Wisdom and the Law of Kindness
1. So far in the description of the virtuous woman, we have seen an exceptionally talented and able woman.
a. She is a diligent worker, engaged in many projects.
b. She is described as a maker of yarn, a seamstress, a real estate agent, a vinedresser, a gardener, an organizer, a cook, an energetic and thrifty shopper, and a business woman.
c. She gets up before the sun and she burns the candle into the wee hours of the night.
2. After considering all that she does, one might think that this lady is burning the candle on both ends and is going to have a nervous breakdown any day now.
a. With so many projects going on, one would think that she is going to experience burn out.
b. One might think that as a result of all that she does, her family would suffer in the long run.
c. However, the text does not indicate that she was doing too much.
d. The text does not present all this information in a bad light.
e. All that is recorded of her is to describe the fact that she is a virtuous woman—not a workaholic who ignores her family.
3. Verse 26 gives two reasons that explain HOW this woman is able to do so much without a meltdown.
1. The first explanation is her wisdom. This strong, able, virtuous woman was also WISE.
2. WISDOM defined: Wisdom; skill; experience; shrewdness, the capacity to understand and to have the skills needed for living; technical skills needed to do a craft.
a. Ex. 28:3 – Used of the wisdom needed for crafts: “And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron’s garments.”
b. Isa. 10:13 – Used of the wisdom needed to conduct war: “For he saith, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent: and I have removed the bounds of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man.”
c. Psalm 104:24 – The wisdom of God as the Master Craftsman in creating the world: “O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.”
d. I Kings 3:28 – Used of Solomon’s wisdom in governing: “And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.”
e. Psalm 90:12 – The wisdom needed in using time wisely: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
4. The virtuous woman who was engaged in so many projects, who worked such long hours, and did so much, did not burn out because she had WISDOM.
a. She had the wisdom needed for her various crafts. (see definition “a.” above)
• Because she was a skilled seamstress, (perhaps learned it from her mother as a child), she was able to make clothing for her family much quicker than a novice.
• People who are skilled in any craft make their craft look easy.
• Skilled craftsmen don’t have to do the same procedure five times over like an unskilled worker does.
• Her husband probably made sure that she had all the right tools for the job too—which is wise. Having the right tools makes any job easier and quicker.
• She didn’t burn out because she wisely used her skills to do a good job in a shorter amount of time.
b. She had the wisdom needed to govern and organize all of the projects she was engaged in. (see definition b, c, d above)
• This lady could walk and chew gum at the same time.
• She was a skilled multi-tasker. Some people just don’t have that ability. This lady did.
• For example, consider what we noted about her organizational skills described in verse 15.
» Using the most common meaning for the term indicates that this woman rose up early to (1) feed her family and her maidens and also to (2) give “instructions” to her maidens. (their work assignments for the day)
» In other words, after feeding her maidens, she used their labors wisely and efficiently.
» The virtuous woman had plans and goals to accomplish each day.
» Evidently, she had already prepared the instructions for each maiden the night before. She had already thought out and perhaps wrote down a “to do” list to give to her maidens each morning.
» She did this because she was a diligent leader of her maidens and wanted to use their talents in a most effective manner.
» This woman was disciplined; organized; a good planner; a wise and efficient manager.
• She didn’t burn out because she had the wisdom to put her organizational skills to work for her.
c. She had the wisdom needed to use her time wisely. (see definition “e” above)
• This lady did not waste time. She didn’t sit around and watch the grass grow.
• She numbered her days and hours and applied her heart unto wisdom.
• She redeemed her time.
• We noted in vs. 15 that she was up before the sun.
• We noted in vs. 18 that her candle didn’t go out at night. (hyperbole)
• She didn’t fold her hands for just a little more sleep.
• God gives us all the same amount of hours in a day and the same number of days in a week.
• What we DO with that time is up to us.
• The example God gives to ladies is a woman who uses her time wisely and diligently.
• This lady was anything but lazy. She was a go getter.
• And because she had wisdom, she knew enough not to be constantly moving and running around without making progress.
• There are some folks who seem to be constantly busy—always doing something—but never getting anything finished.
» They start multiple projects with high hopes of checking everything off their “to do” list, but never seem to finish any of them.
» They live their whole lives surrounded by loose ends that never get done.
» They have good intentions; but they lack the wisdom needed to bring about a satisfactory result.
• The virtuous woman had the wisdom needed to NOT start projects that she could not complete.
» We only read of her finished products in this chapter.
» She didn’t start a sash business and then quit because it was too much for her.
» She had the wisdom to know how much she could get done; how much time she had to put into it; how much energy she had to put into it; how many products she could make.
» In other words, she knew her limits. She set reasonable limits and accomplished her goals.
• The virtuous woman did not burn out because she had the wisdom to organize her time, to redeem her time, and to finish the goals that she set for herself in time.
5. While this lady had many talents, her greatest asset was her wisdom.
a. Prov. 4:7-9 – “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. 8Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. 9She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.”
b. All the activities she was involved in could have and would have destroyed her without the wisdom to allocate her time and energy properly.
c. Prov. 4:11-12 – “I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths. 12When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble.”
d. Prov. 9:1 – “Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars.” Without wisdom, all of her activities could have torn down her house… and household. Wisdom is what made all the difference.
e. Prov. 9:10 – “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”
• Her wisdom was characterized by a godly fear. That kept her away from unprofitable projects and pathways.
• Wisdom caused her to seek God in everything.
• God is able to lead and guide: in which projects to take on… and in which activities to bypass… how to use one’s time, etc.
The Law of Kindness
1. This expression is variously translated for a couple of reasons:
a. The meaning of the Hebrew word translated “kindness” has several meanings.
b. The emphasis of the translator either on the word “law” or “kindness.”
2. Consider some of the ways it was handled by various translators:
a. ESV: the teaching of kindness
b. NET: loving instruction
c. NIV: faithful instruction
d. Kiel & Delitzsch – amiable instruction
3. The word translated “law” is the Hebrew word “torah.”
a. It is used of the Old Testament Mosaic Law.
b. The term itself means to teach or instruct… hence, the translation “instruction.”
c. It is translated “law” in Proverbs 1:8 – “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother.”
d. Here is it used as a synonym for instruction. Either translation is perfectly accurate.
4. The Hebrew word (hesed) translated “kindness” has a wide range of meaning.
a. It is variously defined as kindness, lovingkindness, mercy, faithfulness, devotion, love, etc.
b. It speaks of affection that is steadfast in a relationship.
c. With God it speaks of His faithfulness to His people because of their covenant relationship to Him—all based on His mercy and kindness.
d. This term is often used to describe the character of God.
e. This Hebrew word is used 26 times in Psalm 136 where it is consistently translated as “mercy” (His mercy endureth forever).
f. Mercy and kindness are certainly related terms.
g. This term is used in Prov. 19:22 – “The desire of a man is his kindness.” In other words, that which makes a man desirable is his kindness.
5. Just as God was faithful in His mercy and kindness towards those with whom He had a relationship, so too the virtuous woman was faithful in her mercy and kindness towards those with whom she had a relationship, namely, her husband and family… and perhaps all those she came in contact with (neighbors; business clients, etc.)
6. The law of kindness was “in her tongue.”
a. This expression indicates that this lady TAUGHT her family about kindness verbally.
b. She was able to teach about kindness because she was a kind person herself. Jesus taught us that whatever comes out of the tongue was originally in the heart. (Matt. 15:18a – “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart.”)
c. Vs. 20 – She was kind to the poor and needy. She used her finances to help them too. She didn’t just “feel” for them. She did something about it.
d. She taught her children all about kindness… perhaps from the Torah – the books of Moses.
• Deut. 15:11 – “For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.”
• Deut. 24:17 – “Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger…” (foreigners)
• Deut. 16:14 – “And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within thy gates.”
• Ex. 22:26 – “If thou at all take thy neighbour’s raiment to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down.” The outer garment was sometimes used as a pledge for a loan or for work to be performed. It was not to be kept overnight by the one loaning the money. It was the poor man’s “bedding.”
• We often think of the Torah with all of its laws, regulations, and penalties. However, the Torah also had much to say about kindness to one’s neighbor.
e. The virtuous woman had the “torah” of kindness on her tongue. She instructed her family in this kind of mercy, love, and kindness.
• Even when she gave orders to her children or servants, she did so, not in the tone of a domineering tyrant, but with kindness. The way you say something is often as full of meaning as what you say.
• Prov. 18:7 – “A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.”
• Some wives might be loose with their tongues = to their own destruction and the detriment of her family. That was not true of this lady.
• She didn’t go about as a talebearer and revealer of secrets. (Prov. 20:19)
• Prov. 27:15 – “A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.” It wasn’t constant nagging that was on her tongue—it was kindness.
• She had a wholesome tongue—which is a tree of life (Prov. 15:4).
7. This tells us something else about the character and heart of this strong, capable woman.
a. She had so many skills, she had so many projects going on, and she was so well organized, that one might begin to think of her as a well-greased machine.
b. But she did not operate like a cold, heartless machine—a taskmaster… or a business woman who trampled on the backs of others to get things done.
c. No, she was not a machine. She was not a robot. She was kind… merciful… and consistently so.
d. Her character was like that of the Lord; she was a godly woman.
e. Sometimes when I have so many things going on, I can get a little snappy.
f. This woman had the wisdom to know her limits. She refused to do so many things that she was no longer kind to others.
g. When Martha was preparing the food for Jesus, she was doing a lot of things. She was very busy, but she wasn’t kind. She began to complain about her sister and even about the Lord.
h. The virtuous woman was kind. She had a heart.
i. She worked hard and diligently. She worked many hours.
j. But she did not allow herself to get so exhausted and frazzled that she took out her frustration on others.
k. She was kind. No wonder her husband and children rose up and praised her.