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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Proverbs 31



Verse 1

The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.

The words of king Lemuel - a figurative name for an ideal model king. It means 'Devoted to God.' Hitzig fancifully makes Lemuel eider brother to Agur, and king of an Arab tribe in Manna, on the borders of Palestine; and both descended from the Simeonites, who drove out the Amalekites from Mount Seir, under Hezekiah (1 Chronicles 4:24; 1 Chronicles 4:38-43) - Lemuel being an older form of Nemuel, or Jemuel, Simeon's oldest son.

His mother taught him - as Lois and Eunice taught Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 3:15-16).

Verse 2

What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows?

What, my son: and what, the son of my womb (for whom I have borne such throes, and whom therefore, I so intensely love)?

And what. The thrice-repeated interrogation implies the strength of the mother's feelings: What am I to say to thee? With what precepts can I sufficiently instruct thee, so that thou mayest be truly wise and happy as a king? Words fail to express all I feel in respect to thee.

The son of my vows? - the son granted to my prayers, like Samuel; and therefore, as thy name, Lemuel, implies (note; Proverbs 31:1), consecrated to God (1 Samuel 1:11; 1 Samuel 1:27-28). A mother's pleadings with her son are likely then to be most effectual when she has first pleaded with God for him.

Verse 3

Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings. Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.

Give not thy strength unto women ... which destroyeth kings - (Proverbs 5:9.) A snare to kings especially, because their power gives them impunity in lust. Solomon by this sin caused the rending of his kingdom (1 Kings 11:11; cf. Job 31:9-12).

Verse 4-5

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

(It is) not for kings ... to drink wine. Let all intoxicating drink be put away from kings. The reason follows:

Lest they drink, and forget the law - (cf. Proverbs 20:1; Ecclesiastes 2:3) Kings do not need it in ordinary health, and their abstinence from it sets a good example in their elevated position. This sanctions entire abstinence in cases where a greater good is gained by it than by the use of it. See the bad effects of drinking in the case of Elah (1 Kings 16:8-9); Benhadad (1 Kings 20:16); Belshazzar (Daniel 5:24; cf. Hosea 7:5; Isaiah 28:7; Isaiah 56:12; Ephesians 5:18).

Lest they ... pervert (literally, change) the judgment of any of the afflicted -literally, of all the sons of affliction.

Verse 6

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

Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and ... unto those ... of heavy hearts. The use of wine is not as a continual beverage, but as a cordial and restorative where stimulants are needed (Judges 9:13; Luke 10:34; 1 Timothy 5:23).

Verse 7

Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.

Let him drink, and forget his poverty. Cause him, by the wine which thou givest him (not in excess, but in moderation), to "forget" his sorrow, instead of thyself by wine 'forgetting the law' (Proverbs 31:5).

Verse 8

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

Open thy mouth for the dumb - i:e., for those who cannot defend themselves in the courts of justice.

In the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction - literally, 'the sons of passing away.' Maurer, 'the sons of abandonment,' or orphanage - i:e., sons left orphans by their deceased parents; Hebrew, benee chaloph. Imitate God who is peculiarly the Patron of the widow and the orphan.

Verse 9

Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verses 10-31

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

The praises of a virtuous woman; forming a Hebrew acrostic. The 22 years begin with the several 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet consecutively; M. Henry calls it, 'a locking-glass for ladies.' Lemuel's "mother" (Proverbs 31:1) suggested the model of "a virtuous woman" - Hebrew, chail: brave, strenuous, good.

Who can find? - it is a rare treasure (Ecclesiastes 7:28).

Verse 11. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her - he can with implicit confidence leave to her the management of his household concerns, and devote himself to his public and weightier duties. Confidence reposed makes good wives the more diligent in their duties. Husband and wife should each attend to their distinct spheres.

So that he shall have no need of spoil - he shall have no need to go forth to war for spoil; because his wife shall supply all that ministers to home comforts and elegancies.

Verse 12. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life - not merely the first month, and the first year, as too often happens, but at all times, in sickness, adversity, and old age.

Verse 13. She seeketh wool ... - she does not wait until her husband procures for her, or forces on her, these materials for work, as if she were reluctant: for she "worketh willingly with her hands".

Worketh willingly with her hands. Maurer translates daar


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 31:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 25th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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