Burning the Midnight Oil

Word Filled Wednesday: Proverbs 31:18 “She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.”

We are into week 10 in our Proverbs 31 series. This woman continues to challenge me. So far we have seen that she rises early, works eagerly and vigorously, shops wisely and is extremely productive with her hands!
So today this is long because it’s two-fold:
1. Her trading is profitable. Matthew Henry’s Commentary says: “She is one that takes pains in her duties, and takes pleasure in them. She is careful to fill up time, that none be lost. She rises early. She does what she does, with all her power, and trifles not.”
My friend Kristy is an example of a profitable woman. She makes adorable knit hats and tutus. She has sold hundreds around the world through her etsy store while working right from her home!
Another example is one of my Good Morning Girls Kelly, she just started a photography business in her home and she is in high demand. You can see why by viewing her work here. She does an excellent job.
My sister Kristen works from home as a home schooling virtual High School math teacher. She doesn’t just teach math but she shows the love of Jesus to all of her students! Parents are lucky to have her as their child’s teacher!!! She truly loves her students and gives them 100%.
And quite a few of my friends extend a hand of love as they babysit a few days a week in their home. These women are working hard and seeing that their work is profitable. They don’t do it half heartedly or bitterly. They have found their passion and with joy pour hours into their work. As a result, I would be willing to guess that all of these profitable women have this next trait in common.
2. Her lamp does not go out at night. When you are applying excellence to your work you will find that the night oil just simply has to be burnt sometimes to get it all done. This blog has given me more late nights than I care to admit! The Proverbs 31 woman does not watch television every night. Actually, she did not watch television any of the nights (gulp)!!!
All of the commentaries say that this was a woman who basically worked night and day. But we know she slept because verse 15 says she rises early – so she did have to rise! Because of the invention of the light bulb we might forget that her night oil would have begun when the sun sets at 6:30pm this time of year. The “night oil” has begun when we flip our light switches on! Don’t most of us still work after 6:30pm? There’s dishes to do, baths to give, homework to be done, training to be done, laundry to be put away, stories to be read, and possibly cleaning if you were away during the day.
Burning the night oil does not mean we stay up until after midnight working. I know that many are night owls and they get a burst of energy late at night! If that is you – and you are up working late and accomplishing much – that’s fantastic!!!

But for others, do not feel badly if by 10pm you are exhausted and ready to hit the hay “early”. That’s not early! Your night oil has been burning for 3 and a half hours already and if you are going to rise early as the Proverbs 31 woman does (she rises while it is still dark – which is around 6am this time of year). Then 10pm is a good bed time.
The problem with technology is that it keeps us up way past the night oil – we are not being profitable, we are exhausted in the morning, too tired to keep our eyes open to read God’s word or pray, and cranky with our husbands and children.
Try to be profitable in the evenings – from 6:30pm-9:30pm. And then get your rest. Read a good book, watch a short show, stop by to read my blog (lol!) and then get to bed because the sunrise is coming!
Walk with the King!


  1. This is a wonderful post and interpretation. I am so glad you pointed out another way of looking at "burning the midnight oil". As one who is ready to drop by 10pm each night, that encouraged me!

    Thanks so much for taking the time to share this.

  2. Great word!!

    I want to be wise and use my talents for HIM.

    Blessings to you this WFW♥

    PS Study sounds good.

  3. In all my studying of this passage it has never occurred to me that she would need to turn on her oil lamp in the early evening! That makes so much sense now!!!! Ahhhh, guilt removed=) Thanks Courtney.

  4. I'm so glad you pointed out that the "burning the midnight oil" does not mean that it has to be late late late. I'm am not a night owl and I like to be sleeping by 10:00 and no later. I never looked at it that way. I feel better because yes, even after dinner I'm still doing things around the house.

  5. I've beens studying pd31 as well and using Matthew Henry's commentary as a resource!

    I want to add to her light not going out…for me, this also reminds me that my "light" does not go out when it comes to caring for my family. I am always aware, even at 2am, and ready to be alert if I need to be. If a babe needs me at 1am, I'm there. 3am, I'm there. Know what I mean? Always ready to care for my family.


  6. Sarah Mae – great insight on that – I hadn't thought of it that way but you are right! Thanks for adding that!


  7. I am going to echo the other comments as well… I had always pictured her still up working past midnight, 1 am, 2 am….
    Makes alot of sense though. It seems like after dinner to bedtime is the most busy time of the day for me.
    Thank you for pointing that out!

  8. Courtney!
    WOW! I LOVED this post..what wonderful words of wisdom and practical applications! Using our gifts for the glory of God…

    Thanks so much for sharing it with us today! A blessing indeed!


  9. as someone that burned too much oil last night and is still tired at 1pm..thanks for the gentle reminder. awesome way to look at it!

  10. It's so easy to stay up past a respectable hour when the house is so quiet. But over the years I have learned that my day after a late night is much less productive than if I would have went to bed at a half decent hour.

  11. Hi Courtney!
    I am just not a night person. If it's not done by about 8 p.m., it's just not getting done. I'm much more productive if I rest, get a good night's sleep and tackle it the next day. But I AM a productive woman so I guess that's what matters, regardless of when it gets done! ;0)

  12. I noticed that the only examples you gave of profitable women were women that stay at home. While I think they're definitely deserving of that title for their work, I believe it's also appropriate to recognize women who don't work in the home. I have a great friend who is the Executive Director of a Pregnancy Care Center and, by any measure, her work is profitable for her family as well as thousands of women in our area.

    I enjoy the blog, but would like to not feel like we must be stay at home wives to be a Proverbs 31 woman.

  13. I never really dug into the meaning of midnight oil- I like it! I also like how you put emphasis on certain phrases with bold letters!! awesome post:) much needed!

  14. Dear Denise – thank you for sharing your heart. I apologize for that oversight. And will be mindful of that in future posts.

    Much Love,

  15. Going to bed at the right time is still one of my late life lessons to learn. I was much better once and now I drift and have Christian music on and then wonder why I hate mornings…that lady lived life intentionally.
    May we all seek to be better at that.

  16. I love the post…
    It is very encouraging, I also agree with what you said about Mrs. Stopp. She is actually my math teacher this year…and she is a truly amazing person. I am blessed to ever know someone like her, And you are blessed to have her. =]
    Mrs. Stopp encourages me very well, I made her a video :D…
    But anyway Great post I LOVE it I am sure you are just like your sis =]

  17. Dear Anonymous student of Kristen,
    Thank you for commenting!!! I saw your video – that was awesome!!! It's so great to have you as a reader here!!! I am blessed to call Kristen my sister!! Keep up the hard work in school!!!
    Much Love,

  18. I love your Proverbs 31 series… and I am striving to copy her example. So, thank you for posting these encouraging words for us.

    I just wanted to add one thing. I, too, used to picture having to work well past midnight to be in line with this verse, but Sarah Mae's interpretation is closer than any other to the real meaning of this passage.

    It was the norm in biblical times (all over, including in Israelite homes) to keep a lamp burning at ALL TIMES – this would include overnight. Back then it would have been well nigh impossible to do anything at night, much less in a hurry, if you had to go get a flame started from scratch first.

    So the Proverbs 31 woman was ready to do whatever needed to be done for her family, even at night while she slept. This would mean the possibility, at least, of getting up and checking the lamp to see that it still had enough oil, but readiness otherwise, as well.

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