You know that feeling. You have finished a hard job, and now you are reaping some of the benefits of it. Maybe you just cleaned up your messy kitchen, and now you are surveying the sparkling countertops and gleaming dishes. It could be that you planted a garden. All summer long you worked hard, spending countless hours watering and pulling weeds. Now you are picking baskets of produce, putting some into the freezer for later, and sitting down at the table with your family to eat vegetables that you grew. Or, maybe you spent hours cutting out a dress and sewing it, and now you are wearing it for the first time. It could be that you just spent time measuring, mixing, and shaping little balls of dough, and now you are popping a melty chocolate chip cookie in your mouth. Maybe you have a little business, and you poured your heart into creating something and were filled with delight when people bought what you made. This is exactly what the Proverbs 31 woman experienced in Proverbs 31:18.
She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
1. She Tastes the Reward of Hard Work (Proverbs 31:18)
Don’t you just love the taste of success? That feeling of accomplishment is wonderful! When Proverbs 31:18 says that “she perceiveth that her merchandise is good,” it is literally saying she tastes that her merchandise is good. The Proverbs 31 woman knows the taste of success. Why? Because she has worked hard and is reaping the reward of her hard work.
The reason the Proverbs 31 woman’s work is good and profitable is that she does her best. She puts her heart into her work and doesn’t go halfway. I think that most of us want to be like this. We want to do a good job, and we most certainly want to reap a reward for hard work done well.
So, what is it that could be hindering us from doing our best? I know for me, one of the biggest hindrances to giving my all is the feeling that I don’t have enough time. Sometimes I feel like I have to rush so that I can get on to the next thing on the list.
I think that part of the secret to the Proverbs 31 woman’s success was prioritizing. She didn’t try to do everything, but she picked out the things that were important to her and did her best at those. And you can do that too!
By eliminating some of the things that you are doing that really don’t matter, you can put your heart into doing well the important things that God has given you to do. And as a bonus, you can do things well without having to rush around from one task to the next. Then, you too can taste the rewards of hard work.
The Proverbs 31 woman was selling things. Probably these were items that she had made. It’s also possible that she had people working for her, helping her make the items. So, part of her success was in earning money. But this principle applies in other areas as well, as we saw in the examples in the introduction. You may sell things, or you may not. Either way, you have the option of working at the tasks God gives you and reaping the rewards.
Rewards come in so many different forms. They are sometimes monetary, but those aren’t the most important kinds. Being able to do the Lord’s will to bring Him glory and being able to bless our families and others around us is what is truly fulfilling.
2. She is Motivated to Work (Proverbs 31:18)
There are few things more motivating than past success. When you have just finished cooking a meal and baking muffins for tomorrow and your kitchen is a disaster, what is it that motivates you to wash the mountain of dishes? It’s probably not all the energy that you have. You would rather put your feet up and relax. But, you know from past experience that you will rest a lot better if you have a sparkling kitchen. Of course, you also know from past experience how discouraging it is to enter a messy kitchen and try to cook. You don’t want that!
Well, just like you, the Proverbs 31 woman had tasted past victories. These successes motivated her to continue! It’s possible that sometimes she even stayed up after dark with a lamp lit, continuing on with her work. She knew that this work had been rewarded in the past, and she looked forward to similar results in the future.
This verse is actually talking about a lamp rather than a candle. In Bible days, little oil lamps were often used as lighting. I did some research into this verse and found that there can be several interpretations as to what the second half of Proverbs 31:18, “her candle goeth not out by night,” may mean.
For one thing, I doubt that everyone could afford to keep a lamp burning all night. They wouldn’t have been able to afford the oil. The Proverbs 31 woman was industrious at work and reaped the benefits by being able to provide lighting for her family. Having a light at night could be comforting to keep things from being pitch black. It might also provide protection from thieves trying to break in. As Adam Clarke pointed out, it is also possible that the Proverbs 31 woman had people working for her who were busy working at night.
3. She Keeps the Right Balance (Psalm 127:2)
Now, I think it’s important that we also notice the balance the Proverbs 31 woman kept. Verse 15 says that “She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.” We already looked at this verse and some of the benefits of getting up early plus a simple way to meal plan without getting overwhelmed. One thing I mentioned was that to be an early riser, it is important to go to bed early.
Do you think that every day the Proverbs 31 woman worked most of the night by candlelight, slept a couple of hours, and then got up before the sun to cook meals? I most certainly don’t! That does not fit with the rest of the passage. If she did this, she would not be strong and fit to do her work, and I don’t think her children would rise up and call a sleep-deprived, grouchy mom blessed! No, the Proverbs 31 woman did not work around the clock, and neither should you.
It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.
It is important to keep a balance. Work and rest must have the right balance for us to be healthy, joyful women of God. This may look a little different in each of our individual lives. The key is to pay attention to what you are doing now and look for things that should be done differently. Are you getting the optimal number of hours of sleep that you need so that you are at your best to work well? You may do better work in less time if you take the needed time to rest. It’s something to think about.
4. Her Spiritual Lamp is Burning (Luke 12:35-40)
While there was a lot we could learn from Proverbs 31:18 in life application, it also appears that there are some important spiritual parallels as well. In the New Testament, Jesus spoke in parables about our spiritual lamps. Just as the Proverbs 31 woman had a lamp burning in the dark hours of the night, so we should have our spiritual lamps burning in this dark world.
Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
Jesus is coming back one day to take with Him His heavenly bride: the people who have trusted Jesus Christ as Savior and have followed Him. This world is growing darker all the time. Sin abounds, and those of us who follow the Lord stand out. Why is that? It’s because the world is so dark. The darker the world becomes, the brighter our lights will appear as we reflect Jesus. Don’t be afraid to stand out. We are actually told in the Bible to be different than the world, which automatically means standing out. Instead of fearing to be different, delight in shining God’s light to others and in keeping your garments spotless. Jesus is coming back at any time, and we must be ready to meet Him.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
5. She Doesn’t Let Her Light Grow Dim (Proverbs 24:20)
Do you remember the parable of the ten virgins? In this story that Jesus told, there were 10 virgins who were to keep watch for the coming of the bridegroom. Five of them were wise and laid in oil, while five were foolish and did not. The bridegroom didn’t come right away. When it was announced that he was coming and they should go meet him, the five foolish virgins asked to borrow oil from the five wise ones. They didn’t have enough to share, so the five foolish virgins went to the store to buy some. While they were gone, the bridegroom came and went into the wedding. The door was already shut when the five foolish virgins got back, and they were not allowed in.
For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out. Proverbs 24:20
From this parable, we see again the importance of being ready when Jesus comes back. Are you prepared to meet Him? Do you know Jesus as your personal Savior? Are you walking with Him and reflecting His light to those around you? Are you praying for others and being a light to them so that they too will be ready when Jesus comes?
- To do your best work and taste the success of being faithful, you may need to eliminate some things from your schedule. As the saying goes, “You can’t do everything and do it well.”
- Balance is key! Are you balancing work with rest? It’s important to get enough sleep, and it’s also important to have some downtime to relax when you are awake as well.
- Are you prepared to meet Jesus when He comes? Are you shining your light and praying for those who aren’t prepared? “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
Did you learn anything from Proverbs 31:18? Which simple takeaway are you taking with you today? What is one job that always makes you feel accomplished when you get it done? I’d love to hear about it!
Until next time, be faithful to let your light shine each and every day!