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It’s 8:30 and the girls are in bed. I won’t be too far behind them tonight. My entire family will thank me tomorrow.
But does an early bedtime disqualify me from being a Proverbs 31 woman?
After all, “her lamp burns all night” (v. 15). And, “she gets up at night to provide food for her family” (v. 18). Yet somehow she manages to bring her husband good every day of her life. Without sleep!
Or, does she?
I assumed these verses meant that she worked all night. But Bruce Waltke explains in his commentary that there was only one reason a lamp quit burning: the oil had run out; the family was destitute. A burning lamp meant life.
When God foretold judgement on his people through the prophet Jeremiah he describes it like this:
Moreover, I will banish from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the grinding of the millstones and the light of the lamp.
~Jeremiah 25:10, emphasis mine
But, the Proverbs 31 woman, her lamp does not go out at night.
So, she sleeps while her lamp burns through the night, but does she wake before dawn to provide food for her family? The answer again is, not exactly.
The imagery of rising while it is yet night, Waltke explains, is comparing her to a lioness who hunts prey at night. The Douay-Rheims version translates it really literally here:
And she hath risen in the night, and given a prey to her household…
Waltke writes, “[The verse] belongs to the preying imagery and should not be interpreted literally; a lioness hunts food by night, but not an aristocratic woman!”
She is compared to a lioness because she provides for her household with strength and ingenuity against great odds.
Imitating the Proverbs 31 woman isn’t about living without sleep. The gospel frees us to go to bed at night. It tells us that rising early and staying up late will never ultimately provide for our families. It tells us that God our Father watches over us and provides for us. It tells us that we are dependent on him for everything. It tells us that he grants sleep to those he loves.
So go to sleep tonight. He holds the world together with his voice.
Read the rest of the series:
- Measuring up to the Proverbs 31 Woman in the 21st Century
- Does the Proverbs 31 Woman Neglect the Most Important Things?
- The Proverbs 31 Woman Never Sleeps. Or, does she?
- Does the Proverbs 31 Woman Love Her Business More than Her Husband?
If you found this post helpful you might enjoy my study guide on the Proverbs 31 woman based on Bruce Waltke’s commentary and endorsed by him: To Live Valiantly: A study on the Proverbs 31 Woman.
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