HH Sir Godfrey Gregg D.DIV

Proverbs 31:18

She perceiveth that her merchandise is good.

The word “perceiveth” is the Hebrew word that means “taste.”  Literally, she tastes that her gain is good. The same word is found in Psalm 34:8, “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.”  God’s goodness must be tasted; it must be personally experienced.  Only those who have truly trusted Him have tasted of His goodness and experienced God for themselves.

The word “merchandise” means profit, traffic, gain received from traffic or trade.  The word is found twice in Proverbs 3:14, “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold” (verses 13-14).

The godly woman purchased a field, planted a vineyard, and gave herself to this ambitious endeavour with great strength (verses 16-17).  In verse 18 she is experiencing the rewards of her labour. She finds how profitable her industry is as she experiences the sale of its product.  She sees that her trading is profitable.  She is reaping what she sowed by her diligent industry, and she is finding it to be a good harvest. She is seeing the results of the labours of her hands.  She learns that success results from her labours and she reaps the fruits of hard work.

Her merchandise is known to be good and brings a ready market and a good price, and her knowledge of this is a sufficient reward of itself for her toils; for when the lazy are perpetually uneasy by their reflections on their own conduct, the consciousness of having done her duty, and the prospect of the advantages arising from it, are a constant source of satisfaction and cheerfulness to the virtuous woman (George Lawson, Commentary on Proverbs, p. 564).

Her candle (lamp) goeth not out by night.

Homes in Bible times were illuminated at night by olive oil lamps.  The virtuous woman’s lamp did not go out at night, that is, it was not quenched or extinguished (see 1 Samuel 3:3).  What was she doing at night?  Probably the activity mentioned in verse 19 (hand spinning). Here was a woman who worked day and night with amazing diligence and fortitude.  We might say she “burned the midnight oil.”  If you were to pass by her house late at night you would see that her light would still be on.  We wonder when this woman ever slept because in this verse she is working late at night and in verse 15 she rises while it is yet night.  The fact that she rises indicates that she did get some sleep.  We have the expression, “early to bed, early to rise,” but she seems to have been in the habit of “late to bed, early to rise.”

Some women are up late at night pursuing questionable activities (using inferior lamp light), but then they sleep through half the day (missing out on superior sunlight).  But the godly woman is diligent both day and night, and is able to get the necessary sleep, without overindulging in sleep.  The poverty mentioned in Proverbs 6:9-11 will not be her portion.

Believers need to evaluate their nighttime activities to make sure that they are pleasing to the Lord and profitable for eternity.  During the day we normally have our duties and our schedule–things we need to do and places we need to be.  Our time is usually well accounted for during the day.  But after sunset is usually the part of the day when we have “free time,” and it is important to recognize that this time belongs to the Lord.  May we be about our Father’s business!  Then, when we finally lie down on our beds, our sleep will be sweet.

Author: Godfrey Gregg