She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls.
Verse 14 talks about a woman who brings food from afar like a merchant ship. In all honesty, I didn't get this verse for quite awhile. Does it mean I am supposed to eat exotic foods? Or that I should travel a great distance to get my food? Then I began to focus on merchant ships.
Merchant ships were used as far back as the first century BC as a means to carry items across bodies of water. In some locations they were used to carry items over a short distance because the terrain was to difficult to travel and in others the cargo was carried over a great distance. As far as food goes, they typically transported wheat, wine, and olive oil. Transporting by sea was less dangerous than over land and didn't prohibitively increase the cost of the product. Merchant ships also provided a LOT of extra grain to the Roman area. History records that at one point Egypt shipped and fed Rome for four months! After reflecting on this I have come to the conclusion that verse 14 is telling me that I should provide food for my family that will sustain them at an affordable cost. Note that the foods that merchant ships provided were foods that were healthy, wheat and olive oil. These were not filler foods, rather they were foods that have a high nutritional value, that are beneficial to the body. So not only should the food I provide for my family be affordable, it should be nutritious as well.
I do a pretty good job at verse 14, it is 15 that gets me. Read the first line, "She gets up while it is still dark". Eww! I am NOT a morning person. I would rather sleep late and stay up late than get up early. So I started to pray about this. Here is what God put on my heart. Getting up while it is still dark is important. It allows you to first spend some quiet time with Him, without interruption from crying babies, or children's clothing disasters, or anything else that may require your attention if the entire house is awake with you. Second, if you use the time as directed, to prepare food for the family and portions for servants (umm servants? the dog maybe, but no servants in this house) you can ensure that your family gets off to a good start for the day. Studies have shown that breakfast is the most important meal of the day for a child. It provides what they need for their brain to absorb all that they need to. If you prepare the food while the family is sleeping, it will also allow you to spend the morning truly WITH your family rather than absently responding to them while you are focusing on preparing the food.
So my goal, and your task, this week is to make an effort to prepare and serve nutritious food for the family, to get up BEFORE they do and spend some time with God. Let me know how it goes because I know I will definitely need the encouragement!