"She rises also while it is still night and gives food to her household and portions to her maidens."
I don't know about you, but when I read this verse, especially in the light of all the others, I start to get a little irritated at Lemuel's mom . . . just kidding! This is NOT only about keeping a schedule and having a working alarm clock. It's much more.
Let's dive in!
First I'd like to focus on the word "rises" and later on the word "gives" or provides.
We've talked before about the self-control, and about the discipline that develops as we rely on our relationship with God. Self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit that Paul lists in Galatians 5:22-23: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,
peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and
self-control. Against such things there is no law."
When we allow God to develop us, to mature us in Him, we will see the fruits of the Spirit in our own lives. One of those fruits is self-control -- the discipline that is needed to get up and bless our homes, our families, our loved ones that we care for.
Without self-control, we leave ourselves vulnerable to attacks of all kinds; attacks can come from mortal enemies or immortal ones, and can seriously impact our abilities to care for those we love. When we love the Lord, then we love those we care for, and it becomes much less of a chore to do our ministry of caring. Let's look at what a wife in Lemuel's time did . . .
In ancient households, it was the wife's responsibility to keep a lamp always shining. What do I mean? Well, the lamps were usually oil lamps; different kinds of oils depending on the wealth of the household. The richer families could have oils that didn't smoke or smell as much as the oils a poorer family might use.
Be that as it may, a homemaker would trim the wick and make certain it had oil in it, to last the night. Probably the last thing she did before going to bed . . . then rising up before dawn to make certain that it hadn't all been burned up. She would grind corn for the day's meals, and do other chores to prepare for when her husband and children (and parents, since many families had several generations in the home) would get up.
She's planning the day's activities, preparing the food, and if she is wealthy enough to have servants, she is assigning tasks to them for the day.
In our lives, today, we may not need to trim the wick, fill the lamp with oil, or rise early to make certain that it is still lit, but there are sacrifices that we can make, that will make the lives of those we love be blessed.
I pray that we will all regard those small sacrifices as ways that we can "serve the Lord with gladness" as the old hymn reminds us. Tomorrow morning I will tell myself, "Get outa bed!" and get about the Lord's work!