The King James translation says that she "girdeth her loins with strength." "Loins" specifically refers to the abdomen region, from front and back below the ribs. It is a portion of our bodies that holds vital organs, including our reproductive systems. That the Amplified renders loins as the word "herself," tells us that there is a shoring up -- a vital sense of importance in strengthening the life-preserving and life-giving source of her body. It implies a strengthening of her innermost being, as in a house -- herself -- built upon a rock. Since the Proverbs 31 woman is the foundation of her home and family, she recognizes its importance and follows through by making sure she is vitally sound and secure in all areas. She does this through godly wisdom, knowledge and understanding, which comes only from spending time with God in prayer and study, and by remaining uncontaminated by the world and its often unsound advice.
The Amplified expounds on this verse by mentioning three specific areas of fitness in this woman's life:
1. Spiritual. We already know she spends time with the Lord each day for direction, strength and spiritual insight, in order to best perform her God-given task. We know this task, in a general sense, to be the running of her life, home and family. She will also need specific insight in handling a project or problem from time to time. All of this isn't to say that her husband leaves her family's trials entirely in her hands, remaining uninvolved; their roles are clear and, surely, she doesn't try to take on her husband's role. It is rarely advantageous for a wife to interfere in her husband's affairs, unless he specifically asks her for advice. If a husband is not handling things well or is facing a particular problem, the best thing a wife can do is offer to help, pray, and ask God for His intervention; the worst thing she can do is nag him or attempt to take control.
By being the balance, or "nerve center" of her household, and again, through her spiritual strength which comes from study, prayer and faith in God, she can perpetually be a peaceful spring for her family, no matter what circumstances exist. She knows that through prayer and faith, every crisis will pass. Such a wife enables her husband to think clearly, to sort things out more easily, and thus helps adverse situations pass much more quickly. Again, harmony helps everything flow smoothly.
In order for anyone to stay on an even keel as she does, it's imperative to take time each day to study God's Word and to spend time in prayer. Devotionals can be a comfort if they are spiritually and doctrinally sound, but nothing can replace the Bible and time on our knees. It's worth the effort, for a wife and mother and subsequently her family will be better grounded, which in turn helps everyone achieve greater levels of success in their endeavors: her husband with his work, her children with school and activities, and herself in everything she undertakes as part of her role.
2. Mental. A home in which the wife or mother is emotionally distressed, even mildly, is thrown off balance. We've all seen this, either in our own homes or in others. The Proverbs 31 woman is spiritually well-grounded and therefore avoids this; instead, she is an ever-present life source to her family as well as enjoying her own internal peace. A mind filled with the Word of God and His Spirit is calm and better-equipped to think things through; sophia wisdom, or insight, which we mentioned earlier, just rises up from within whenever is is needed.
A close relationship with God makes one mentally strong, through the wisdom and knowledge it gives. But it also helps in our being able to keep a healthy state of mind emotionally. It's especially important when going through a crisis, or hard times, to stay close to the Lord. One might think that escaping with a novel, movie, television, or surfing the web is helpful, but in the long run, too much of this only serves to damage one's spirit and contributes to a breaking down of one's faith when it is needed most.
Evangelists have often referred to Hollywood, TV and much of the internet as "the devil's dumpster." Most of us would probably agree that very little of it is redeemable, and even though some children's programming might be informative and fairly benign (although in our current culture it pays to be more vigilant of kiddie programming and its overall message), hands-on, interactive learning has a deeper and more lasting effect. It's important that our children's minds are jealously guarded, for they are our society's future. As Christian parents and adults we have a responsibility to learn what God has to say about life and living, and to pass these truths on to them by word and example. It will prepare them to lead prosperous adult lives, uncontaminated by worldly ways and opinion and the pitfalls they cause.
3. Physical. Proverbs tells us that "a calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body," and that the Word is "healing and health to all their flesh." (See Proverbs 14:30 and Proverbs 4:22.) It's truly miraculous how this works. Sarah, Abraham's wife and a woman after God's own heart, was so beautiful at age 65 that Pharaoh wanted her for his harem during their stay in Egypt (see Genesis 12:14-16). Her inner peace and faith in God showed on her face and in her demeanor. Sarah is set forth as an example for wives in 1 Peter 3:5,6; she recognized her husband's place as lord in their home, with a clear understanding of her role, and was calm and undisturbed, not letting anxieties unnerve her. This can only come from a well-grounded knowledge of how to live, as well as unwavering faith in God.
We can safely assume that the Proverbs 31 woman, to be physically fit, eats well and takes care of her body as a temple of the Holy Spirit. She takes physical care of herself in order to stay in good health, knowing that her family needs her. What we eat is very important. We can ask God in prayer for sophia wisdom in this area, to help in planning healthy eating for ourselves and our families. (See James 1:5, where the Greek word for wisdom means cleverness and skill.) If we feel we haven't the time to learn and adjust to new ways of menu-planning and cooking, perhaps a little reorganizing of schedules or delegating tasks is all that's necessary to free up some time. We can also as God for "length of days," promised to us in Proverbs 3:16. I like to equate this to the time needed to get everything accomplished, including personal projects, with smoother daily operations.
In addition to diet, there is the issue of exercise. Our lifestyles have created a need for additional exercise outside of caring for our homes and families; we no longer work physically hard each day at keeping our homes and property in order due to modern conveniences and an ever-increasing lack of time. A job outside of home that requires sitting at a desk, computer, or in a car for hours, coupled with quick, high-fat meals and snacks, all contribute to weight gain and health issues; we then have a need to add exercise to an already busy day. 1 Timothy 4:7,8 tells us, "...exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things ..." (King James). The sense here is that bodily exercise does do us good, but not as good as acquiring wisdom that is broader and more "preventative" in all areas of life. If the Word gives us wisdom on how to live and, specifically, sophia wisdom on how to treat our bodies, we will be generally healthier and reap the even greater benefits of godly wisdom and wholeness.
To summarize, a woman who is actively and wisely caring for her home and family will:
- feed herself and her family wholesome, well-prepared meals;
- waste no time snacking on junk food and keep a close watch on her children's doing so;
- be busy with at least a portion of her "house-keeping," which requires some physical effort, in addition to some God-directed outside activities, thus leaving no time equating to idleness. Note that much-needed rest and relaxation is very different from biblical idleness, which we'll study in verse 27.
Lastly, Proverbs 31:17 states that the Proverbs 31 woman "makes her arms strong and firm." This might refer to the physical strength she needs to care for her home and family, and the work itself physically contributes to making her yet more strong. On a deeper level, through her relationship with God, she makes her arms metaphorically "strong" in order to hold her family up -- to give them strength and support. The Proverbs 31 woman adequately prepares herself to handle any and all things which face her: physically, mentally and spiritually. As Proverbs 4:20-22 tells us, "My son, attend to my words; consent and submit to my sayings. Let them not depart from your sight; keep them in the center of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, healing and health to all their flesh." Amplified