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But the Proverbs 31 Woman had Maidservants!

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Have you ever read the passage of Proverbs 31 and felt like you just read a long list of impossible standards? You get to the part where is says, …”and a portion for her maidservants…” and you roll your eyes in defeat. 

I feel ya. So let’s take another look at the Proverbs 31 woman and her maidservants. Maybe you’ll think about it differently!

BUT the Proverbs 31 Woman had MAIDS! @ AVirtuousWoman.org ---- Have you ever felt this way? I know I have!

It’s a point that often comes to mind when women read the passage of Proverbs 31. It goes something like this:

“Hmm. It’s says right here, ‘She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.’ I don’t have servants. I wish I maidservants. I’ll never have maidservants. Obviously this passage has nothing to do with me.”

I know. A maid would be nice. Maybe some of you have a maid who comes in once a week to help with cleaning the house, but for most of us that’s just not a reality. But I want you to know, God’s really not trying to discourage you!

The Modern Proverbs 31 Woman

#1 It’s true. You and I may not have maidservants who live with us and help us do all of our chores on a daily basis. But, we do have lot of help that certainly was not available to homemakers 2000 years – or even 200 years ago.

In fact, just just a 120 years ago, washing the laundry was still back breaking work. Imagine having to boil water and scrub heavy garments on a washboard. And after the clothes were dried on the line they’d have to be ironed because permanent press did not exist.

Imagine having to haul out your heavy carpets and beating them with a stick to get the dirt out because vacuum cleaners had yet to be invented.

Imagine having to sew ALL your family’s own clothing plus undergarments and outwear.

Those are just a few of the things we no longer have to do today because instead of human servants we have electric servants who serve us very well every day.

#2 We have information and resources at the click of a button. A woman who lived at the time of King Lemuel would have only had the knowledge of women in her community to help her when something wasn’t working. What if the entire community was ignorant?

Today, we can google just about anything and find a gazillion answers in an instant. We can read blogs, books, and magazines for free – as many as we want from the public library or on our portable devices. If our mother or trusted friends don’t know the answer – someone, perhaps even on the other side of the world, has probably found the answer and written about it online.

#3 We are incredibly blessed as modern women! I’m not saying life is easy. We’ve replaced hours of laundry with hours of little league or hours at the ice rink. We still stay very busy. But even at the end of a very busy day, most people come home to a warm house with soft beds and no bed bugs.

Can you imagine what life was really like back then? I think we idealize an “old fashioned” lifestyle because in our modern American culture we’ve grown so used to busyness that we long for what we think of as a simpler life. The kind of life people lived 150 years ago.

But would you really want to go back? Do you think that maybe our modern conveniences have spoiled us to the point where we no longer appreciate the blessings we really do have? Instead of being grateful for a dishwasher or washing machine we grumble that we have to load the dishwasher and washing machine – and then put all those clean belongings away because it’s too hard! I’m ashamed to admit I’ve been guilty of this!

Being a Proverbs 31 Woman, isn’t about being perfect or trying to live up to an impossible standard. It’s about seeking out God’s unique will for your life and living that life with purpose! It’s about being intentional about our time and our relationships. Always remember that when we try and do these things in our own strength we will fail, but when we rely on the strength of Jesus Christ, all things are possible!

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20 Comments

  1. Hi Melissa! I like the parallel you draw between our modern conveniences and the maidservants that the "Proverbs 31 woman" might have had! I agree with you that it's easy to grumble over the laundry or emptying the dishwasher AGAIN, but boy do I feel blessed to have those amazing conveniences working for me. And being able to hop in the car and run to the store...I thank God for the car just about every day! It also doesn't escape my attention that there are plenty of women in our country who keep their households running without these convenience in their own home... taking buses, getting clothes to the laundromat, washing dishes by hand. It just helps to remind me how truly misplaced any grumbling and complaining is!
  2. I love your perspective on this passage! I have often thought about the fact that she had maidservants but wasn't really thinking about all of the conveniences that we have in our modern world. Thank you for the encouragement!
  3. Thank you for this post. I struggle working FT and trying to be a Godly homemaker. I overlooked the blessings of being a modern Proverbs 31 wife and mom.
  4. Terrific article, Melissa. :) We have so many advantages living in the western world if we are fortunate enough not to live in poverty. Haven't commented before, but I enjoy your writing very much. Have a great day.
  5. Years ago, when we had little ones (now three adult children living at home), I was whining to the Lord about this passage. He told me (that conviction in your heart), your servants are Maytag, Frigidaire, and Chrysler. My attitude changed rapidly that day, and the ones since when stuff goes wrong. When our dryer died under warranty, for some reason it took almost four weeks for parts to arrive. My neighbor came over one day as I was hanging clothes to dry on the line I wove through the backyard, and we joked that our moms used to do laundry the same day as their neighbors to catch up on gossip and such. We've sometimes traded convenience for isolation. Be blessed!
  6. Greetings Melissa, from the Caribbean. Great subject! I grew up my whole childhood up to my teens with maids and it was a nice experience although many times I just missed my mom being home with me and my sister/brother doing stuff. Being a mom myself and attending our household I have longed many times to seek someone to help me, but the truth of the matter is that it is very difficult to find someone to truly is passionate to give a helping hand. Due to this matter I'm doing it all together with my husband and we to try to do it the best we can with God's help. We hope to have in the future someone to help us. I thank God for all the inventions and really the car to get us from A to B, but I also believe in ways to help the envirionment and try to help where possible in all different aspects &views. Oh yes the wash machine to do the laundry work, and even with this I still do wash on my hands can you believe this? With the sun in this area hanging out clothes is something I really enjoy doing, Just to hang the clothes in the perfect way to have the breeze dry them up in just a few hours. I don;t use a dryer, I had so many bad experiences with certain clothing, I rather hang them out. Dust is our daily friend so sweeping is part of the daily routine. After living so many years in Europe with all the modernisation today I really enjoy the simple living too, it is so relaxed. I thank God for all the blessings and that he may guide us through his wisdom to cherish and enjoy them. Blessings!
    1. I came here to post almost the exact same thing. I've lived in the US and South Africa and really it's just not necessary to have a maid in America. In ZA we don't have central heat and air. Our houses are nowhere near airtight so dusting and sweeping literally has to be every other day at a minimum. And while I do have (and use) a dishwasher and a washing machine, a lot of things still get washed by hand. Tumble dryers are not popular at all here. We had one but we sold it and I bought a machine that spins the wash a second time to reduce drying time on the line. Anytime I go home to America my family treats me like I'm a spoiled diva because I have a maid but what they don't understand is that having a maid is not as easy as it sounds. It's difficult to find one who is honest, with a nice attitude, who is actually good at cleaning. And like any other position, they need supervision. It can be a real test of patience.
  7. This is a great post. I really like how you point out the differences between the past and present challenges homemakers face. This is also an encouraging reminder to trust in Jesus to provide what we need to serve Him and our families.
  8. Hello from Australia. Melissa, thank you for your writing. You have helped me to turn around my thinking and feel much more positive about the tasks involved in being a homemaker. I feel blessed each day and feel my work in the home is truly valuable. Thank you.
  9. So enjoyed this one. Have joked that I want to be Proverbs 31 woman i want too start with feeding servants and dressing fine. This summer dishwasher, ac, dryer and car all broke down at once. So we did without for awhile. We learned a bit more this summer about thankfulness and God's provision. In the very humid heat with 2 asthmatic kidos and desperation I felt god nudge me to ask for what we needed. So I prayed the ac (that had started smoking before it died) would just work without problems. It did all summer and it was colder that it ever was!. We hung clothes on the line,read books, washed dishes together, stayed home and all 6 of us learned a lot more without a maidservents, dryers, ac, and vacations. God is so good and all we needed.
  10. I to have spent many hours doing the laundry with an Amish plunger, dishes by hands, washing floors with a bucket and rag. Without so many appliances to help it puts it all into perspective on the difference between a want and a need. I tend to pray more in the quiet times of the morning getting the work done when everyone is asleep. My time to thank God that the food is provided to do the dishes, and the laundry gets done because we have the clothes to wear. So many people do with so much less. I also think a bit of old fashioned hard work builds character these days. Thank you for the post, another reason we are so blessed is the encouragement we get from each other as woman, wives, and mamas.
  11. I'm not Christian myself but I appreciate the practicality of this verse that may not seem obvious to people living in fully developed countries. Meat is a luxury. I know people here who will have pap (grits) with margarine and tea for breakfast, and split a loaf of bread and a 2L of coke with a friend for lunch, and then have more pap and chakalaka (tomato and onion sauce) for supper. So while you might have a maid and pay her a fair wage, chances are she is supporting herself, her parents, her children, perhaps even her husband if he is unemployed or underemployed, and even any of her brothers, sisters, and their children who are struggling. So when we get in a half of a lamb or even the entire sheep during the festival commemorating our father Abraham and his sacrificing of the ram instead of his son, we share. We give not only the trotters (the forelegs which have almost no meat) but some of the nicer cuts as well. It all comes back to a hadith in which our Prophet asks his wife, "What remains of our sacrificed animal?" They had distributed almost all of it to the poor. So she replies, "Just the shoulder." Now I don't know how many of you have actually slaughtered and butchered your own animals but that's a lot of charity given away! Even the offal was given away. So he corrected her. "Everything remains except the shoulder." Meaning the shoulder we will cook and eat, but the good deeds done in the name of Allah, of Elohim, that remains. So while this tangent of maids is understandable, to me this praises the wife, who is thrifty enough to not only manage to feed her own family meat, either from raising and slaughtering or from purchasing, but she can also sacrifice some of her own family's enjoyment of that meat to sustain those in her employ. Meat her workers might only see literally a few times a year. So perhaps the modern application of this verse would be to donate meat a few times a year to a soup kitchen? Or to just try and give more charity? It is very easy, as women, to get caught up in just taking care of our own. But can we say proudly that we give to others, with no strings attached at all? That is difficult for most people, except those who are aware that God is watching.
  12. Thank you for your article. I have felt aided by many churches, pastors, women’s bible studies who have used this passsge to challenge us to become Procerbs 31 wives God has done healing in my heart in this: First, this was written to a queen’s son by his mother. She was saying, Son this is the kind of wife you need. He would be king, she needed to be his partner as a future queen A second pint God showed me was that we called the bride of Jesus. A bride is nothing more than a wife. So, reading Proverbs 31 through the lens of the Church (a bride of Jesus) the church needs to raise up early, meet the needs of its family, feed the poor, work hard to further the kingdom of God and not be a burden of society, be sure the family is ready when storms come(strengthen the faith of weaker brothers and sisters). I have been pounded too much to strive to be the Proverbs 31 wife. It’s time for healing to begin.

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