Proverbs 31:18-19

Her Candle Goeth Not Out by Night

Review: So far we have learned several things about the virtuous woman:
→ Vs. 10 – She is valuable—like rubies.
→ Vs. 11 – She is trustworthy.
→ Vs. 12 – She did good deeds for her husband her whole life.
→ Vs. 13 – She was a willing worker and made clothing for her family.
→ Vs. 14 – She was a diligent and wise shopper.
→ Vs. 15 – She rises early to minister to her family and servants and organizes the day’s chores.
→ Vs. 16-17 – With the fruit of her hands she invests in and plants a vineyard to provide fruit and wine for her family.
→ Vs. 18-19 – Tonight we are going to consider her merchandise and her work ethic.

She Makes Quality Merchandise to Sell (vs.18a)

“She perceiveth that her merchandise is good.”

1. Merchandise: A product which is sold for profit; products sold in the marketplace; trade; the act of doing business by exchange of goods and products.

a. The virtuous woman was engaged in merchandising.

b. She made products and either sold them for money or exchanged them for other products in a trade.

c. She may have sold goods from her home – as a cottage industry.

d. She may have brought her goods to the marketplace for sale.

e. This was more than a yard sale; she made these goods.

f. This was clearly a “business” that she operated for profit.

2. Good: This term (like our English word good) has a broad range of meaning.

a. Defined: Good; well-pleasing; fruitful; proper; convenient.

b. It speaks of that which is appealing to the senses.

c. It speaks of that which is useful and profitable.

d. It speaks of that which is good in quality.

e. It is the term repeated in Genesis where God said that everything He had made was “good.”

3. Perceive: Taste buds; to experience by taste; to discover by experience; to judge or discern.

a. The virtuous woman perceived from experience that her merchandise she sold for profit was good.
• She created a quality product and she knew it.
• She understood that what she made was valuable and useful, and that it was something that others would desire.

b. She perceived that her products were profitable.
• She had a good business “sense” (perception – discernment).
• She could almost taste the fact that her merchandise would be profitable and thus beneficial to her family.
• She had that sense about her—wisdom—discernment.

c. Going into business and selling merchandise was not done impulsively.
• She wasn’t taking a big risk; she wasn’t gambling with her family finances.
• It was not a crazy get-rich-quick scheme.
• Nor was she trying to sell “pet rocks” or create a new fad product.
• Her products were good, useful, and beneficial, and she knew that they were good and would sell.

4. Her merchandise was GOOD.

a. This fact speaks not only about the quality of her product, but also of the quality (or virtue) of the woman.

b. She made quality products because she did her best.

c. Ecc. 9:10a – “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might…”
• Whatever a person is able to do, he or she should do so with all they’ve got.
• We should put our all into our work and do our best at whatever we do.
• The virtuous woman did her best in manufacturing her merchandise and she knew it was a good product.
• She knew it was good because she knew the skill, the labor, the effort, and the tender loving care required in making such a quality product.

d. The merchandise she made was her best.
• She made quality merchandise:
» Vs. 24 – Fine linen—this was a quality material
» Vs. 16 – She considered the field before she bought it; she wanted to be sure it would produce quality fruit.
» Vs. 21 – Her household is dressed in scarlet – which was a valuable, quality dyed cloth.
» Vs. 22 – She made tapestry and her clothing was silk. Those are fine products that she made.
• She didn’t just slap things together, cut corners, and make a “so so” product for a quick sale and a quick buck.
» Shoddy workmanship might sell for a while—before people realize how cheaply made it was.
» But this woman made a quality product—and her customers would be repeat customers.
• This is true in what we do in our daily jobs; it is also true in our service for the Lord.
» God wants our products to be gold, silver, and precious stones—not wood, hay, and stubble.
» Eventually all of our service for Him will be evaluated by fire and its quality will be manifested.
• We should do our best at whatever we do.
• This virtuous woman did her best, which is why she is praised in this passage.

She Works Well Into the Night (vs.18b)

“Her candle goeth not out by night.”

A. This speaks of the diligence of her work ethic.

1. Vs. 15 – We were told earlier that she gets up while it is still night time (dark).

a. She gets up early before the sun so that she can get a head start on the day’s activities.

b. She prepares food for her household.

c. She also gives a “portion” (the day’s work schedule) to her servants.

d. She is up early with a plan for her servants to use their time wisely and productively throughout the day too.

2. Vs. 18 – Now we are told that she stays up into the night working as well.

a. I take this to be hyperbole to drive home a point. (Remember that this is poetry—a proverb.)
• I don’t think that her candle is burning literally ALL night long—implying that she works all night long.
• This would be unreasonable seeing that she gets up while it is still dark.
• She is a hard worker but is not foolish. She realizes that she needs to sleep.

b. “Her candle going not out at night” is a figure of speech designed to drive home one point:
• She works hard and long.
• She takes advantage of a few more hours of energy she has left after the sun goes down to get a few more projects completed.

c. After dinner and the family has been fed, when the sun begins to go down, and perhaps after the kids have been put to bed, she lights up a candle and continues working on her merchandise.

3. Eph. 5:16 – “Redeeming the time.”

a. Paul applies a general principle to the need for believers to be on their guard spiritually—and to be aware of the spirit of the age around us—the “season” of time.

b. But the general principle that he uses can certainly be applied in many other situations.

c. The virtuous woman also redeemed her time. She made good use of her time.

d. If she felt that she had a little energy left at the end of the day she would take advantage of that and use her time in a profitable way.

e. This speaks of her virtue—her work ethic.

f. She was a good steward of her time.

g. As Solomon wrote, “The sleep of a laboring man (or woman!) is sweet.” (Ecc. 5:12)

4. Prov. 20:13 – “Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.”

a. This lady was not lazy; she did not love to sleep.

b. Therefore she did not come to poverty.

c. She opened her eyes, kept the candles burning, and made merchandise that she sold and added to the family finances.

d. Thus, she was satisfied with bread—and so was her family.

B. This Also May Speak of Her Wise Preparation.

1. The concept of a candle not going out is a relatively common figure of speech.

a. The word for “candle” means a light of some kind; it can mean either an individual candle or a lamp that burned by oil.

b. It is often translated “lamp”
• Ps. 119:105 – “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet.”
• I Sam. 3:3 – “Ere the lamp of God went out in the Temple.”

c. A lamp not going out (while a literal event) was also used as a figure of speech to describe the wisdom required in keeping oil in the lamp. It speaks of planning ahead.

d. There is a parable in Matthew 25 about virgins and their lamps.
• The folly of the foolish virgins was seen in the fact that they let their lamps go out. They didn’t plan ahead.
• The wise virgins kept plenty of oil for their lamp and were able to go with the bridegroom. They planned ahead and were prepared.

e. It is possible that the statement about the virtuous woman that “her candle goeth not out by night” (which is clearly figurative language in one of the Bible’s poetic books) was intended to:
• Speak of the literal fact that she worked at night.
• She was a wise planner and organizer and was willing to stay up at night to finish an order she had for her merchandise.
» She didn’t run out of oil and thus found herself unable to work at night… and keep up with the orders for her merchandise.
» She kept the lamps trimmed, full of oil, and burning so that she could take advantage of the time and be more productive.

She Works With Her Hands (vs. 19)

1. This woman works with her own hands.

a. She was unlike the model, aristocratic women from the Elizabethan era who considered themselves above working with their hands.

b. This woman DID work with her hands and did an excellent job.

c. And again, what made this remarkable was the fact that she was a woman of means.
• She could easily have ordered her servants to do the manual labor.
• She could have functioned as the manager or CEO and ordered others to do the work.
• But she worked with her own hands.

2. We see her working with her own hands in several passages:

a. Vs. 13 – She works willingly with her hands, seeking wool and making cloth.

b. Vs. 19 – She lays her hands to the spindle (spinning wheel) to spin yarn.

c. Vs. 22 – She makes coverings of tapestry.

d. Vs. 24 – She makes fine linen and sashes.

3. Jay Adams, the man who made Christian counseling popular several decades ago made an observation about housewives.

a. As he counselled housewives who were experiencing depression, and as he probed with questions, he discovered that sometimes the root of the depression could be traced to a lack of order and structure in their lives.

b. He discovered that many of them were not diligent with their hands around the house and were not redeeming the time.

c. As a result they felt down, discouraged, useless, and even depressed.

d. And rather than prescribing valium to deal with the depressed, he prescribed “getting busy” and accomplishing things throughout the day. (Painting a room; cleaning out the fridge; deep cleaning the house; yard work; etc.)

e. Then they began feeling better about themselves—because they got things done that they had postponed for months and they felt a sense of accomplishment—and a sense of being useful and productive.

f. That was a lesson from the virtuous woman. She didn’t have time to waste on feeling sorry for herself. She was too busy getting things done for her family.

g. She slept well at night and rejoiced in all the Lord enabled her to do. It is better to GIVE than to receive. And it feels better to give than to receive too.