Solomon's mother is describing for hiim the excellent wife. She began with how the excellent wife is faithful and true to her husband. The second trait that she describes for him is how the excellent wife cares for her household. There are thre things mentioned in these verses. Let's take a look at them.
First we see that she looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight. Just an observation that we should make initially is that this lady is not into watching soap operas and reality shows and eating bon-bons on the couch. She is a busy lady, as most wives are. She is looking for things to do. Here we see that she is searching for wool and flax - evidently to do some kind of handcrafted items for either her family, her employees, or paying customers. It is interesting to find, after reading an Enclyclopaedia Brittanica article on these two substances - that far more than just knitting or sewing is involved in gathering these two things. The wool is gathered from sheep - and is first strained in a manner of speaking to get the fatty substance from it. This is used for greasing things - and was also considered a beauty aid in how it softened skin. The flax was gathered from the field and was used for a number of different things. The fibers of the plant were used to help make linen - while the seeds and the crushing of the plant produced flaxseed oil - which was used as a health aid - especially with problems like constipation. The flaxsed oil was also considered a wonderful health aid for older people - as we now have learned that is lowers cholesterol and helps with blood flow in the body.
The excellent wife was not afraid to work with her hands on these things. In fact she considered it a delight to work with her hands. I remember my grandmother working with her hands almost constantly. She was able to knit or crochet, tat or sew and even talk to us while she was doing it. These are things we've pretty much lost in our generation - and it has hurt us. I fear that the majority of women in today's work are not delighted in working with their hands - and instead of having women who talk with their children and families, giving them wisdom and speaking of the things of God - we now gather around a television to listen to the converstaion of fools. Do you really want your kids growing up with the Kardashians, Snooki and JWow, and the Dance moms as their role models?
The excellent wife also enjoys cooking. She does not live out of a box - although that did not exist at that time. This lady goes out of her way to bring interesting and delicious foods to her family. Some southerners take this passage to mean that she grills out all the time (you know - she brings her food from a'far - from a fire - southern drawl removed). She looks for good food - and seeks out merchants who bring interesting and exotic foods that will make for exciting fare for the family.
The third thing we see is that this excellent wife has servants who work for her. But she is humble - not seeing herself so high above others as not to serve them as well. She brings portions even to her maidens as she rises early in the morning to cook for them as well as her family. I have to admit to nostalgia when reading this - because I cannot remember a time, other than when my mother was sick, that I did not wake up to the smell of something cooking for breakfast in the morning. I took it for granted - and yet - there was a solidity brought to me because I would sit with my mom and dad and eat breakfast with them. We'd talk - and when I was older (adolescence and high school) they would drag conversation out of me. It might shock you to learn that they did this even though I was a competitive swimmer for four years, waking up at 5:00 a.m. to get to an early morning practice. What was interesting is that even though the hour was early - my mom never complained about it. She just delighted in doing kind things for me.
Ladies - I've always marvelled at how you can give yourselves away for your husbands and children! The selflessness and hard work truly amazes me. The excellent wife is like this - delighting to work with her hands - to make even exotic and exciting meals - and to rise early to feed her household. The word that I guess describes all this is the compound word, "servant-hearted." What a blessing comes to a famiily when they have such a lady as the woman of the house. Her character is much like that of her Lord Who said that He did not some to be served either - but to serve and give His life for others. Ladies, when you live like this you bless your entire home - not just with hand-made items, food, and breakfast . . . but with the very spirit of Christ permeating your home.