“In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.” Proverbs 31:19 (NIV)
“Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber.” Proverbs 31:19 (NLT)
“She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking.” Proverbs 31:19 (Message)
What is a distaff and a spindle? Are you wondering too? Wouldn’t it be easy to just assume that these are some tools used for working the wool and flax that our Proverbs 31 woman selected in verse 13?
It would be easier to make an assumption and move on, but it is my desire to gaze upon this Proverbs 31 painting of a noble wife and study the tiniest facet. In doing so, I hope we are all deeply captivated and encouraged by her efforts so that we can paint beautiful details into the masterpieces of our own lives.
A distaff is a tool which holds the flax or wool that has been gathered. The fibers of the wool or flax would be twisted together creating a strand. The strand is then wrapped or spun around the spindle. This stand would then be woven into linen. The use of the two tools together helps the fiber to stay clean and neat while also keeping it from catching in the strand. This process was used all the way up to the 14th century when the spinning wheel was invented.
Can you imagine the repetition that was needed to spin enough thread weave clothing and blankets? Just think this through for a moment. Picture a basketful of wool. Now watch in your mind as your hands pull a bunch off and wrap it around the distaff. Then begin to see fingers pulling at the wool on the distaff twisting it little by little. When there’s about three feet of the twisted thread, it’s wrapped around the spindle so it doesn’t get tangled. Then you return to the twisting repeating the process again and again and again.
I envision that the Proverbs 31 woman had done this so many times that her hands flowed almost flawlessly between the tools. At the same time she was spinning she was probably caring for her children, teaching them life’s lessons and sharing stories with them. I can see her praising God for the wool to spin and the opportunity to care for her family.
I, in all my sinfulness, do not always have an attitude of gratitude at the opportunity to do my repetitive work. I can however relate to the feeling of spinning as I do the same tasks over and over and over again. Yesterday there were three different occasions that I went into our bathroom to find the kid flavored toothpaste sitting on the counter, not in the basket in the drawer where it belongs. Normally this would drive me nuts.
At our house I say, “a place for everything and everything in its place” very frequently. I’m also kind of a nut for finding effective and efficient ways of doing things. Having to put away the same tube of toothpaste three times yesterday is the kind of thing that irritates me. Incidents like that usually find me pulling my kids away from whatever they are doing so I can show them AGAIN where the toothpaste goes. I remind them that when we take something out, we put it away. That’s my natural bent or my tendency.
Let me share with you how amazing it is that God’s Word can transform a life. I’m been pondering the idea of the Proverbs 31 woman spinning wool into thread with her hands since this weekend. I’ve been meditating on the heart of her actions. I’ve been trying to emulate the peace which I envision her having. I’ve been asking God to make me more like her, to make me more of the woman that He wants me to become and visualizing Julie as a woman after God’s own heart.
Do you know what I did yesterday? Each time I walked into the bathroom and found the toothpaste on the counter, I simply opened the drawer and put it away. I did my best to be grateful that my kids decided to brush their teeth. That’s really the important part. It was showing that they took the initiative to do what they needed to without me hounding them. Then I noticed something really great, there wasn’t a wad of dried toothpaste on the sink. There were no dribbles of spit on the floor. I might have had to put away the toothpaste tube, but I didn’t have to scrub anything.
What a blessing! As I write this now, I am ashamed that I didn’t thank my kids for not leaving a mess. It’s also a gift that God doesn’t condemn us for actions not taken. I’ve asked that the LORD would help me to focus on the which is good, noble and pure. May I deliver praise in response to it. Moving forward I can take a different action. I don’t need to spend any more time dwelling on the past. I have a lesson learned that I can use to help me take a different action in the future.
Perhaps that is why God gives us the chance to do some things repetitively, it gives us the opportunity to change. Maybe it is because He wants to teach us something. It takes a lot of spinning to make thread out of wool. Perhaps God spins me through my tasks so that He can take the rough wool that I am, filled with all my imperfections, and transform me into thread which He can weave into this beautiful tapestry of life.
God is working on you at the same time He is working on me. He’s transforming us with His hand. Don’t dwell on your imperfections. God doesn’t. He’s perfectly wise and filled with experience. The LORD has gentle hands and will work those things out at the right time. What He’s focus on is how beautiful your thread will be in His masterpiece. He’s planning on weaving His golden thread of grace around you. God is excited about the other threads He will wrap around you to be of support to you and to be supported by you.
“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. ” Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)
“You hem me in – behind and before; You have laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” Psalm 139:5-6 (NIV)
God is working on us my precious friend! There are great things in store for us. What we have to do is to put our trust in the LORD. We must have faith in Him and His abilities. Let’s put God first in our lives so that we can become all that He wants us to.
God + me = Proverbs 31 I shall be
Thank You so very, very much for the revelation knowledge that You have blessed us with. Thank you for the help in slowing down to take the time with You. You are so amazing, so marvelous, so awesome in the ways that You show Your love for us.
Please help us in this day to look to You for help in all of our repetitive tasks, especially those ones that make us feel as though we are spinning. Help us to renew our minds and transform how we look at things.
Thank You for choosing each of us. Thank You for how You care for us so tenderly. Thank You for sacrificing so much that we may may have the opportunity to come to You any time, day or night. Please help us to make this day centered on You.
In Jesus name, Amen.