Continuing the series on Proverbs 31:10-12 and 13, let’s take a look at verse 14. “She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.” (KJV)
In verse 13, the Proverbs wife focuses on providing clothing and linens for her family. Now she makes it her task to provide nourishing food and drink for them each day. This virtuous woman is compared to the merchants’ ships. Merchants are traders who buy or sell commodities for profit, and their ships are commonly filled with items from far countries. Most likely, this isn’t suggesting that she walked thousands of miles to find food (or bought food from China like we do today) but that instead she either traded or purchased food from others in exchange for her own merchandise, like the clothing spoken of in the previous verse.
The Proverbs wife certainly grew her own food according to the climate of her homeland. But this verse also seems to suggest that she provided a variety of foods for her family from different lands. In the land of Israel and its surrounding countries, families snacked on fruits and vegetables such as dates, figs, pomegranates, beans, leeks, and lentils. They gathered eggs, honey and many varieties of barley and wheat. Depending on the climate a family could grow corn, gourds, cucumbers and olive trees. They raised pigeons, lamb, calves, oxen and goats and used their milk for cheese and butter.**
The woman portrayed in these verses is hard-working and practical. She is a smart planner, wisely using the money and goods of her household. In this way, not only does she take care of her family, but she provides for them as well. She works! Not in the conventional sense of working, but using her talents while still at home with her children to add to her family’s source of income.
After looking at this verse, I am challenged to increase my practical skills, like gardening. To pray that God will show me how to use the talents He’s given me to add to my family’s well-being and possibly our income. To be creative and use my time wisely as I seek to bless my family. God has made provisions for me to stay at home with my children. For others, this may not seem like a possibility. Trust the Lord to show you a way to use your gifts for the benefit of your family so that He can make a way for you to spend more time with your children.
Blessing others benefits us as well, taking the focus off ourselves and giving us a servant’s heart that reaches out in unselfish love to our families. Serving is not a burden, but instead gives us joy in becoming what God has individually created us to be. “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.” Galatians 5:13
**For a list of even more foods and their Biblical references, check out “Foods of the Bible“.