The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 spends her day looking out for her household, both physically and spiritually. She doesn’t always do things the easy way; instead her focus is on doing things God’s way.
Like Ruth, the proverbial virtuous woman wasn’t looking for a rich man to marry or for a life of ease. On the other hand, her hard-working and honorable conduct helps keep her husband on the straight-and-narrow path. In verse 11, it states that: “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.” Her husband is a hard worker as well, and being married to her he is not likely to be in modern terms a corporate raider, get-rich-quick schemer, a defrauder, bribe-taker, buyer of lottery tickets, or even a harsh boss.
In verse 10 it says “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” The evidence is that her allegiance and affection cannot be won with mere physical commodities. She can’t be “bought” and neither can her husband. She is on a mission, and by her diligence she has also afforded her husband time to excel and also to develop his own spiritual life. We all know that the virtuous woman is hard-working, but does she also have a secret?
“She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.” —Proverbs 31:15
The virtuous woman seems to be part of a fairly wealthy household, with evidence that she has the equivalent of employees – or “maidens”, her business enterprises (v. 16 & 24), and that her family is well-clothed (v 21 & 22). While she could choose to sleep in a little, she knows that she has a whole household to motivate and to get moving each day. The virtuous woman takes it upon herself to provide a hearty first meal of the day for her household and for her servants/employees. The meal she provides is the best way to dispatch them all for productive work.
Like the virtuous woman, everyone in her household works too. Paul stated the importance of everyone working in II Thessalonians 3:10: “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” But this principle is also abundant in the Old Testament also: (Proverbs 6:6, 10:4, 10:5, 13:4, 18:9, 20:4, 21:5, 21:25).
To understand when the virtuous woman would get up, we must know something about Jewish reckoning of time. In John 11:9 we find: “Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.” So even though things like sunset would vary quite a lot, day and night were pretty much considered to be split into two twelve hour periods. Our 6:00am would be their “1st hour of the day”. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03166a.htm
So if the virtuous woman rose while it was yet night, it is presumed to be in the time before 6am. This would have been especially important in an agrarian subsistence-farming lifestyle. If she rose at 5am, she can make sure the day starts right. Considering her husband’s other duties (verse 23), it is often left to her to supervise and dispatch the household. Some quiet time for planning of activities is important for any manager. But also the early morning time can be great for a flurry of activity too – like baking, cooking, feeding animals, milking cows or goats, etc. We shouldn’t think that the virtuous woman does all of the work herself. Far from it. She knows that delegating duties is necessary for surviving and preparing for the cold months. But her example is clear for the rest of the household.
The virtuous woman’s “secret” of getting up early is also a modern tool of successful people. It is a developed trait of many leaders. While sleep is important as well, work is best done during the day. Creativity is at its peak for many people early in the morning. And many mothers learn that it is important to get some busy work and organizing done while the children are still asleep so that they can have quality time with them when they are awake. The following article touches on some of the things successful people do early in the day. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennifercohen/2013/10/02/5-things-super-successful-people-do-before-8-am/
The Proverbs 31 woman is a model of wisdom and virtue that we can all learn from. She not only works hard, she works smart. And because she fears the Lord, she does not fear the future. “Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.” – Proverbs 31: 31.
See previous post on this topic.