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Proverbs 31:13,14, She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
Lemuel’s mother continues to describe a virtuous woman.
This is the woman who extends herself, a woman who does not limit herself, a reaching woman, a stretching woman, a woman of excellence, a woman of virtue.
As we study his mother's description of this woman notice how truly this woman fits the definition of virtue.
We are told that she is a seeker of wool and flax.
She is a seeker of very raw materials by which to make things with her hands.
Fine wool for winter clothing and flax to make linen thread to weave light clothing for the summers.
She does not have the opportunity to shop at K-Mart and Wal-Mart and Gayfers but she does not let that stop her.
She is not stopped if others do not provide that which is needed for her family.
She not only makes the clothes but she seeks the raw materials with which to spin the yarn needed to knit or weave the materials needed to make the clothes.
She does not limit herself to that which her husband provides but she extends herself in seeking raw, unfinished materials and willingly uses her hands to make a finished product useful for her family.
Wool and flax do not easily yield themselves to the making of clothes.
Wool, from a living breathing creation of God and flax to be coaxed from the soil.
Flax is a plant of the Linen family.
It consists of a single slender stalk.
The skin or herl is used for making thread or cloth called linen, cambric, lawn, or lace.
The skin of the flax stalk consists of fine fibers, which may be separated as to be spun into threads as fine as silk.
A flax comb is used by drawing flax through its teeth separating from the fibers the tow or courser part and the shives which are little pieces or fragments between the fibers.
This process yields long and straight fibers known as line fibers, thus the name of the cloth, linen.
The fibers are then spun by means of a spinning wheel or other device and fine linen thread is produced which is then used to weave linen cloth.
She seeketh flax. Perhaps she grows flax.
She combs flax, she spins flax to make thread.
She weaves the thread to make linen cloth, she makes clothes from the linen cloth.
Quite a reaching, extending, stretching woman isn't she?
Lemuel’s mother uses this example to prove her virtue.
She works willingly with her hands. Willingly not begrudgingly!
She is not afraid of dish pan hands.
She is not careful about softness for the hands.
Her calluses are honorable to her because her hands are sacrificed to her husband and her children's welfare.
She withholds not her hands to the work for fear her hands will lose their beauty.
She knows that working hands are the truly beautiful hands and she knows her husband knows that.
She willingly works so that she can trade the products of her hands for food from afar.
She desires that her family have a variety of excellent food so:
She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
She takes that which she has made with her hands and like the merchant's ships she trades her goods in far away places.
She is interested in insuring her family have the variety of foods that make her table the envy of the women in her village.
She is not satisfied with limiting her family to the food of the village so her virtue moves her to be a one woman merchant ship carrying that which her willing hands have made.
She knows of the broadening effect this has on her family to be able to eat of the fruits of different cities and countries.
She does not think of the labor that she has expended with her willing hands as hers, and that which it purchases as hers.
She covets no profit from her wares for personal benefit but only thinks of the welfare of her family.
She insures that her family have the best that can be had because she extends and stretches herself to make it happen.
If it takes shearing the sheep and spinning the wool and knitting the clothing:
If it takes planting the flax seed and combing the flax and spinning the flax fibers to make thread and weaving the thread to make linen to make clothes then so be it for this woman.
She will not be hindered by her circumstances but she will make her circumstances serve her in the successful carrying out of her responsibilities.
She is virtuous and that is what the virtuous do!