Proverbs Thirty One

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Proverbs 31:1 The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.

king Lemuel. Since there was no king of either Judah or Israel named Lemuel, and since it is very unlikely that this chapter could refer to the king of one of the pagan nations around the children of Israel, it seems probable that Lemuel (meaning “belonging to God”) is simply another name—or title—of King Solomon.

the prophecy. See note on Proverbs 30:1. The “prophecy” could be understood simply as an “oracle,” inspired of God but not predicting the future. The Hebrew word for “prophecy” here is never so translated elsewhere in the Old Testament, except in Proverbs 30:1. Its usual translation is “burden” (Isaiah 21:1, 11-13, etc.). Such a prophecy was a divinely inspired burden which the prophet was constrained to convey to his people.

his mother. If, as seems probable in context, Lemuel was actually quoting his mother's teaching, this is one of the few chapters in the Bible written in effect by a woman. See also Judges 5; Luke 1:41-55.

Proverbs 31:2 What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows?

What, my son. If the assumption is correct that Lemuel was really Solomon, and that he was actually quoting the teachings of his mother, then the classic section on the virtuous woman (Proverbs 31:10-31) were actually first written or spoken by Bathsheba.

Proverbs 31:3 Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.

Proverbs 31:4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:

Proverbs 31:5 Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.

Proverbs 31:6 Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.

Proverbs 31:7 Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.

Let him drink. At first this advice seems to contradict such prohibitions as in Proverbs 23:31. However, it is obvious in context that the “advice” is given in irony, to those who have drifted so far from God as to be “appointed to destruction” anyway (Proverbs 31:8).

Proverbs 31:8 Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.

Proverbs 31:9 Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.

Proverbs 31:10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

Who. The twenty-two verses describing the virtuous woman (Proverbs 31:10-31) comprise an acrostic, with each successive verse beginning with the appropriate letter of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

virtuous. The adjective “virtuous” (Hebrew chagil) is only translated “virtuous” when describing women (Ruth 3:11; Proverbs 12:4). The word much more commonly means “strength,” “power,” etc. The woman of this chapter is not merely virtuous in morals, but is a woman of great strength of character and physical energy.

Proverbs 31:11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.

Proverbs 31:12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

Proverbs 31:13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.

Proverbs 31:14 She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.

Proverbs 31:15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.

Proverbs 31:16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

Proverbs 31:17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.

Proverbs 31:18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.

Proverbs 31:19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.

Proverbs 31:20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

Proverbs 31:21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.

Proverbs 31:22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.

Proverbs 31:23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.

Proverbs 31:24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.

Proverbs 31:25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.

Proverbs 31:26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

Proverbs 31:27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

Proverbs 31:28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

arise up. Her family gives her a “standing” ovation, as it were. The “virtuous woman” stands in diametric contrast to the “strange woman,” mentioned often in Proverbs.

Proverbs 31:29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.

Proverbs 31:30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.

woman that feareth the Lord. What a wonderful contrast to the “evil woman” (Proverbs 6:24), the “foolish woman” (Proverbs 9:13), the “brawling woman” (Proverbs 21:9) the “contentious woman” (Proverbs 21:19), the “odious woman” (Proverbs 30:23), the “whorish woman” (Proverbs 6:26) and especially the “strange woman” (see note on Proverbs 2:16).

Proverbs 31:31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Give. Proverbs has thirty-one chapters, and the thirty-first chapter of Proverbs has thirty-one verses. Many people, especially Christian businessmen, have found it helpful to read the corresponding chapter of Proverbs each successive day of the month.