Hanging the Washing, a Beautiful Spring Morning
For decades I have heard and read that the Proverbs 31 woman having servants, is equivalent to our modern household appliances like washers and vacuum cleaners.
The problem with making our washers, dryers, vacuum cleaners and slow-cookers an equivalent to servants, is that none of these things do anything on their own. While the servants in Proverbs 31 did the tasks assigned to them, the lady of the house (married to a King who could afford the servants) only gave verbal or written instruction to get the tasks done.
Appliances only provide PART of the services. The Proverbs 31 woman gave tasks to her maidens. Anyone who has ever had hir d help knows they complete the tasks. Appliances never complete the tasks, (even though they are a big help.)
In reality, our modern conveniences do nothing for us by themselves. It would be a different story if we plugged in an appliance and it required nothing of our own effort and went to work immediately by itself. However, every convenience and every appliance we have requires someone to fill it, empty it, replace parts, push it, clean it, put it away, and often these are operated at some expense, especially the oven. When an appliance will not work anymore and has had all the repairs possible, we have to load it up in the car and take it to a recycling place.
There is no appliance to make beds, move furniture, put a meal on the table, clean windows and mirrors or clean a bathtub. Even with all the cleaning agents, these things require the homemaker to do the work.
The grocery store and market do provide a little more service. When you buy pre-cut vegetables and meat already seasoned, it is somewhat like having hired help in the kitchen. When you buy a rug, or clothing, it is like having hired someone to make it, so in that sense, manufactured things are a servant, because you do not have to make everything yourself.
When company comes unexpectedly you can buy bread and many prepared items and that is a great service. However, you still have to go to the store. (The Proverbs 31 woman may have sent out a helpers) Food that is semi-prepared is only PART of the service, and although it is a big help, it is not the same as having paid helpers.
A washing machine still requires work on your part, so it is not fully a servant. You still have to "do the laundry" and wash day for some people is very time-consuming, especially when they prefer to hang the clothes on a line outside, bring them back in the house when dry, fold and put away in various places, and maybe iron some of them.
The iron also is only a servant in that you do not have to build a fire in the cookstove and heat the iron. You still have to iron the clothes yourself. The Proverbs 31 woman had hired help to do things like this. Permanent press clothing is a better servant than the iron, because it is ready to serve your needs without the labor of ironing it. But as I am trying to emphasize, a true service is a complete service, where the entire taskmis completed for you. Appliances are merely aids, not complete services.
Yes, you may consider all these machines your "servants" but when there are dishwashing inventions that gather up the dishes, scrape and rinse them and load them in the dishwasher without your help, then put the whole collection away in the shelves after it is dry, the dishwasher will truly be a servant.
The best servants today are: grocery stores, hotels, restaurants, ready-made clothing and furniture, train, bus and airline trips, and activities where everything is done for you. Although our cars may be thought of as servants, we still have to drive them ourselves and be alert and make quick decisions. In the house, running water and electric lights are good servants.
So, in saying our modern appliances are servants, I can agree, to a point. The refrigerator seems to be content to keep the food cold without us supervising it, and I think it is a great servant. We do not have to get the dray wagon to bring us big blocks of ice to maintain it, and we do not have to check on it constantly to see if it is doing its job.
Saying a vacuum cleaner is a servant is like saying a broom is a servant. Both require someone to push it and pull it and make it work. Appliances are simply good aids in housework, but it seems the more appliances we get, the more often we use them and we end up working constantly.
My personal favorite homemaking aid is the electric sewing machine, but using it can be intensive labor. When the sewing machine cuts the pattern and stitches the garment together by itself, then I will say it is a full-fledged servant. In spite of its limitations, I would not want to do without it. In fact, it is one appliance, along with my electric kettle to heat water for tea, that I take on car trips when I will be away from home for more than a day. I believe the electric kettle is one of the best servants in the home, but it will not fill itself. Somebody has to do that. I have written previously about how I like hearing the electric kettle come to a boil and shut off all by itself. It is like having someone in the kitchen. I also like the fact that cloth is already woven for us. That is a real, complete service.
I do not believe we as homemakers can claim to be the same as the Proverbs 31 woman. She was a description by a mother to help her son, a King, chose a good wife. A queen has servants to do things for her, and she has to have the skill to manage those servants. (Though it was a description of a future queen, every homemaker is a queen of her house and can learn from the Proverbs 31 description.)
I have also heard that our children are the equivalent of the servants in Proverbs 31, but I do not agree. We should allow children to be children and although we teach them to come alongside and help us, they are not the same as servants. The Bible does not seem to support the belief that children be used as servants anywhere.
Since the New Testament is for Christians, and the last will and testament of Christ, we need to do His will and follow the law He left for us.
Titus 2, and 1st Timothy 5:14 are the instructions in the New Testament for members of the Lord's church today, and it does not mention the details in Proverbs 31.
A book was written about appliances and how we tend to use them more, which increases our work.