Not metaphorical messiness
Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.
I find this verse very encouraging as a parent. So much is said about the blessings of children in the Bible, yet being a parent sometimes feels overwhelming. Tricia “sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks” (Proverbs 31:17), yet it is difficult to keep up with a full household day in and day out.
But God wants us to know that wisdom counts the cost, and that messiness is in some cases the cost of abundance! Not metaphorical messiness… real messiness.
Notice the proverb assumes we value cleanliness, and does not directly challenge that value. Messiness isn’t wise in and of itself. In fact, I believe it could easily be argued that in many cases messiness is unwise because it makes the household harder to run.
But assuming that you value neatness and organization in your home, this proverb challenges us to count the cost and realize that neatness is not a virtue above all others, and must be set aside at times. So I encourage all the homemakers reading this to take heart and be of good cheer. Cleanliness is not, in and of itself, next to Godliness.