Proverbs 31

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Proverbs 31

1 The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy [i.e. the oracle or the utterance] that his mother taught him.

We have no idea who king Lemuel was. What we have in this chapter is a repeat of prophecy his mother taught him. The words in verses 2-9 are addressed to King Lemuel by his mother.

2 What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows?

What? my son, and what the son of my womb . . . is understood in the sense of what gems of wisdom shall I pass unto you, my son?

What . . . the son of my vows suggests what my son whom I have dedicated to the Lord.

3 Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.

Avoid a life of dissipation and sensual lust. Lemuel's mother is warning him that adultery has a debilitating effect on one's mind and body.

Then, in verses 4-7 Lemuel's mother warns him about the dangers of alcohol.

4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong [i.e. intoxicating] drink:

Refrain from the use of wine and strong drink.

5 Lest they [i.e. kings and princes] drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment [i.e. justice] of any of the afflicted [i.e. of all the afflicted].

The danger of the use of wine and strong drink is that it will impair their ability to judge and make proper decisions. It will cloud their memory and judgment, resulting in injustice to the oppressed.

6 Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish [i.e. to him who is perishing], and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts [i.e. to those who are bitter of heart].

By the way, today's beer is regarded as strong drink. Wine is made from grapes; whereas, strong drink is made from grain.

7 Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.

The medicinal use of wine is sanctioned as a stimulant for the dying and as an anti-depressant for the despondent.

8 Open thy mouth for the dumb [i.e. the speechless] in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction [i.e. of all who are appointed to die, of all who are ready for death, or of all who are passing away].

It is the king's responsibility as the leader of his country to speak up on behalf of those unable to speak for themselves. Appointed for destruction means that they are on their last legs, that they are ready to die.

9 Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause [i.e. defend the rights] of the poor and needy.

The king is to speak up, to judge righteously, thereby upholding the standards of justice demanded by the law and to take up the cause of the poor and needy who are unable to defend themselves. The poor are the afflicted or the humbled. The needy are the people needing help. The poor and needy are easily taken advantage of, but the king, representing the government, is to defend them.

We are not sure who wrote verses 10-31. It may have been King Lemuel or his mother or someone else. The text does not indicate the author of this section.

10 Who can find a virtuous woman [or wife - i.e. a woman (or wife) of strength, a capable woman (or a capable wife), a woman (or wife) of noble character]? for her price [i.e. her worth or her value] is far above rubies.

The context suggests that this refers to her character. She is capable, diligent, worthy, and good.

Many women are available for marriage, but a woman who will make a fine and godly wife [i.e. a noble wife or a capable wife of noble character] is rare. In my churches I have been privileged to know a good number of ladies who are good wives, who strive to be like this ideal in Proverbs 31 . However, though they make fine wives for others, God only had one of them for each of us men. When seeking a wife for your sons, steer him to the group of girls who are going to be virtuous women because it is from this group he needs to find God's choice for him. Likewise, in our churches there are a good number of good, godly husbands; but God only has one for each lady. The husband/wife relationship is an exclusive relationship. Don't ever let anything break it.

This changes when one's spouse dies. Widows and widowers are free to remarry if they so desire. However the same principle applies. Whereas some, within the will of God, would never be interested in marrying a second time, others, within the will of God, might be interested in remarrying if the right one were available. Although there may be many widows or widowers available, only one of them would be God's choice for you. Widows and widowers must be careful in the choice they make. They need to be certain he/she is really God's choice for them.

Her price is above rubies suggests that a fine wife is rare. Her worth to her husband cannot be measured in terms of costly jewels.

11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil [i.e. no lack of gain].

Her husband can have great (or complete) confidence in her and trust her implicitly. He can trust her with his money, with his checkbook, and with his credit cards. He can trust her not to steal from others. Her careful financial management enhances their family's wealth.