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Shepherds Hill Homestead » Bible Study, Proverbs 31 Woman » Proverbs 31:19

Proverbs 31:19

She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.

Well, I thought I would just sort of breeze through this particular verse because it seemed very cut and dried and with a few exceptions, myself being one, not many ladies spin fiber anymore.  There is a growing interest in spinning due to increase interest in knitting and crochet and that of course brings the demand for more interesting yarns.  But the vast majority of ladies have no desire to spin.  That being said, the Holy Spirit began to prick my heart that there is more to this verse than spinning fibers.  Shall we begin our dissection, Sisters? 🙂

“layeth”    Strong’s H7971 – shalach

  • 1) to send, send away, let go, stretch out
  •                a) (Qal)
  •                               1) to send
  •                               2) to stretch out, extend, direct
  •                               3) to send away
  •                               4) to let loose
  •                b) (Niphal) to be sent
  •                c) (Piel)
  •                               1) to send off or away or out or forth, dismiss, give over, cast out
  •                               2) to let go, set free
  •                               3) to shoot forth (of branches)
  •                               4) to let down
  •                               5) to shoot
  •                d) (Pual) to be sent off, be put away, be divorced, be impelled
  •                e) (Hiphil) to send


“Hand”    Strong’s H3027 – yad  –

  • 1) hand
  •                a) hand (of man)
  •                b) strength, power (fig.)
  •                c) side (of land), part, portion (metaph.) (fig.)
  •                d) (various special, technical senses)


As always I go back to the definition of the word in the original language – in this case – Hebrew, to try to determine what the writer was trying to convey.  Yes, sometimes the translation is spot on and there is no variance but sometimes I wonder about the deeper meaning.  Now, we can pick apart a verse to the point that it looks nothing like the finished product but I think there is a great deal of “flavor” that can be missed if we don’t examine the meat of the Word.

What does a person do with a distaff and/or a spindle?  Well, essentially a spindle, distaff, whorl, is used to spin all the different fibers together to create a cohesive unit and make yarn.  The spinning action coils the individual hairs together so that they are stronger.  The final product of yarn can then be turned into fabric which is used for clothing or whatever the person wants to make.  The goal is to turn out a yarn that is consistent and sized properly to make the final item.  Fine yarn is used for making socks and baby items – bulk yarn or multi-ply yarn is used for sweaters, blankets, etc. The correct tool for the correct final product.

Okay, back to our beginning words “layeth her hands” – in reading the definition I was impressed by the inclusion of phrases like: stretch forth, send out, direct.  And then in the definition for the word “hand” we see the second option states strength and/or power.  Obviously we accept that this verse is saying to actually put your physical hand on a distaff, yes, but is there more?    How often I see in the lives of my family and my friends that things I say and do are then carried on by them in other aspects of their lives.  To give a simplistic example – if I teach Sarah how to make mashed potatoes, she then will take the simple recipe and add her own variations and turn out something more.  Is it still mashed potatoes?  Yes, but now it is made with sour cream and garlic and even a bit of onion powder.  My simple potatoes with a little milk and butter has become something more flavorful, something more satisfying.

Likewise, if I take wool from my sheep and try to use those loose fibers to weave on the loom, the cloth doesn’t hold together.  It is a loose, fuzzy mess and will come apart with even the slightest touch.  It is useful for nothing.  But when I combine what the sheep has produced – basic wool- and spin it on my spinning wheel or on my drop spindle – then I can carefully turn those loose hairs into a sturdy yarn which can then be woven into fine cloth for making a shirt for my husband or a cloth for my table.  I have worked with the basic product and  “stretched forth, sent out, directed” my “strength” in creating something that will make someone else’s life better, more comfortable, safer.  I have improved their situation and been a blessing with my effort.

The second part of that verse says ” her hands hold the distaff”  – the distaff is the part of the spinning apparatus that actually holds all the loss fiber and keeps them from becoming tangled as they are being spun.  A very important task. With those concepts in mind we need to examine ways that we are able to “lay our hands to the spindle” (take the fibers and turn them into yarn) and “hold the distaff” (keep the fibers from being a matted mess before they can be made useful). Totally confused?  I hope not.

When I awake every morning I have a list of things in my mind that need to be done that day.  Top of the list is to bless my Lord.  I know that before that day is over it is vital for me to, in some way, be a blessing to the Lord Jesus by serving Him which means serving His children.  This is the most important “fiber” on my distaff. Next is to spend time in prayer and Bible Study.  Two more vital fibers. Relationships are also vital fibers that I must spend time working with.  My children, my husband, friends, neighbors, folks in the community all are extremely important. Next on my list are the various and sundry things that I need to do in caring for my home and family: cleaning, laundry, cooking meals, etc. Finally, each and every day I have projects to work on and that varies from day to day and week to week. Whether it be sewing, gardening, quilting, preserving food, working with our livestock or even spinning wool, all of these individual things are the fibers that make up my life.

We know through the scripture that in creating our Universe the Almighty Father God assigned each day a task.  For six days He labored and accomplished his “list” for the day and only when He was finished and determined that what He had created was good, did He then rest from His laboring.

Genesis 1:31  “And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”

Genesis 2:1, 2 “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.  And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.”

It seems to me that we can say that the Lord had taken the “fibers” or creation and spun them into a beautiful yarn which we call our Universe.  Each item on His list was taken individually and worked in proper order until He produced a beautiful, cohesive, unified final product. And then He reckoned that it was all GOOD! This is our example.  Notice that He did not take breaks in between and He did not allow any of His work to be shoddy.  It was ALL good!  Should we strive for anything less.

There are several scriptures that speak to the need for diligence in our work and daily tasks.

Proverbs 13:4 “The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.”

Proverbs 12:14  “From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him.”

Proverbs 14:23 “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”

Ecclesiastes 9:10 “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.”

2 Timothy 2:15 “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

Ephesians 2:10   “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

I love the thought too that we are HIS workmanship – his yarn so to speak!!!

There are so many I could add here and can’t wait to have you share on this!  Please leave your comments!!



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"It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him." Lamentations 3:22-24

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One Response to "Proverbs 31:19"

  1. casey says:

    As I read this verse and your interpretation, I tried to reflect on my own life. My crude simplification is to “stretch out my strengths and keep them organized to produce good things”. I can frequently find myself saying that I am “stretched too thin” and have “too long of a to do list”. My priorities need to be my focus and include 1: God 2: husband 3: child 4: home 5: family/friends 6: work. If I can use my strengths to stretch and reach all of those top priorities, then I can produce good things. I can produce a loving person, a happy husband and child, a good/clean home, loving/encouraging relationships and be productive at work. When I stretch myself too thin focusing on nonpriorities like facebook/reading a magazine/empty shopping trips to “walk” I can lose the ability to be strong and productive.

    Life has been overwhelming the last 7 months with our new son. What a blessing God has given us, but I have fallen apart. I need to get back to what God wants me to be. Thank you for posting this study! Although I don’t get a lot of sleep and am up many times each night with our son, I can still provide for my God/husband/child/home/friends and work. I just have to prioritize!

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