Proverbs 31:14
She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
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(14) She bringeth her food from afar.—Looks for opportunities of buying cheaply at a distance from home, instead of paying a larger price on the spot.

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.The comparison points to the enlarged commerce of the Israelites consequent on their contact with the Phoenicians under David and Solomon; compare Proverbs 31:24. 13, 14. Ancient women of rank thus wrought with their hands; and such, indeed, were the customs of Western women a few centuries since. In the East also, the fabrics were articles of merchandise. By the sale of her homespun commodities she purchaseth the choicest goods which come from far countries.

She is like the merchant ships,.... Not like a single one, but like a navy of them, that cross the seas, go to foreign parts, and come back laden with rich goods: so the church of Christ, and her true members, like ships of burden, trade to heaven, by prayer and other religious exercises, and return with the riches of grace and mercy, to help them in time of need; and though they have often difficult and dangerous passages, are tossed with tempests, and covered with billows; yet, Christ being their pilot, faith their sail, and hope their anchor, they weather the seas, ride out all storms, and come safe home with their merchandise;

she bringeth her food from afar: from a far country, from Egypt particularly, from whence corn for bread, as the word here used signifies, was fetched and carried in ships to divers parts of the world (p); to which the allusion may be: in a spiritual sense, it may mean that the church brings her food or bread from heaven, the good land afar off; where God her father, Christ her husband, and her friends the angels are; with whom she carries on a correspondence, and from hence she has her food for her family; not from below, on earth; not dust, the serpent's food; nor ashes, on which a deceitful heart feeds; nor husks, which swine eat; but the corn of heaven, angels' food, the hidden and heavenly manna; the bread of life, which comes down from heaven; the Gospel of the grace of God, the good news from a far country.

(p) Bacchylides spud Athenaei Deipnosoph. l. 2. c. 3. p. 39.

She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
14. She is like the merchant’s ships] The principles of profitable exchange which regulate foreign trade are exemplified in the narrower sphere of her wise domestic economy. The reference to merchant-ships is interesting as pointing to an age when trade with foreign countries was common.

Verse 14. - HE. She is like the merchants' ships. She is like them in that she extends her operations beyond her own immediate neighbourhood, and bringeth her food from afar, buying in the best markets and on advantageous terms, without regard to distance, and being always on the look out to make honest profit. Septuagint, "She is like a ship trading from a distance, and she herself gathereth her livelihood." The expressions in the text point to active commercial operations by sea as well as land, such as we know to have been undertaken by Solomon, Jehoshaphat, and others (1 Kings 9:26; 1 Kings 22:48), and such as the Hebrews must have noticed in the Phoenician cities, Sidon and Tyre. Proverbs 31:14The following proverb praises the extent of her housewifely transactions:

14 ה She is like the ships of the merchant -

        Bringeth her food from afar.

She is (lxx ἐγένετο) like merchant ships (כּאניות, indeterminate, and thus to be read kōǒnı̂joth), i.e., she has the art of such ships as sail away and bring wares from a distance, are equipped, sent out, and managed by an enterprising spirit; so the prudent, calculating look of the brave wife, directed towards the care and the advancement of her house, goes out beyond the nearest circle; she descries also distant opportunities of advantageous purchase and profitable exchange, and brings in from a distance what is necessary for the supply of her house, or, mediately, what yields this supply (ממּרחק, Cod. Jaman. ממרחק, cf. under Isaiah 10:6), for she finds that source of gain she has espied.

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