Sunday, June 28, 2015

Bible Study Week Eight: Merchant Ships

The virtuous wife is compared to two different things in Proverbs 31. We already examined one comparison, this week we will study the other.

Philippian Merchant Woman

As always, we will begin with a prayer of understanding. Pray for open hearts and calm minds ready to receive what God would have us learn. Then read Proverbs 31:10-31 and be on the look out for two ways she is compared to other things and make note of them in your journal when finished reading.

10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
14 She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Verse 10 contains the first comparison. Being compared to rubies and jewels feels lovely! The idea of being a ship, especially a cargo ship, is going to require some serious though though. What does the virtuous woman and a merchant ship have in common?

18th Century British Ship

Some questions to consider when trying to answer the above:

What is the purpose of the merchant ship?
What sort of items does it carry?
How busy is a merchant ship?
Does it sit idle in the harbor?
Does it only bring items back from foreign lands?
Whose mission is the merchant ship fulfilling?
Who directs the activity of the merchant ship?
How much planning would be required for a successful trading voyage?
How is the merchant ship powered?
Who benefits from the cargo of the merchant ship?
What hardships does the ship face?
What maintenance would the merchant ship require?

After listing everything you can think of related to merchant ships in your journal, make comparisons between the merchant ship and the virtuous wife. How is she like a merchant ship? How is her purpose similar to that of the merchant ship as she obtains food and other necessities for her household? Answer each of the questions above, this time applying them to the life of the virtuous woman. What kind of shopper do you think she was? Do you think she had good bargaining skills? Was she able to find a good deal?

Claude-Joseph Vernet

We all have some skill or aptitude that can be useful to others. If you don't know what yours might be, ask God to open your heart and mind to what he would lead you to. These skills can be applied in so many ways. Whether it is just helping a friend out or settling a bill through bartering.

Husbands work hard to provide for our families too. As wives, we honor them (and earn their trust) by being creatively frugal. By making the earnings go as far as possible while still delighting the family with healthy and delicious food, a welcoming and lovely home, and all the other little necessities of our families.

Eating matters to God. We are called to dine with him at the Lord's Supper. As we read the Old Testament we see it is filled with feasts. He has created for us an amazing array of foods. Feeding our families well is part of fearing him, worshipping him, and thanking him. 

She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.

Pray on this verse, what does God want you to think or do differently?

Children Trading Berries

With Our Children

Before starting, gather some items for the children to "trade". Food items may be traded for other goods (pick whatever you like: clothing, books, toys, etc). Plan ahead so you may use the food items for a lovely picnic or tea time snack.

Then read Proverbs 31:14 with them

She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.

Explain how the virtuous woman is like the merchant ships, trading her wares and time for items she could not produce herself. 

Then let them practice trading!

Have one child pretend to be the ship, loaded with items to sell. Another child waits for them with food to trade for the items they would like. 

When the children are done playing, enjoy a snack and conversation about all they have learned.



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