(Prov 31:1 NASB) The words of King Lemuel, the oracle which his mother taught him.
Prov 31:1: Lemuel means “unto Elohim” or “dedicated to Elohim.” Strong’s Concordance states that this is likely a name given to Solomon by his mother. Jewish legend also identifies him as Solomon, making this advice from his mother Bathsheba. While there is no clear evidence for that, the name is not used any other place in Scripture. So this is very likely a reference to Solomon.
With that being the case, this chapter consists of Proverbs given to Solomon by his mother.
(Prov 31:2 NASB) What, O my son? And what, O son of my womb? And what, O son of my vows?
Prov 31:2: If this is Bathsheba in reference to Solomon, Solomon was granted to his mother in response to her vows. We are not told of the vows, but Solomon was the next son born to her after the death of her firstborn (2 Sam. 12:24-25). Notice that Solomon was also named “Jedidiah” which means “beloved of Yahweh.”
It would appear that Solomon had many names and titles that were given to him, as we have seen here in Proverbs.
(Prov 31:3 NASB) Do not give your strength to women, Or your ways to that which destroys kings.
Prov 31:3: She warns him against focusing on women and neglecting his duties to the nation. She did not want him to be influenced by women through promiscuous relationships, but he was (1 Kings 11:1-8).
(Prov 31:4 NASB) It is not for kings, O Lemuel, It is not for kings to drink wine, Or for rulers to desire strong drink,
(Prov 31:5 NASB) Lest they drink and forget what is decreed, And pervert the rights of all the afflicted.
Prov 31:5: She advises him to be like a priest in his duties by not drinking when he is making any kind of decision concerning his duties (Lev. 10:9-11).
(Prov 31:6 NASB) Give strong drink to him who is perishing, And wine to him whose life is bitter.
(Prov 31:7 NASB) Let him drink and forget his poverty, And remember his trouble no more.
Prov 31:7: These were applications for alcohol much in the same way we have other drugs used for those purposes today.
(Prov 31:8 NASB) Open your mouth for the dumb, For the rights of all the unfortunate.
(Prov 31:9 NASB) Open your mouth, judge righteously, And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.
Prov 31:9: She says to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves and all the unfortunate. She says to defend the cause (not “rights) of the afflicted and needy.
(Prov 31:10 NASB) An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.
Prov 31:10: Verses 10 -31 are an alphabetic poem with each verse beginning consecutively with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. In this poem (probably given to Solomon by Bathsheba), we are given the admirable picture of a good wife.
To begin with, an excellent wife is worth far above jewels.
(Prov 31:11 NASB) The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gain.
(Prov 31:12 NASB) She does him good and not evil All the days of her life.
Prov 31:12: Her husband trusts her, and with her, he has everything he needs. She does him good all the days of her life.
(Prov 31:13 NASB) She looks for wool and flax, And works with her hands in delight.
Prov 31:13: Flax was made into linen. The excellent wife cares that her family is clothed and well dressed.
(Prov 31:14 NASB) She is like merchant ships; She brings her food from afar.
(Prov 31:15 NASB) She rises also while it is still night, And gives food to her household, And portions to her maidens.
Prov 31:15: She sees that her family is well fed. The “portions” to the maidens are likely assigned duties.
(Prov 31:16 NASB) She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard.
(Prov 31:17 NASB) She girds herself with strength, And makes her arms strong.
Prov 31:17: She expands her home front by buying the field around her after she inspects it. She girds herself and works hard.
(Prov 31:18 NASB) She senses that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night.
Prov 31:18: “She senses that her gain is good.” In other words, “she looks for bargains.” She also works late into the night.
(Prov 31:19 NASB) She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hands grasp the spindle.
Prov 31:19: The distaff is a staff for holding wool which is twisted into thread and wound on a spindle. This was also mentioned in the making of curtains of the tabernacle and also garments (Ex. 35:25-26).
(Prov 31:20 NASB) She extends her hand to the poor; And she stretches out her hands to the needy.
Prov 31:20: As instructed in Torah, he cares for the poor and needy around her (Psalm 41:1-3, Ecc. 11:1-2, Mark 14:7).
(Prov 31:21 NASB) She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
Prov 31:21: Her children are dressed in scarlet during snowfall so they can be easily seen while she watches over them.
(Prov 31:22 NASB) She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Prov 31:22: She dresses elegantly.
(Prov 31:23 NASB) Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land.
Prov 31:23: The gates were the places where the elders congregate and discuss local affairs and make decisions for the city. A man’s wife affects her husbands standing in the community. She will either bring him honor, or shame and pity.
(Prov 31:24 NASB) She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies belts to the tradesmen.
(Prov 31:25 NASB) Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future.
Prov 31:25: She is industrious with her resources. She smiles at the future because she knows her family is well taken care of.
(Prov 31:26 NASB) She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
Prov 31:26: She speaks wisdom and kindness. This is in contrast to the contentious woman described earlier.
(Prov 31:27 NASB) She looks well to the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Prov 31:27: She is energetic and always keeps herself occupied.
(Prov 31:28 NASB) Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
(Prov 31:29 NASB) “Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all.”
Prov 31:29: She is greatly loved by her husband and children.
(Prov 31:30 NASB) Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
Prov 31:30: Beauty and charm are mere outward coverings. But the woman that fears Yahweh and keeps His commandments, that is the woman who shall be praised (Psalm 112:1-3, Ecc. 12:13-14, Deut 10:12-13)
(Prov 31:31 NASB) Give her the product of her hands, And let her works praise her in the gates.
Prov 31:31: This is how Scripture describes the “excellent wife.”
Patrick McGuireCopyright 2014 Patrick McGuire and Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly All rights reserved, no portion of this Lesson may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews. Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly Fort Smith, Arkansas