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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Proverbs 31

 

 

Verse 1

Introduction - Proverbs 31:1 serves as an introduction for Proverbs 31:1-31. King Lemeul's mother addresses the dangers of women and wine leading to poor judgment as a king, and the remedy is to find a virtuous wife.

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

Proverbs 31:1 — "The words of king Lemuel" - Word Study on "Lemuel" - Strong says the Hebrew name "Lemuel" ( לְמוּאֵל) (H 3927) comes from ( לְמוֹ) (H 3926), meaning, "to, for," and ( אֵל) (H 410), an abbreviated form for "God." Thus, this name means "to God." The Hebrew ( לְמוֹ) is considered the poetical form of the preposition ( ל), meaning "to." However, Adam Clarke renders this name, "The words to Muel the king." Therefore, he considers the ( ל) strictly a preposition. 148]

148] Adam Clarke, Proverbs , in Adam Clarke"s Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), notes on Proverbs 31:1.

Comments- The name "Lemuel" is not mentioned in the Scriptures anywhere else. The name means, "dedicated to God" (Easton, Smith).

Some have speculated that this name refers to Solomon. Others say that this was a king of a neighboring land. Still other think that it may refer to King Hezekiah, who copied out a section of this book.

John Gill suggests that it could have been a fond name that Solomon"s mother, Bathsheba, gave to him at a young age. 149]

149] John Gill, Proverbs , in John Gill's Expositor, in e-Sword, v 777 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005), comments on Proverbs 31:1.

Adam Clarke believes that this king as a ruler of a foreign nation based on the fact that several Chaldean words are used in this text. 150] Thus, this would be considered wisdom from the East.

150] Adam Clarke, Proverbs , in Adam Clarke"s Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), notes on Proverbs 31:1.

Proverbs 31:1 — "the prophecy that his mother taught him" - Word Study on "the prophecy" - Strong says the Hebrew word ( מַּשָּׂא) (H 4853) means "a burden," and figuratively, "an utterance." The Enhanced Strong says it is used 66 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as, "burden 57, Song of Solomon 3, prophecy 2, set 1, exaction 1, carry away 1, tribute 1." Note that this Hebrew word is commonly translated "oracle." (NASB, NIV, RSV) Holladay says, "A burden or pronouncement (a sort of cursing pronouncement)."

This is the same word used in Proverbs 30:1, which may suggest the same authorship.

Proverbs 30:1, "The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal,"

Word Study on "taught" - Strong says the Hebrew word ( יָסַר) (H 3256) means, "to chasten (literally with blows or figuratively with words)," hence, "to instruct." The Enhanced Strong says it is used 43times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as, "chastise 21instruct 8, correct 7, taught 2, bound 1, punish 1, reformed 1, reproveth 1, sore 1."

Comments- The tone of the following verses appears to be a chastisement of a mother to a son. Thus, the translation:

JPS, "The words of king Lemuel; the burden wherewith his mother corrected him."

Note the other four uses of this same Hebrew word in the book of Proverbs which support this translation:

Proverbs 9:7, "He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot."

Proverbs 19:18, "Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying."

Proverbs 29:17, "Correct thy Song of Solomon , and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul."

Proverbs 29:19, "A servant will not be corrected by words: for though he understand he will not answer."


Verses 1-31

The Proverbs of King Lemuel: A Mother's Plea - Proverbs 31:1-31 are an instructions from a mother to a king. It is her plea to her son for a leader to live a holy lifestyle. A king should sanctify his body ( Proverbs 31:2-3), he should avoid perverting his reason by sanctifying his mind ( Proverbs 31:4-7), he should sanctify his heart in judgment ( Proverbs 31:8-9), and he should have a sanctified marriage with a virtuous woman ( Proverbs 31:10-31). Therefore, this warning deals with the body, the soul, the spirit and prosperity from a good marriage. We see the same plea in the seven letters to the churches in Asia Minor ( Revelation 2-3) when Christ asks them to sanctify themselves so that they can partake of the Rapture and miss the Tribulation Period that was coming.

After having an encounter with the Lord ( Proverbs 30:1-33), we are at a level of maturity where God begins to hold us much more accountable in life. Proverbs 31:1-31 teaches us that we must learn to walk in the authority that God has given every believer, as priests and kings unto God.

Thus, if we have walked in the path of Wisdom of Solomon , we will come to our destination on the journey, having received all of the blessings listed in chapter three, which is spiritual, mental, physical and financial blessings. Unlike the world, which strives after all these things, we have sought wisdom first and also received these blessings. We have been able to enter into a place of peace and rest as we enjoy these blessings, unlike the world, which strives and worries and gains these things through lust and corruption ( Matthew 6:32-33).

Matthew 6:32-33, "(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

Outline- Here is a proposed outline:

1. Introduction — Proverbs 31:1

A Mother's Plea to Her Son to Sanctify Himself — Proverbs 31:2-9

2. The Destination: Walking in Christ"s Fullness — Proverbs 31:10-31


Verses 2-9

A Mother's Plea to Her Son to Sanctify Himself- In Proverbs 31:2-9 we have instructions for a king. This passage gives a warning against pursuing women ( Proverbs 31:3) and wine ( Proverbs 31:4-7). Many people of great achievement have fallen because of a combination of these two evils. For it destroys a man"s ability to properly judge between right and wrong ( Proverbs 31:8-9). Righteous judgment is the fundamental requirement of a king.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. A Mother's Plea to Her Son to Sanctify His Body — Proverbs 31:2-3

2. A Mother's Pleas to Her Son to Sanctify His Mind — Proverbs 31:4-7

3. A Mother's Pleas to Her Son to Sanctify His Heart in Judgment — Proverbs 31:8-9

Illustration- This passage of Scripture is similar to the qualifications for a leader, as 1 Timothy 3:1-13 give qualifications for church leaders.

Proverbs 31:2-3 — A Mother's Plea to Her Son to Sanctify His Body - Proverbs 31:2-3 is a mother's plea to her son to sanctify his body in order that he not destroy himself.

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

Proverbs 31:2Word Study on "son" - Strong says the Hebrew word "son" "bar" ( בַּר) (H 1248) is a Chaldean word, used three times in this verse, and it corresponds to the Hebrew "ben" ( בֵּן) (H 1121). This Chaldean word is also used seven times in the books of Ezra and Daniel as ( בַּר) (H 1247).

The only other occurrence of ( בַּר) (H 1248) in the Old Testament is found in Psalm 2:12.

Psalm 2:12, "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him."

Proverbs 31:2Comments- In Proverbs 31:2, we can see that the mother is calling to remembrance the two most important events in her relationship with her son. She remembers the pains of childbirth, and she remembers the time that she vowed him to the Lord in the despair of her soul. Evidently, King Lemuel was devoted to God at his birth by his mother. The most difficult times in our lives can produce the greatest victories. No other events in her life are more valid reasons for her to counsel a king than the two that she gives in this verse. Therefore, in this verse, the mother gives her son her legal authority to correct and instruct him.

She must have been a virtuous woman herself. She was a woman who knew what it was to wait for a promise, for she had made a vow. She had to develop longsuffering, patience, faithfulness and the other fruits of the Spirit in order to see this vow come to pass. She had travailed in prayer in order to bring her son to this place of leadership. Thus, he was the "son of her womb" not only because of travail in the natural birth, but also by her spiritual travail to give birth to many spiritual events in this child's growth and development. We see in Proverbs 31:3-9 that she knew how to instruct and impart wisdom in a godly manner to those whom she loved. In all respects, she was a successful mother who built her house with wisdom ( Proverbs 14:1).

Proverbs 14:1, "Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands."

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

Proverbs 31:3 — "Give not thy strength unto women" - Scripture References- Note:

Proverbs 5:9, "Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel:"

Proverbs 7:26, "For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her."

Hosea 4:11, "Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart."

Proverbs 31:3 — "nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings" - Word Study on "kings" - The common Hebrew word "king" ( מֶלֶךְ) (H 4428) is given a Chaldean ending ( ן), forming the word ( מלכין) in Proverbs 31:3.

Comments- The Scriptures give King Solomon as an example of a good king whose heart was turned away from God because of women. Note:

Deuteronomy 17:17, "Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold."

1 Kings 11:1-2, "But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love."

Nehemiah 13:26, "Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin."

Proverbs 31:4-7 — A Mother's Pleas to Her Son to Sanctify His Mind - Proverbs 31:4-7 gives us a mother's plea for her son to sanctify his mind. He needs a clear mind in order to make wise decision as a king.

Illustration- In the New Testament, the leaders of the churches were also to abstain from excesses of drinking ( 1 Timothy 3:3).

1 Timothy 3:3, "Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;"

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 31:4-5Illustration- In 1 Kings 20:12-21 Benhadad, the Syrian king, was defeated before the king of Israel because he lacked judgment because of his drinking.

1 Kings 20:16, "And they went out at noon. But Benhadad was drinking himself drunk in the pavilions, he and the kings, the thirty and two kings that helped him."

Note other verses:

Habakkuk 2:5, "Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud Prayer of Manasseh , neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people:"

Not only will drinking pervert judgment, but the lust for women will also do the same. The greatest example of this is Song of Solomon , who forsook God"s judgment and fell into idolatry because of it.

In Mark 6:21-28, we also see King Herod make the foolish decision to behead John the Baptist because of his desire to please a woman.

Solomon gives the correct answer regarding drinking in Ecclesiastes 10:17.

Ecclesiastes 10:17, "Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!"

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

Proverbs 31:6Comments- Red wine is considered by some doctors and nutritionists to be beneficial for one's health when taken in moderation, even serving as an anti-oxidant to fight cancer. 151] For example, Paul told Timothy to drink "a little wine" for health reasons.

151] Joseph Christiano, Bloodtypes Bodytypes and You: An Interactive Journey for Reaching Your Genetic Potential (Lake Mary, Florida: Siloam Press, 2000), 84, 118, 155; Don Colbert, What Would Jesus Eat (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2002), 121-144, 211.

1 Timothy 5:23, "Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach"s sake and thine often infirmities."

Within the passage of Scripture where the mother of King Lemuel is instructing her son on how wine and women pervert a king's judgment, there is one verse that gives an exception to the rule of abstaining from wine. When a person is dying or in depression, it is acceptable to take wine for its medicinal values. Thus, Proverbs 31:6 contradicts the view of the "Non-fermentation Theory," which says the word "wine" in the Scriptures refers to grape juice only, a view not supported by most scholars. 152] Such an exception to a biblical, ethical rule mentioned by Paul and Solomon regarding the partaking of wine might be illustrated by a common scene in a western movie in which the cowboys are standing in a bar room drinking beer or whiskey and becoming rowdy, so that a fight breaks out amongst them. At one point later in the same movie, a dying man is given a little whiskey in order to revive him. Our own conscience condemns the scenes in the bar room, but we sympathize with the giving of whiskey to the dying man. In other words, there is an exception to the rule. Another example is found on the issue of abortion. Any preacher who preaches against sin would and should condemn the act of abortion; but when faced with a situation where one of his own church members has a life threatening issue in conjunction with or resulting from pregnancy, any pastor would agree to an abortion as an effort to save a woman's life.

152] The "Non-fermentation Theogy" is supported by Keith Johnson, Under the Influence: What the Bible Says About Drinking Alcohol (Saskatoon, Canada: Saskatoon Christian Center, 2007).

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

Proverbs 31:6-7Comments- Proverbs 31:6-7 contains a mother's plea to her son to sanctify himself. The son is told not to indulge his passions in women ( Proverbs 31:3) and wine ( Proverbs 31:4), which will corrupt his judgment ( Proverbs 31:5). These two vices can symbolize the passions of the flesh. She then explains that there is a place for strong drink, which belongs to those who are about to die and are of a heavy heart ( Proverbs 31:6-7). This can mean that we are to use the riches of this world, but not abuse them with fleshly indulgences. In other words, we are to use this world's goods with constraint rather than indulgence, and with purpose rather than vain passion.

Proverbs 31:8-9 — A Mother's Pleas to Her Son to Sanctify His Heart in Judgment - Proverbs 31:8-9 gives us a mother's plea to her son to sanctify his heart in order to give righteous judgment.

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.


Verses 10-31

The Destination: Walking in Christ"s Fullness - The final passage we find on our journey is Proverbs 31:10-31. It is here where a person reaches his destination and fullness in life. It describes a husband in his prosperity because of a wise wife. God wants to bring us into a place of fruitfulness and prosperity. The final signpost is found at our destination ( Proverbs 31:30).

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

It tells us that walking in the fear of the Lord on this journey and humbling ourselves in obedience to the voice of wisdom will ultimately exalt us into the praises of our Lord, as we, the bride of Christ, live in tender love and affection with Him throughout eternity. We will enter into His glory and become like Him.

If there is a beginning to a path of Wisdom of Solomon , then there is a journey. If journey, then a destination. Our destination is to become like our Lord and Saviour, Christ Jesus or to walk in the fullness of Christ. We could liken this journey to John Bunyan"s book called Pilgrim"s Progress. 153] The first chapter of Proverbs reveals to us that this destination is a place of safety and rest in Christ Jesus ( Proverbs 1:33).

153] George Offor, ed, The Works of John Bunyan, 3vols. (Edinburgh: Blackie and Song of Solomon , 1855).

Proverbs 1:33, "But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil."

Another way to describe our destination is to say that wisdom will lead us into God"s rest. Hebrew describes a Sabbath rest for the people of God ( Hebrews 4:9).

Hebrews 4:9, "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God."

In contrast, the sinner's destiny is described in Revelation 14:11 as having "no rest."

Revelation 14:11, "And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name."

Does not Solomon"s name, if fact, mean "rest, or peace"? We also know that when Solomon became king over Israel, this nation entered into its only period of rest from its enemies ( 1 Chronicles 22:9).

1 Chronicles 22:9, "Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Song of Solomon , and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days."

The reason that Israel entered into rest is that its enemies had been subdued by David, who was a man of war. A nation or a people only has peace when it exercises dominion and subdues its enemies. The Lord once gave me a vision of a friend of my peacefully sitting in his home reading his Bible. Then the Lord said to me, "There is peace in a home when there is dominion in that home." Then the Lord quickened to me Luke 11:21.

Luke 11:21, "When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace:"

Regarding Proverbs 31:1-9 about the righteous duties of a king, did not God tell Joshua that the conquest of Canaan would bring them into rest ( Joshua 1:13)?

Joshua 1:13, "Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, The LORD your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land."

Did not the judges bring the people of Israel into rest after delivering them from their enemies ( Judges 3:30)?

Judges 3:30, "So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest fourscore years."

Thus, when Israel"s enemies were subdued, this nation has rest under King Solomon. For the Church of Jesus Christ, there is a rest that God has made for us in order that we may enter into it. But, we must enter into this rest by taking authority over the enemy, Satan, in our life. This is why the last chapter of the book of Proverbs describes the duties of a king. It reveals to us how a king can rule and reign in righteous. In addition, we will not fully enter into our rest until we enter heaven and, as the bride of Christ, we become His wife. This is why the last chapter of Proverbs describes the virtuous.

Then shall be fulfilled that prophecy in the book of Revelation regarding the Church ruling on earth forever. Note:

Revelation 5:10, "And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth."

Regarding Proverbs 31:10-31, does not a bride enter into rest when she enters the house of her husband? Note:

Ruth 1:9, "The LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept."

This point of a woman's desire for rest through marriage was made clear to me as I live in East Africa, amidst a people in an underdeveloped nation. The females of poor families are destined to a life of hard work, little education and no honor. They become servants in the homes of the wealth, and are treated with despite. Only through marriage can such a female find hope of deliverance and rest from this cycle of poverty.

The Church is to walk in the virtues of this woman in Proverbs 31, and more so as we receive our immortal bodies in heaven.

Then shall be fulfilled that prophecy found in the book of Revelation regarding the marriage of the Lamb receiving His bride.

Revelation 19:5-8, "And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints."

Thus, is our eternal destination reached, when we become the bride of Christ, and as we rule and reign as priests and kings unto God. There we enter into eternal rest, where heaven is our destination, where heaven is our home.

The book of Proverbs concludes at its destination. The goal of a believer is to become like the Lord Jesus Christ, a bride prepared for His Second Coming. The book of Proverbs describes this glorious Church as the virtuous woman. Proverbs 31:10-31 describes the bride that Christ is coming to received. In closing this passage and the book of Proverbs , we see our final signpost in Proverbs 31:30.

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

As we see in this last passage, the journey does not come to end. That is because our journey into eternal glory will never come to an end. Instead, we enter into rest. We will simply receive a glorified body and continue serving the Lord in heaven.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. The Remedy for a Successful King — Proverbs 31:10

2. The Characteristics of a Virtuous Woman — Proverbs 31:11-31

Walking in Christ"s Fullness: The Virtuous Woman - Proverbs 31:10-31 is about the virtuous woman. We find two other passages in the New Testament that give a similar description of a virtuous wife.

1 Timothy 2:9-10, "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works."

1 Peter 3:1, "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement."

There are two major ways to approach this lengthy passage of Proverbs. There is the literal interpretation and the figurative one, as is often the case in Bible study.

If we interpret this passage literally, the theme of this passage can be found in Proverbs 12:4, which says that a virtuous woman is a crown to her husband.

Proverbs 12:4, "A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones."

The title of this passage is often called "The Virtuous Woman."

However, in the context of the book of Proverbs , it can also be called "Walking in the Fullness of Christ." This is because the journey through Proverbs has its destination in bringing one to the fullness of Christ. Therefore, a figurative interpretation of this passage is often used.

The Virtuous Woman and Finances- In each of these verses about a virtuous woman, we see her wisdom regarding finances expressed. A man need not be afraid to trust his wife with his money, if she be found virtuous. One of the landmarks in my marriage was the day I relinquished the expenses to my wife. I had become too busy at work to care for these matters. I had already seen Menchu spend money in such a thrifty manner that I was not concerned about being spoiled ( Proverbs 31:11). I had grown up in a Southern culture in the U.S. where many men controlled the finances to the point of putting their wives on a strict allowance, and spending the rest upon themselves. These men purchased boats, guns and enjoyed entertainment, while the family lived on the allowance. But a wife is much more keen as to the needs of the family than is the husband; for he is at work each day, and she is tending the household. Often, an unwise man will tend to see his needs and compulsive habits as having the priority, since he is not in touch with the details of the household. This was the case in my home. My father once told me that in their early marriage, he relinquished his paycheck to Mom, only to find it spent within the first few days. It was a period in their life when income was low. As a result, he kept her on an allowance all the days of their marriage, until he divorced her.

In contrast, my wife had grown up in a home where her father relinquished the paycheck to her mother each week. So in our first few years of marriage, I thought I was behaving normally with the finances, and she thought I was being too tight and controlling with the money.

Men should be patient enough to join with their wives and agree on how the money should be spent. If one has compulsive spending behaviors, they should be able to acknowledge this and keep each other in check until proper spending behavior is learned. If she has godly virtues, this passage of Scripture says that she will be a good manager of the home, which includes its finances. My experience after six years of marriage is for my wife and I to set goals together when making large purchases. My wife decides how to handle the daily expenses, such as food. We discuss the major spending and set a time when this purchase can be made. I have learned to settle down and just enjoy my family and my relationship with my Heavenly Father. I have few needs, and thus have contained any compulsive spending behavior so that my family can enjoy the full benefits of our paycheck. This has made our marriage much more unified.

The Virtuous Woman as an Acrostic Poem- Proverbs 31:10-31 is written as an acrostic, with each of these twenty-two verses beginning with the Hebrew letters in alphabetical order. The acrostic is used generally as a tool in memorizing passages of Scripture, and so it is likely that this passage enjoyed popularity in Old Testament times, as it does today.

Proverbs 31:10 — The Remedy for a Successful King - After King Lemuel's mother warns her son about the vices of women and wine, she advices him on the remedy to have a successful kingdom, which is to marry a virtuous woman.

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

Proverbs 31:10Word Study on "virtuous" - Strong says the Hebrew word "virtuous" ( חַיִל) (H 2428) means "a force," and "an army, wealth, virtue, valor, strength." The Enhanced Strong says it is used 243times in the Old Testament Scriptures, being translated in the KJV as, "army 56, man of valour 37, host 29, forces 14, valiant 13, strength 12, riches 11, wealth 10, power 9, substance 8, might 6, strong 5, misc 33."

Comments- Regarding the definition of "force," this is what Jesus meant in Luke 8:46, when He said that virtue had gone out of Him.

Luke 8:46, "And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me."

The New Testament epistles list virtues and vices of men, their good characteristics and their bad ones. Therefore, the word "virtuous" here describes a woman of good moral character.

This Hebrew word describes a woman who is strong in godly character and well-rounded in every area of her life. One authors translated this phrase as a woman of moral courage.

Word Study on "woman" - Strong says the Hebrew word "woman" ( אִשָּׁה) (H 802) means, "a woman." The Enhanced Strong says it is used 780 times in the Old Testament Scriptures, being translated in the KJV as, "wife 425, woman 324, one 10, married 5, female 2, misc 14." This word can be used broadly to refer to both a married and an unmarried woman. However, in this passage of Scripture, because there is a reference to a husband in Proverbs 31:11; Proverbs 31:23; Proverbs 31:28, scholars interpret this as "wife."

Comments - The phrase "virtuous woman" literally means, "a woman of strength," or "a woman of worth." A person"s strength is measured not by the outward Prayer of Manasseh , but by the inner Prayer of Manasseh , by a person who has a character with godly qualities and virtues. Within the context of the book of Proverbs , which places emphasis on our mind and decisions, the virtuous woman is one who has the strength and courage to make wise decisions in life. We can find that a virtuous woman is also one who has conformed to her God-given destiny, which is described in Proverbs 1:1-6 as a person full of the seven virtues of wisdom. That Isaiah , her mind has been renewed with the wisdom of God.

We see this idea of a person"s inner strength in other verses in Proverbs.

Proverbs 16:32, "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city."

Proverbs 25:28, "He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls."

The word "virtuous" is the same word that is used in Exodus 18:21 to describe men of strong moral character.

Exodus 18:21, "Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:"

It is the same word that describes Gideon as a might man of valour.

Judges 6:12, "And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour."

She is a woman that has control of her own spirit. This stability is in stark contrast to the instability of the whorish woman.

Proverbs 5:6, "Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them."

Note other verses that use the phrase, "a virtuous woman":

Ruth 3:11, "And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman."

Proverbs 12:4, "A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones."

Adam Clarke also notes the importance of the literal use of this word "virtuous" which means "strength." He notes how hard the woman works in agricultural societies and states that a strong woman is of great value to her husband. 154]

154] Adam Clarke, Proverbs , in Adam Clarke"s Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), notes on Proverbs 31:10.

In Proverbs 31:10, the question is asked, "Who can find a virtuous woman?" In contrast to the warnings of an adulteress lifestyle in Proverbs 31:3-7, a man of wisdom will seek to find a virtuous woman. This question implies that a virtuous woman is not easily found among women. It implies that the search is not simple and can be very deceiving. Therefore, Proverbs 31:30 gives a warning not to be deceived by her charm and beauty in choosing a wife.

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

Proverbs 31:11-31 — The Characteristics of a Virtuous Woman - Proverbs 31:11-31 are an amplified definition of the virtuous wife mentioned in Proverbs 31:10.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. The Virtuous Woman: Her Spiritual Blessings — Proverbs 31:11-12

2. The Virtuous Woman: Her Financial Blessings — Proverbs 31:13-16

3. The Virtuous Woman: Her Physical Blessings — Proverbs 31:17-25

4. The Virtuous Woman: Her Mental Blessings — Proverbs 31:26-27

5. The Virtuous Woman: Her Praise — Proverbs 31:28-31

Proverbs 31:11-12 — The Virtuous Woman: Her Spiritual Blessings - Proverbs 31:11-12 describes the spiritual blessings that the virtuous woman will offer the king.

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

Proverbs 31:11 — "so that he shall have no need of spoil" - Comments- In contrast, the adulteress will spoil a man and bring him to poverty ( Proverbs 5:8-10; Proverbs 6:26).

Proverbs 5:8-10, "Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house: Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel: Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labours be in the house of a stranger;"

Proverbs 6:26, "For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life."

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

Proverbs 31:13-16 — The Virtuous Woman: Her Financial Blessings - Proverbs 31:13-16 describes the financial blessings that the virtuous woman will offer the king.

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

Proverbs 31:14 — "she bringeth her food from afar" - Comments- She is not afraid of the journey. She has the endurance to stick with a course of action, despite the dangers and hindrances.

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

Proverbs 31:15 — "She riseth also while it is yet night" - Comments-A mother will be awakened by the cries of a child, sometimes rising constantly throughout the night, in order to feed and comfort them, to put back the blanket that the child has kicked off, or to check a sick child. My wife reminded me that when were just married, we could sleep through the night because we had no cares, but now we wake up several times each night.

Proverbs 31:15 — "and giveth meat to her household" - Comments- Menchu, my wife, is always concerned about the menu for the day. If we take a trip, she makes sure there are plans for meals. She thinks often about cooking and enjoys the time when food is provided by some other means. She never complains about this daily chore.

Proverbs 31:15 — "and a portion to her maidens" - Comments- My wife never keeps leftovers at the end of the day. She always gives them to the housekeeper, or to the guard. I sometimes think that I would like to eat this food the next day, but then I remember that Menchu is simply being a virtuous woman for her household.

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

Proverbs 31:16 — "She considereth a field, and buyeth it" - Comments- A woman will go to the mall and shop all day long, while the man will only go there to purchase a particular item and leave. She looks at all of the merchandize before deciding which one to purchase. She considers and analyzes before she buys.

Proverbs 31:17-25 — The Virtuous Woman: Her Physical Blessings - Proverbs 31:17-25 describes the spiritual blessings of hard work that the virtuous woman will offer the king.

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

Proverbs 31:23Comments- A husband is known for having a virtuous wife. He is known for the peaceful way in which he carries himself, which peace is the product of a happy home ( Proverbs 31:11-12). He is known for the prosperity that he achieves because of an industrious wife ( Proverbs 31:13-19). He is known for the way that he helps those in need ( Proverbs 31:20). He is known for the way that he and his family dress because his wife looks well to their clothing ( Proverbs 31:21-22). He is known because he has a wife who is known to conduct her affairs in the market with excellence ( Proverbs 31:24-25). He is known for the words of wisdom that he speaks because of the wise counsel of his wife ( Proverbs 31:26). He is known for having a home that is clean and orderly ( Proverbs 31:27). He is known for having children who are well mannered ( Proverbs 31:28).

Thus, a virtuous woman can be identified by looking first to her husband. This is because a virtuous woman is a key to making a man successful ( Proverbs 12:4).

Proverbs 12:4, "A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones."

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 31:26-27 — The Virtuous Woman: Her Mental Blessings - Proverbs 31:26-27 describes the mental blessings of wise words and mental keenness that the virtuous woman will offer the king.

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

Proverbs 31:28-31 — The Virtuous Woman: Her Praise - Those around her will praise her ( Proverbs 31:28-31). Since the virtuous woman is figurative of the glorious Church entering into rest in this life and into eternal life, these final verses in the book of Proverbs tells us how the Lord will "praise us" ( Proverbs 31:30), which is by giving us eternal rewards ( Proverbs 31:31). In his first epistle to the Corinthians, Paul calls these eternal rewards "praises of God" ( 1 Corinthians 4:5).

1 Corinthians 4:5, "Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God."

Illustrations- Daniel tells us that divine wisdom will bring us to a place of shining as the brightness of the stars.

Daniel 12:3, "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever."

The Lord will reward each of His children in Heaven according to their works.

Psalm 62:12, "Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work."

Matthew 16:27, "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works."

Romans 2:6, "Who will render to every man according to his deeds:"

1 Corinthians 3:8, "Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour."

1 Peter 5:4, "And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away."

There will be no rewards for the works of the flesh, which is referred to in Proverbs 31:30, "favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain."

1 Corinthians 3:14-15, "If any man"s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man"s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."

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

Proverbs 31:30 — "Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain" - Word Study on "favour" - The Enhanced Strong says the Hebrew word "favor" ( חֵן) (H 2580) is used 67 times in the Old Testament. It is translated, "grace, favour, pleasant, precious, well-favored."

Word Study on "beauty" - The Enhanced Strong says the Hebrew word "beauty" ( יֳפִי) (H 3308) is used 19 times in the Old Testament and is always translated as "beauty."

Comments- While man tends to trust in his strength ( Proverbs 20:29), a woman trusts in her beauty ( Ezekiel 16:15). Note:

Proverbs 20:29, "The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head."

Ezekiel 16:15, "But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by; his it was."

Proverbs 31:30 — "but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised" - Word Study on "she shall be praised" - Hebrew ( הָלַל) (H 1984) - This is a primitive root that literally means, "to be clear (originally of sound, but usually of color), or to shine," and it takes the figurative meaning, "to make a show, to boast," and thus the meaning, "to be (clamorously) foolish, to rave, to celebrate, or to stultify." The Enhanced Strong says it is used 165 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as, "praise 117, glory 14, boast 10, mad 8, shine 3, foolish 3, fools 2, commended 2, rage 2, celebrate 1, give 1, marriage 1, renowned 1."

Proverbs 31:30Comments- The question presented in Proverbs 31:10 about how to find a virtuous woman to take as a wife implies that a virtuous woman is not easily found. It implies that the search is not simple and can be very deceiving. Therefore, Proverbs 31:30 gives a warning not to be deceived by her charm and beauty in choosing a wife.

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

As Proverbs 11:22 warns, some men marry a woman, not having looked past the beautiful golden ring and found themselves married to a foolish woman.

Proverbs 11:22, "As a jewel of gold in a swine"s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion."

Creflo Dollar says that charm is but for the moment, while character is all the time. 155]

155] Creflo Dollar, Changing Your World (College Park, Georgia: Creflo Dollar Ministries), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program, 18 June 2009.

Note other translations of Proverbs 31:30 :

BBE, "Fair looks are a deceit, and a beautiful form is of no value; but a woman who has the fear of the Lord is to be praised."

HNV, "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain; But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised."

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

Proverbs 31:31Comments- When a virtuous woman has her life and her household in order, it brings about a beauty that inspires others to praise her. This praise opens the door for the virtuous woman to redirect that praise to the source of her strength and Wisdom of Solomon , and that is to her Lord who has blessed her.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Proverbs 31:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/proverbs-31.html. 2013.


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Monday, June 26th, 2017
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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