to good account by prudent management. Many undo themselves by buying, without considering whether they can afford it. She provides well for her house. She lays up for hereafter. 4. She looks well to the ways of her household, that she may oblige all to do their duty to God and one another, as well as to her. 5. She is intent upon giving as upon getting, and does it freely and cheerfully. 6. She is discreet and obliging; every word she says, shows she governs herself by the rules of wisdom. She not only takes prudent measures herself, but gives prudent advice to others. The law of love and kindness is written in the heart, and shows itself in the tongue. Her heart is full of another world, even when her hands are most busy about this world. 7. Above all, she fears the Lord. Beauty recommends none to God, nor is it any proof of wisdom and goodness, but it has deceived many a man who made his choice of a wife by it. But the fear of God reigning in the heart, is the beauty of the soul; it lasts for ever. 8. She has firmness to bear up under crosses and disappointments. She shall reflect with comfort when she comes to be old, that she was not idle or useless when young. She shall rejoice in a world to come. She is a great blessing to her relations. If the fruit be good, the tree must have our good word. But she leaves it to her own works to praise her. Every one ought to desire this honour that cometh from God; and according to this standard we all ought to regulate our judgments. This description let all women daily study, who desire to be truly beloved and respected, useful and honourable. This passage is to be applied to individuals, but may it not also be applied to the church of God, which is described as a virtuous spouse? God by his grace has formed from among sinful men a church of true believers, to possess all the excellences here described.
Verse 18. - TETH. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good; Vulgate, Gustavit et vidit quia bona est negotiatio ejus, where the paraphrase, "she tastes and sees," expresses the meaning of the verb taam here used. Her prudence and economy leave her a large surplus profit, which she contemplates with satisfaction. There is no suspicion of arrogance or conceit, The pleasure that is derived from duty done and successfully conducted business is legitimate and healthy, a providential reward of good works. Septuagint, "She tastes that it is good to work." This comfort and success spur her on to further and more continued exertion. Her candle (lamp) goeth not out by night. She is not idle even when night falls, and outdoor occupations are cut short; she finds work for the hours of darkness, such as is mentioned in the next verse. One recalls Virgil's picture of the thrifty housewife ('AEneid,' 8:407) -
"Inde ubi prima quies medio jam noctis abactae
Curriculo expulerat somnum, cum femina primum,
Cui tolerare colo vitam tenuique Minerva
Impositum, cinerem et sopitos suscitat ignis,
Noctem addens operi, famulesque ad lumina longo
Exercet penso." Some take the lamp here in an allegorical sense, as signifying life, happiness, and prosperity, as Proverbs 13:9 and Proverbs 20:20; others, as denoting a bright example of diligence and piety (Matthew 5:16). But the simple meaning seems to be the one intended. Wordsworth notes that the passage in Revelation 18, which speaks of the "merchandise" of the false Church, also affirms that "the light of a candle" shall shine in her no more, the two metaphors in our passage applied to the true Church being there applied to Babylon.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
She perceiveth that her merchandise is good,.... That it turns to good account; that her trading to heaven is of great advantage; that she grows rich hereby; that her merchandise with Wisdom, or Christ, is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereby than fine gold; and though her voyages are attended with trouble and danger, yet are profitable, and therefore she is not discouraged, but determined to pursue them; she is like the merchant man, seeking goodly pearls, who finds a pearl of great price, worth all his trouble; See Gill on Proverbs 31:14 and see Proverbs 3:14;
her candle goeth not out by night; or "lamp" (s); her lamp of profession, which is always kept burning, Luke 12:35; or the glorious light of the Gospel, which always continues in the darkest times the church ever has been in; or her spiritual prosperity, which, though it may be damped, will never be extinct; when the candle of the wicked is often put out, Job 21:17; It may denote her diligence in working; who, as she rises early in the morning, Proverbs 31:15, so sits up late at night, and is never weary of well doing, night and day. Ambrose interprets it of the lamp of hope, which burns in the night, and by and for which men work, Romans 8:24.
(s) "lucerna ejus", V. L. Tigurine version, Michaelis, Schultens.
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