Proverbs 31
Advice for kings (and those who want to live righteously) 1
Characteristics of a woman of virtue  10
.1 ¶ The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.
 1 ¶ The words of Lemuel, king of Massa, which his mother taught him: (RSV)
 2  What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows?
 3  Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.
  1 - Lemuel Some believe Lemuel to have been Solomon but there is no evidence for this. Both translations at the left are okay although, "utterance" may be better than "prophecy" if "Massa" is not chosen. For "Massa" see ge2514, 1ch0130, although they don't seem to add light to the text.
  2 - What, my son? Apparently expressing the serious counsel she was about to speak.
  3 - That which destroyeth Or "them who destroy." Practice chastity (sexual purity).
.4  It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:
 5  Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.
 6  Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.
 7  Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.
   1 - Not for kings In case one is tempted to see this passage as justification for drinking to forget troubles, we note the reason in verse 5. No child of God can deny the need for these qualities. Of course for leaders it is particularly important.
   6 - Give ... drink.... forget poverty Pain medication for those who are dying is merciful.
 8  Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.
.9  Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.
  Open ... appointed to destruction Without a wise or important person to speak for them, poor people who are condemned, would often be unjustly treated.
The rest of the chapter logically follows the advice to Lemuel. It is in the literary form of an acrostic with v10 beginning with the first letter, aleph, v11 with the second letter and so on. Acrostics are easier to memorize (assuming one knows the language). Many of the psalms are in this form including ps119.
.10 ¶ Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
 11  The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
  10 - Virtuous woman Or "woman of power" or "woman of firm character."
 12  She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
 13  She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
 14  She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
 15  She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
 16  She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
 17  She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
  12 - Do him good More likely if he shows her his love and appreciation co0319. also v28.
  14 - Food from afar Not content with minimal attention to food.
  15 - Meat "Food" in modern English. She provides for her servant girls.
  17 - Girdeth her loins This phrase means to act with diligence. Literally it means pulling up ones long robe to make running or working easier. See je0117, lu1235.
 18  She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
 19  She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
 20  She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
 21  She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
.22  She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
  19 - Spindle The Hebrew word does not occur elsewhere in the Bible and more likely refers to the distaff. The word translated "distaff" means "spindle." They are two items used in the process of making cloth.
.23  Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
.24  She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
 25  Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
 26  She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
 27  She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
  23 - Husband is known Her dress in the previous verse and diligence in general is something the other city elders may admire. They might wish their wives were as good. "Gates" were the place of judgment and law making.
.28  Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
 29  Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
 30  Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.
 31  Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.
  30 - Favour is deceitful and beauty is vain Important to understand. This does not mean carelessness in dress v22.
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