PROVERBS CHAPTER 31.
The Proverbs of Lemuel.
OF PROPER KINGLY DEPORTMENT. — V. 1. The words of King Lemuel, concerning whom nothing is otherwise known, the prophecy that his mother taught him, the words of instruction in the form of proverbial sayings which she imparted to him. V. 2. What, my son! an impassioned exclamation addressed to her son to keep him from choosing ways of evil. And what, the son of my womb! the expression being intended to show the depth of the true mother’s attachment. And what, the son of my vows! the mother regarding her son as one dedicated to the Lord from his birth. Having thus given evidence of her loving interest, the mother of Lemuel added some specific admonitions. V. 3. Give not thy strength unto women, in a life of luxury, dissipation, and immorality, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings, to the women who ruin kings by leading them into licentiousness. V. 4. It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings, to drink wine, to be given to drink, to be enslaved by the inebriating cup, nor for princes strong drink, they must never be under the influence of intoxicants, v. 5. lest they drink and, with their senses and intellect enfeebled by alcohol, forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted, so that all the poor, helpless, and needy would be obliged to forego justice, that justice no longer could be obtained. V. 6. Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, to those who are afflicted, heavy in heart, full of anxiety, who are on the point of expiring, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts, who are bowed down under the crushing weight of calamities which have befallen them. V. 7. Let him drink and forget his poverty, the effect of the intoxicant being to give him a brighter view of life, and remember his misery no more. Not intemperance, but a moderate and proper use of wine and strong drink as gifts of God is here advocated, while total abstinence is recommended to those who occupy positions of authority and power. V. 8. Open thy mouth for the dumb, those unable to maintain their own cause, in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction, or for the right of all orphan children, who are deprived of their natural protector. V. 9. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, so that judgment is rendered in behalf of those under oppression, and plead the cause of the poor and needy. The virtues of mercy and justice should properly be combined in every person holding a position of authority and influence.
THE ABC OF THE VIRTUOUS WOMAN. — V. 10. Who can find a virtuous woman? the emphatic question pointing to the meaning: How splendid it would be for every man to have such a wife! For her price is far above rubies, beyond the worth of pearls and all treasures of the home, in so far as they pertain to this life. V. 11. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, he may rely absolutely upon her prudence and skill in the home, so that he shall have no need of spoil, he shall not fail of gain, since she watches over the income of the family. V. 12. She will do him good, in a constant show of affection, and not evil all the days of her life, her love not being subject to moods. Her diligence, wisdom, and shrewdness are now portrayed. V. 13. She seeketh wool and flax, or linen, busying herself with these materials in order to produce garments, and worketh willingly with her hands, taking pleasure in performing the work which every day offers. V. 14. She is like the merchants’ ships, in selling her products and obtaining new ware and gain; she bringeth her food from afar, providing all the necessities of the house in ample time. V. 15. She riseth also while it is yet night, she is up and at her work before daylight, and giveth meat to her household, distributing food to all its members, for an early breakfast, and a portion to her maidens, so that the meals are ready at a certain time and no time is lost. V. 16. She considereth a field, carefully contemplating its worth for purchase, and buyeth it, since her thrift has enabled her to lay aside the purchase money, with the fruit of her hands, with the money she has earned by her own labor, she planteth a vineyard, investing her money wisely. V. 17. She girdeth her loins with strength, showing vigor in every undertaking, and strengtheneth her arms, both her diligence and the energy displayed by her increasing continually. V. 18. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good, she is aware that her gain is regular, a fact which spurs her on to renewed effort; her candle goeth not out by night, if necessary she will work far into the night in order to accomplish her purpose. V. 19. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff, she uses the spinning-wheel in the proper and effective manner, she lacks neither the skill nor the willingness to work with her own hands. At the same time, it is not selfishness or avarice which inspires the virtuous woman. V. 20. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor, spreading out both hands with gifts for the unfortunate; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy, always ready to help such as are truly in need. V. 21. She is not afraid of the snow for her household, having used the proper foresight, she need not fear the cold of winter for those dependent upon her; for all her household are clothed with scarlet, heavy woolen material, both warm and of prosperous appearance. V. 22. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry, coverlets and hangings to decorate her home; her clothing is silk and purple, made of fine Egyptian byssus and of cloth dyed with reddish-purple from Phoenicia. Moreover, her influence extends beyond the confines of her home. V. 23. Her husband is known in the gates, where the most influential citizens were wont to assemble, when he sitteth among the elders of the land, an important and famous personage. V. 24. She maketh fine linen, shirts and underclothes, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant, literally, to the Canaanite, for the Phoenician merchants were the most prominent at that time. V. 25. Strength and honor are her clothing, making her independent of all petty annoyances and worries and permitting her to look into the future with simple confidence; and she shall rejoice In time to come, not in foolish self-confidence, but in the consciousness of having made the best possible preparations for the maintenance of herself and her household. V. 26. She openeth her mouth with wisdom, for that is all her heart knows; and in her tongue is the law of kindness, her speech is altogether amiable and full of love. V. 27. She looketh well to the ways of her household, wisely arranging and superintending the work of all the servants, and eateth not the bread of idleness, being busy both in superintending and in joining hands with the rest in working. V. 28. Her children arise up, wherever they present themselves, and call her blessed, praising the mother to whom they owe so much; her husband also, and he praiseth her, in the words now quoted, v. 29. Many daughters have done virtuously, many women have shown virtue, Ruth 4, 11, but thou excellest them all. The author now gives a summary of his remarks. V. 30. Favor, that is, grace acquired and shown by a woman, is deceitful, it has no real, lasting value, and beauty is vain, it is a breath, a vanity, it is no measure of a woman’s real worth; but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised, that is the highest praise which can be bestowed upon a woman at any time. V. 31. Give her of the fruit of her hands, namely, the praise which she so richly deserves; and let her own works praise her in the gates, that is, in the place where the elders, the representatives of the people, assemble, the foremost men of the nation acknowledging such a woman’s excellency. This hymn, called the ABC of a virtuous woman, on account of the fact that it is an acrostic in the original Hebrew, each succeeding verse beginning with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet, is well worthy to be memorized by every Christian woman, and especially every Christian wife, as containing the ideal of the Lord Himself. - pek