She Works Willingly with her Hands
She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
Introduction: In our passage tonight we learn that the virtuous (strong; capable) woman is a willing worker. She works with her hands.
She seeketh wool, and flax
1. In Bible times (and even today) there were and are many who tend sheep in the Middle East in rural regions.
2. Sheep have been a mainstay of life in Bible times both for food and clothing.
3. The Hebrew word translated “wool” refers to “the soft, curly hair of sheep or of other animals with hair of the same or similar texture. It was used in the production of clothing.”
4. The wool from the sheep was used to make various kinds of yarn and thread for making clothing.
5. Wool made a very heavy, warm type of clothing.
6. Prov. 31:21 – This woman was not afraid of the snow for her family! Her family had homemade, warm wool clothing. She was making warm, woolen shirts and coats long before the Pendleton Company in Oregon starting making them!
1. Flax was a fiber also used in making clothing.
2. Flax was used especially for making fine linen.
3. While wool was used to make thicker, heavier, and warmer clothing, flax was used in making lighter, finer clothing.
4. Prov. 31:22 – Linen from flax was used in making fine tapestries for beauty, decorations, and clothing.
5. Prov. 31:24 – This strong, capable woman also not only sought out the flax, but manufactured it into linen – into fine linen.
C. She SEEKETH after wool and flax
a. Defined: To seek with great care; to follow; to ask for; search out; examine; care for.
b. Deut. 22:2 – It was used of seeking after a lost ox or cattle.
c. This woman sought after wool and flax.
• This could mean that she planted and took care of the crops.
» The term “seeketh” can mean to “care for.”
» Deut. 11:12 – “A land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.”
» God “cared for” (same word) the land.
» Joshua 2:6 – “But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof.”
→ Here we see that a woman (Rahab) who hid the two men in Jericho, was the one who had gathered in the flax and piled it up on the roof.
→ It was her responsibility to care for the flax.
» In Prov. 31:13, this term (seek with care) could be understood to mean that the virtuous woman cared for the sheep and their wool and she cared for the land and the flax growing on it and cared for bringing in and piling up the flax.
• Or (as the next verse suggests) she could have sought them out in the marketplace or in nearby cities. (vs. 14)
» Ezek. 27:18 – It was considered a very valuable commodity in Tyrus. It was shipped far and wide.
» It was sought after worldwide because of its value.
2. The virtuous woman sought far and wide for the best wool and flax she could get.
a. She wanted the best for her family.
b. In the cold, damp weather, they had the warmest wool clothing.
c. In the hot weather, they had the lightest and finest of linen.
d. Their home had beautiful linen tapestries and linen curtains. And perhaps some smaller ones were embroidered onto their clothing to make them look sharp and stylish.
e. Ex. 26:1 – “Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet.”
• Fine linen is what was used to beautify the Tabernacle.
f. The virtuous woman took good care of her family and her home. She was interested in quality, practicality, and beauty.
She worketh willingly with her hands
1. The first thing we note here is that the virtuous woman worked.
2. WORK: To do; to make; to manufacture; to labor; to perform a task.
a. Used of “making” graven images (Ex. 20:4).
b. Used of “preparing” a feast (Esther 5:4).
c. Used of “working” metals into usable objects (Ex. 31:4) as used in the Tabernacle.
d. It has a wide range of usages.
4. The virtuous, strong, capable woman worked.
a. She made things that were useful for her family.
b. This chapter mentions many of the things that she “made,” like clothing, candles, crops, etc.
5. The virtuous woman worked with her hands.
a. Women in Bible times were to be busy, diligent, and hard workers.
b. Their lives were not monastic… not a religious recluse.
• They did not sit in a corner and read the Bible, go to Bible studies, go to Temple activities, and pray all day.
• We certainly don’t want to diminish the vital importance of the Word, prayer, or worship, for the believer.
• Life does consist of those things, but also those things are to be put into action.
• We are to be DOERS of the word. Love is an action verb, not a state of being verb.
6. Women in Bible times worked with their hands in various ways.
a. Gen. 16:6-8 – Sarah was ready at a minutes notice to go prepare food for the visitors—one of whom was the Lord!
b. Gen. 24:13 – Here it was the custom for “the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water.”
c. Gen. 29:9 – Rachel was a shepherdess. She kept her father’s sheep and probably turned the wool into warm clothing.
d. Ex. 2:16 – “Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock.” These women drew water and carried it to the water troughs to water the flock.
e. Ruth 2:2 – “And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn.” Ruth was also the only specific woman in the Bible called “virtuous” (strong; capable). She worked hard in the fields gathering in the crops.
f. Acts 9:39 – “all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.” Dorcas manufactured clothing and gave it to those in need.
g. I Tim. 5:10 – “Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.” Only the diligent, hardworking widows were to be helped financially by the assembly.
h. Titus 2:5 – “To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”
• In addition to drawing water, filling the water troughs, tending the sheep, gleaning the fields, making clothing of wool and fine linen from flax, the women in Bible times also were housekeepers!
• They kept care of their house and their household – the people in it.
• These were very hard working women.
• They worked with their hands.
• Their days and nights were filled with chores to do. They never stopped.
• It would not be fair or accurate to say that women in the Bible did not work. They DID work and they worked hard—with their hands.
7. She worketh WILLINGLY with her hands.
a. Willingly: Defined: The primary meaning of this term is “delight; pleasure; good pleasure; longing; desire; to be pleased to do.”
b. In I Kings 9:1, it is used of Solomon’s pleasure in building the Temple.
8. The virtuous woman worked hard with her hands, and DELIGHTED in what she did.
a. It gave her a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment to be able to help her husband and her family.
b. She made them warm clothing was pleased to see them warm in cold weather.
c. She made them fine linen clothes and was pleased to see how good they looked and how comfortable their clothing was. That gave her pleasure.
d. She gathered in the crops and took pleasure in her part of the whole process that put food on the table.
e. She made fine tapestries from the linen to decorate her house and was pleased to be able to turn her house into a home.
f. She worked hard to be able to give to her husband and family, and she was a cheerful giver and a cheerful worker.
g. She sacrificed a lot of time, energy, and effort tending sheep, drawing water, making clothing and tapestries, but she did so willingly and cheerfully out of LOVE.
h. Love sacrifices self for the good of others. The virtuous woman loved her family and her love was demonstrated in deeds… in hours of labor and toil.
9. In the modern world, some things have changed; but some things should remain the same.
a. Today, it is probably more expensive to make clothing than to buy it. (After you buy the pattern, material, thread, yarn, buttons, etc.)
b. Most Christian ladies don’t live in an agricultural setting… yes, even in New Hampshire.
c. But some of the qualities of this woman should be manifested today:
• She was a diligent worker. She didn’t sit around watching TV all day.
• She worked with her hands. Some of the women’s work was very difficult (working in the fields; etc.)
» It was not beneath her to get her hands dirty.
• Her motive in working was to help her husband and family.
» She wasn’t trying to get rich or accumulate wealth.
» She wanted to help her husband.
» Some women may find it necessary to work outside the home today in order to help their husbands and households financially.
• This godly woman was PLEASED to be able to help.
» She was not a grumbler and a complainer.
» She wasn’t forced to work.
» Warren Wiersbe put it this way: She worked not out of compulsion but out of compassion for her family.
» She finds genuine JOY in serving her family and making them comfortable.
• She did what she could to see to it that her family wore fine clothing (not rags) warm in the cold; cool in heat.
• She worked hard to turn her house into a comfortable and attractive home.
• She was interested in quality, practicality, and beauty for her family and home.
• She didn’t focus on accumulating wealth and living lavishly. That was not her adorning.
• I Tim. 2:9-10 – “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves… not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”