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Pro 31:1 The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.
Ver. 1. The words of King Lemuel. ] Lemuel’s lesson, Bathsheba’s catechism. Lemuel she calls him, because God had owned him. "I will be his father, and be shall be my son"; 2Sa 7:14 and was "with him" so long as he was "with God," according to 2 Chronicles 15:2 . Indeed, when he grew discinct and dissolute, then God’s soul sat loose to him, and was disjointed from him, Jer 6:8 and the rather because he had had the benefit of better education. His father had taught him, and had taken much pains with him. Pro 4:4 His mother a also had counselled and cautioned him early not to give his strength to wine and women; and yet he was most inordinate in his love to these two. Ecc 2:1-26 This was almost as great an aggravation of his sin, that he had been better taught and brought up, as that other, that he forsook the Lord that had "appeared unto him twice." 1Ki 11:9 The "words of King Lemuel" they are called, because, though composed by his mother, yet for his use, in the same sense as Psalms 127:1 , is styled "A song of degrees of Solomon," or "for Solomon," though made by his father, who tells him there that which he found true by experience, "Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord," &c., for by all his wives Solomon had none but one son, and him none of the wisest either.
a Aristippus dictus est μητροδιδακτος , quod eum mater Areta docuisset.
Pro 31:2 What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows?
Ver. 2. What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? ] An abrupt speech, importing abundance of affection; even more than might be uttered. There is an ocean of love in a parent’s heart, a fathomless depth of desire after the child’s welfare, in the mother especially. Some of the Hebrew doctors hold that this was Bathsheba’s speech to her son after his father’s death, when she partly perceived which way his genius leaned and led him: that she schooled him in this way, q.d., Is it even so, my son, my most dear son, &c. Oh do not give thy strength to women, &c.
Pro 31:3 Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.
Ver. 3. Give not thy strength to women. ] Waste not unworthily the fat and marrow of thy dear and precious time, the strength of thy body, the vigour of thy spirits, in sinful pleasures and sensual delights. See Proverbs 5:9 .
Nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings. ] Venery is called by one death’s best harbinger. It was the destruction of Alexander the Great, of Otho the emperor (called for his good parts otherwise Miraculum mundi ), of Pope Sextus the Fourth ( qui decessit tabidus voluptate, saith the historian, died of a wicked waste), and of Pope Paul the Fourth, of whom it passed for a proverb, Eum per eandem partem animam profudisse per quam acceperat. The Lacedemonian commonwealth was by the hand of divine justice utterly overturned at Leuctra, for a rape committed by their messengers on the two daughters of Scedosus. And what befell the Benjamites on a like occasion is well known out of Judges 20:29-48 , that I speak not of the slaughter of the Shechemites, Gen 34:25-29 &c.
Proverbs 31:4 [It is] not for kings, O Lemuel, [it is] not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:
Ver. 4. It is not for kings to drink wine, ] i.e., To be "drunk with wine, wherein is excess," Eph 5:18 where the apostle determines excessive drinking to be downright drunkenness, viz., when as swine do their bellies, so men break their heads with filthy quaffing. This, as no man may lawfully do, so least of all princes; for in maxima libertate minima est licentia. Men are therefore the worse because they are bound to be better.
Nor for princes strong drink. ] Or, as some read it, Where is the strong drink? It is not for princes to ask such a question. All heady and intoxicating drinks are by statute here forbidden them. Of Bonosus the emperor it was said that he was born non ut vivat sed ut bibat, not to live but to drink; and when, being overcome by Probus, he afterwards hanged himself, it was commonly jested that a tankard hung there, and not a man. But what a beast was Marcus Antonius, that wrote (or rather spewed out) a book concerning his own strength to bear strong drink? And what another was Darius King of Persia, who commanded this inscription to be set upon his sepulchre, "I was able to hunt lustily, to drink wine soundly, and to bear it bravely." a That Irish rebel Tiroen, A.D. 1567, was such a drunkard, that, to cool his body when he was immoderately inflamed with wine and whisky, he would many times be buried in the earth up to the chin. b These were unfit men to bear rule.
a Kυνηγειν εκρατουν, οινον πολυν πινειν, και τουτον φερειν καλως . - Strabo.
b Camden’s Elisabeth.
Pro 31:5 Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.
Ver. 5. Lest they drink and forget the law. ] Drunkenness causeth forgetfulness (hence the ancients feigned Bacchus to be the son of forgetfulness), and stands in full opposition to reason and religion: when the wine is in, the wit is out. Seneca saith, that for a man to think to be drunk, and yet to retain his right reason, is to think to drink rank poison, and yet not to die by it. a
And pervert the judgment, &c. ] Pronounce an unrighteous sentence: which when Philip king of Macedon once did, the poor woman whose cause it was, presently appealed from Philip now drunk, to Philip when he should be sober again. The Carthagenians made a law that no magistrate of theirs should drink wine. The Persians permitted their kings to be drunk one day in a year only. Solon made a law at Athens that drunkenness in a prince should be punished with death. See Ecclesiastes 10:16-17 .
a Plutarch in Sympos.
Pro 31:6 Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.
Ver. 6. Give strong drink to him, &c. ] To those that stand at the bar, rather than to them that sit on the bench. Wine maketh glad the heart of man. Judges 9:13 Psa 104:15 Plato calls wine and music the μαλακτικα - mitigators of men’s miseries. Hence that laudable custom among the Jews at funerals to invite the friends of the deceased to a feast, and to give them the "cup of consolation." Jer 16:7 And hence that not so laudable of giving wine, mingled with myrrh, to crucified malefactors, to make them die with less sense. a Christ did not like the custom so well, and therefore refused the potion. People should be most serious and sober when they are to die, since in death, as in war, non licet bis errare It is not permitted to error twice. - if a man miss at all, he misses for all and for ever. Vitellius therefore took a wrong course, who, looking for the messenger Death, made himself drunk to drown the fear of it. b
And wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. ] Heb., Bitter of spirit, as was Naomi when she would needs be called "Marah"; Rth 1:20 as was Hannah when she pleaded that she had neither drank wine nor strong drink (though at that time she had need enough of it), but was "a woman of a sorrowful spirit"; 1Sa 1:15 as was David when his heart was leavened and soured with the greatness of his grief, and he was "pricked in his reins." Psa 73:21 This grief was right, because according to God - η κατα Yεον λυπα , 2Co 7:11 so was that bitter mourning, Zec 10:12 and Peter’s weeping bitterly. These waters of Marah, that flow from the eyes of repentance, are turned into wine; they carry comfort in them; there is a clear shining after this rain. 2Sa 23:4 Such April showers bring on May flowers.
“Deiecit ut reveler, premit ut solatia praestet:
Enccat ut possit vivificare Deus.”
a Bacchus et afflictis requiem mortalibus affert. - Tibul.
b Vitellius trepidus, dein temulentus.
Pro 31:7 Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.
Ver. 7. Let him drink and forget his poverty. ] And yet let him drink moderately too, lest he increase his sorrows, as Lot did, and not diminish them, for drunkenness leaves a sting behind it worse than that of a serpent or of a cockatrice. Pro 23:32 Wine is a prohibited ware among the Turks, which makes some drink with scruple - others with danger. The baser sort, when taken drunk, are often bastinadoed a upon the bare feet. And I have seen some, saith mine author, b after a fit of drunkenness, lie a whole night crying, and praying to Mohammed for intercession, that I could not sleep near them, so strong is conscience, even where the foundation is but imaginary.
a To beat or cane on the soles of the feet.
b Blunt’s Voyage, p. 105.
Pro 31:8 Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.
Ver. 8. Open thy mouth for the dumb, ] i.e., Speak wisely and freely for those that either cannot or may not speak for themselves. Thus Nicodemus spoke for our Saviour; Joh 7:21 Paphnutius in the council for the married clergy; Pliny to Trajan for the persecuted Christians; the Elector of Saxony for Luther, &c. Oecolampadius saith a that wise men only open their mouths, for a fool’s mouth is never but open. Hence, κεχηνοτες , gapers, are put for fools in Lucian and Aristophanes.
a Oecolamp. in Job xxxiii.
Pro 31:9 Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.
Ver. 9. Plead the cause of the poor and needy. ] These are God’s great care, as appears in many texts. Job comforted himself in this, that he had been "eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, a father to the poor," &c. Job 29:15-16 Ebedmelech is renowned for pleading the cause of the poor prophet, and so should Pharaoh’s butler have been if he had done it sooner. Master Holt, who was of counsel to Master Pryn, when so unjustly censured in the Star Chamber, but refused, through cowardice, to sign his answer, according to promise, being overawed by the prelates, bewailed his own baseness to his wife and friends; and, soon after falling sick for conceit only of the miscarriage of that cause, he died, never going to the Star Chamber after that bloody sentence. a
a New Discoveries of the Prelate’s Tyranny, p. 47, 48.
Pro 31:10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price [is] far above rubies.
Ver. 10. Who can find a virtuous woman? ] Good wives are rare commodities, and therefore precious and highly to be prized, even above rubies. The Hebrews put rarum pro charo, as in 1Sa 3:1 Proverbs 25:7 ; "Let thy feet be precious in thy neighbour’s house" - that is, let them seldom come there, lest thou become overcheap and undervalued. a It is easy to observe that the New Testament affords more store of good women than the Old. When Paul came first to Philippi, few or none came to hear him but women, Act 6:13 but they drew on their husbands, and it soon became a famous church. What a rare piece was Priscilla, who better instructed Apollos, ventured her life for Paul, Rom 16:4 and was such a singular help to her husband that she is mentioned before him as the more forward of the two. Rom 16:3 Like as was also Manoah’s wife, Jdg 13:24-25 and Nazianzen’s mother. Solomon’s mother was behind none of them, as appears by this poem, either composed by Solomon as a character of her, as some have thought, or else by herself, for his direction in the choice of a good wife, which would be worthy his pains, though he should fetch her as far as men do rubies - procul prae unionibus precium eius. What a way sent Abraham and Isaac for good wives for their sons!
a σπανια σπουδαια . - Arist. Ethic.
Pro 31:11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
Ver. 11. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her. ] He is confident of her love, care, and fidelity. He dare trust her with his soulsecrets, &c.; he doubteth not of her chastity, secrecy, or care to keep his family.
So that he shall have no need of spoil, ] i.e., Of necessary commodities: for these she will provide as plentifully by her industry as if she had shared in the spoils of a sacked and ransacked city. The Turks, when they took Constantinople, were so enriched, that it is a proverb among them to this day, if any grow suddenly rich, to say, He hath been at the sacking of Constantinople. a
a Turkish History, fol. 347.
Pro 31:12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
Ver. 12. She will do him good, and not evil, &c. ] She is constant in her conjugal affection, and sticks to him, as Sarah did to Abraham, in all changes and chances whatsoever. She "leaves not off her kindness to the living, and to the dead." Rth 2:20 See that notable example of the Lady Valadaura in Ludovicus Vives.
Pro 31:13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
Ver. 13. She seeketh wool and flax. ] This was held no shame for Solomon’s wife. Augustus Caesar taught his daughters to spin and card; he wore no garments but what his wife and daughters made him. The like is reported of Charles the Great. Spinster, they say, is a term given the greatest women in our law. Rebecca was a dainty cook; so was Tamar, David’s daughter. 2Sa 13:7-10 By Mohammed’s law, the grand Turk himself must be of some trade.
And worketh willingly with her hands. ] As if her hands did desire to do what she put them to do, for so the original soundeth: "She worketh with the will of her hands." The Vulgate render it, "with the counsel of her hands," as if her hands were oculatae. She discreetly and cheerfully rids her work - with fervour and forecast.
Pro 31:14 She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
Ver. 14. She is like the merchants’ ships.] That is, She gets wealth apace; yea, though she stir not off her stool, and studies how to buy everything at best hand, though she send far for it. Of the Low Country men it is said, Peterent ccelum navibus Belgae, si navibus peti posset. So the good housewife would do anything to further thrift.
Pro 31:15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
Ver. 15. She riseth also while it is yet night. ] That is, Betime in the morning - "a great while before day," as our Saviour also did to pray. Mar 1:35
And a portion to her maids. ] She neither pines nor pampers them, but allows them that which is sufficient. Three things, saith Aristotle, a man owes to his servants: work, meat, and correction, - εργα, τροφην κολασιν
Pro 31:16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
Ver. 16. She considereth a field and buyeth it. ] Here is the fruit of her pains and providence. The manus motitans, the "stirring hand maketh rich," Pro 10:4 and "a wise woman buildeth her house." Pro 14:1 See Trapp on " Pro 14:1 " She considers the convenience of this field, and then casts about how she may compass it.
Pro 31:17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
Ver. 17. She girdeth her loins with strength. ] She flies about her work, and sets on it with a courage. We have read of women in whom, besides their sex, there was nothing woman-like or weak; such were Semiramis, Zenobia, Blandina, that brave Hungarian woman, who, in an assault at the siege of Buda, thrusting in among the soldiers upon the top of the fort, with a great scythe in her hand, at one blow struck off two of the Turks’ heads as they were climbing up the rampier. a The like is reported of Marulla, a maid of Lemnos, who, seeing her father slain in the gates of the city by the Turks, which hoped to have surprised it, took up the weapons that lay by him, and, like a fierce Amazon, notably revenged his death. b
a Turkish History, fol. 741.
b Ibid., 413.
Pro 31:18 She perceiveth that her merchandise [is] good: her candle goeth not out by night.
Ver. 18. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good. ] She feels the sweet of it, and is heartened to redouble her diligence, as a draught horse feeling his load coming, draws the harder. The good soul doth the same. For, having once tasted how sweet the Lord is, it can never have enough of him, but is carried after him with strength of desire, as the doves to their dove cotes, as the eagles to the carcases. Psa 84:1-3 No reason would satisfy Moses, but when God had done much for him he must still have more. Exodus 33:12-19 ; Exo 34:9
Pro 31:19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
Ver. 19. She layeth her hands to the spindle. ] a Notwithstanding her late purchase, and planting a vineyard Pro 31:16 and other out businesses. See Trapp on " Pro 31:13 " The two cardinals, Wolsey and Campeius, coming from King Henry VIII on a message to Queen Catherine of Spain, a little before the divorce, found her with a skein of red silk about her neck, being at work with her maiden. b And Queen Anne Boleyn kept her maids, and all that were about her, so busied in sewing and working, that neither was there seen any idleness among them, nor any leisure to follow such pastimes as are usually in princes’ courts. c
a Lucretia inter ancillas ad Lucernam fila ducebat.
b Life and Death of Cardinal Wolsey, p. 69.
c Acts and Mon., fol. 957.
Pro 31:20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
Ver. 20. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor. ] She laboureth with her hands to that purpose, Eph 4:28 and findeth by experience that not getting but giving is the way to thrive. See my Common Place of Alms.
Yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. ] ‘Nittily needy,’ as one phraseth it. To those that are extremely poor she not only stretcheth but reacheth, not her hand only, but both hands; yea, she hath her almoners to give to those that she cannot go to, as Queen Anne Boleyn had. a For, besides what she dealt and distributed by the hands of others, she carried ever about her a certain little purse; out of which she was wont to scatter about daily some alms to the needy, thinking no day well spent wherein some man had not fared the better by some benefit at her hands. The like is told of Placilla, wife to the Emperor Theodosius, that for her courtesy and bounty to the poor she was called φιλοπτωχως , The poor man’s friend.
a Acts and Mon., fol. 957.
Pro 31:21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household [are] clothed with scarlet.
Ver. 21. She is not afraid of the snow. ] As she is liberal to the poor, so her chief care is for those of her own house, that they may be accommodated. For she knows that to stretch beyond the staple were to mar all; and not to provide for her own were to be worse than an infidel. 1Ti 5:8
Pro 31:22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing [is] silk and purple.
Ver. 22. Her clothing is silk and purple. ] Suitable to her husband’s condition, who is a principal man. Pro 31:23 That is excellent counsel that Tertullian gives women, Vestite vos serico pietatis, byssino sanctitatis, purpura pudicitiae: a Clothe yourselves with the silk of piety, with the satin of sanctity, with the purple of modesty, &c. See 1 Peter 3:3-4 .
a Lib. de cultu faem.
Pro 31:23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
Ver. 23. Her husband is known in the gates. ] Is renowned and noted for his wife’s worth, besides that he is a ruler in Israel.
Pro 31:24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth [it]; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
Ver. 24. She maketh fine linen and sells it. ] Such sindons as our Saviour’s dead body was wrapt in, and for girdles. read 2Sa 18:11 Isa 3:24 Jer 2:32 It was anciently no shame for a queen to make gain of her handiwork.
Pro 31:25 Strength and honour [are] her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
Ver. 25. Strength and honour are her clothing. ] See Proverbs 31:22 . She is not of those, quae fulgent monilibus, sordent moribus, that are well habited but ill mannered. No; she is inwardly decked with spiritual attire, such as rendereth her glorious in the eyes of God and angels. "The joy of the Lord is her strength," so that she laugheth at the time to come. This "daughter of Sarah, so long as she doth well," and hath the euge a good conscience, "is not afraid with any amazement," as women are apt to be. 1Pe 3:6 Gaudebat Crispina cum tenebatur, cure audiebatur, cum damnabatur, cam dacebutur. a So did Mistress Anne Askew, Alice Driver, and many other gracious women that suffered for the truth in Queen Mary’s days. Strength and honour were their clothing, and they rejoiced at the time to come: they went as merry to die as to dine, and cheered up one another with this, that although they had but a bitter breakfast, yet they should sup with Christ in joy.
a Aug. in Ps. cxxxvii.
Pro 31:26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue [is] the law of kindness.
Ver. 26. She openeth her mouth with wisdom. ] Her mouth is not always open, but duly shut and discreetly opened - her words are few, true, and ponderous; the stream and current of her conference tends either to wisdom or kindness - that is, to duties either of piety or charity. The Jesuits forbid women to speak of God and his ways, either in good sort or in bad, and to meddle only with the distaff. But the good women in both Testaments, Abigail, Hannah, Esther, the Virgin Mary, Priscilla, Lois, &c., never heard of this new doctrine. Tatianus tells us that in the primitive Church every age and sex among the Christians were Christian philosophers; yea, that the very virgins and maids, as they sat at their work in wool, were wont to speak of God’s word. And Nicephorus writes that the Christians, even as they laboured or journeyed, were wont to sing psalms, and that thereby there was at a certain time a Jew converted. a It were surely a great grace, saith Lambert the martyr: if we might have the word of God diligently and often spoken and sung unto us in such wise that women and children might understand it. b Then should it come to pass that craftsmen should sing spiritual psalms sitting at their work, the husbandman at his plough, the good housewife at her wheel, as wisheth St Jerome.
And in her tongue is the law of kindness. ] It is worthy the mark, saith the chronicler, c that Edward I and his grandson, Edward III, the best of our kings, had the two best wives, ladies of excellent virtue, that drew evenly with them in all the courses of honour that appertained to their side. The first of these Edwards being traitorously wounded while he was yet prince in the Holy Land, as they called it, by the poisoned knife of an assassin, the Lady Eleanor his wife extracted the poison with her tongue, licking daily, while her husband slept, his rankling wounds, whereby they perfectly closed, and yet herself received no hurt d So sovereign a medicine is a wife’s tongue, anointed with the virtue of kindness and affection.
a Hist. Eccles., lib. iii. cap. 37.
b Acts and Mon., fol. 1015.
c Dan, 262.
d Speed, 646; Cavid. in Middlesex, fol. 432.
Pro 31:27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
Ver. 27. She looketh well to the ways of her household. ] She hath an oar in every boat, an eye in every business; she spies and pries into her children’s and servants’ carriages, and exacts of them strict conversation and growth in godliness: she overlooks the whole family no otherwise than if she were in a watch tower; Speculatur itinera domus suae.
And eateth not the bread of idleness. ] She earns it before she eats it. Aristotle a also commends φιλεργια , laboriousness, in a woman, and joins it with temperance and chastity, which are preserved by it. So is taciturnity and sober communication, for which she is commended in the former verse. For, as idleness is the seed of talkativeness, 1Ti 5:12 so painfulness is a singular help against it. Queen Catherine of Spain, wife to our Henry VIII, was not more busy in her calling than prudent in her carriage. She had been counselled to it by Ludovicus Vives, who came into England with her, and was master to her daughter, the Lady Mary. See Trapp on " Pro 31:19 "
a Arist. Rhet., lib. i.
Pro 31:28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband [also], and he praiseth her.
Ver. 28. Her children arise up, and call her blessed. ] As they grow to any height, and consider their beholdingness, so they bless her, and bless God for her: they bless the time that ever they were born of her, and so virtuously bred by her; being ready to say of her, as once Deborah said of Jael, "Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber be; blessed shall she be above women in the tent." Jdg 5:24 Blessed be the womb that bare us, and the paps that gave us suck.
Her husband also. ] Whom she commanded by obeying, as Livia did her husband Augustus.
And he shall praise her. ] Praise is due to virtue. And albeit, landis non indiga virtus, ilia sed est proprio plane contenta theatro; virtue is her own reward, and she is the best woman, and best to be liked, saith Thucydides, de cuius laude vel vituperio minimus sit sermo, of whose praise or dispraise there is least said abroad; yet forasmuch as praise is a spur. and virtue grows by it, why should it be denied to those who deserve it? a Is not a garland here made up by the hand of the Holy Ghost, and set upon the head of this excellent housewife? Neither is it any disparagement that her own husband and children commend her; for her business lying most within doors, who so fit to praise her as those that were ever present with her? and yet neither do they more praise her by their words than by their lives, formed by her to a right posture.
a Honos alit artes. Virtus laudata crescit. Omnes laudis studio incenduntur.
Pro 31:29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
Ver. 29. Many daughters have done virtuously. ] By the benefit of a better nature, or civil education, or for praise of men, or for a quiet life, sure it is that all unsanctified women, though never so well qualified, have failed, both quoad fontem, et quoad finem, for want of faith for the principle, and God’s glory the aim of their virtuous actions. And therefore, though they be suo genere, praise worthy, yet they are far short of this gracious matron. The civil life without faith is but a beautiful abomination, a smoother way to hell. Melius est pallens aurum quam fulgens aurichalcum, a Better is pale gold than glittering copper. Say the world what it will, a drachm of holiness is worth a pound of good nature. Prefer that before this (in the choice of a wife especially), as ye would do a piece of gold for weight rather than for workmanship, for value than for elegance, like that French coin in the historian, in qua plus formae quam ponderis, wherein there was more neatness than weightiness. Of carnal women, though never so witty, well-spoken, and well-deeded too, we may say, as the civil law doth of those mixed beasts, elephants and camels, operam praestant, natura fera est, they do the work of tame creatures, but they have the nature of wild ones.
But thou excellest them all. ] As the only paragon of the world, the female glory, the wonder of womenkind.
Pro 31:30 Favour [is] deceitful, and beauty [is] vain: [but] a woman [that] feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.
Ver. 30. Favour is deceitful. ] Some marry by their eyes, and some by their fingers’ ends. Dos, non Deus, makes such marriages, but they commonly prove unhappy. There is esh, esh, fire, fire, of debate and discord between that ish and ishah, that man and wife, where Jah is not the matchmaker, as the Cabbalists have collected. Favour will fade, and beauty wither; a herd of pox will mar the fairest face, and of a Nireus make a Thersites. Forma bonum fragile est, saith one poet; a Res est forma fugax, saith another. b But better than they both the prophet Isaiah, "All flesh is grass, and the glory thereof as the flower of the field." All these outward accoutrements are non tantum fallacia quia dubia, verum etiam insidiosa quia dulcia, saith Lactantius; because there is no trusting to them, so there is great danger in them, as Absalom and his sister Tamar found in their beauty.
But a woman that feareth the Lord. ] That is indeed the crown of all commendation, as that which makes one "all glorious within," amiable and admirable beyond belief. Nicostratus, in Aelian, himself being a cunning artisan, finding a curious piece of work, and being wondered at by one, and asked what pleasure he could take to stand gazing as he did on the picture, answered, Hadst thou mine eyes thou wouldst not wonder, but rather be ravished as I am at the inimitable art of this rare piece. So if men had saints’ eyes to see the beauty of holiness, the excellency of the new creature, they would prize and prefer it before the shining rubbish of all earth’s beauty and bravery. But as Augustus, in his solemn feasts, gave to some gold, to others gauds and trifles, so doth God to some give his fear, to others beauty, wealth, honour, and with these they rest contented. But what saith the Psalmist? "The Lord that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Sion," - q.d., The blessings that come out of Sion are choice blessings, even above any that come out of heaven and earth.
She shall be praised. ] Shall live and die with honour. The body of honour is virtue, the soul of it humility. Whosoever rises without the one, or stands without the other, embraces but the shadow of a shadow; may be notable or notorious, cannot be truly noble.
Pro 31:31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.
Ver. 31. Give her of the fruit of her hands. ] God would have desert dignified, good parts praised. Here he seals up his approbation and good liking of what her husband and children had said of her in the former verses. He takes it well when we speak good of his people, and holds himself honoured in their just praises. Give her her full due, saith God, both within doors and without. Let her eat of the vineyard that she hath planted, live of the land that she hath purchased, enjoy the fruit of her own labours, have both the comfort and the credit of her worthy parts and practices, she being - as she here stands described - not unlike that precious stone among the Troglodytes which is therefore called hexacontalithos, because within its own little compass it hath the radiant colours of sixty other stones of price. a
a Solin., Poly. Hist., cap. 44.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 31". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30