Have you ever laid in bed at the end of the day and gone through all the ways you wish your day had gone differently?
'I should've said...'
'I wish I didn't...'
'If only I'd...'
'Why did I...'
Sometimes I can spend hours creating alternative scenarios in my mind. Especially if someone is mean to me - I always have a witty comeback when it's far too late to serve it up. But I know if I actually did say that nasty thing at the right time - I'd probably be up late thinking about how stupid it was hurting that person instead of keeping my mouth shut.
Today's verse says this,
'She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.'
Proverbs 31:18 NIV
When I read this one, it took me a while of praying and listening to hear and understand what God was trying to teach me through it. But I think He wants to show us something really simple here. Let me try and explain it to you:
So far in our journey through Proverbs 31, learning about the ways of a person who uses wisdom to conduct their behaviour - we've seen that there is value in our rest, our joy, our passions and our hard work.
We've learnt how to invest in our future, that preparation provides strength, that our relationship with God creates an environment for others to enter into. All of these things are the outworking of making wisdom a close friend in our lives.
I think that if we were able to walk with wisdom each day, we would avoid spending so much time awake at night rethinking our behaviours throughout the day. Why? Well, to understand I've written a little Verse-18-Key for you:
Trading = what she does.
Whether it's work, in her spiritual walk or in general daily life.
Lamp = hope in God's promises.
We're talking about hope that God's will is to bring good, that He's got your back, has got a plan and loves to save you from your sin and the shame that it brings you.
As this woman can see the benefit of her hard work - she can see it pays off. So does the person who lives in wisdom does not have arrogance in their 'trading', the things they do in business, in relationships and in day-to-day interactions. They work hard to cultivate wise choices and behaviours - and then enjoy the product of their actions.
But also, we see this woman has a 'lamp that doesn't go out'. At the time, there would be an oil lamp in the house, which they would diligently keep lit throughout the night.
But I think that because this is a poem (and poems always have a deeper meaning) that we're being told she has a hope that does not die out in the night. I haven't just pulled this idea out of thin air, Proverbs 13 verse 9 (VOICE) says,
'The light of the right-living brings joy as it burns brightly;
the lamp of a wrongdoer will be snuffed out.'
Where do we learn 'right-living'? The Word of God. The light of the Bible brings joy. The light of the Gospel burns brightly. God's word is the lamp!
Gill's Exposition describes it well but I've put it in my own, less-fancy words for you:
She recognises that her 'merchandise', the product of her hard work with Wisdom (living in God's will) is better than any product bought with silver or gold. Even though to attain them, she has to travel through trouble and face danger, the journey is worth the profit (the end result) and so she is not discouraged but instead determined to pursue it.