Wow, this is it! 31 Proverbs in 31 days, thanks so much for taking this time in God’s word. My prayer is that your time in Proverbs has been eye opening, challenging and life changing. Proverbs 31 will not disappoint. It may be the most popular and well known of all the Proverbs. It’s called “The Good Wife” or many other similar names: The truly good wife, The virtuous woman, The wife of noble character etc. We will get to that in Verse (31:10–31) but all of Proverbs 31 exalts women, because as you will see, the first 9 verses contain incredible wisdom insight from a mother to her son.
A Mother’s Nickname
31:1 King Lemuel – outside chapter 31 of Proverbs, there is no other mention of this name. Many believe that “Lemuel” is a nickname of Solomon given by his mother. It means “devoted to God”
31:2–9. With remarkable insight the mother of Lemuel describes the moral requirements of good government. These lessons are, simply put: do not use your authority as a means to sexual perversion (v. 3), do not become addicted to are abuse alcohol (vv. 4–7), and use your power to help the powerless (vv. 8–9).
31:2 She addresses him with terms of endearment; “O son of my womb, O son of my vows” means “My own son, the answer to my prayers.”
31:3 The keeping of a harem of wives and concubines was not only a large expense but was also a distortion of the purpose of royal power. The king should use his authority for his people and not to serve himself (v. 3). It is interesting that if this to Solomon, he did not keep his mother’s advice later in his reign.
31:4–7 Drunkenness might be understandable among dying people in great pain, but it is inexcusable for national leaders. Alcohol clouds the mind and can lead to injustice and poor decisions. Leaders have better things to do than anesthetize themselves with alcohol.
31:8–9 The plea to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves” is as eloquent a statement of the duty of doing justice as one can find anywhere. It is noteworthy that this is her sole political concern; she does not say anything about building up the treasury, creating monuments to his reign, or establishing a dominant military power. From the woman’s perspective the king’s throne is truly founded on righteousness.
An Amazing Woman
Proverbs has a lot to say about women. How fitting that the book ends with a picture of a woman of strong character, great wisdom, many skills, and great compassion.
Some people have the mistaken idea that the ideal woman in the Bible is behind the scenes and entirely domestic. Not so! This woman is an excellent wife and mother. She is also a manufacturer, importer, manager, realtor, farmer, seamstress, upholsterer, and merchant. Her strength and dignity do not come from her amazing achievements, however. They are a result of her reverence for God. In our society where physical appearance counts for so much, it may surprise us to realize that her appearance is never mentioned. Her attractiveness comes entirely from her character.
The woman described in this chapter has outstanding abilities. Her family’s social position is high. In fact, she may not be one woman at all — she may be a composite portrait of ideal womanhood. Do not see her as a model to imitate in every detail; your days are not long enough to do everything she does! See her instead as an inspiration to be all you can be. We can’t be just like her, but we can learn from her industry, integrity, and resourcefulness.
31:10 “Who can find?” does not mean that no one can find such a wife but that she priceless to those who do find her.
31:11–12 The husband has “full confidence” (v. 11) in her in every area of life; he trusts in her good sense, her fidelity, and her industry. Verse 11b emphasizes this latter: the house is full of the “riches” she brings in. Verse 12 similarly states that she is a continual source of benefits.
31:13 The large number of verses devoted to the industrious spirit of the woman makes this a major theme. (vv. 13–19) In a time before assembly lines, women would work at spinning wool and making clothes in every spare moment; excelling in this work was highly respected.
31:14 She adds variety to the lives of her family by trading goods produced at home for food and merchandise the household cannot produce.
31:15 Getting up before dawn implies that she is far from lazy. Verse 15c shows her advance planning and leadership to overseeing the workers under her.
31:16–17. Male chauvinism would say, these are masculine qualities but the Bible shows that women can and even excel in “men’s work.” Verse 16 implies that she has both a good head for business and personal initiative. Verse 17 means that she is physically capable of doing hard work.
31:18–19 Encouraged by previous business success, she continues her work into the night (v. 18). Verse 19 asserts again that she is a machine in the “womanly” work of spinning and weaving.
31:20 Verse 20 describes her generous spirit. Concern for the poor means she is not only determined and hard working but has a soft heart for the needy. She is a total package.
31:21 This incredible woman would not only keep her family warm by sending them out dressed warm (planning) but the “scarlet” reference means that they have clothing of the highest quality.
31:22 For all her strength and business expertise, she is still elegant (v. 22). Dressing well and decorating the home with pride is not here regarded as frivolous. “Linen” implies imports from Egypt, and “purple” describes the dyed fabric from Phoenicia.
31:23 A man with a wife like this will be well respected by his peers.
31:24 She not only has fine clothing and furnishings for herself and her home (from v. 22), but she also has manufactured enough to sell the excess for a profit (v. 24).
31:25 She laughs at whatever troubles the future may bring because she is clothed in “strength and dignity.” Being a woman of character and strength, she is prepared for whatever may come.
31:26 She is a capable teacher and well acquainted with wisdom (v. 26). She teaches her children, neighbors or anyone else who is wise enough to listen to her, she even teaches her husband.
31:27 Verse 27 summarizes what has already been said in 13–19. It states that she avoids laziness.
31:28–29 Her family gratefully acknowledges all the benefits they have had from her. As far as they are concerned, she is the greatest wife and mother in the world.
31:30–31 As the NIV indicates with quotation marks, vv. 30–31 are separate from vv. 28–29 and do not constitute part of the husband’s praise. Otherwise, he would be implying that she lacks charm and beauty. This is something that no woman, however virtuous she may be, would care to hear. Charm and beauty are not bad; they simply are inadequate reasons to marry a girl. The young man should first seek a woman who fears the Lord. And whoever finds such a woman should make sure that her gifts and accomplishments do not go unappreciated (v. 31).
The fact that the book of Proverbs closes with this description of an incredible woman is not accidental. At the beginning of the book stands “Woman Wisdom” calling out for young people to come to her (1:20–33; also 8:1–36; 9:1–6). As the prostitute or quarrelsome wife represents “Woman Folly” (9:13–18), the good wife represents “Woman Wisdom.”
In Proverbs wisdom is not only intellectual; it is first of all relational. The young person finds wisdom through three specific relationships. They must respect and follow The Lord, listen to parents, and find the good marriage partner.
Wow, what an incredible journey we have been on! Thanks for being a part of the Proverbs challenge. I have prayed for you and continue to pray for you. I hope you will continue to read God’s word daily.
You have no idea how much of a difference you make. It’s a joy to serve Christ with you, Darrell