I am excited about today’s post because I actually got through two whole verses. Yep, you read it right..TWO whole verses!
Proverbs 31:19 (NLT): Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber.
Proverbs 31:19 (NIV): In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
Proverbs 31:19 (NKJ): She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hand holds the spindle.
No matter which translation you use, it is apparent that, once again, a virtuous woman’s skills provide for her family. Yes, a lot has changed since the days of spindles and distaffs, but it does not change a woman’s responsibilities. The bible was not written with bold letters or italics, etc., so the way I determine if God is trying to emphasize something is by how many times it is repeated. This is not the first verse in Proverbs 31 to refer to a woman providing clothes (or food) for her family; thereby I feel it is very important to God that we, as virtuous women, take care of our families.
As I was reading on the subject, I came across a short description of spindles and distaffs that I found helpful:
“She takes the distaff, that on which the wool or flax was rolled; and the spindle, that by twisting of which she twisted the thread with the right hand, while she held the distaff in the guard of the left arm, and drew down the thread with the fingers of the left hand.” (Adam Clarke Commentary-studylight.org)
It is interesting to note that the spindles and distaffs have been historically known as the most ancient instruments used for making thread. To be honest, I take thread for granted and never even thought that someone actually had to make it before I read on this topic. Dumb to some, I am sure, but oh so very true.
Proverbs 31:20 (NLT): She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.
Proverbs 31:20 (NIV): She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.
Proverbs 31:20 (NKJ): She extends her hand to the poor,Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.
Okay, this one seems easy enough. A virtuous woman helps out the poor and needy. My first thought when I read this verse was “Yeah, God gave me another easy one today!” After closer examination, my thoughts ran more along the lines of “yikes”!
Duet. 7-11 (NLT): But if there are any poor Israelites in your towns when you arrive in the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tightfisted toward them. 8 Instead, be generous and lend them whatever they need. 9 Do not be mean-spirited and refuse someone a loan because the year for canceling debts is close at hand. If you refuse to make the loan and the needy person cries out to the LORD, you will be considered guilty of sin. 10 Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the LORD your God will bless you in everything you do. 11 There will always be some in the land who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share freely with the poor and with other Israelites in need.
Proverbs 22:2 (NLT): The rich and poor have this in common: The LORD made them both.
Proverbs 21:13 (NLT): Those who shut their ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in their own time of need.
Proverbs 28:27 (NLT): Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to poverty will be cursed.
Proverbs 31:8-9 (NLT): Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.
1 John 3:17-18 (NLT): If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister[f] in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.
1 Timothy 6:17-19 (NLT): Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. 18 Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. 19 By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.
These are just a sliver of the verses referring to helping the poor or needy found in the Bible. It is clear to me that we are called to help the poor and needy, but it goes a lot deeper than giving a few dollars here or there or giving some of my time once a month or less. But, before we get into all that, let’s take a closer look of the definitions of “poor” and “needy”.
Poor (as defined by Merriam Webster):lacking material possessions; less than adequate (meager); small in worth; exciting pity; inferior in quality or value; humble (unpretentious), lean or emaciated, etc.
Needy(as defined by Merriam Webster):being in want (poverty-stricken); marked by want of affection, attention, or emotional support.
I tend to think of the poor and needy as those who lack material or physical possessions, but it is clearer to me now that the poor and needy are in need of spiritual and emotional support as well. If we are being honest, we must admit we are all poor and needy as we all need God, the supplier of all our needs.
Psalm 40:17 (NLT): As for me, since I am poor and needy, let the Lord keep me in his thoughts.
Going back to what I was saying earlier, helping the poor and needy goes a lot deeper than give a few dollars here or there. Sometimes, just a simple conversation will impact a person far more than a meal or a dollar. I will never forget the time when someone, who many would consider a “least of these”, said these words to me: “I can’t believe you talked to me in public!” Those words touched me deep in my soul and broke my heart because it made me wonder how many other “Christians” had shunned him. It all goes back to love and humbleness. (Please see Proverbs 22:2 above). God made us all and loves us all. His arms are open to all who will call on his name and receive him as their Lord and Savior. Why do we think we can pick and choose who is worthy to come to the Lord? One of my favorite songs over the last year or so has been “Jesus, Friend of Sinners” by Casting Crowns. This song says it all way better than I ever could.
It is true that times have changed since the biblical times when the poor, crippled and needy survived solely on the handouts of others as we have many government programs that fill that role today. However, the poor and the needy will not get spiritual support from these programs. They will not gain a church family who will stand by them as they get back on their feet. I think it is sad that the government had to step in and take care of the people because if the church had been doing its job, the government wouldn’t have had to do so much.
Yes, we must be cautious when helping people out in today’s society. Unfortunately there are people who take advantage or misuse the help provided, but that does not mean we stop helping, we just get more creative. If someone needs money for food, take that person shopping, take him or her to a restaurant, or prepare a meal for him or her. No, you don’t want to do it alone, but this kind of help not only prevents the person in need from misusing funds, but it gives you opportunity to speak truth into his or her’s life. If a person needs money for gas, go with them to the gas station and fill the tank. I know my church has had many people need help paying their electric bills. In the past, we just went down to the local company and paid their bills. Yes, their physical/material needs were met, but there was no personal connection and,therefore, we are not sure the help made an impact in their lives. We have since partnered up with another Christian organization that does this much more personally and spiritually.
I may have gotten off track a little, but just remember that as virtuous women we are not only called to take care of our families, but all of God’s people as well, which include the poor and needy. When we do this we not only please God but we bring him honor and glory. I realize this is a lot to ask. I know I don’t need one more thing to add to my “to do” list. I too struggle to fulfill my role. My brain tells me I can’t do this, but my heart is telling me that God will help me do it. Each Godly decision or choice I make takes me one step closer to the wife and mother I want to be and who God made me to be. Just remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Until next time, stay safe and God bless,