I want to focus first on the idea as a whole. Since the woman is like a ship, she can hold and bring food from all over. She seeks out the best and brings it back for herself and her family. She is resourceful and trades with other in the network of merchants. This means that she provides no matter what obstacles are in the way.
I want to go a little deeper and focus on the simile. "She is like a merchant's ship." First of all those ships are grand, sturdy and incredibly effective. This means that she can ride the waves of adversity and still remain afloat. It means she will withstand the test of endurance as time and circumstance crash against her. It means she is efficient with what and how she goes about her tasks. It means she will raise her head, as the masks do, and continue to her destination. I means she knows which direction to go and how to get there. It means she can provide and carry out duties for her family, the community and within the world of trade and business.
The verse continues with "she brings her food from afar." This not only includes the dependability to provide for her family, but also at what lengths she will go to do it. Most importantly, this verse tells me that a wife of noble character is a traveler. At the very least is willing to travel and communicate with people who life far away to conduct business. This is very exciting when you think of the stereotypical woman being entirely domestic. She goes where she needs to go, interacts with others and is not afraid to travel to get what the family and the community needs.
At first this verse was hard to work with, now it is one of my favorites. Women are strong, sturdy, resourceful, efficient, dependable, hard working, travelers and merchants. Still, the wife of noble character is looking to God for guidance and safety and taking care of others before herself. Again and again, these verses will show that women are able to take care of many things outside of the traditional roles for women; however, it is not to the glory of the woman to hold over a man's head nor a man's glory to restrict her from duties she is willing and capable of doing, the glory goes to God. By putting God first in our lives and working together as husband and wife and as a coed community, we make the unity of the church and we make God proud to call us His children.