In this one verse alone, God is teaching us so many things. I know it would not seem like it. The first time I read it, I even thought that I should have combined it with verse 18, mention something about sewing, and then move on.
BUT, as Scripture says, ALL Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (1 Timothy 3:16), even the verses that seem on first glance like they are not saying a whole lot.
Another feeling that I had to fight was skipping past the word “distaff”. After researching, I found out that a distaff is about three feet long and is used in the process of making thread. One would wrap fibers of wool or flax around the distaff and the other end of the material would be connected to a handheld spindle. The woman would tuck the distaff under her left arm and prop it up. Then, in the other hand, she would hold the spindle, just as the verse suggests. She would then allow for the spindle to spin, tightly gripping the fibers, twisting them together to form a thread.
When she was finished, all of the fibers from the distaff are wound together as thread on the spindle. The thread could finally be used for sewing. I did not realize that there were so many steps!
This action described in verse 19 involves the woman’s whole body. She must keep the distaff upright and her hands must be trained in the art of spinning.
The most interesting detail of this verse is that the English “hands” in this verse is really two different words in the Hebrew. The first word translated to the English “hands” is “Yad” in Hebrew and actually means strength. She puts her strength to the distaff while her physical hands (“Kaph”) hold the spindle.
This has got to be a boring job. Think of all of the different jobs that we have seen her do (and there are still more to come). She has so many things going on – so many that she stays up to work while others go to bed (see Part 4). But now we see her sitting quietly with the tedious job of making thread.
This very simplistic job is actually quite important. If the thread is not ready to go, then the next step in the sewing process will be stalled. Maybe others would not be able to do their jobs the following day.
I bet she had many more important things to do. I bet she’d rather go do something else for herself. I bet she is thinking of other things.
But she does the job. She does not rush through it, doing a sloppy job. She worships God even in this. She does even the most boring job with a loving, glad heart.
We can find the antithesis to this in Malachi 1:13-14. Here, the people did not find use in the ‘little job’ of an offering for God. They hurried up and got through it, finding whatever they could to use as an offering, just to check it off the list. You could say that they were just going through the motions. If you read a little further in Malachi Chapter 1, you can find out God’s response.
Jesus is concerned with our heart, not our actions. If our hearts are in the right place, then the actions will follow, just as they do for the woman in Proverbs 31. She probably didn’t enjoy the tiring, boring job of spinning, but she loved God and her family. Again, it was another way for her to serve. If she would have done the same exact thing with a bad heart, she would not be an example to follow. God is not tricked when we do something begrudgingly.
I have such a begrudging heart. I do things based on my schedule and my mood. If only I worshipped my Lord in everything! How different even menial tasks would be!
I pray that God teaches us how to worship without ceasing and that He changes our hearts to want to glorify Him in even the most tedious tasks.
God, please teach me what real worship is.