Scriptures

Proverbs 31

Introduction

‘The sayings of King Lemuel—an inspired utterance his mother taught him.’ Proverbs 31:1

We have had the benefit from studying the ‘father to son’ proverbs, but here we have the benefit of studying some of the ‘mother to son’ proverbs.

We know nothing about Lemuel except he was an unknown king who wrote the words his mother taught him. Some of the early Jewish rabbis identified Lemuel with Solomon. Other scholars believe he was Hezekiah, or even an anonymous Arabian prince.

Some also suggest that the name Lemuel is another name for Solomon, but we do not know for sure. We do know that the name Lemuel means ‘belonging to God’ or ‘dedicated to God.’

‘Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb! Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers! Do not spend your strength on women, your vigour on those who ruin kings.’ Proverbs 31:2-3

Listen and listen again seems to be a continual call, are we listening? is the question. She lets him know that 1. He matters to her, and 2. She vowed him to God. The strength given to women is both physical and financial.

History shows us that adultery ruins kings, Napoleon, etc. it is possible that this refers to the commonly large harem such as the one that destroyed Solomon, 1 Kings 11:1.

‘It is not for kings, Lemuel—it is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. Let beer be for those who are perishing, wine for those who are in anguish! Let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.’ Proverbs 31:4-7

An intemperate man is ill-fitted to hold the reins of government. Only God could know the tremendous and widespread damage alcohol has caused when influencing a man of power. Alcohol is considered to have its uses, not as an intoxicating beverage but for medicinal purposes, Matthew 27:34 / 1 Timothy 5:23.

People should never use alcohol to forget their problems, it simply causes a diversion, it takes their minds away from their problem and don’t deal with those problems.

‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.’ Proverbs 31:8-9

Lemuel is simply saying that a king must have justice and equity in his kingdom.

‘A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.’ Proverbs 31:10-11

Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character

It is a mistake to think that all of these attributes could be found in one woman, but this is the ideal. In Hebrew each verse begins with the appropriate letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

Her husband knows that she is more than capable, she is strong and therefore valuable, which makes her rare like rubies. Her husband trusts here because she has earned his trust.

‘She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.’ Proverbs 31:12-18

She has her husband’s good in view constantly, recommending his kindness by her good deeds. She likes to work and enjoys what she does. It wasn’t that long ago when women were taught to hate ‘hard work’ and they stayed at home in the enslaving atmosphere of the housewife.

She was a businesswomen which could imply that she had a good aptitude for business in which she not afraid to go out to obtain those things she requires. She is self-motivated and stays busy. Her eye is always open to business opportunities, especially in real estate.

She takes care of her own strength and health by useful labour and exercise, avoiding that which might ensnare or weaken. When her goods are selling, she works into the night to maintain production.

‘In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.’ Proverbs 31:19-20

She is interested in those outside her own household.

‘When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.’ Proverbs 31:21-22

Scarlet is a symbol of quality, Acts 16:14. Her other activities do not prevent her from caring for the needs at home. Her most repeated quality is her care for her household, Titus 2:4-5.

‘Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.’ Proverbs 31:23-27

Often a husband’s public image depends upon his wife. Some scholars think this is because she dresses her husband well. One of the best reputations a man can have is to be known as the husband of a good wife. As long as a husband has an industrious wife, there is no need to worry about the future.

Notice that when she talks, people listen! She is alert to the needs of her family. She knows that idleness leads to vice. Therefore, she is energetic in meeting her family’s needs.

‘Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’ Proverbs 31:28-29

This is the reward for being a virtuous woman. I wonder how many children today say these kind of words to their mothers?

‘Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.’ Proverbs 31:30

Deceptive means to be vain, when we get older, we understand that we don’t keep the beauty we once had when we were younger. Charm and beauty are deceitful in the sense that they do not reveal the true person and fleeting.

The real worth of a woman is her devotion to God. Such a woman endowed with the virtues set forth in this poem deserves the praise.

She is no slave to a master husband, but a person in her own right who takes and fulfils an honoured place in the life of the home and her community. While all of this is good, the key is her fearing the Lord!

The Proverbs start and finish with this crucial concept, Proverbs 1:7.

‘Honour her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.’ Proverbs 31:31

The woman describes in all these verses is the woman who deserves recognition so others will follow her example, 1 Peter 3:1-7

Conclusion

The Book of Proverbs is very challenging to say the least, especially when it comes to putting them into practice, but they are given that we may live our lives in such a way which pleases God.

It’s clear that the authors, Solomon, Agur and Lemuel knew exactly what they were talking about and want us to learn from their mistakes.

‘For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.’ Romans 15:4

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Acts 1:8

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