She is Like the Merchant Ships

The bulk of my days, at the moment, is spent in a classroom studying the Hebrew Writings. In the Hebrew Scriptures, the Writings include some of my favorite books: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song o’ Songs, et cetera.

Today we spent considerable time talking about Proverbs, that ever so not-linear, non-narrative book. We love to take those little sayings and affix them to our Jesus-y stationaries.

When I was sixteen, Proverbs 3:4-5 were my little faves. I can remember telling the admissions-lady at Grove City College about those verses as I nervously sat in for my prospective student interview. Oh that was a very small, very Christian school. I didn’t get in. My, my, would my life have looked different if I went there, though. I think God saved me through a mid-sized public university with lots of skeptics and God-haters. Little did I know.

Here is a question we struggled over today:

Is the “Ode to a Noble Wifey” in Proverbs 31 translatable to women today? Is it a standard for us to draw lines around? Or is it a composite sketch of lots of different women (and or men) of character, to bookend Proverbs with an exclamation point?

Many ladies in our class said these verses put unruly expectations on women to be the primary caretaker, the house-arranger, and the wild businesswoman, all at the same time. One man admitted it helped other men in his church create the “standard list” for their wife-shopping. (Yikes, man.)

I’m still not sure what I think. I just know that I like how the noble woman is a travelista, like the nice merchant ships, and will go to great lengths for some good foreign food. And I like that she wears strength and dignity from her wardrobe as she laughs at the coming days.

For all of her innumerable tasks, she seems way laid back for all the sleep she is not getting.

4 Responses to “She is Like the Merchant Ships”
  1. sue says:

    God surely did not create His children for them to build boxes around each other declaring their “standard lists” for the hunt of each other!!!
    We must have been blind to think it would be so very tidy if we could box each gender up like our cultures have in the past and continue to do today. Silly humankind trying to be like each other instead of like Christ….
    You, my dear, learn on and share with us your insights.

  2. Spence says:

    As I read through “The Ode, #31” it struck me that the first line says, “who can find her?” That sounds about right as you read it. But then I thought aren’t we (Followers of Christ) “the Bride” of Christ, and doesn’t a bride become a wife. Maybe we as the the bride should look at the “List” in Psalm 31 and live it as his future wife and as a community of faith.
    Plus if I expect my beloved wife to get up and work when it’s still dark…well let’s just say that’s not gonna fly. I also think that comment from the guy in your class about this being the “standard list” is scarey, but true in the church at large. All that being said, I do think of my lovely wifey as the Psalm 31 woman. And many of the women I love and know embody this women.Maybe I’m reading it to loosely, but my beloved and these other women are all little bag’s of Rubies. (Wow, didn’t know I was going to write a book)

  3. Melissa says:

    I like the idea that the woman in Proverbs 31 can also be a model for the bride of Christ. What a beautiful image to hope for as we prepare ourselves to be with Him. I’d never thought of the 31st chapter outside the context of womanhood, and wifey-ness but I think it does me good to see it as an organic, multi-applicable testimony of who we were (and are someday) meant to be. Thanks Nelly for writing beautiful things that challenge me to climb out of my so often dull-dry spiritual hole.

  4. Jenelle says:

    @ Sue
    I think boxes are silly. I cut them up and make shelves out of them.

    @ Spence
    Look at you, waxing theological! I think you are really onto something with the idea of Proverbs 31 referring to not an individual but the people of God as a whole. We need more folks reminding us that we’re not just “I’s.” It always bugs me when I pray the “our Father” by myself. It’s just wrong.

    @ Melissa
    I’d never really looked at 31 outside the context of womanhood, either. I shared in class that I think I grew up on it, because it is one of the few chapters in the Scriptures devoted to women (apart from Ruth and Esther, et cetera.)

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