The Virtuous Woman and her Household
She looketh well to the ways of her household,
and eateth not the bread of idleness.
1. Last week we noted that the virtuous woman (strong, capable woman) was involved in MANY projects.
a. She was 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.
b. She got up before the sun and she burned the candle into the wee hours of the night.
2. One might read this chapter and conclude that this woman was too busy and that her family was being ignored while she was busy with all of her projects.
a. It appears at first glance that she must not be taking care of business in her own household—that her house must be filthy and neglected.
b. With all the projects she had going on, there must be fuzzballs under her bed and green fur in her refrigerator.
c. And yet, when we come to verse 27, we discover that that was not the case.
She looketh well to the ways of her household…
1. The ways of her household.
a. WAYS: It speaks of the movement of people; a procession; marching activity of soldiers; used of traveling merchants or caravans; it came to mean the affairs or matters, or activities of a person or household.
b. Psalm 68:24 – It is used twice in this verse and speaks of the “goings” of God Himself… His activities.
2. The ways of her household…
a. The ways of her household speaks of all the activities (the comings and goings—the busy-ness—the movements and happenings) in this lady’s home.
b. In every household there is always a time of life when there is lot of activity going on.
c. There are people coming and going—and everyone has their own schedule—everyone has their own activities.
d. There is the husband, the wife, and the kids—and all of their activities seem to intersect in the home.
e. When the kids are young and active, there can be a lot of commotion taking place in the home.
f. There can be a lot of drama at times.
g. There may even be some friction.
h. The expression “the ways of her household” involves all of this combined activity.
3. The virtuous woman looked well to the ways of her household.
a. “Looketh well” means to keep watch; to be a lookout; to intently watch a situation; to guard.
• Prov. 15:3 – “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.”
• Habakkuk 2:1a – “I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me…”
c. The virtuous woman watched the ways of her household like a hawk… like a watchman guarding a city.
• She watched for bad attitudes in her children, bad language, or bad behavior.
• She kept an eye out for any danger that might enter the home and turned it away.
• She was careful to be engaged in what her children were reading… who their friends were… what they did with their time… their walk with God.
• She may have been a bit nosey at times—but that’s her job! Her job is to watch and to keep on top of things in her household.
d. In other words, even though she had many projects going on, she did NOT ignore her family.
• Her priorities were not out of balance.
• She did not neglect her household duties as a wife, mother, and housekeeper.
• She wasn’t so busy making sashes to sell and spinning yarn that she didn’t have time to attend to the daily needs of her household… her children and her husband.
e. Without verse 27, her priorities might be questioned; but in light of verse 27, it is clear that she balanced her time, energy, and attention carefully, thoughtfully, and wisely.
4. Verse 26 mentioned her wisdom. Verse 27 is an expression of her wisdom.
a. It takes wisdom to be able to balance all of the activities in one’s life… and to know what needs attention, how much, and when.
b. It is easy to be out of balance—which is a foolish way to run a household.
c. Some people don’t have the wisdom to balance life’s activities.
• As a result, they spend all of their time and energy running around like a chicken with its head cut off… lots of activity, but not much accomplished.
• Some spend their time running about putting out one fire after the next… instead of facing and dealing with the source of the fires.
• As a result, they are not led by the Spirit, but are led by circumstances.
d. This lady had the wisdom to look WELL to the ways of her household.
e. She served her family well.
• And keep in mind what Jesus said about serving others in Matt. 20:27 – “whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.”
• Serving others in the home may be ridiculed by our culture, but it is greatness in God’s sight.
f. Titus 2:5 – “To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”
• This woman was an excellent “keeper at home.”
• That didn’t mean that she never left home; this chapter reveals otherwise.
• But she never neglected home. She “kept” it—guarded it—and preserved it.
• This was a good testimony—“that the word of God be not blasphemed.”
5. The virtuous woman also is described in this chapter as a good organizer and manager.
a. In verse 15 she rises early each morning and gives out the instructions to the servants for the day.
b. In verse 18, she stayed up late getting out orders for her sash business. She managed her time such that she was not overloaded with work and assured her customers that they would have their products on time.
c. In verse 20, she was able to save enough to be able to give to the poor.
d. In verse 21, she planned ahead for the coming cold season and made sure she and her household were ready for it with warm clothing.
e. She organized well and planned ahead.
f. She was a good manager of her time and her household, and she is being praised in verse 27 for that quality.
6. Of course this lady had some advantages that not all ladies have.
a. Vs. 15 – She was a woman of means.
• She had multiple servants working for her.
• Not many women today have servants.
• But it is a good idea to have children engaged in doing age appropriate chores around the house.
b. Vs. 28 – She had a loving family that supported her in all that she did. Not every woman has that.
• Some women have to deal with an unreasonable husband or rebellious children who make it virtually impossible to manage a household efficiently and smoothly.
• Not every woman’s circumstances in life are the same… so these verses are not designed to be used to judge one another.
c. The family seemed to function well together.
• This was no dysfunctional family.
• They worked together—not against each other. Hence, a lot was accomplished by all for the betterment of the whole family.
7. And while the harmony of this household depends upon each member’s willingness to submit, serve, and work together, our proverb seems to give much of the credit to the virtuous woman.
a. She looked well to the ways of her household.
b. She watched over her family like a hawk and did whatever she could to make sure it functioned smoothly and efficiently.
c. She was busy adding to the prosperity of the family, as well as keeping an eye on all the affairs and activities of the household.
She eateth not the bread of idleness.
1. This was a woman of means. However, she did not use her wealth as an excuse to sit around and waste time or eat the bread of idleness.
a. Vs. 13 – She sought out wool and flax for making cloth.
b. Vs. 14 – She traveled all over town to find the best deals.
c. Vs. 16 – She bought, planted, and tended a vineyard.
d. Vs. 18 – She made and sold merchandise for a profit.
e. Vs. 19 – She worked on a spindle making yarn.
f. Vs. 21-23 – She made clothing for herself and her family.
g. Vs. 24 – She made and sold fine linen and girdles (sashes).
h. She was anything but idle.
2. She rolled up her sleeves and worked WITH her servants.
a. This is humility—and diligence—and wisdom.
b. Vs. 15 – She rose early and prepared food for her “household” – which term includes her immediate family and her household servants.
c. The servants would certainly appreciate this about her.
d. They would also appreciate the fact that she didn’t lounge around eating candy and snapping orders all day.
e. She gave them orders in the morning, and then she (the lady of the house) got busy herself. They all worked together.
f. It is rare for women of means to be such hard workers, when they don’t really have to.
g. Her diligence added to the smooth functioning of the household.
h. No one could ever read this chapter and conclude that this wealthy woman was a lady of leisure. Just the opposite was true.
3. She certainly did NOT eat the bread of idleness.
4. And yet in all of her activities, she never neglected her family. She had her priorities right.