A Wise Woman

[Note:  I preface this post by saying that I am not endorsing or promoting Swinnock, Poole, or Henry as true Christians when I quote from them.  But I think these men have written some things that true Christians could benefit from. ]

“A wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her own hands” (Proverbs 14:1).

The Puritan George Swinnock (1627–1673) writes the following:

“The patriarchs, though principal men in their generation, brought up all their children to some calling; their tender daughters were not exempted from household business. Rebekah, the mother of prophets and princes, was not ashamed of her pitcher, and drawing water therewith for her father’s cattle. Those dainty dames who plead her pattern for their earrings and bracelets, will hardly plead it for a pitcher and painfulness” (George Swinnock, Works).

The young woman (Rebekah), before building her house together with Isaac, was busy preparing, strengthening, and building the arms of her wisdom and industry (cf. Proverbs 31:17).

“And she finished giving drink to him. And she said, I also will draw for your camels until they have finished drinking. And she hurried and emptied her pitcher into the trough. And she again ran to the well to draw, and drew for all his camels” (Genesis 24:19-20).

Ten camels it was (Genesis 24:10).  More from Swinnock:

“Gentlemen, though they are not bound to bring up their children to low or mean callings, yet are bound to keep them out of the snare of idleness, and to take care that they be in some lawful business serviceable to themselves and others. The wife, as well as servants and children, ought to be industrious in her station. Spinster is a term given to the greatest women in our law. It is said of the good housewife, ‘She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands…She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness,’ Prov. xxxi. 13, 27. A woman’s work consisteth in sewing, and doing somewhat herself, and overseeing others, as appeareth in the forequoted place, besides the charge of her children” (George Swinnock, Works).

Proverbs 31:19 says:

“She has sent forth her hands on the distaff, and her hands have held the spindle.”

Matthew Poole (1624-1679) commenting on this verse:

“By her own example she provoketh her servants to labour. And although in these later and more delicate and luxurious times, such mean employments are grown out of fashion among great persons, yet they were not so in former ages, neither in other countries, nor in this land; whence all women unmarried are to this day called in the language of our law, spinsters.”

Matthew Henry (1662-1714) on the same verse (Proverbs 31:19):

“… she does not reckon it either an abridgment of her liberty or a disparagement to her dignity, or at all inconsistent with her repose. The spindle and the distaff are here mentioned as her honour, while the ornaments of the daughters of Zion are reckoned up to their reproach, [Isa 3:18], etc.”

A concluding quote from Swinnock on the wise woman of Proverbs 14:1:

“Hereby a wise woman is said to build her house, Prov. xiv. 1. As a carpenter layeth the platform of a house in his head, and so studieth that none of his stuff be cut to waste, so a good housewife doth so overlook the affairs of her family, and so contrive and order things by a prudent provident forecast, that there may be no waste, but all things disposed for the best. Hence it is that, though the husband is called the guide of the wife, yet the wife is called the guide of the house, 1 Tim. v. 14; and for this end, they are commanded to be keepers at home, Titus ii. 5. They that gad much abroad, do their families at home but little good; such are according to the signification of the second wife of Lamech, Zillahs, the shadows of wives” (George Swinnock, Works).